Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Why are right-wing women fair game for sexist attacks?

Posted by sanityinjection on June 12, 2009

Amanda Fortini over at Salon.com addresses the recent dust-up over David Letterman’s remarks about Sarah Palin and her daughter, and a particularly vile Playboy piece about raping conservative female commentators:

http://www.salon.com/mwt/broadsheet/feature/2009/06/12/letterman_palin/index.html

Fortini, a liberal feminist herself,  points out the hypocrisy of liberal feminists remaining silent in these incidents: “Imagine if, say, Michelle Obama, or Rachel Maddow, or Nancy Pelosi became the target of similar invective. The outcry from the left would be deafening.” I applaud this intellectual honesty.

I don’t think it’s appropriate for a talk-show host – even a comedian – to call a sitting US Governor “slutty” on network television. I have to say though, I didn’t think Letterman’s joke about Palin’s daughter getting “knocked up” at a baseball game rises to the same level. First of all, I don’t think Letterman realized that it was Palin’s 14-year old daughter Willow, and not the older Bristol, who was at the game. Second, Palin and her family can hardly complain if people make jokes about her daughters getting “knocked up” when Bristol did just that.

But the larger point remains. Women in politics continue to be targeted with sexually-tinged verbal assaults that their male colleagues do not face. This represents an implicit continuation of the antiquated notion that women who voice their opinions are somehow unladylike or of dubious morals, and that it is somehow OK to sexually insult or even threaten them. Liberals need to confront their hypocrisy in staying silent when the targets happen to be conservatives, because that raises the even more ugly implication that a woman’s refusal to adhere to a specific orthodox set of political views deserves to be punished with sexual abuse.

Further, it cannot be left only to women to protest this sort of treatement, lest they be accused of being “oversensitive” or “humorless”. Most of the offenders are men, and it is only when other men make it clear that we do not find such behavior to be “cool” or acceptable that it will diminish.

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One Response to “Why are right-wing women fair game for sexist attacks?”

  1. Ms. D said

    Don’t forget all the sexual insults thrown Hilary Clinton’s way either. How she is cold in bed or comments concerning her sexual orientation. You’re right, I don’t know where people get off thinking it’s okay to say such things on television/radio about other human beings, women OR men, especially those who sacrifice their private lives in order to serve the public. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. Sexuality has nothing to do with public office.

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