Comments on: “Sarah Palin and Me” History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Sat, 20 Sep 2014 01:22:40 +0000 hourly 1 By: OhCrapIHaveACrushOnSarahPalin Sun, 09 Nov 2008 00:15:46 +0000 I just don’t know what a woman politician is supposed to do: if she’s homely and/or over-the-hill, she’ll get flack for not being pretty or youthful or whatever, and if she’s youthful and attractive, she’ll be criticized for exploiting that (or for not exploiting it or playing it up enough, if she tries to dress frumpily and downplay her glamour.)

Here’s what I think happeened: SP as an individual chose her own way with how the GOP pimped her, and was fully signed on to her makeovers. She’s said to have balked at the clothes, but she didn’t do anything about it until the last 4-5 days of the campaign when she started wearing jeans.

Part of the myth about her wacky upsweep hairstyle was that she was indeed trying to frump it up. She could have worn regular Valentino/St. John, etc instead of one size too small, and still looked beautiful, youthful, etc….look at Michelle, who is the same age. I criticize her for exploiting that because I believe that and the winks and the MILF personna was part of a votebanking strategy. She didn’t do that sort of thing in Wasilla or Juneau, but decided to go along with it for the national campaign.

What’s interesting to me now is, her immediate punishment by the McCain campaign’s leaks. I think she’s been treated as a femme fatale (which I believe has feminist implications, despite what Susan McClary says), and I also believe we are going to see a “sexier” “female politician” in the future because of her. It was a bumpy ride this time around, but it always is for “the first”, ask Condoleeza Rice when she came out with those thigh high boots and black-coated-number.

Personally, I think that is a good thing, just as good as the fact that casting her as the Milkshake Candidate didn’t work — the whole thing seemed like a big experiment in process.

I feel, the more options for women in politics the better, even if it pushes against traditional feminist norms.

By: Historiann Sat, 08 Nov 2008 18:55:20 +0000 OhCrap, I see what you’re saying about the GOP deploying Palin’s good looks. I think they saw that as an advantage–and why not? I just don’t know what a woman politician is supposed to do: if she’s homely and/or over-the-hill, she’ll get flack for not being pretty or youthful or whatever, and if she’s youthful and attractive, she’ll be criticized for exploiting that (or for not exploiting it or playing it up enough, if she tries to dress frumpily and downplay her glamour.) I think we saw both things happen this year in the press coverage and public conversations about Clinton and Palin.

By: OhCrapIHaveACrushOnSarahPalin Sat, 08 Nov 2008 02:12:53 +0000 Hey Ann – I do understand what you’re saying about whackadoodle students imposing their own weird psychoses on to the prof.

There is NEVER any excuse for a student to try and push the learning process beyond learning. Yes, I know about power dynamics and all of that. But I don’t care if the prof is naked and sitting in their lap in office hours, the student can just get up and leave. I know, because I’ve been there.

The student is responsible for their own behavior, as someone whose fees are going to pay the prof to teach them, not seduce them, or be fodder for their religious nutballery or anything else.

Ideally, we should be able to wear whatever we want, where ever we want. But let’s be frank: no professional woman would show up to the office or to a client site in the skin tight suits Sarah Palin got away with throughout the entire campaign. I don’t think any prof would come to class in those outfits, either.

My personal feeling is that the McCain camp literally pimped her to the redmeats of the GOP — deliberately using her physical body in that way — and she participated fully in it. One can tell by the way she’s being by these anonymous leak-bearers right now.

I can’t quite put my finger on it yet, but there is also a feminist angle to her decision to just go on and strut it in front of god and everybody and a part of me thinks it’s funny. I don’t enjoy saying that and I don’t enjoy thinking it, but I believe there may be something to it.

By: Historiann Fri, 07 Nov 2008 19:59:54 +0000 Yes, young people say asinine things, Rad. And yes, it’s all about the power dynamics: students who write sexually harrassing comments are trying in their impotent and pathetic ways to reverse the dynamic dramatically by saying demeaning things about her appearance. But, how would a department react if students wrote racially harrassing things in their student evaluations? Would people just shrug their shoulders and say, “well, we should be able to take a hit?” I have myself never seen racial harrassment in student evaluations, but I’ve seen plenty of sexually harrassing language and ideas. I don’t think Stremlau is crying in her beer about the creepy comments she’s had, she’s raising an important question, which is why are these comments permitted to become a part of her evaluation? Are harrassing comments (racial, sexual, age discrimination, comments about sexuality, etc.) a legitimate kind of evaluation? If her department lets the comments stand in the file without comment, then I guess it does.

