Strip Club Holds Sarah Palin Lookalike Contest

Via Sociological Images — a truly great blog I discovered recently — comes this story about a Sarah Palin lookalike contest held at Vegas strip club (oh, sorry, “gentleman’s club”). Lots of bikinis, sexualized use of guns and sexism abound. You can view more photographs of the event here.

The saddest thing is that it’s not the most offensive display of sexualized misogyny that has been directed a Palin. The sex doll came close, but I’d say that award goes “Nailin’ Paylin,” the Larry Flint pornographic film starring yet another Palin lookalike, the existence of which all of us should have seen coming.

There are two problems with both the porn film and this strip club contest, and neither one of them is about porn and stripping in general. The first issue is consent. Sarah Palin did not consent to having her image used in this way. Portraying her sexually like this without her consent is a violation — and contrary to what many people apparently think, existing as a woman in public is not the same as consenting to use of your body as public property. This isn’t satire or parody; it’s just sexist and degrading.

Which brings us to the next issue. The entire reason that anyone gets to hide behind the parody and “all in good fun” arguments is precisely because portraying Sarah Palin sexually is intended to be mocking towards her. It’s taking a powerful woman and working to make her non-threatening by turning her into a sexual object. And it’s the very opposite side of the coin as calling Hillary Clinton ugly and denying her sexuality. Both reinforce the ideas that women exist to sexually pleasure men, and that sexuality is the only power we have (or should be allowed). Whether revoking or affirming that “power,” the result is an attempt to render the woman inferior and powerless.

We still live in a world where women seemingly cannot be seen as sexual and at the same time be taken seriously. We still live in a world where sexuality itself is seen as degrading to women. That is the purpose of these types of exercises — to debase Palin by reminding everyone that she (presumably) has a vagina and is therefore only good for fucking. I truly believe that if sex was not still viewed as inherently degrading to women, we wouldn’t be seeing these sorts of displays at all.

The goal is to mock Palin’s intelligence not by engaging with her foolish beliefs and ignorant rhetoric, but by pointing and saying “look, boobs!” or “I’d sure like to hit that!” And making her non-threatening isn’t only dangerous politically when Palin is in fact in a position to potentially do a lot of harm; attempting to make her non-threatening in this way is dangerous to all women who hold power, who want to be taken seriously, and who dream of being able to be proud of their sexuality and brains all at the same time. An acknowledgment of female sexuality shouldn’t be seen as mocking — these portrayals of Palin only reinforce the idea that it is.

This is degrading to Sarah Palin, particularly as a woman, both because it ignores the right of consent and because the very intention is for it to be degrading. It’s in no way a celebration of sexuality (since in order for it to be, it would by definition have to be consensual), but a ridicule. And in the end, all women are the butt of the joke.

cross-posted at The Curvature

NOTE: Comments will be heavily moderated on this post.  Please read this comment before leaving yours. If your comment is one which I have said I will not publish, then I’m not going to publish it.  Usually, comments are my favorite part of blogging, but I’ve taken enough shit for one day.  Thank you.


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101 comments for “Strip Club Holds Sarah Palin Lookalike Contest

  1. A
    October 29, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    Finally… It took you guys long enough to call this out.
    Just because we don’t agree with her ideas is not a reason to mock her because of her gender. The very idea that so many liberals laugh at the Naylin’ Paylin video (see the comments on the HuffPo story on it) make me very dissapointed in liberals.

  2. preying mantis
    October 29, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    “It took you guys long enough to call this out.”

    …who’s “you guys”?

    “It’s taking a powerful woman and working to make her non-threatening by turning her into a sexual object.”

    A lot of the Palin sexism seems to be coming from or marketed to straight men who are presumed to be McCain-Palin supporters, though. It’s meant to cash in on the weird idea that’s taken root since Bush won in 2000, that the candidate you’d most like to be buddies with will be the best pick. In Palin’s case, it’s almost like a prom queen election writ large, with conservative men seeming to glom onto her because they find her sexually appealing and her political success with them depending on how well she projects dream-girl-status at people still completely mired in rigid gender roles as seen in ’50s sitcoms. It’s a referendum on how much they’d like to date her, which makes for a really bizarre dynamic. Purveyors are cashing in on it in the same way they cash in on fantasies involving cheerleaders.

  3. October 29, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    A lot of the Palin sexism seems to be coming from or marketed to straight men who are presumed to be McCain-Palin supporters, though.

    Yes, and that’s a big reason why I think this is going on. Clearly, the guys who this is working on are very sexist. And due to their sexism, they have to make her non-threatening in order to support her, or she presents a challenge to chauvinistic attitudes. In other words, they get to show how non-sexist they are by supporting a woman, while still living out their sexism and believing that there’s no real threat to the status quo.

  4. J
    October 29, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    As always, a really thought provoking post from Cara. On one hand, I’m disgusted by those images, and it is completely objectifying and degrading. Both Clinton and Palin were objectified in this manner, but I think the difference is that Palin has been an active participant in some ways. When Sarah Palin winks at the camera during a nationally televised vice presidential debate, I think she is effectively saying “I don’t deserve to be taken seriously.” I know that “deserve” is a loaded term, and I want to be clear that I’m not saying that Palin brought these portrayals upon herself because she winked at the camera. I don’t believe that her behavior justifies theirs. However, I do believe that Palin makes a mockery of herself (and all women) with her “cutesy folksy” act. I think it’s really important to acknowledge that, while still understanding that wink or no wink, they would still putting out the same garbage. I guess what I find so fundamentally depressing about this whole thing is that despite Clinton and Palin being so different from each other, they are still (as you point out) objectified on the basis of their sexuality.

  5. Ashley
    October 29, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    You’ve put your finger on it, Cara. I’ve had a hard time explaining to others exactly why it makes me so dang uncomfortable — especially some of my liberal male buddies, who just think “Naylin’ Paylin” and the sex doll are riots. They usually try to chalk it up to my irritation with that junk in general, but I knew there was more, just couldn’t come up with the words for it.

  6. Heather Leila
    October 29, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    I think the worst part about this is that the men who really enjoy demeaning her image at the strip show would still vote for her. I don’t understand how even Republican men who support her politically are so into degrading her sexually. I recently saw a man sporting a shirt with her picture that said GILF, which I take to mean “Gov. I’d Like to F%ck.” The thing is, this person will probably vote for her ticket. (Because why would an Obama supporter pay money for a shirt that could promote her candidacy, even if in such a vulgar manner?) Somehow this really bothers me…it seems like men are ready to vote for her f%ckability or something.

  7. dananddanica
    October 29, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    great post.

    eh, heather leila, its all so frustrating, some men will vote for fuckability just as some women voted for bush for his macho ill protect you bullshit. its amazing to me how people can vote against their self-interest and focus only on one thing.

  8. nails
    October 29, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    its not something exclusive for women. remember when larry flint published that spoof ad with a story about jerry falwell having sex with his mother? Im kind of suprised at people who think that the porn movie is done for any reason besides her ‘family values’ platforum and the hateful stuff she says. Hustler has done this specific brand of joke against bigoted political figures for a very long time. Sexuality is embarrassing to those kinds of people, and is really not marketed twards palin supporters who are men (it is full of political jokes that are pretty harsh to her). I do agree with a lot of what is posted and realize that the issue isnt exclusive to the movie, i just felt the need to point out that I do not think that the movie neccesarily has the same motovation behind it as the rest of the examples mentioned in the post. I totally agree with what cara said about the plain supporters who are into the use of palin as a sex object.

  9. October 29, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    Im kind of suprised at people who think that the porn movie is done for any reason besides her ‘family values’ platforum and the hateful stuff she says.

    There are a lot of politicians that run on “family values” platforms and say hateful things. Most them just so happen to be men. So have I missed all the news items about their porn films? Where are the Bush, Huckabee, Santorum, Roberts and Alito etc. movies? If they exist (and I wouldn’t be hugely shocked if a Bush one did), they sure as hell haven’t gotten this same level of publicity or been given the same level of backing by their producers.

    Further, I’m still in no way cool with sexually “embarrassing” someone (non consensually), no matter what the political motivation behind it. It’s just plain not okay.

  10. Banisteriopsis
    October 29, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    In Palin’s case, it’s almost like a prom queen election writ large, with conservative men seeming to glom onto her because they find her sexually appealing and her political success with them depending on how well she projects dream-girl-status at people still completely mired in rigid gender roles as seen in ’50s sitcoms.

