Author: has written 5297 posts for this blog.

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
Return to: Homepage | Blog Index

43 Responses

  1. Fatemeh
    Fatemeh September 5, 2008 at 12:49 pm |

    le sigh. Agreed.

  2. Jenny Dreadful
    Jenny Dreadful September 5, 2008 at 12:58 pm |

    I think there’s a HUGE amount of hyprocrisy with conservatives suddenly adopting the banner of feminism now that it’s convenient. But seasoned feminists have long understood that conservatives don’t have a monopoly on misogyny, and the truth is that many of the attacks against Palin ARE sexist. Launching these sexist attacks against her is just stupid–there is so much to criticize in her record and her policy positions that the reliance upon gender-based attacks is uncreative in addition to being sexist.

    What I’m hoping is that maybe, just maybe, a few of these dolts will be awakened to feminism as a result of this election. I know they couldn’t see the sexism happening when it was Hillary, but they can now, apparently. Maybe the ability to identify and call out sexism won’t end after this election cycle. I mean, hell, maybe.

  3. Jenny Dreadful
    Jenny Dreadful September 5, 2008 at 1:02 pm |

    To be clear, I think it’s totally fair to call Palin out on her hypocrisy, especially where reproductive rights are concerned. But it’s not okay to pass around photoshopped pictures of her in a bikini, as if just wearing a bikini is reason enough not to vote for her.

  4. Diane
    Diane September 5, 2008 at 1:09 pm |

    I’m not happy with the GOP now trying to spin moms who work (not out of financial nessessity) as A-OK. All things being equal, moms at home taking care of their kids is the ideal situation for our families and has served society well forever. Moms not taking care of their kids and instead pursuing their personal career or educational gratification or materialstic desires does not serve us well. I see a lot of moms in the latter category.

    This is how I see Sarah Palin. I will vote for her and McCain because I agree on their stand on more issues (such as abortion, energy, etc.) than I do with Obama and Biden, but make no mistake about it, stay at home moms are what’s best for our kids, families and society and it should be our goal to embrace this role as moms.

  5. The Raving Atheist
    The Raving Atheist September 5, 2008 at 1:20 pm |

    and cuts funding to special-needs kids to top it off

    This claim has been thoroughly debunked. The funding is set to INCREASE 12% from 2008 to 2009. The erroneous reports of a 62% decrease are attributable to a misreading of the budget, which moved the Alaska Challenge Youth Academy out of the special needs category and into its own program. Furthermore, Palin worked to overhaul the special needs funding system so that per student spending is set to increase from $26,900 per student to $73,840.

    Many media outlets, including the Washington Monthy and even the Daily Kos (!) have issued retractions of this particular accusation against Palin.

  6. Naomi
    Naomi September 5, 2008 at 1:48 pm |

    The irony of the situation is that the ‘your on your own’ republican policies have left many families with a situation that they are desperate to balance the demands of work with their family.

    What is missing from the system as of now is a supportive state-supported pre-school care system that would allow families a range of options for balancing work/family life and would feed children’s intellectual curiosity from early on in a structured manner.

  7. Rhonil
    Rhonil September 5, 2008 at 1:56 pm |

    Just a question Jill: why, when I hear feminists rattling off the reasons women do not/should not support Sarah Palin (which I agree with) do they frequently list the fact that she is “pro-gun?” You did this here too. Firstly, why is being “pro-gun” (by that I assume we mean one who agrees with Heller; that is, right to own handguns for personal defense, reasonable restrictions to keep out of criminal’s hands are okay) a feminist issue at all? Couldn’t a feminist logically go either way on that issue? I know pro-choice, liberal women who support gun rights, partly to fight domestic violence/rape. It just seems that these are silenced voices (or are absent) in the organized feminist movement.
    Secondly, doesn’t assuming that being “pro-gun” means “anti-woman” perpetuate the stereotype that guns are macho, for men, and women are helpless etc? Shouldn’t women embrace gun ownership as a means of empowerment against violent men?

  8. Nicholas
    Nicholas September 5, 2008 at 1:59 pm |

    Well, if 1968 was a counter-cultural movement coming to a head, I feel like 40 years later we could be amidst the counter-counter-cultural movement coming to a head.

