Sunday, September 14, 2008

Being a Feminist

The words of Lou Dobbs on CNN last Friday evening have haunted me the whole weekend. "Palin," he said, "has turned feminism on its head." As I listened to those words and thought about them I became increasingly more incensed. In one sense Dobbs made a good point in that the VP selection seems to have tied women's tongues in that no words can be spoken in the affirmative or the negative. But the reality is that this ploy perpetrated by men is very much like the old game of misogyny, one that negates the female voice by silencing it. The turning of feminism on its head seems very much like a continuation of the same argument of women and competence, but only this time it's true and we feel like we can't say it's so. It's so! Women who have decried unfair treatment for years have become as sterile sameness in fearful alignment, not knowing how to speak about Palin's presidential incompetence without negating her gender.

Even Camille Paglia, the feminist and cultural critic of Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, seems to have lost her voice. "We may be seeing the first woman president. As a Democrat, I am reeling,” said Paglia. “That was the best political speech I have ever seen delivered by an American woman politician. Palin is as tough as nails.” C'mon Camille, say it ain't so! Do you think Palin can stare down Putin? (Being able to see Russia from Alaska will not cut it.) Did you say "the best political speech ever delivered by an American woman politician?" Can you say Hillary Clinton? Barbara Jordon? These glowing words about such a snide tepid speech from the once radical lesbian feminst, who wrote arguably one of the most read books on feminism and culture is just way absurd! I remember reading Sexual Personae in college and thinking...Wow! It was radical stuff! The theatrical is very much apart of the book and the exhaustive scholarship is inviable. It's her magnum opus of some 600 pages.

Now, this powerful thinker, feminist, and cultural critic says that Palin's speech was the "best political speech I have ever seen delivered by an American woman politician." C'mon, Camille, come clean and say it ain't so for the sake of posterity if nothing else. By your oeuvre a reader can assume that you understand theatrics and performance. Surely this was not a great performance, not to mention it was not a great speech either. We respected your scholarship whether we agreed with everything written or not. Your once rich and complex voice has become thin and simplistic. It's beginning to feel like a great voice of the past, that had resisted misogyny on all levels, has been bamboozled by male politicians parading a female vice-presidential candidate around. Lou Dobbs was right on. But it is not feminists who have turned feminism on its head, but the same machine that has sought to silence its voice with a single selection of an ill-suited politician who could be a heartbeat away from the presidency.


pollicino said...

Very beautiful blog,where is the music?Un ciao forte forte dall'Italia.....pollicino

judith ellis said...

Pollicino - Thank you for your words and for sending me the music. I've gotta get around to adding it? Do you think it will fit here? I actually was on your blog for quite a while earlier and the music was great! E un ciao forte forte dall'US! Devo visitare ancora l'Italia presto! E stato un istante.