    Apparently that’s how she got picked to begin with. Jane Mayer talks about it on Democracy Now here.

    nails, white people experience racism too. That doesn’t negate the long, pervasive history of racism against black people. It’s different for the same reason a white kid doing blackface is not the same thing as a black kid doing whiteface. You have to consider the context in which the event occurs. In this case, the pervasive misogyny all of us experience every day.

  11. A
    October 29, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    @ Preying mantis
    “you guys” being feminists in general, specifically this blog.

    I see what you are saying about McCain/Palin supporters seeing her as the prom queen that they want to date (that is another issue altogether). And I think you are right about that.
    However, that is only one part of the problem. If the problem was solely with McCain-Palin supporters, then the Naylin’ Paylin story would not have been so popular on HuffPo. And as nails points out it “is really not marketed twards palin supporters who are men (it is full of political jokes that are pretty harsh to her.)”
    My point is, many of us seem to be making sexist jokes then saying the problem exists soley with conservitives. It’s the classic “It’s not me” argument.
    Please don’t just pass the buck off on conservitives when the problem exists everywhere.

  12. October 29, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    A — I don’t think that Preying Mantis or anyone else here was attempting to absolve self-identified liberals. As Nails was pointing out, there are certainly politically-based motivations behind a lot of the misogyny we’ve been seeing. I think that what was being pointed out is that we’re dealing with something more complex than blind hatred of Palin as a person and politician and that the true cause is far more insidious. I agree, I think it’s an important thing to examine, ad I think that we can look at both at the same time without denying the other.

    And for the record, Feministe has covered sexism directed at Palin, mainly by the mainstream media, and I know for a fact that Feministing and Shakesville have been doing Sarah Palin Sexism Watches religiously.

  13. October 29, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    I found those images so disgusting. The idea that Palin is just this body that available for violation because she is a woman is nothing more than sexism 101. Whether or nor we agree with her position such imagery is harmful for all women. This kind of thing would never have been done with a male candidate.

  14. October 29, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    Just to back up Cara: We were posting about Palin-related sexism from literally the night she accepted the nomination. We haven’t covered it as extensively as Shakesville or Feministing, but we’re also a smaller blog and none of us are full-time writers, so we don’t cover anything as extensively as those two. But I don’t think it’s fair at all to act like we passed the buck on this one.

  15. Jack Triper
    October 29, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    You forget that the sole reason she is in this race is to a, attract white working class men. B, because the view of her party is that woman are not intelligent enough to tell the difference between Palin and Hillary Clinton and will then come out in large numbers to vote. I don’t know shit from shit, seriously I stumbled upon this site literally but the way I see it is, that she gave her consent when she accepted the nomination with an apparently obvious strategy behind it. This kind of thing will get her male votes. I would rather this kind of thing not happen because it actually works to the advantage of her agenda. Anyway we are talking about a person that would force a woman to have a rape baby but not give her nor the forced upon baby any type of health care what so ever.

  16. shah8
    October 29, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    Well, there are certainly alot of “Sarah Palin” outfits for Halloween parties.

    I have fairly ambiguous feelings about the blog-post, though some people who know me well, know of my attitudes.

    First things first…I have no objection towards the condemnation of the “gentleman’s club” ugh!, I still think we should approach the general topic with some awareness of how Palin’s entire purpose is to serve as an object and that Palin is working to make herself, and the people around her, including her children, into objects. I have no idea how much she analyzes what she is doing, but I suspect that she believes that she is in the image game and trying to front an image. I also suspect that she does not quite grasp the difference between objectifying herself and putting her best self forwards, nor does she grasp how much she is not really supposed to have an opinion beyond what others tell her to say.

    I really have no pity for her, and I believe that she should be a cautionary tale for all ambitious women. I also believe that the sex club was marketing the availability of a powerful woman for their customers to lust and mock as one. However, I think this was inevitable–all one has to do was watch McCain stare at her ass during her acceptance speech, and Palin was accepted as a vice presidential canidate because right-wingers percieved Obama as a leftist culteral objectivization of Morgan Freeman by liberal whites. They are all into symbols without comprehension and they can’t imagine that anyone else would operate differently and with less hypocrisy. The republicans simply aren’t going to pick a woman with actual insight, intellegence, and self respect–Meg Whitman, Condoleeza Rice, Kaylee Bay Hutchingson and the like.

    For now, they’ll only pick women they can mock in this fashion.

  17. All One
    October 29, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    Nixon didn’t consent to me wearing his face as a Halloween mask when I was a kid.
    She used her good looks and attractiveness to progress her career- this is the result of that.
    While I’m not a fan of sexist commentary, not even at someone who intends to hurt me with her power if she gets it-
    i think she set herself up for it.

    She also made an ass out of jherself when she told the public she was just like Joe Six pack and people who live on Mainstreet and then let her handlers or herself on a shopping spree that would feed several US families.

    I feel no pity for her-
    just the opposite

  18. All One
    October 29, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    And
    I hope those dancers made good money that night.

  19. October 29, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    I have to disagree with this:
    “She used her good looks and attractiveness to progress her career- this is the result of that.
    While I’m not a fan of sexist commentary, not even at someone who intends to hurt me with her power if she gets it-
    i think she set herself up for it.”

    That sounds a lot like “Did you see what she was wearing? She totally deserved what she got.” Sexist commentary or accolades of sexist commentary from ANYONE, including liberals, is fuckin’ lame.

    I don’t pity her, but I do think that punishing her for her looks is degrading to women in general. Women are going to see how her image is being treated and be less likely to get involved in politics because they don’t want to have a Larry Flint video devoted to degrading their image.

    (As a side note, I do think that if women have power over their own sexuality they can dance around on stages and on video if they want, for money or for their own pleasure or both).

  20. October 29, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    That sounds a lot like “Did you see what she was wearing? She totally deserved what she got.” Sexist commentary or accolades of sexist commentary from ANYONE, including liberals, is fuckin’ lame.

    Steph — thanks for saying it before I got the chance.

    And All One — again there is a difference between political satire and parody and the objectification and mocking of a person based on their gender. A Nixon mask doesn’t belittle men, and Palin masks I’ve seen don’t belittle women — some of the Palin outfits I’ve seen are a different story.

  21. October 29, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    Anyway we are talking about a person that would force a woman to have a rape baby but not give her nor the forced upon baby any type of health care what so ever.

    Yes, Jack — and do you see how easy it was to say that? Much, much easier than getting women to dress up in g-strings for a Sarah Palin lookalike contest or to make a porn film about her. Much more effective, too. The fact that she’s a shitty person who hates women isn’t an excuse to degrade women. In fact, it makes no sense whatsoever.

  22. Jack Triper
    October 29, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    The point was, yes she is a shitty person who ( I believe ) did give her consent and that it degrades her shifty person in no way shape or form ( maybe woman but not her it works to her advantage). That she her self has done more to degrade women than any strip club or one single porn movie. That I believe her shitty personinins should hold more of a discussion than the subject of this blog. In fact the I believe the blog itself may be true but using her as the example to get a the point across does just the opposite. It brings people to her side wich over all will hurt woman. Sucks that without her we would see maybe 3 responses and not the 20 we have currently but way it goes.

  23. Jack Triper
    October 29, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    So my point is, I don’t think I can properly articulate my point but coming to her defense has the power to do more harm than the strippers or a stupid movie.

  24. October 29, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    Jack — I’d be hugely shocked if anyone who reads this blog would be brought to her side. Sorry, but it’s not going to happen.

    And I think you’re hugely confused about what consent means. Do you have reason to believe that the person running this contest called up Sarah Palin and asked her permission? Or that Palin called him or her up and suggested the idea on her own? Because if not she did not give her consent. There are two ways to give consent: you initiate communication with someone to give them permission to do something, or someone asks for your permission and you answer in the affirmative.

    You cannot “assume” consent based on another person’s actions. That’s how rape gets excused. Sarah Palin accepting the VP nod or acting like a flake or whatever is not consent for anything else. Just like accepting a ride or flirting is not consent to sex.

  25. Jack Triper
    October 29, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    if someone is in the ghetto looking for crack at 3 in the morning and gets stabbed the person knows the action may have that result. If a white man goes to Iraq waving an American flag yelling I hope you all die and is then shot they asked for it to happen. I think that if she based her strategy around attracting working class white males then yes she did give her consent. She is a shity person and it is good for her. I don’t think it is all OK and i did not say that. You can turn this around all you want.

