Saturday, August 30, 2008

From "Palin Who?" To Sexism In Minutes

It will be fascinating to see how many Democrats who attacked Hillary Clinton on a personal level during the Democratic primaries -- while claiming that they weren't doing so because she was a woman -- will attack GOP VP candidate Sarah Palin using the same sexist approach.

If the repeat attackers self-identify as Obama supporters their methodology will taint their candidate more effectively than a hundred Swiftboat ads designed to slander Obama. Part of this is due to association, but a greater part is due to keeping the question alive about who Obama will feel the need to cater to in his first term so that he will be elected for a second term.

Actions such as what is pointed out in Feministing: Palin Sexism Watch: VPILF Edition support the idea that dehumanizing women is good sport. Any variation of, "I'd like to hit that," are supporting attitudes where another person's lack of consent is meaningless.

If these people defend their actions by saying that Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin asked for it by joining the race, they are taking the same approach used to justify most rapes.

Those who celebrate this attitude or dismiss it as harmless fun are not my allies in the fight against sexual violence since the most effective tool to fight sexual violence is preventing the rationalizations for this type of violence. Dehumanizing another person is a key element which is needed to justify rape. Most rapists tell themselves and others that they have harmed nobody.

These sexist attacks are reflections of who the attackers really are and directly undermine the attackers' stated positions about women and so-called women's issues. Likewise silence from the Obama camp is a reflection of where this candidate is willing to go backwards through his inaction and silence.

In his acceptance speech Thursday night Obama accused McCain of not getting it on important issues, but so far Obama has failed to demonstrate that he fully gets it on sexism.

Platitudes about wanting a better future for his daughters aren't enough. The question for me is whether Obama is willing to take a stand against sexism and sexism-based violence even if it costs him some votes. The answer to that question will decide my vote.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 2:12 PM   2 comments links to this post


At August 30, 2008 3:47 PM, Anonymous Shira said...

Thank you for writing this. I have been struggling to articulate my feelings about Obama, and you have put it well. I just do not think I can vote for Obama after he dismissed a woman's mental health as relevant to her overall health. That to me sounds like the rationalizations of people who think it's not real rape unless it's rape AND a horrible physical beating. I do not trust that women are people to anyone in this race except the Greens, and I cannot in good conscience vote for someone I do not trust on many different levels to represent my interests.

At August 31, 2008 5:39 PM, Blogger JENNIFER DREW said...

The VPILF website is in fact incitement to commit male sexual violence against women, which includes of course raping Ms. Palin. Dehumanising Ms. Palin is a continuum of the now normalised violent misogyny current in western society.

The fact Obama has not challenged this violent misogyny is telling. Irrespective of politics - reducing women to dehumanised beings serves to justify rape and other forms of male sexual violence against women. If McCain and Obama refuse to speak out about the systematic dehumanised and sexual degradation of women - then it clearly shows they have no interest in women having the right of being respected and acknowledged as human beings. Men are accorded this right - so too must women.


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