    I find what’s terrible on both sides of the mainstream political spectrum is the WWI trench mentality. On one side it’s okay to choose guns and schools, but not abortions or drugs, because this will lead to the apocalypse; meanwhile, on the other abortions and drugs should be left to personal choice, but choosing schools and guns will lead to disaster.

    We are all to blame for this and deserve to continuously fight these same stupid battles until we can come to some sort of agreement, which we apparently never will.

    I predict Bush-Gore 2000 played out on a grander scale, with more media coverage and more talented (in dealing with media presentation) politicians (Palin > Bush, Obama > Gore).

    Oh, and we’ll unmask more misogyny on the progressive side of things, because they’re just as hypocritical and messianic as the ultra-conservatives, just secular versions of right-wing theocrats.

    But, oh, will it sell…

  9. CartoonCoyote
    CartoonCoyote September 5, 2008 at 2:35 pm |

    hips half the size of Hillary’s

    THAT appeared in a Wall Street Journal op-ed? (Don’t worry, Jill–I clicked on it and know that it’s really there.)

    Fuck me gently with a chainsaw.

  10. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil September 5, 2008 at 3:00 pm |

    I’m going to guess that the charming WSJ piece was written by Peggy Noonan.

    It even gets the “but feminists are UGLY” line in there:

    going wham through that cement ceiling put there exclusively for good-looking right-wing/populist conservative females by not-so-good-looking left-wing ones

    Is the argument here really that the ugly feminists don’t like the pretty conservative. Because if those are the debate skills needed to get published in teh Journal, I am totally overqualified and demand a job there immediately.

  11. Christine
    Christine September 5, 2008 at 3:03 pm |

    Diane, above (#4):

    “All things being equal, moms at home taking care of their kids is the ideal situation for our families and has served society well forever.”

    Who says? And what society is this? Mothers have been working outside the home in droves for a century at least. Especially now it is practically a luxury to have enough income from one half of a couple so that the other person can be a stay-at-home parent. Forget serving society well; this model *has not served society ever.* The last time most women were stay at home moms, dads were also stay at home dads. Families worked together most of the day in the early nineteenth century in the U.S., on the farm, or in cities, moms worked *from* home or in other women’s homes.

    Most families need two incomes to make it. And even if that were not true, women are people, too, who can decide for themselves what works for them and their families. What evidence do you have (forgetting the forever part of the comment; this historically inaccurate) that all moms staying at home is good for all families? The way I see it, no one has a right to tell everyone else how their families should function. This is a fundamental problem with the neoconservative family values stance, which basically defines most families as not toeing the moral line because both parents have to work. Or, in a single-parent, usually single mother, situation, this line of thinking fails to acknowledge that if mom doesn’t work outside the home, nobody eats. It also fails to see how telling families how to live their lives they are supporting government intervention into private matters.

    What families need is options and support. Once ample affordable quality child care, early childhood education, and work policies that allow for reasonable (i.e. not two weeks, but six months) leave and salary for both women and men when a new kid shows up and their houses are valued by the American government and considered rights, and this moral calculus that somehow computes that women who work must not be good mothers and therefore bad for “society” is eradicated, then we’ll have a system that is serving society. The situation we have now is not ideal and is not serving anyone, except those wealthy enough to opt our of the situation and tell everyone else that they’re screwed up.

  12. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil September 5, 2008 at 3:03 pm |

    I haven’t been reading comments here recently, but I see the trolls are out in full election-season force again…

  13. Christine
    Christine September 5, 2008 at 3:05 pm |

    correction to above: I meant to say “when a new kid shows up AT their houses,” not to insinuate that houses are rights (although housing as a right is another conversation)

  14. Sara Anderson
    Sara Anderson September 5, 2008 at 6:52 pm |

    I haven’t been so offended by an editorial …maybe ever.

  15. FemNYC
    FemNYC September 5, 2008 at 7:11 pm |

    So scary:

  16. evil fizz
    evil fizz September 5, 2008 at 8:49 pm |

    I think I might be more offended by the grammar in that editorial than anything else. It’s nigh unreadable even before you get to the content. Once you realize what it says, you just throw up in your mouth a little.

    I can’t believe it wasn’t accompanied by that stupid ass poster of the “pretty” conservative women and the “ugly” liberal women.

  17. matttbastard
    matttbastard September 5, 2008 at 10:13 pm |

    I’m going to guess that the charming WSJ piece was written by Peggy Noonan.