  26. October 29, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    Goodbye Jack.

  27. Jack Triper
    October 29, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    You cannot “assume” consent based on another person’s actions. That’s how rape gets excused.

    Rape is violent and there is no excuse for forcing ones self on another living entity. Say what you want but I don’t think its the same as excusing rape. Any one who would ponder that it is because of what some one will say or ware has another set of issues all together.

  28. October 29, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    I think the way Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin have been treated should make it abundantly clear that the US is not nearly as far along in respect for women as our leaders say we are when they want us to invade a country known for its violations of women’s rights.

    Regardless of how you feel towards her personally, I think it’s really important to not be hypocritical when this sexism against her comes up, which it does frequently. She’s both part of the problem and a symptom of it – it’s a little more complicated than the villain/victim way people like to see the world, but that’s reality, and even bad people have human rights. I have seen feminist blogs speak out against this stuff multiple times, but a lot of Democrats don’t.

  29. Starbuck Galactica
    October 29, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    I think Jacks point made simple is Sarah is as much to blame as the strip club and Larry flint. The whole thing objectifies women but we are letting her off.

    The laws of physics tell us that every action has an equal & opposite reaction. Rape is not an equal reaction to any thing a woman has done. A persons action of rape is still a reaction of some thing. Some thing in our society or allot of things actually but somthing. Its still cause and affect.

    He can still be right without justifying an excuse for rape. He may have a different view than most here but i like to think we do more than just sit around and re assure ourselves that we are rite and the rest off the world can go away because they are not in the club. We do no good if we say goodbye to anyone who doesn’t think just like us. lot of good telling just ourselves what the world should no will get us. We have the opportunity to have a conversation with someone who came to the site on accident and showed an interest in the subject.

    Dam you Jack, go away

  30. Rei Paqui
    October 29, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    Considering she has no regards for any of the LGBTQ’s rights, degrades the working man (whom most of my family is, also working women) by calling them “Joe Six-pack”, considering she’s anti-intellectual (In which intellect is the only reason people in society ever pondered women having rights), considering she’s another right-wing oil loving a hole, considering she would drill the wildlife reserve in an instant not caring if any spills happen and it kills native wildlife, considering she attempts to ban important books that get people to think and considering the fact that she has no regard for the constitution..

    Considering all those things.

    Why should I give two shakes about her rights? Show me someone who stands up for other’s rights and even if I don’t always agree with this person, I would fight for this person’s liberty.

    Show me a would-be tyrant and I will take every chance to degrade, humiliate, tear-down, and dismantle them. I don’t care if they’re man or woman, trans or bi-gender, or androgynous.

    When I start viewing her as one of the people, rather than one of the man/a part of the machine and a hinder to all of our freedoms, then and only then will I view her as a “woman” with “rights”.

    No, because the females in my life are WOMEN. I was raised by WOMEN, there are many days I mourn not being a real WOMAN. Most of my hero’s ARE WOMEN. They were/are strong, caring, understanding, considerate, and all around badass.

    Sarah Palin is nothing but a power abusing, rights trampling, anti-inellectual, worthless peace of low-down, would-be-tyrant scum. Having a vagina doesn’t give her special treatment, she’s subject to all ways of being degraded just like everyone else. If she could, she’d turn this into a Christian nation and dismantle the constitution, the same constitution that gives women rights. Therefore, she gets no respect as a person or as a “woman” from me.

    Now on the flip side..

    I do believe people should not be degrading her just because she’s an attractive woman. I much prefer the parody my best friend Val was coming up with at our halloween party last weekend. Spouting off in her creepily accurate Sarah Palin voice that she can kill a moose with her bare hands, so she knows how to build a damned fire.

    Attacking her intelligence, ignorance, and lack of class or culture is something I’d much rather see. Sexual objectifying is a lazy parody, and it’s making her seem less threatening..which is bad. She should be viewed in the ways I’ve seen on the “Sarah Palin is evil” video.

    She should be shown as a blood-thirsty, fire-breathing, money and power hungry demon spawn…not a sex object. She’s nothing but Dick Cheney with female parts, even less diplomacy skills, yet more charisma and speech skills, more bible thumping zealot power, and less intelligence (which is all scary). Everytime she opens her mouth I can just hear “wer wuh weh wuh wer wuh weh weh..kill the intellectuals..weh weh”

    She doesn’t turn me on, she scares the crap out of me.

    but hey, if she gets in..free raw moose and polar bear hearts for everyone..and lots and lots of tax breaks for the wealthy, and free bibles for all! Free stones as well, so that we can stone heathens. We wont even have to worry about debating over stuff like this anymore, the government could think for us!

  31. October 29, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    Starbuck, if you think that I have time for every person who comes by and starts arguing that “if someone is in the ghetto looking for crack at 3 in the morning and gets stabbed the person knows the action may have that result” — which sounds an awful lot like “she knew she shouldn’t have been walking there and wearing that skirt, what did she expect” to me — in response to my argument about why that kind of reasoning is so offensive and a 101 explanation of the notion of “consent” . . . if you think that I have time to treat every person who comes by and offends me as though I owe them an education . . . if you think that I have time for every person who comes by and says they don’t know what they are talking about in the middle of telling me that I’m wrong anyway and refusing to check their privilege at the door . . . if you think that I give more than three strikes to anyone who I view as behaving in a way that is rape apologist or in any way denying a woman’s right to consent regarding anything and everything sexual . . . you’re dead wrong. Hate to break it to you.

  32. October 29, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    DEAR EVERYONE: I WILL NOT BE TOLERATING ONE MORE COMMENT ON THIS THREAD ABOUT HOW SARAH PALIN IS A BAD PERSON AND THEREFORE DEGRADING HER AND ATTACKING HER IN WAYS THAT ARE MISOGYNISTIC AND HARM ALL WOMEN IS SOMEHOW A-OKAY. We all agree here that Sarah Palin is a big, evil asshole. That doesn’t make it okay, but I’m not here to explain over and over again why it’s not, and I don’t think that a vast majority of the readers are here to read over and over again about why it’s okay to treat women like this so long as the person doing it doesn’t like the woman in question. THANK YOU AND GOODNIGHT.

  33. October 29, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    Why do you hate the First Amendment, Cara?! GOD!

  34. October 29, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    It’s what we feminists do, Jill. You should know that!

  35. Bene
    October 29, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    i don’t see the palin mockery as any different from the falwell testimonial in which he describes his first sexual encounter as banging his momma in an outhouse. this has nothing to do with her being a woman, and it has nothing to do with her being a public figure. it’s about her being a politician who’s political platform is premised on keeping sex education out of schools and denying women the right to make decisions about their bodies.

    palin has absorbed this patriarchal ideology, in which sexuality, education, and reproductive rights are to be determined by big daddy, i.e., the state.

    and no, having pro-life views isn’t anti-feminist, but the minute you expand those pro-life views onto the bodies of other ppl, as in telling women what they can and can’t do with their wombs, that’s when when you become misogynistic. she has essentially become one of the big boys, so she should be treated like the big boys. and in the political arena, it’s no holds barred.

    it’s only fitting that her punishment for being a lapdog of satan with very vocal views on sexuality is that she be turned into a figure of sexual folly and idiocy.

  36. October 29, 2008 at 8:55 pm

    Hope you don’t mind if I continue, Cara, this is just bugging me.

    Starbuck – When a person with free will makes a porno of Sarah Palin, it’s not an automatic equal and opposite reaction the way it is when you throw a ball towards the ground and it bounces back up. Sarah Palin opened up the opportunity (by being herself, not by asking for porn flicks of her), but they didn’t have to take it, and they shouldn’t have taken it, but they did take it. Their actions are the cause. It’s their fault, not hers, because no one should ever be treated in a sexist way no matter what dumb sexist shit they do. And please, no one is letting her off the hook for all her dumb sexist shit around here.

    And I have major problems with the ideas that 1) we can decide that Palin doesn’t count as a woman (or as a person!) and 2) people who don’t respect others’ rights forfeit their own rights in Rei’s comment, although I like the second half. I also don’t like this turn towards demonizing her, as if she’s a robot programmed to be evil rather than a person who probably genuinely thinks she’s right, even if I totally disagree. I just say that because I see it a lot, the other way around, from conservatives.