And, Ohcrap: I would be very careful about trying to make judgments about people’s clothing and the messages you think they’re trying to send. What’s stylish in some eyes might be read (wrongly) as provocative by others. There are unbalanced men who think that anything a woman says or does is provocative, so I don’t think these things are so easily controlled by wardrobe choice. I have a (female) colleague who was stalked by a (female) student who believed that her professor was in need of religious salvation, and who made it her mission to dog the prof. and engage her in conversations about religion. This, despite the fact that she had been told in no certain terms several times that she (the prof.) was already a member of a Christian church and had no interest in discussing these matters with her student. The student persisted in the religious harrassment, taking the unambiguous statements from her prof. as a sign that God wanted her to persist in her efforts to convert the prof.

By: Rad Readr Fri, 07 Nov 2008 03:35:45 +0000 I agree with Ihaveacrush re: needing to deal with contradictions — such as the idealism of wanting, expecting, calling on people not to evaluate public figures/professors based on sex while trafficking in gender identity politics which can only heighten the reading of sex, particularly among the sexist. I have myself trafficked in ID politics in the past, so I’m not proclaiming to be above it — but we do see similar contradictions in relation to racial politics.

As far as the comments about the professor’s body parts, I think the power dynamics in the classroom as such that we should be able to take a hit. I know sense of humor is in short supply in some quarters, but I don’t see how someone can function in academia without being to laugh at it all, including him or herself. Newflash: young people say stupid things some times. More alarming is that this person sees a comment on class evals as part of a “professional record.” Is that before or after publications on the CV?

By: OhCrapIHaveACrushOnSarahPalin Fri, 07 Nov 2008 02:29:11 +0000 Now, the original point of this post was the objectification of women faculty, and Palin was just the most recent public example of a prominent professional woman being evaluated more on her looks than on her performance.

Here’s a question: What prof would wear those suits to school?

I had one who did — to a degree, nothing quite as form-fitting/too small as Palin’s — and she wore it well, and she taught us well. Or, for those of us in the enterprise, what professional woman would wear such curve-huggers to work, without being asked to go home and change?

I can only imagine, though, the kind of student evals my old prof gets. We’re still in touch/”friends” after all these years; she had a major effect on my intellectual life. But we don’t have the kind of relationship where I could ask her about that, especially since it might entail divulging my own former feelings about her.

Rad Readr said, William Kristol called her my “heart throb.”

I’m guessing that’s not the only thing that is throbbing.

Sarah Palin signed on to her makeover as a full partner, self-identifying as a “feminist” coming from a beauty queen background, becoming a Halloween character and the subject of a Hustler porn movie. We are going to have to deal with these contradictions and ambivalences…I’m not sure 2nd or even 3rd wave “feminism” has given us the tools to do so, yet.

By: OhCrapIHaveACrushOnSarahPalin Fri, 07 Nov 2008 01:49:11 +0000 I don’t think that attraction and education oppose each other, I just don’t want to hear about it or see it in other people’s teaching evaluations (or mine.)

Yeah, I can definitely understand that.

I’m guessing, though, that you’re not the sort who “does it on purpose”. Think of a Jane Gallop type. Those are the sorts I’m talking about.

Wonder what in the world her student evaluations say lol

By: Historiann Thu, 06 Nov 2008 21:40:13 +0000 p.s. Check out Aeron Haynie’s post on this topic, re: Michelle Obama and the apparent outrage expressed about her dress, body, hair, etc. after Obama’s victory speech in Chicago, which included an appearance on stage with Michelle and the little girls.

By: Historiann Thu, 06 Nov 2008 21:21:31 +0000 Good point, cranky–actually, the original article by Stremlau mentions RMP and makes your point in the Chronicle. The world in general is focused on “rating” everything and anyone, but especially women for their looks.

By: crankypostdoc Thu, 06 Nov 2008 17:00:37 +0000 I’m surprised no one has yet mentioned “Rate My Professors”, with its notorious chili peppers for “hotness”. This site clearly contibutes to the deplorable problem of students commenting on instructors’ looks.