    It even gets the “but feminists are UGLY” line in there

    Nope — that op-ed was a fine example of the wit and wisdom of Canada’s home grown right wing scourge, Barbara Amiel (I’m surprised she has never in all these years sued Ann Coulter for biting her flow).

  18. Sungold
    Sungold September 5, 2008 at 10:27 pm |

    Jill, I think it’s one thing to decry real sexism (the idea that motherhood would disqualify Palin from being an effective VP, for instance). It’s quite another to refuse to judge her at all when she has made motherhood a central qualification – perhaps her *main* qualification! Just look at how her two public speeches have been structured. She spoke about her family right at the start, and she went on at far more length than any male candidate has done. She’s being marketed as a hockey mom, fer goodness sake.

    So I think it’s fair to hold her to the standards of her own conservative movement and ask about the hypocrisy in her “choosing” to give birth when she would prefer to deny any choice at all to other American women.

    I think it’s fair, too, to discuss how her getting on the plane *after her water broke* is a sign of abysmal judgment. Any educated, four-time (!) mother ought to know that this typically triggers contractions. It was a long trip. She was about to give birth to a preemie with a serious health condition (physical as well as cognitive). To be fair, her physician shares some blame for this. I’m a historian of childbirth, not a doctor, but I’m appalled that any doctor would endorse Palin’s wish to travel any farther than the next hospital with a NICU. This was not a judgment call dependent on individual circumstances. This was a no brainer.

    I devote a lot of my academic work to resisting mother-blaming, and I’m not at all saying she should be punished anymore than I would say that about poor crack-addicted expectant mothers in South Carolina. But getting on that plane showed a kind of cowboy macho attitude that has not stood us well in our recent leaders.

    I think there are plenty of good reasons to oppose Palin on the issues. I would like to see the conversation turn back to the issues – and the Democrats steer us away from culture wars territory. I just don’t think it’s reasonable to give a candidate a free pass on something that they present as their major qualification. If Obama insinuated that we should vote for him because he’s a great father, he would deserve similar scrutiny.

  19. In the Interest of Rational Discourse: « feminism + fandom = attitude problem

    […] In the Interest of Rational Discourse: 05Sep08 In follow up to my post of the other day regarding non-gender talking points and Sarah Palin, I really really like this post by Jill at Feministe, ‘Fighting Sexism with Sexism’. […]

  20. Peter
    Peter September 6, 2008 at 12:04 am |

    I’ve spent the last decade having wingnuts lecture me that a 17 year old girl that has a baby, must have irresponsible parents who clearly lack good parenting skills.

    It sickens me to see them heap praise on the [i]white[/i] Palen family for their “choice”. LOL. You know God damned well if this was a black teenage girl from an economically disadvantaged background it would be the poster child for the wingnuts to whine about welfare mothers and failed parental responsibility.

    Its enough to make me want to kick some wingnut in the teeth!

  21. shah8
    shah8 September 6, 2008 at 1:06 am |

    I agree with Sungold.

    Secondly, who is making sexist attacks on Palin? Why don’t all of the people who are so interested in the integrity of Sarah Palin’s family actually cite some horrible slurs slung out by notable progressives or leftist. I have not heard of any besides the various dairies in different blogs by fairly anonymous people. I do not think a preemptive urging is appropriate and it also has a whiff of paternalism itself.

    Thirdly, the issue is moot for progressive congressional critters, because almost all of the high profile women, especially to the left end, are fairly old and have grown children. About the only sorta major figure with younger children is Ann Klochubar. Sarah Palin is *well* outside of the norms in youth, number of children, and age of children. It is natural that it should cause comment.

    Lastly, I think we can dispense with the favor that we do republicans like Sarah Palin by saying that we are analyzing her choices against a norm of behavior.

    NO. That’s the whole “fly 8 hours while having a baby” angle.

    What we’re actually doing is commenting on the departure of actions from stated motives in a situation where we have a reasonably good idea of what’s going on in her head because Palin is at least a little transparent about it.

    I just find Jill, Lauren, and Hilzoy‘s atitude indefensible in the face of Palin continually exploiting her family like John McCain exploits his wartime experiences. All that’s going to happen is that Palin and her spinmeisters will just cut themselves a convenient quote and sockpuppet Jill in order to slam her readers.

  22. Polyquats
    Polyquats September 6, 2008 at 4:39 am |

    “Had she been a man…” she wouldn’t have been on this ticket. Simple.