    Finally, did it occur to anyone that even if you wouldn’t mind throwing Palin to the wolves, sexism against her is linked to sexism against all women and therefore not good for our overall cause? We can’t be pro-sexism against her and anti-sexism against other women, either in the sense of being logically consistent or in the sense of being effective.

  37. shah8
    October 29, 2008 at 9:07 pm

    John Brown’s only sin was a lack of patience for what must be, and no stomach for the suffering that must happen before then.

    It was not a virtue to do what he did, and yet he is not remembered as a sinner.

    I just might hum John Brown’s Body as I go vote in 6 days for something he might have gotten tears in his stony face for…

  38. Peter
    October 29, 2008 at 9:43 pm

    Finally… It took you guys long enough to call this out.
    Just because we don’t agree with her ideas is not a reason to mock her because of her gender.

    Obviously, objectification of Palin is wrong. I take it you’re a McCain supporter. You know what? I’m not taking the blame for the objectification of Palin. I spend a ton of time on political forums and watching media. Guess what? Almost all of the objectification of Palin comes from conservative wingnut men. They’re the ones creating the market for it. How many “hot babe” t-shirts did we see at the GOP convention? How many times has Rush Limbaugh drooled over her? How about that Rich Lowery article in National Review that was little more than a disturbing masturabatory fantasy about her?

    Yes, this objectification is wrong. But spare me the crocodile tears, if you’re a McCain supporter. I’ve heard very little in the way of overt sexism and objectification of Sarah Palin on the left. This porno thing and the strip tease are obviously wrong. But from everything I’ve seen, its conservative men who are creating the market for it.

  39. Rockit
    October 29, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    I dunno. I’ve also felt that there’s been a strong intent, whether conscious or not, to depersonalise, and even bully, Palin during the campaign, the sex-related stuff making me the most uncomfortable.

    But on the other hand, I can’t help but think that that’s exactly what the Republican campaign has been saying throughout and agreeing with them on this makes me wonder whether it’s not a patronising knee-jerk reaction to think that it’s worse than the also deeply personal shit Obama, McCain and Bush have had to put up with, which in many cases extended to their families too.

    And as for the Repub. side, it seems to me that most of the guys doing that don’t really fancy Palin that much, but want to support her as a candidate and have no idea how to do that in a way that isn’t in some way sexual (Ha, our candidate’s hotter than yours, yer just jelous).

  40. Mikey
    October 29, 2008 at 10:05 pm

    What about the ethics of Cara using the stripper photos as a provocative, even titillating, banner? The alleged sexiness has got to drive traffic to the site.

  41. anonyous
    October 29, 2008 at 10:08 pm

    As much as I hate Sarah Palin, this is just proof of the misogynistic society that we live in. It’s sick and sexist..

  42. exholt
    October 29, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    IMHO, it would have been far more effective to make a cartoon of her as the stereotypical power-abusing 19th century politician who had no qualms about hiring/firing people solely on the basis of whether they liked them/friends with them….professional qualifications be damned.

    You can even include her dressed in tophat/bowler, twin-tailed suit, and a lit cigar in a smoke-filled room plotting political intrigue with other Pro-Palin politicians…..

  43. October 29, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    Just want to say that the Bene at 36 is not me.

    And that while I don’t have a problem with sex work generally, this is ridiculous. I don’t give a shit what Sarah Palin has done for me or not done for me, or what kind of hate she has or not. It’s not karma–this sort of shit is wrong and I don’t tolerate it. It’s not fair fighting, and it’s not just, and accepting it hurts all women.

  44. October 29, 2008 at 10:43 pm

    Mikey — I imagine the same as the ethics of a blogger reproducing an image of anything their criticizing. Something we do extremely regularly. And it’s a photo, not photoS.

    Bene, thank you for letting me know that! It didn’t seem right to me that you’d leave that comment, but I only approved it recognizing the name and thinking that I ought to let a really regular commenter through . . .

  45. October 29, 2008 at 10:57 pm

    Peter, you’re going after straw arguments. First, in the quote you cited, the person said “we” don’t agree with Palin, indicating that that person is probably not a McCain supporter. Secondly, their claim was not that we, or you, have created the objectification, but that this blog has not denounced the objectification. That claim was wrong, but other commenters have made it clear that it was not crazy to think that liberals who haven’t personally objectified Palin can be guilty of thinking it’s ok to objectify a woman if she’s sexist, or stupid, or conservative, or whatever.

  46. October 29, 2008 at 11:28 pm

    I get where you’re coming from but I still think saying she’s being violated is a bit much. Maybe that’s just my own Palin bias talking as I think she’s slime. She’s facing prejudice, granted. But since she’s a bigot in more ways than one, she’s just getting as good as she’s giving. I’m not ready to say it hurts all women. I don’t feel hurt by it, anyway. I think she’s done much more to hurt women in America than some strip club and some jokes on David Letterman or whatever.

  47. October 29, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    Cara, no worries. I must admit I’m sort of concerned that someone would use it, as ‘Bene’ isn’t the most common handle. (Accept no substitutes!)

    As for the rest of the comments, I think what hurts women more than the actual strip club act (which isn’t just parody, as Cara pointed out–it’s hardly solely sardonic if it’s also done to make people horny) is the fact that people are saying that she deserves this for everything she’s done and implied and what she does for women.

    That’s crap along the lines of ‘well, she deserved it for dressing like a slut’, and that’s what’s really pissing me off.

  48. Claire
    October 29, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    As much as I’d like to be offended, I’m just not. And this from a born-and-raised feminist. Palin simply disgusts me so much that I can’t do anything but laugh at any misfortune that comes her way.

    Palin is not a woman and she certainly does not deserve my support as a woman. As a woman, it is my job to speak up and disassociate myself from her. To say, “I am a woman, I support women’s rights, I denounce Palin, and I refuse to tolerate the sexism that Palin’s very candidacy promotes.” I will protect my sisters from objectification to the best of my ability, but Palin is not my sister.

  49. October 30, 2008 at 1:09 am

    Again with deciding that she’s not a woman. Really disturbing to me.

    Anyway, I’ll give this one last shot: there are two separate things going on here. One is your personal opinion of Palin and whether or not your feel bad for her for being subject to this stuff. That’s your business, I don’t care how little pity you have for her. If you wouldn’t bat an eye if you saw her get run over by a bus, that’s your deal.

    The other thing is whether or not you oppose all sexism, even against people you hate and feel no pity for. This is not about how you feel towards Palin, it’s about whether you think human rights* are contingent on behavior. If you’re against the death penalty even for murderers, you should be against sexism even for Palin. If you want to have any sort of moral ground to stand on when you demand rights even from people who disagree with you (separation of church and state issues are good examples), you should practice what you preach towards other people. And if you think that calling women sexist names like “slut” and “bitch” is bad because it says something about all women, not just the woman being insulted, you should understand why I say that the objectification of Palin is our problem too. I also think someone somewhere, it might even have been Cara but I really don’t remember, pointed out that any woman who’s conventionally attractive will have to think about this if she wants to run for office in the US, and the prospect of being objectified this way may scare off some of those women. That’s a form of silencing. All politicians know they’ll have to face a lot of crap, but male politicians usually do not have to face this kind of dehumanization (although they might have to face other kinds, like Obama with racism).

    *Unless you disagree that this is any sort of human rights violation, but I think most of us agree that it’s sexist and that sexism is wrong.

  50. October 30, 2008 at 1:12 am

    that is just weird, Claire. Palin is not a woman?

    I guess that’s how come you can tolerate all the sexism aimed at Palin, while saying you will not tolerate her campign’s sexism. because… you’ve decided to define “woman” as “people you agree with”?

    So what is she? a man? or is that she’s not human at all? she’s a simulacrum? a robot? a hologram? an ingenious contraption of steam, gears, and rubber-bands?

    I guess you’re being consistent. But at the abandonment of sense.

    great post, cara!

  51. rainne
    October 30, 2008 at 1:28 am

    Palin is most certainly a woman. And the things that are being done to her are being done because she is a woman. To deny her womanhood as an excuse for not defending her right not to be violated? Words sort of fail me there. ‘I am a feminist and therefore will protect women…but I don’t agree with the policies of this person and so she is not a woman and so I don’t have to defend her’ is one of the most repulsively disingenuous arguments I’ve come across in a long time.

