Sometimes I feel like I talk about the same issues over and over again.
Why marriage equality is a right and not a privilege. How abortion is more than just our personal opinions of right or wrong, and ultimately about whether women should have control over the autonomy of their bodies. That if a woman says “no,” no matter her manner of dress or her relationship with the perpetrator, its rape. It’s really that simple, and no matter how many people can be found to call the victim a slut, will change that. Another issue, seems to be the double standard regarding sexism in our society.
Though these days, it’s looking a little different.
I talked about the Sarah Palin vs. David Letterman issue before, but as I sit here, hearing yet another person (this time Meghan McCain with her article, “David Letterman’s Double Standard”) dressing this issue up as some kind of double standard between Republican women and Democratic women, I can’t help but feel that people are missing the point.
The double standard here isn’t among women with different politics. It’s among the same two groups, in regards to sexism and double standards, as it's always been: men and women.
The worse part about these baseless statements is that a quick Google search would have shown their allegations to be no more then hot air. The idea that Letterman “would never have considered doing the same about the daughter of a Democrat” is a complete fallacy.
Plain and simple.
Democratic Politicians, and their families, have had to deal with just as many offenses as any Republican politician. Meghan McCain’s own father, Sen. John McCain, made such a rude comment about Chelsea Clinton’s looks that he apologized to President Clinton. Chelsea was 18 at the time, the same age as Bristol. (Meghan's assumed ignorance of her own father's comments is a bit disingenuous because it shows us that either a) she didn't do even a basic search to see if the facts backed up her claims b) she's a hypocrite. Either way it makes her a bit redundant.)
Here are just a few more examples to prove my point:
- A major conservative radio host, G. Gordon Liddy, said he hoped Sotomayor’s menstruation didn’t affect her judgment.
- An “artist” put up a picture of Sasha and Malia with the words “nappy headed hoes” appearing above them.
- Michelle Obama described with the “angry black woman” stereotype or the “Obama’s Baby Mama” banner Fox used during the election.
- In another attack against Chelsea Clinton, Rush Limbaugh joked, “Everyone knows the Clintons have a cat. Socks is the White House cat. But did you know there is a White House dog?" And he puts up a picture of Chelsea Clinton. Chelsea Clinton is 13 years old.
- Nancy Pelosi being compared to Pussy Galore.
- I can list a thousand examples of Hillary Clinton having to deal with sexism, but Ed Klein’s allegation that Chelsea Clinton was conceived when Bill raped Hillary is one of the worst.
So what do these examples show us? That, ALL women who live semi-public lives have to deal with criticism and sexism from some people in the media. Both sides can keep a running list of the offenses its female politicians (and their families) have had to deal with if it makes them feel better, but it doesn’t really get us anywhere if we refuse to have an open dialog about it.
By trying to turn this into a political issue, Palin and Meghan are actually dismissing the real issue in an attempt to gain political sympathy.
I mean, does Meghan really believe that only her mother and Palin had to deal with sexism on the campaign trail? Anyone can see the idiocy in condemning the treatment of a political candidate (Palin) and the wife of a political candidate (Cindy McCain) while simultaneously ignoring the treatment of another political candidate (Hillary Clinton) and the wife of a different political candidate (Michelle Obama). Doesn’t make much sense does it?
The truth is, if you put yourself out there you are going to criticized. Palin and Meghan are being a bit hypocritical here.
Meghan attempted to use Al Gore’s son as an example, but it doesn’t really work when you compare him to Bristol Palin. Al Gore’s son wasn’t crucified because he stayed out of the lime light (I don’t even know what he looks like) while Bristol was paraded around and then chose to become the face of abstinence.
In comparison, the treatment of Bristol by the media was a lot tamer then the treatment of other young girls in the media, like Jamie Spears, or the treatment of any other young mother who doesn't have the privilege of coming from an upper class white family. (I wonder why that is? Maybe because it’s usually the right that attacks young mothers and this young mother happened to be was part of their special club? And the last time I checked, it was a member of Meghan’s own party who called her fat, not anyone from the left.)
Even Palin herself, criticized Hillary Clinton for whining about media scrutiny and stated that you “just have to plow through it.” (Not to mention Palin’s complete disregard for the fact that Obama himself said the media should back off of Bristol Plain and that he believes all “people's families are off limits” especially children.)
So what's it gonna be? Are we free to criticize everyone or are only the McCains and the Palins off limits? Are sexist comments wrong? Or are they only wrong when they're made about Republican women? Isn't that the very double-standard Palin and McCain are decrying?
Palin and McCain are right about one thing though, Letterman’s comments were sexist (And no, the same jokes wouldn’t have been made specifically about Malia and Sasha Obama. But this isn’t because they’re somehow immune to sexism because their father’s a democrat. It’s simply because the jokes wouldn’t fit, similar to the way the Palin kids won’t ever have to worry about being called “nappy headed hoes” or be compared with gorillas) and sexism against any woman, no matter her political affiliation or our personal feelings toward the woman, should be condemned.
But instead of taking this opportunity to have an honest discussion about sexism in our culture, and the impact it has on young women, the voices of the right have once again decided politics trumps rationality. They’re doing not only themselves, but all women, a huge disservice by turning this into some kind of women vs. women situation while ignoring the misogynist culture, and men, who’ve made sexist comments commonplace.
No amount of word twisting, ignorance, or misdirection is going to change the fact that this isn’t a political issue. It’s a human one.
But muddling the discourse with blatant misinformation might just make it that much easier to sweep it all under the rug.
And I don’t really see how any women, no matter what their political ideology is, benefit in that.
Side note: I also have a problem with the way Meghan refers to Letterman’s jokes as “about raping a 14 year old.” We all know this isn’t the case and I can’t help but feel it lends disingenuous feelings towards real situations of child rape. She then goes on to criticize Letterman for daring to have a political opinion, while praising Jay Leno who had made a similar joke in the past. wtf?
And I want to point out that Keith Olbermann, the poster man for the left, criticized both the joke about Sarah Palin and the treatment of Carrie Prejean in regards to the topless pictures.
-Meghan McCain Says There's A Double Standard For Republican Women, Avoids Her Father's Nasty Remarks [Jezebel]
-David Letterman’s Double Standard [The Daily Beast]
-Sexism Against Conservative Women Is Still Sexism [The Huffington Post]
-What Hillary Can Teach Sarah Palin [The Daily Beast]