  23. blue milk
    blue milk September 6, 2008 at 8:27 am |

    Thank you for this post! I’m disappointed in the sexism against Palin also.

    She’s a dreadful candidate. Surely we can let Palin’s mistakes and flaws shine out all on their own without sinking to attacking her motherhood, about which we know little more than a few soundbites, and we all know how insightful drive-by parenting criticism is.

  24. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil September 6, 2008 at 8:45 am |

    Nope — that op-ed was a fine example of the wit and wisdom of Canada’s home grown right wing scourge, Barbara Amiel

    Rats! It just had that “lucky ducky” ring to it…

    I just find Jill, Lauren, and Hilzoy’s atitude indefensible in the face of Palin continually exploiting her family like John McCain exploits his wartime experiences.

    Do you see progressives attacking McCain’s war experience? When it comes right down to it, being a POW is not a qualification for executive office. Wesley Clark said as much and was roundly condemned. Personally, I agree with Clark, but how do you say that a man who was tortured and held captive for what, five years?, isn’t a good man to hold office, given our current media environment of sound bites?
    Personally, I think attacking Palin on the family side of things is a no-win situation: it takes us down the road of blaming/judging women’s reproductive choices and just gives the conservative talking heads ammo: “Sexism! Waaaaa!”

    It’s both the principle and the pragmatism coming out.

  25. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub September 6, 2008 at 11:51 am |

    FashionablyEvil, ITA. And you know, if we continue to engage in the same rhetoric the misogynists use, we will give them further credence.

    I’ll also remind folks that not all conservatives are excited about the Palin pick.

  26. shah8
    shah8 September 6, 2008 at 12:38 pm |

    POW isn’t material to the current performance of John McCain, which is what Wes Clark said, and it was the absolute truth, no slamming needed. Plenty of people, both liberal and conservatives (mostly conservatives) *have* attacked John McCain’s reputed sanity as a result of being a POW. Nowadays, that discussion is referred to gentleperson-like with mentions of “temper”.

    Palin’s family, however much some people don’t like it, *IS* material to the current performance of Sarah Palin (witness her break to see her son off to war), and not only that, her life and family story highlights important fractures in American society and are important discussion points in their own right.

    The tippy tip of my atitude is that there is little evidence that the questions and posts by known qualities are abusive to Palin’s daughter or to Palin herself. Absent this, calls for concerns about sexism is a passive kind of concern trolling.

  27. TinaCaliH
    TinaCaliH September 6, 2008 at 2:16 pm |


    This is a feminist blog–what should we be concerned with? It’s not less bad when progressives are sexist. Trying to shut down people who call others out on sexism doesn’t help feminism.

  28. shah8
    shah8 September 6, 2008 at 6:40 pm |

    Tina… Point out an example of someone being abusive.

    The whole thing to me is too reminiscent of the classic joke about jews in concentration camps advising each other to not make trouble.

  29. shah8
    shah8 September 6, 2008 at 6:41 pm |

    and by that, I mean people who are recognizably sane and would be taken for such, unlike that truly cracked link above your comment.

  30. Eric
    Eric September 6, 2008 at 10:26 pm |

    As a conservative, I don’t see anyone on my side trying to “take up the banner of feminism”. Don’t take this the wrong way, but we don’t think much of what generally qualifies as feminism. We’re just pointing out blatant hypocrisy on the other side. For a party that claims to be the bulwark in the fight for women’s rights to tear down a woman because she didn’t stay home to take care of the children… well, that merits a word or two of criticism.

    As others have pointed out, so far Palin’s been accused, by the putative champions of women no less, of being a slut, a bad mother, a beauty queen airhead, and a bitch. What is this, 1950? What’s next? Shall we criticize her for having her slip showing, say, or wearing bright colors in the winter? Maybe she should push all this politics nonsense from her pretty little head and stay home to take care of her man?

    I’ve always disagreed with political feminists, but they lost my respect as well when they trashed Paula Jones for having the temerity to stick up for herself after being propositioned by Bill Clinton. What happened to all that talk about power differentials? Sexual harassment? She must have wanted it, right? This latest episode isn’t exactly covering the faction in glory either. If you’re just going to be another political power faction fighting for your share of federal pork, then at least own up to it.