    And, Lucy, if you don’t think she is being violated, imagine how you’d feel if you became a public figure of any sort and people reacted by making sex dolls and porn shows in your image. That wouldn’t make you feel unsafe, at all? That wouldn’t make you aware that next time you stepped out on stage or appeared on television or agreed to a book-signing tour, some of the audience would be looking at you and thinking of those images, or coming up with new ones?

    I disagree with everything Palin stands for. I find her policies revolting, her public persona grating and her candidacy a complete insult. But don’t kid yourselves if you think that a liberal woman running for Vice President would be safe from this treatment. Don’t kid yourself that if she was just pro-choice or less attractive or more humble she would escape this.

    This treatment is designed to humiliate her and put her in her place. And its happening because she is a very visible woman, not because of her reprehensible policies. If you think otherwise, you’ll miss the lesson. Those of you who are all ‘she deserves it’ are victim blaming, and you’re probably doing it for the age-old reason that, that way, you can ignore the fact that the same thing would happen to you if you tried to run for office.

    I’m sitting here watching this, and I’m thinking: if I stepped out of my place, this could happen to me. And some of you wouldn’t defend me.

  52. shah8
    October 30, 2008 at 1:35 am

    hmph, Claire sez it just a little more accessible than me. I think I was probably just a tad too subtle with the John Brown sentiment.

    Jill, Cara:
    Again, I am NOT challenging what you are saying about the sex clubs. However, what I *really* want to challenge is the kind of do-gooder lawyer mentality that focuses so much on moral process arguments. I don’t think you guys do a lick of good in these kinds of posts unless you’re willing to dig deeper and make a systemic critique of the situation that’s readily appreciable to people outside of the community rather than drifting further and further away from the immediate topic at hand. Forming a cool meme that are readily processible outside of the sactimonious women’s studies set is a necessity, even if it’s hard.

    Here’s the big problem for me, which I’ve tangentially commented on before: Sarah Palin intends to minimize the rights of women and the various kinds of minorities. Not only that, these…shows…exists because of her. Degrading images of her is part and parcel of the right wing marketing of her, or did anyone not notice all the MILF subtexualisation mixed in her image? The you-betchas, the crazy smiles, and those conspirational winks?

    Sarah Palin, from the very start, has been marketed as a degradable woman. It’s stupid to defend Palin the person when she exists to make this sort of fun available, not only for herself, but so many other women (involuntarily), since boys will be boys.

    I am not one of those boys, and Larry Flynt ain’t one of my homies, and while his wae on hypocrisy is sometimes admirable in spirit, they do more harm than good in a way that profits him. Few people who respect women would approve of her being sexualized, not least because it promotes an attitude that all powerful women can be projected onto sex workers like that. The people who *do* appreciate this stuff are mostly on Palin’s side, not least because she seems very much a fan of the patriarchy.

    Any effective broadsides *have* to address the phenomenon as a system, and one no less sophisticated than the rumor amplifying version that features Drudge and Fox News in trying to get people to buy into reactionary themes.

    I do think Palin is a bad person. There is abundant evidence out there that Palin is a bad person. More than that, I think the primary problem is that (I belive) Palin is enabling this stuff and has intended to be a beneficiary of the sexist vote. To the extent that she believes that she is a victim, she will simply use feminist voices to guard further pro-dominionist sympathies and agendas. There isn’t a whole lot of reasons not to think that she is a sellout like McCain and will have a nasty hangover like McCain.

    As an aside. Peeps, there is absolutely no, freakin’, way any black people would take Palin’s weakness for granted. I don’t think gay people either. All evidence that I’ve seen sez that there is going to be a pretty large anti-Palin vote…

  53. October 30, 2008 at 1:49 am

    this is a great post, and something i’ve been wondering about. but what i wonder is where is the line for satire and sexism? because i really don’t know.

    i’m probably the only one in the world, but i love the photocropped pix of obama and palin dancing and the fake pic of palin with a bikini and a gun. some people have said that image was sexist…i dunno. i thought it was pretty good satire.

    politicians certainly don’t consent to have their images manipulated like that. and tina fey of course doesnt ask palin’s opinion before she rips on her winks and far-right positions.

    the script for nailin paylin is actually ridiculously funny, one of the funniest things from this election actually.

    so i dunno i’m conflicted. i definitely agree that the porn and the striptease contest are offensive and degrading, but i just don’t know where the line is.

    maybe it’s like the line between erotica and porn… you just know it when you see it.

  54. Bagelsan
    October 30, 2008 at 2:00 am

    The people who *do* appreciate this stuff are mostly on Palin’s side

    …And so criticizing this anti-Palin anti-woman behavior is really criticizing the people on Palin’s side, while still standing up for feminist ideals. Win-win in my book. And criticizing people on “our” side who do this is fine too, ’cause people who approve of this misogynistic crap *aren’t really on our side* are they?

  55. A
    October 30, 2008 at 2:05 am

    I have to take back my comment about his blog (but not about many of the commenters). I am very impressed with how you (the moderators) have checked back in regularly to try to show some of your commenters that they are in fact making sexist comments. This is the first blog I’ve seen that has had a post like this and didn’t let the comments turn into “Palin. I hate that B****! She deserves everything she gets.” (Granted I don ‘t regularly read Feministing or Shakesville).
    These kind of comments in this thread were exactly what I was expecting to see. I’ve seen them on other blogs, as well as in person. I usually find I am of a very small minority (often the only one) who is willing to say “No Palin does not deserve this kind of treatment.” When I mention to others the very things the moderators have been saying (yes, she does count as human, and a woman; no she wasn’t asking for it; sexism anywhere is a threat to equality everywhere), I usually get the “you aren’t one of us” comments like Peter’s.
    So thank you moderators (as well as some of the other commenters) for not ousting me and making me stand alone.

    And for the record Peter- I’m an Obama supporter and very pro-choice.

  56. A
    October 30, 2008 at 2:10 am

    Oh and for all of you “Palin had it coming” people: Thank you for reminding me that I need to force my opinions on my 9 month old daughter instead of letting her decide for herself what she thinks is right. Because, god forbid, if she becomes a conservative and successful, then she’ll have it coming too.

  57. exholt
    October 30, 2008 at 3:41 am

    Sarah Palin, from the very start, has been marketed as a degradable woman. It’s stupid to defend Palin the person when she exists to make this sort of fun available, not only for herself, but so many other women (involuntarily), since boys will be boys.

    That may be true judging, but crap like this is not only sexist, but also plays into the diversionary tactics Gov. Palin and her supporters have been using to crowd out public scrutiny and criticism of serious concerns about her record as governor and mayor.

    Plenty of examples include leaving her town millions of dollars in debt even after benefiting from substiantial lobbyist facilitated Federal subsidies, sheriff who charged for rape kits on her watch as mayor, or more recently…TROOPERGATE…a bona fide example of a public official abusing her authority by firing a public official because he wasn’t willing to violate existing civil service regulations, subject the state to a massive lawsuit, and the due process rights of a civil servant because said public servant was involved in a nasty divorce with her sister…..especially when the matter was settled, however imperfectly, before Gov. Palin and that public official took office. :roll:

  58. October 30, 2008 at 3:51 am

    This fauxgressive tool would say it’s a lot of fuss about nothing. Because, you know, he made his mind up when he was all of 13!
    With friends like these, do progressive women need enemies?

  59. Banisteriopsis
    October 30, 2008 at 4:40 am

    Here’s the big problem for me, which I’ve tangentially commented on before: Sarah Palin intends to minimize the rights of women and the various kinds of minorities. Not only that, these…shows…exists because of her. Degrading images of her is part and parcel of the right wing marketing of her, or did anyone not notice all the MILF subtexualisation mixed in her image? The you-betchas, the crazy smiles, and those conspirational winks?

    Sarah Palin, from the very start, has been marketed as a degradable woman. It’s stupid to defend Palin the person when she exists to make this sort of fun available, not only for herself, but so many other women (involuntarily), since boys will be boys.

    Yes, she is capitalizing on and profiting from patriarchy. She has the right to dress and act as she likes, even when she acts like a tool. How she behaves doesn’t give other people the right to degrade her in absentia, regardless of how they perceive her. I don’t understand why that’s such a difficult concept. For example a sex worker has (IMO) the right to sell her services as she sees fit. The fact that she’s a sex worker does not give me the right to walk up and grab her ass.

    The strip club show doesn’t exist because of Sarah Palin. She didn’t cause or endorse it. That responsibility lies with the owners and promoters, not the subject of their derision. I mean, what the fuck?

