The angel and the whore

I was traveling in an extremely red area, listening to the radio, when I heard a most peculiar political ad.

[Female voice]. Hi, I’m XXXX. I’m a Palin conservative, running against a Pelosi liberal. That’s right. She’s a Pelosi liberal, I’m a Palin conservative. [Repeat chorus several times]. End.

Okay, so I was initially stunned that anyone would make this claim, since I thought that everyone agreed that Palin is the #1 reason that the McCain ticket is tanking. I mean, even my conservative brother shudders at the phrase “President Palin.”

Then I began to ruminate about what the hell this meant. Everyone in this ad (the challenger, the incumbent, the two comparisons) was a woman. So we’ve come a long way, baby.

However, I still had no idea what this challenger meant by the comparison, other than that she was a good woman (Palin conservative) challenging the bad woman (Pelosi liberal). So, this is my question: now that conservative women are able to openly seek political power, is the new Victorian angel in the house vs. whore in the street dichotomy now conservative/pro-life/anti-social programs woman vs. liberal/pro-choice/pro-social programs woman? Just two kinds of women in public life: one extreme or another? (I tolerate gays vs. I support their civil rights; Pro-small-town America vs. Pro-big-city America.) Or did she just mean that she was young and hot, running against a grandma?

Seriously, there are still only two kinds of women?


11 responses to “The angel and the whore”

  1. rm says:

    i read something on slate about how palin is the latest manifestation of the “sexy puritan”-conservatives love this-see the hosts on fox news or ann coulter’s hair. i see palin as more of a young britney spears-for middle(brow) american consumption, claimed to be a virgin, etc. but is sold by sex all the way through.

  2. Ginny says:

    There is that.

    But on a policy level, I think she may represent more than the sexy prototype. Not sure though, as I have not been able to talk to anyone who is a huge Palin fan to find out why.

    My guy says that I am overreading the “woman” thing, and that the polorization is not gendered, but just the same ‘ole conservative v. liberal thing. I’m not convinced.

  3. Tim says:

    I agree that there’s something gendered going on here, and that it just might be along the lines of the angel/whore dichotomy. “Pelosi” stands in right now for everything conservatives love to hate about libruls (having recently taken over for “Hillary” — it’s not nice to kick someone when she’s down, and besides, her husband said some nice things about McCain). Similarly, “Palin” stands for everything a certain brand of social conservative loves to love right now.

    And by “policy” in relation to Palin, I’m not sure what that means outside of reductive, over-simplified visions of the American family. Has there been an explanation of a Palin policy? Actual, you know, initiatives, with details and stuff?

    Also, wow, what a cheap-and-easy way to make a political ad. Tar your opponent with the Pelosi brush, scrub yourself down with the Palin soap, and you’re done!

  4. Dave says:

    Maybe Palin is both kinds of woman. Being 20 years younger than Pelosi doesn’t hurt, either.

  5. swells says:

    I thought that everyone agreed that Palin is the #1 reason that the McCain ticket is tanking.

    I still think that on many levels, she’s the main reason it hasn’t totally tanked. The virgin/whore dichotomy is perfect here–and she’s even more palatable because she’s jocky, like one of those hot girls who outshoots she guy in pool in a beer commercial–combine that with fear-filled social conservatism and you have the perfect woman.

  6. Dave says:

    Palin is good for the base — intensely pro-life women love her because she’s so clearly one of them, and good ol’ boys love her because she’s hott, perky, and anti-feminist (so they can fantasize about her bringing them a sandwich). But picking Palin is the single act by which McCain broke the spell he’d held over the elite political press. Everyone in the Gang of 500 did a WFT? take that morning. It’s a choice so undeniably cynical and reckless that it made opinion-leaders rethink McCain. It was all over from there.

    Among the true believers, Palin will become a martyr for the cause of true conservatism. She’s probably the leading contender for the 2012 nomination.

  7. Ginny says:

    If she is up in 2012, she will be to the left what Hillary Clinton was to the right: a unifier. People who can’t agree on anything seem to agree that the prospect of her as President is scary-scary. And I remember all of my conservative relatives having the same, knee- jerk response to Hillary. They could never say in policy terms why they disliked her–it was personal. I know that my response to Palin was initially policy-based, but it has now become a personal aversion.

  8. ruben says:

    palin in 2012? be still my heart. the sexism of the right will have a lot harder time dealing with such window dressing at the top of the ticket rather than merely cheerleading a warmonger who had paid his dues. she may even be calculating enough to realize that 2012 may not prove as hospitable to a gop wingnut as waiting out obama’s second term and shooting for an uncrowded field eight years from now. biden isn’t going to run and clinton may not want to. romney will give it another shot but the further we get from 9/11 the more giulani becomes a historical footnote. palin is certainly young enough to bide her time…but i see huckabee as the big winner in all of this. he’s a social conservative’s darling as well but can argue that he was the better option to mccain while not being the complete embarrassment that palin has proven herself to be.

    plus, if you really want to get into it, she’s not going to be as cute four or eight years from now. 52-years-old is long in the tooth for a wannabe milf-it might take a lot more 150k to cover that up!

  9. AW says:

    I think Clinton and Palin have proved to be polarizing figures in another way, too: on the one hand, we have Clinton, a candidate who is remarkably smart and experienced, but who is not generally thought of as being very warm or likable. On the other hand, we have Palin, who is not very bright or experienced, but who reads as warm-friendly-let’s-drink-beer-together.

    I think this duality belies the complexity of both candidates and of women in general and begs the question: when do we get a female candidate who is smart, experienced and also has a touch of warmth/empathy? Is the trouble that female candidates are so new to national politics that we have not yet had a chance to grow up a genuine leader who is also a woman? Or, is the trouble that genuine, well-rounded leaders, who also happen to be women, get stereotyped into the different dualities discussed in this post and the responses to it?

    And BTW, Ginny, it’s nice to have your voice at TGW (something I meant to say after your post last month).

  10. Ginny says:

    Thanks, AW.

    Okay, let’s compromise.

    Rachel Maddow for President! Competent, smart, funny, empathetic, liberal, and can say “Holy Mackerel!” and sound authentic.

  11. Dave says:

    a wannabe milf

    But she’s in fact a milf, right?

    I would take back everything bad I’ve ever said about America if we elected Rachel Maddow.