  31. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil September 7, 2008 at 9:12 am |

    As others have pointed out, so far Palin’s been accused, by the putative champions of women no less, of being a slut, a bad mother, a beauty queen airhead, and a bitch.

    Citations, please? Preferably from a major media source?

    I’m also glad that you think we’re all hypocrites and see nothing wrong with the mud that was slung at Hillary during the primary season and, indeed, is leveled against women EVERY DAY. The logic is great: “Dems are the party that cares about women. Republicans don’t, and so are happy to throw women under the bus on a daily basis, but complain about Dems’ puported (yet unsubstantiated) hypocrisy for criticising Sarah Palin.” That’s pretty nauseating.

    (I recommend the recent Jon Stewart segment called “The Gender Card” for just a taste of the nasty sexist comments from conservative pundits).

    As for this:

    The whole thing to me is too reminiscent of the classic joke about jews in concentration camps advising each other to not make trouble.

    I am so offended I don’t even know where to start.

  32. ol cranky
    ol cranky September 7, 2008 at 2:38 pm |

    We’re just pointing out blatant hypocrisy on the other side.

    funny, some of us who are accused of being sexist are actually just pointing out the hypocrisy of the conservatives.

  33. shah8
    shah8 September 7, 2008 at 6:50 pm |

    Jill, Eric is precisely what I’m talking about. I feel pretty strongly that you’re missing the holistic structure and environment in which these conversations are in. This is a culture war, with at least one side engaging in absolute shamelessness as a tactic in prosecuting the war. Public worrying about the nobility of your side disrupts the unity of your side because it invites rancorous debate. Not only that, it encourages controversy about just what is sexist–without a clear crossing of a brightline, it’s hard to even know what we’re talking about. With that, many conservatives will just wade in, and do their concern trolling best to keep the conversation about the controversy of Sarah Palin, rather than her acts whether that be personal or as a public official.

    If you *reeeeaaaally* think I’m wrong, then I invite you to stroll down memory lane and check out the Anita Hill hearings. All of the games with Clarence Thomas then are repeated now.

  34. Ico
    Ico September 7, 2008 at 8:10 pm |

    “What if it had been one of Obama’s kids who was pregnant instead of one of Palin’s?” (assuming, of course, that Obama’s kids were slightly older). [I also know I’m hardly the first one to throw this argument out there, but I haven’t been reading other blogs at all, so I can’t point you to who else has made this case better than I have; feel free to leave links in the comments].

    Elle, PhD has a post on this:

  35. shah8
    shah8 September 7, 2008 at 8:18 pm |

    I’m realizing that I’m conflating posts too much, and that Jill’s post is more complex and right than I gave it credit for…

    Blame it on being distracted by Hurricane Ike…

  36. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan September 7, 2008 at 9:12 pm |

    Sort of unrelated, but I got lost by the “paternalistic laws that attempt to criminalize pregnant women who do things like smoke” thing. What’s the anti-feminist part of that?

    (And I ask this in good faith! Is there a post where this is explained elsewhere? Because I thought about it a bit but still don’t get it. I’m on-board with the pro-choice stuff, but this seems a little different…)

    And to get back on topic:

    Shorter Republicans: It’s not hypocritical for us to talk crap about women, because we actually hate women and don’t even try to pretend otherwise. Saying something sexist *without* hating women is the *real* hypocrisy!

  37. aack
    aack September 7, 2008 at 10:46 pm |

    did they actually talk about the size of women’s hips? and this is meant to not be sexist? really? how does that work? No, really. I want to know.

  38. Feminists Ponder Sarah Palin « Without Politicians

    […] Feministe: It sure is interesting to see conservatives adopt the banner of feminism now that Sarah Palin is […]

  39. Tina
    Tina September 7, 2008 at 11:24 pm |

    The word I used was sexist–my point, and I stand by it, is that feminists have an obligation to point out sexism when they see it. I’m not going to be quiet just because a liberal or progressive says something retrograde. A real feminist, in my opinion , stands up for all women, not just those who share our political views. You might think I’m being a pollyanna, but this is the kind of compromise moderates and centrists are always raked over the coals for–it’s not different just because a liberal is the candidate.

  40. Lets hope the election is this close, what happens if its a tie?

    Surely you need a greater margin than 2 percent to declare victory in the Palin Biden debate ?

Comments are closed.

The commenting period has expired for this post. If you wish to re-open the discussion, please do so in the latest Open Thread.