  60. Banisteriopsis
    October 30, 2008 at 4:41 am

    I miss Twisty.

  61. October 30, 2008 at 4:46 am

    I miss Twisty. :)))))

  62. dananddanica
    October 30, 2008 at 7:28 am

    i think part of the problem banisteriopsis is people are looking at “deserve” and “responsibility” in different ways. a lot of people think if you use something its ok to use it against you. lets say we had a candidate, female or male, who literelly explicitly said “i am hot, vote for me because im sexy”, a lot of people would have no problem wth this strip club or with flint as they are not seeing the responsibity the way you do, they are seeing it in a vacuum, in that vacuum i agree with them, outside of it in the real world i agree with you but the space between the two can be quite great.

  63. SarahMC
    October 30, 2008 at 9:13 am

    I can’t do anything but laugh at any misfortune that comes her way.

    Don’t you get it? Sexism towards Palin is not just coming her way; it comes our way. Some of you appear to have skipped right over Cara’s post. These displays do not just debase Palin; they debase all women, particularly those who seek power in the public sphere. And for that reason, it’s not cool.

  64. October 30, 2008 at 9:25 am

    Rainne: excellent comment.

  65. Alara Rogers
    October 30, 2008 at 10:29 am

    As much as I dislike Sarah Palin, what this says to me is that any woman who is conventionally attractive who runs for high office will be degraded.

    Do those of you who say “Well, Palin deserves it because she’s evil” really think the same thing will not be done to a conventionally attractive Democratic woman? Hillary Clinton didn’t get the strip club treatment because Hillary is 61 years old and has never been seen by the American male public as conventionally attractive. However, let’s say that Angelina Jolie becomes the governor of California. And let’s say that by the time she’s 45, she is well known as a smart, savvy, experienced liberal governor, so she is picked by the Democratic candidate to be his veep.

    Do you think there will *not* be strip clubs portrayals of her? Do you think people will not take nude scenes she played when she was an actress and dub in her campaign speeches over them so it looks like she’s campaigning naked? Do you think people will not insult her parenting choices to make it look as if she is an inferior candidate because she is a bad mom? And then say “Well, Jolie used the fact that she has several kids to make points about liberal values being good for children, so she’s using her kids on the campaign trail and that makes her mothering skills fair game!” Or they’ll say “Well, she used to be an actress and she consented to play in those nude scenes, so she has no right to complain about us Photoshopping her naked body in next to the Democratic candidate at the podium instead of her fully dressed body that was really there?” Or they’ll say, “Well, Jolie is totally using the fact that she’s a beautiful woman and a former sex icon to try to win votes, so that makes it okay!”

    What is being done to Palin is not being done because she winks or because the Republican establishment picked her for being attractive. Dan Quayle was picked for being attractive (no, seriously, he was), and he didn’t get this treatment. Palin may play into patriarchy with her winking, but seriously, she cannot help that she is conventionally attractive — on the campaign trail there is nothing she can do to minimize her attractiveness which would not look unprofessional and un-Presidential (I mean, without makeup and her hair a mess and dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt, maybe she’s not that attractive, but she CAN’T CAMPAIGN LIKE THAT.) It’s not like she’s wearing fuck-me pumps and slit skirts and push-up bras; she is dressed quite appropriately for a professional woman in politics. So no, she is *not* saying “it’s okay to make a porno about me! Really!” And yes, her winking minimizes her and makes her less threatening, but I don’t think she’s trying to send the message “I want sex with you,” but the message “I’m a regular down-home girl just like your wife or your mom or your best pal.”

    Palin is not inviting this. The Republican establishment may be inviting it *for* her in allowing the meme of “Palin’s attractive, so vote McCain!” to spread, but that’s not her doing. And yes, she’s a former beauty queen. But *now* she’s the governor of a state, and Tina Fey to the contrary she’s not actually trying to win a beauty competition here. What is happening to Palin will happen to any conventionally attractive Democratic woman, and the only reason it hasn’t happened yet is that we generally let our female politicians get seasoned and experienced before we drag them out on the stage, because we actually think of them as *politicians*, not sideshows. But what if a woman as young and attractive as Obama or John Edwards runs for president? I don’t seriously think Angelina Jolie will become governor of California, but two well-known male Republican actors have done so, so why not a smart liberal actress (who, being an actress, would probably be beautiful?) And if a woman became governor of California, and she was a natural born citizen, she’d have a clear route to the presidency. So suppose it happens? Suppose a beautiful liberal 50-year-old former actress who’s become governor of California runs for president in 12 years? Do you think she won’t be treated like this?

    Sarah Palin is a terrible, terrible candidate. She is dumber than anyone who runs for veep has a right to be, her positions on the issues are terrible for everyone but especially women, she abuses her power, and she is as mean and vicious as Karl Rove. But when a porn movie is made of her lookalike or there’s a strip club competition to look like her, this is not happening *because* she’s a terrible candidate. It’s happening because she’s an attractive female candidate. And the Democrats have had two young, attractive male candidates recently, one of whom will, fate willing, be President-elect next Tuesday. We could very well end up with a young, attractive female candidate (by “young”, obviously, I mean young for a politician — 45-50 or so.) We could end up with one who once did nude scenes in action movies. Do you want this shit to happen to *her?*

  66. shah8
    October 30, 2008 at 10:31 am

    Exholt, we still have to challenge the Madonna-Slut premise that Palin seems to endorse as part of any challenge to the sexism that is thrown Palin’s way.

  67. Suki T
    October 30, 2008 at 11:58 am

    I had to have this discussion with my boyfriend the other day. He is usually such a good feminist, but he didn’t understand that this treatment of Palin is unfair, and sexist.

    People are using the Falwell defense, which is complete nonsense. That story IS sexist! Jerry Falwell was a public figure and a bad person (imho) but that story was intended to embarass him, and TARGET his mother. His mother is the one who is really being targeted. She was called a slut, it degraded her by pure location of the alledged incident, and it makes her out to be a bit of a sexual predator.

    This Palin stuff would flat out not happen to a man. A whether she winks at the camera or wears short skirts, she didn’t ask for a sex doll to be made of her. Using her sexualized image against her expressed will is wrong. Girls in High School have this happen all the time, where someone photoshops their yearbook pic onto a porno picture and post it up. Is that correct? Even if she is a slut who sleeps with everyone’s boyfriends? Even if she spins it to her favor? It’s wrong and it’s the same thing.

  68. October 30, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    You know, I don’t give a rat’s ass about Sarah Palin. I do, however, care about the fct that this shit affects ALL WOMEN. So if that snivelling jackhole Flynt doesn’t like me, he can degrade me that way and I’ll have had it coming (I mean, hey, it’s not like he’s a stranger to obsessing over women he doesn’t like, ask Aura Bogado). Did Cynthia McKiney have it coming when Neal Boortz said she looked like a ‘ghetto slut’? Did Hillary have it coming with the GOP group Citizens United Not Timid? I guarantee you, I’ve seen and heard justifications for this shit too. And yes, it affects all women. This isn’t criticsm against her views, it’s degredation, and it misogynist. Jeez.

  69. ACG
    October 30, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    Not that these kinds of tactics would be excusable if they did serve some kind of purpose, but–they don’t even serve any purpose. They give some pervy, immature men a salacious chuckle, and then they’re gone. They’re not going to coax any swing voters to our side; no one’s going to say, “Hey, that chick who looks like Sarah Palin is wearing a bikini! I’m sure not voting for her!” And what they could do is tip some swing voters to the other side out of pure sympathy for her (people have chosen dumber reasons to vote). “Oh, that poor woman, those Dems will just do anything to put her down, won’t they.”

    But moreover, it’s just one of those things that, if it’s not okay to do, it’s not okay to do to anybody. It’s not okay to slander someone and then say, “Well, he’s a really bad person, so it’s okay to spread vicious lies about him.” Saying it’s okay to be horribly sexist in her case leaves the door wide open for it to happen to any of us, as long as someone can come up with some weak justification. There are probably some conservatives who wouldn’t like me any more than I like her, and I don’t want anybody making a sex doll of me.

    If you absolutely despise Sarah Palin with every fiber of your being, attack the things that you don’t like. Attack her lack of foreign policy experience. Attack her apparent desire to stay completely uninformed about the issues of the day. Attack her ridiculous views on reproductive freedom and women’s rights. Attack her stance on abstinence-only education (but leave Bristol out of it; the poor girl has been dragged around enough in this campaign). Hell, attack her wink, ’cause it really is funny and inappropriate. Doing that could actually do some good. Going for the low-hanging fruit and laughing at her in a bikini doesn’t do any good and only does harm to every woman out there who could be a victim of precisely the same tactics.

  70. Roy
    October 30, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    ACG speaks the truth.

    I don’t understand why that flawed argument keeps coming up. It came up ages ago about fat shaming, and now it’s coming up here. We need to be better than that… Palin is a bad candidate for reasons. I think she’s a bad candidate, but I’m not going to resort to sexist slurs against her to make that point.

  71. October 30, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    Banister and Alara are right on, for srs. The shaming must stop.

    (And Alara, if you’re the same Alara in Trek fandom, I love Only Human. /threadjack)

  72. Bitter Scribe
    October 30, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    The mouth-breathers who do this kind of stuff are probably too stupid to have any real political opinions. All they’re doing is creating sympathy for Palin, but they don’t give a shit. They just want money.

    And Suki T: I hear what you’re saying, and Larry Flynt is far from my favorite person, but the question was whether Falwell could win a legal judgment against him. The Supreme Court ruled, correctly I feel, that he could not.

  73. October 30, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    Was Tina Fey raising her skirt in her last spoof of Palin, in the same general neighborhood as these sexualized insult? I think so.

    I agree with what J at #5 said:

    When Sarah Palin winks at the camera during a nationally televised vice presidential debate, I think she is effectively saying “I don’t deserve to be taken seriously.” I know that “deserve” is a loaded term, and I want to be clear that I’m not saying that Palin brought these portrayals upon herself because she winked at the camera. I don’t believe that her behavior justifies theirs. However, I do believe that Palin makes a mockery of herself (and all women) with her “cutesy folksy” act. I think it’s really important to acknowledge that, while still understanding that wink or no wink, they would still putting out the same garbage.

    And Cara, excellent post.

  74. Alara Rogers
    October 30, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    Bene: yes, I’m the same Alara. (There can’t be too many of us on the Internetz. :-)) Thanks!

  75. LauraB
    October 30, 2008 at 9:11 pm

    Sorry, I am not buying the “saying that Palin’s a public figure and so she is asking to be parodied/subject to satire is the same as saying that a girl wearing a short skirt [or whatever] is asking to be raped” argument that’s been implied in this thread. I think “violation” is also going a bit far. Sarah Palin’s body is physically safe. So far as any of us know, no physical violation has taken place, and she’s under the protection of the secret service, so honestly I’m not that worried for her.

    Sarah Palin basically sells herself as an attractive bimbo. She comes off as pretty and not too bright. Quite frankly I can’t buy into the “this is an attempt to shame a powerful woman” argument, because she comes off as anything but powerful. If we were talking Nancy Pelosi porn, or Hillary Clinton porn, or Margaret Thatcher porn (!), yes. But the governor of a basically empty state running on a political ticket that’s going to get routed on Tuesday (right? right?) … sorry, not buying it.

    Am I disturbed by the idea of a Sarah Palin sex doll? Yes, in more ways than I can count. Would I prefer to live in a world without Sarah Palin sex dolls and stripper competitions and porn movies? Yes, I would. But I’m wary of the idea that this should be regulated in any way, because those regulations could likely be twisted to prevent legitimate political speech.

    Somewhat off-topic, one good thing that I’m hoping will come of this election is that America will finally stop believing that women are uniquely irrational voters who just vote for the goodlooking guy. No doubt that’s true of some women (not all or even a majority, but I’m sure they’re out there), but as we’re learning, it’s also true of an awful lot of men.

  76. Bitter Scribe
    October 30, 2008 at 9:43 pm

    If we were talking Nancy Pelosi porn, or Hillary Clinton porn, or Margaret Thatcher porn (!)…

    Oh, thank you so much for that mental picture.

  77. October 30, 2008 at 10:33 pm

    But I’m wary of the idea that this should be regulated in any way, because those regulations could likely be twisted to prevent legitimate political speech.

    Did I say that it should be regulated in any way? Did anyone here say that it should be regulated in any way? Because I missed that comment.

    And the same comment others have asked on this thread: how would you feel if it was you? Because me, I would feel violated. I don’t know, maybe Palin doesn’t. The fact is though that she might and basic logic tells us that she might, and doing something that we know could be felt as violating by another person is wrong. Period. If the fact that there are other women here saying that they would feel violated isn’t enough for you, then I don’t know what to say.

  78. LauraB
    October 30, 2008 at 10:52 pm

    Did I say that it should be regulated in any way? Did anyone here say that it should be regulated in any way? Because I missed that comment.

    No, you didn’t, nor did anyone else, and I should have been clearer in indicating that I believe that that’s the direction the conversation was heading in — not where it was at the time.

    And the same comment others have asked on this thread: how would you feel if it was you? Because me, I would feel violated. I don’t know, maybe Palin doesn’t. The fact is though that she might and basic logic tells us that she might, and doing something that we know could be felt as violating by another person is wrong. Period. If the fact that there are other women here saying that they would feel violated isn’t enough for you, then I don’t know what to say.

    Sorry, I think there needs to be an objective standard here that’s clearer than “I feel violated.” Feeling violated is a whole lot different from suffering physical harm, for example. It’s a lot different from inciting violence.

    Do I think that the Sarah Palin porn/doll/strippers/etc are ugly (as in, exposes something ugly about american culture, not physically ugly or unattractive), objectifying, just plain gross? Yes I do. Do I think that they’re wrong? No, I don’t. I wouldn’t like it if it were me, either. That doesn’t make it wrong.

  79. LauraB
    October 30, 2008 at 11:09 pm

    Also, something I want to make clear that I definitely did not: by “wrong,” I’m talking about both “worse than the alternative” and “something that should be or is legally actionable.” Let me make myself very, very clear: I would prefer a world without this kind of bullshit. I would prefer a world where sex is not shameful and thus where sexuality can’t be used against a political candidate (or anyone). I would prefer a world where women are judged based on their intellect and their abilities rather than their physical appearance and their ability to produce children. What I would not prefer is a world where attempting to attain that involves coercion to limit this kind of activity that we are seeing with regard to Sarah Palin. I would not prefer a world where we are drawing lines as to what constitutes “legitimate” political speech. That idea makes me very, very nervous.

    Clearly the solution here is for the human race to evolve very, very quickly, and leave this kind of behavior for the history books.

  80. October 30, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    Then I guess that I really don’t understand your definition of the word wrong. Something doesn’t have to be legally actionable in order to be wrong. Things that are wrong but shouldn’t be illegal include: objectifying another person in this manner, engaging in bigotry or using bigoted slurs in ways that are non-violent and do not incite violence, saying something for the express purpose of trying to hurt someone’s feelings, breaking a promise to a person who you know was depending on that promise when you have a choice in the matter . . .

    So no, I don’t think that this is “legitimate” political speech. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think it shouldn’t be protected free speech. And you are the one and only person here suggesting otherwise, seemingly for the express purpose of arguing against the idea.

    And I agree that causing another person to feel violated is a lot different from physically harming them. But what is your point? That one is more wrong? No one here is arguing otherwise. You’re tearing down strawmen all over the place here.

  81. LauraB
    October 30, 2008 at 11:54 pm

    And I agree that causing another person to feel violated is a lot different from physically harming them. But what is your point? That one is more wrong? No one here is arguing otherwise.

    no, I am arguing that they are fundamentally different. No one has the right to never be offended. Everyone has the right to the safety and security of their body at all times.

  82. October 30, 2008 at 11:58 pm

    But apparently not the right to feel as though they have safety and security of their body at all times. Even when making them feel unsafe could be easily avoided.

    Either you don’t get why this would make a woman feel unsafe or you don’t care. I’m unsettled by both options.

  83. October 31, 2008 at 12:30 am

    I’m not seeing how ugly and nasty =/= wrong. (And I don’t mean wrong in a legal context, just in general. I’m not much for legalities.) Unless ‘wrong’ doesn’t apply to people we don’t like or who do bad things, which sets a nasty precedent.

    Look, 85 comments in, I want to know if this doesn’t just boil down to a ‘she does X so she deserves this ugliness’ situation, or if I’m just oversimplifying, because no one’s given me a good reason to not oversimplify.

  84. Alexandra Lynch
    October 31, 2008 at 12:50 am

    Oy. This is one of those things that makes me realize I’m not quite there yet as a feminist. Cause on the one hand, yes, she is a woman, like I am, and deserves to be treated decently. But on the other hand, as a woman who has dealt with a certain degree of shit over the years just because Nature blessed me with larger breasts than the average, I was very offended when she bounced up on stage and giggled and winked and flirted with the camera instead of offering up some actual content. I thought we were working not to be judged on how thin we were or how big our breasts were, how pert our demeanor or dazzling our smile, but on the content of our character.

    There’s also the fact that when you become a public character, part of the price of the fame, male or female, is that your image gets played with, stretched, poked, and sometimes mocked by the public. I agree it has a nasty undertone often when it comes to women, but I can’t say either that women shouldn’t undergo it. True, this year I’ve seen people putting on red dresses and piling their hair up in a messy bun and putting on glasses and a Sarah Palin mask, but last year I also saw people wearing a suit and a George Bush mask. Some of this just comes with the territory, I think. It’s complicated.

  85. October 31, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    Okay, so apparently, using sexism to insult Palin is so TOTALLY not sexist, and the only way to show that you are for freedom of speech is to censor your opinions when you find something sexist and vile, since speaking your truth makes the baby Jeebus cry. Or some such shit.

    Again, I don’t give a fuck about Palin’s feelings. I do get tired of seeing the same-old, same-old ways of putting us in our place. FFS.

  86. October 31, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    “I thought we were working not to be judged on how thin we were or how big our breasts were, how pert our demeanor or dazzling our smile, but on the content of our character.”

    Did you think that this didn’t happen before Palin was on the national stage? Don’t you think that this crap like the strip act and the dumbass porno reinforces that misogynist drek and is part of it? And how, exactly does it help when people engage in sexism–WHICH HURTS ALL WOMEN–to criticize Palin? This isn’t lampooning her (the way Tina Fey does)–this shit is plain slut-shaming, and it’s vile.

  87. Jack Triper
    November 1, 2008 at 6:35 am

    I don’t think its OK to objectify a woman because she is pure evil incarnate. I do still believe she indirectly gave her consent.She plays a role with a planed out dameener that wants to make a demographic of men sexually attracted to her.

    You don’t have to be Joe The Observant One to see what the result of having large numbers of men sexually attracted to one woman. Ching, Ching , she is a Conservative free market loving real American. She is smart enough to figure that out.

    So I just wanted to get my misconstrued point out again.

  88. Annoyed
    November 1, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    OK, I’m tired of this argument too, because in the quest for perfect textbook feminism – whatever that is – it’s only valid to make an agument as complex as: Sexism is wrong!

    No kidding! You can keep repeating that over and over and over, and I’m sure the repetition will suddenly crack open a few knuckle-draggers’ minds. For the most part, I’m not sure this is particularly effective. Where you’re finding resistance that isn’t coming from MRA types or the “bitch was asking for it contingent” are people like me, who find it more than a little problematic to say that, since sexism is sexism and that’s that, there are no distinctions to be drawn between the sexism leveled at HRC and the sexism leveled at Palin. Palin is an active agent in maintaining a media culture that mocks female politicians. Did you get that? Palin is an Uncle Tom here. Is that to say that she “deserves whatever she gets?” Uh, no. But let’s not pretend that women are not inert objects of victimization who couldn’t possibly participate in their own subjugation.

    Let’s look at how that works. Let’s look at how differently the harm of sexism affects women who are not as rich, white, or otherwise privileged as Sarah Palin. I don’t think it’s at all illuminating to pretend that sexism is some atmospheric, zeitgeisty thing that exists apart from its actual practice in the actual words and actions of actual people. It is NOT actually helpful to dig in and say “Sexism hurts everyone so you’re a closet sexist if you suggest anything more complicated!”

    Let’s look at the potential intents for Palin-style sexism. Does anyone honestly think that the RNC tagged her because they believe she’s a serious candidate? Really? The kind of sexist stuff around Palin’s image IS qualitatively different than the kind of sexist stuff thrown at Clinton. I think examining those differences, examining the specific strategies of sexism, will, in the end, be more useful than yet-another performance of what I have to believe is disingenuous shock over the idea that some unoriginal dipshit, somewhere, would think it’s funny to feature Palin lookalikes at a strip club. I mean, come on. The RNC practically handed that one to the porn industry. Whether that’s wrong is not in question, unless you’re a lowlife fuckface. WHY they did that – now there’s a question to spend some time on. In the arena of politics, where everything is pre-calculated, there’s good reason to look for clues about intent. Damning what’s wrong is redundant, and after a while, when that repetitive morality ritual obscures any more insightful discussion of the actual issues at hand, then it’s counterproductive as well.

  89. November 1, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    I’m not shocked, Annoyed. I’m appalled. Big difference. The point is not that Palin and the RNC exploit her sexuality. We know that. It’s not right, and it’s no good.

    It’s that people think it’s okay to carry ON with that and use that, that two wrongs make a right. That there are fauxgressives guffawing at this whole thing and saying it’s okay to violate her ’cause she set herself up for it. I DON’T BUY THAT.

    And if I’m wrong for feeling that, and if I’m too touchy-feely and radical, then fine. I don’t care.

  90. Kylie
    November 1, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    I don’t see the RNC as exploiting her sexually. She’s an attractive, confident woman who makes no apologies for who she is. SHOULDN’T WE BE PROUD OF HER FOR THAT? Even if we don’t agree with her politically?

    Look, just because you don’t agree with someone’s politics is NO REASON to degrade someone sexually or even call her petty names.

    Here’s a quick American law lesson: ONLY CONGRESS CAN CHANGE THE LAW! Not even the supreme court has the power to make abortion illegal. Even if the supreme court did turnover Roe V Wade, abortion would still be legal until individual states created laws WITHIN THEIR OWN CONGRESS.
    ——–> Sarah Palin’s abortion opinions are IRRELEVANT! Give the woman a break. She can’t change Roe V Wade as a Vice President.

    How about being PRO-CHOICE when it comes to stating your OPINION on abortion?

  91. November 1, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    Great post, Cara.

  92. shah8
    November 2, 2008 at 12:25 am

    Benes, I think we can make alot of these arguments so much better than this kind of owns goal concern trolling.

    Look, I’m really crafting (and I think Annoyed is also making) a sentiment that there are spheres of situational decisions that call for strong utilitarian thinking and others that call for weak utilitarianism or Kantian or some other way of thinking about the meaning of the action you’re about to take. The rather Kantian approach that Cara pushes here, is something that I’ve always thought was entirely inappropriate in an evolving situation. It’s very much like talking about respecting Hitler’s right to a fair trial just after D-Day. The most intuitive way of thinking about the way to go is almost certainly kill the fucker dead–It’s one of the cases where an assasination might have brought a war to a close earlier.

    It’s the same if you want to think about the child prostitute that killed her kidnapper. People went straight to an attitude that the child should not have killed the man, that she should have to pay for not valuing the life of someone who intended grave harm to her. Now she’s going to juvie, which is still wrong, and wrong in a wasteful manner.

    It’s also the same game as what happened during the Clarence Thomas Anita Hill hearings, where conservatives used Clarence Thomas’s blackness in order to carry him past the fact that he was…not a very good person, and plenty of liberals carried water for this process! In the end, we have a black guy on the court who is pretty much anti-black as well as anti-women and just anti-decency in general.

    Now we have Sarah Palin. Do you know what has happened and will happen? She simply use these nice, full-throated defenses of her right to run (of course which are all we don’t like her, but–edited out–) in order to screen herself against legitmate criticism. She’s an Uncle Tom, and our first priority is to get the fuck rid of her, not defending her against trash, which gentlemen club owners and porn people are. They will *always* shout from the bleachers, as I have noted with Hillary Clinton. We SHOULD speak out against Larry Flint, but we should speak out against Larry Flint, not FOR Sarah Palin.

  93. November 2, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    Honestly, shah8, I read your comment and I think we agree on the issue at hand. However, regardless of Palin being an ‘Uncle Tom’ (and as a white person I’m reticent to go there), I think we have a responsibility to combat the bullshit at the same time.

    In my mind, it’s not at odds to defend her from slimeballs while working for her active political failure. Calling out the slimeball bullshit changes absolutely nothing about how I feel about her as a politician and where I want her to go. The two are not contradictory.

  94. J
    November 2, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    @Annoyed. I couldn’t agree more.

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