Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Rage, Sex Roles, Elections and the Media

My friend JHM sent me a short, schematic note the other day. He may be on to something, He wrote:
“Liberals are female and conservatives are male.
Males do war and business/the economy.
BHO wants to talk, not fight and his economics are really a redistribution of income. Plus another feminine issue is the environmental stuff [See "Mother Earth]
This speaks to why the liberals go bullshit with Sarah Palin.“

I think JHM is right in that there is something about the traditional sex-roles and gender determined behavior that is driving the absolute frenzy on the part of Obama’s supporters and much of the Mainstream Media.

This is really a mess to think about so let’s take it a piece at a time. My first Google on the idea turned up an interesting article, Hillary is From Mars, Obama is From Venus By Michael Scherer, on It compared Obama to Hillary and found her to be more of a man than he.

Scherer sets the tone of his analysis by quoting Clara Oleson who he describes as an Iowa Democrat and former labor lawyer:
"Obama is the female candidate. Obama is the woman," she said, after admitting that she was one of his supporters. "He is the warm candidate, self-deprecating, soft, tender, sad eyes, great smile."

The article continues:
“So what does that make Hillary Clinton? "She is the male candidate -- in your face, authoritative, know-it-all." To be clear, Oleson was not doubting the symbolic power that Clinton retains as a woman. But she was calling it as she saw it, using the language of Iowa City, a university town. "It's what the academes would call the difference between sex and gender," Oleson explained."

This is interesting, nobody but a Democratic functionary could have opened this discussion using these highly charged terms without suffering a fusillade of accusations ranging from sexism to genocide. Since the suite has been opened by one of them, though, I would like to see how it plays out.

Neither Obama nor Clinton can avoid their obvious racial and gender “identities” as either white female or black male but they can and have taken on meta-gender personae in order to embody the required Democratic constellation of compulsory ideologies. Hillary Clinton is what I will call a DemWoman. Since the bygone days of real originals like Bella Abzug and Shirley Chisholm the ideal Democratic woman has evolved into a serious, masculinized icon. They dress in pointedly characterless clothes (not unlike designer Mao suites) and do their best not to show any authentic emotion or spontaneity of any kind. Obama mimics what I will call a DemFemMan- Doe-eyed, talkative, lip biting, smiley, warm and not-too-assertive.

Democrats are usually very conscientious and defensive about identities; they are, after-all, the party of Identity Politics. Still, they don’t usually talk about it as honestly as Oleson did. An even rarer example of a Democrat talking directly to the assumed identities of Democrat politicians was Geraldine Ferraro back in March when she said to The Daily Breeze, a newspaper in Torrance, Calif.: “If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman of any color, he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept.”

Ferraro, is somewhat of an authority on this. Her sex, after all, was the very first entry on the “pro” side of the pro/con list when she was vetted for VP all those years ago. I find it fascinating, though, that she says, “If he was a woman of any color, he would not be in this position”. I wondered if this is just victim talk- that kind of throw-in that people who make a fetish of blaming every slight and failing (imagined or real) on what they imagine to be the thing (that is not their fault) that is keeping them from the wonderful life and public adoration that they know they deserve (because they are who they are)? Or is it something more complicated?

Well, here’s a video clip that offers some clues:

This, of course, is a clip from last week, after Palin was nominated. It is interesting, not just because here Ferraro does not seem to be participating in the media and liberal elite’s desire to discredit and “un-nominate” Palin, she seems, in fact, almost to be ignoring Palin, she digresses about how Hillary was “treated badly” not just by the press but by the Democratic National Committee and the party apparatus in general. She pointedly adds that Howard Dean did not speak up “when sexism reared its ugly head”.

We should, at least commend her that she does not go after Palin but we need to try to figure out why she responds with that rant.

Victor Davis Hanson could well have included Ferraro’s name in his recent article about “Palin Derangement” where he writes:
“When we consider, in contrast (to Palin), the latticed background of careers of successful contemporary female role-model politicians, such as a Diane Feinstein, Nancy Pelosi, Mary Landrieu, or Hillary Clinton — or pundits like Sally Quinn, Eleanor Clift, Andrea Mitchell, Campbell Brown, Gail Collins (the list is depressingly endless, in which marriage or lineage provides either the necessary capital, contacts, or insider influence — or sometimes all three) — then surely, whatever one’s politics, there should be some concession that what outsider Palin has accomplished, given where she began, is nothing short of remarkable.

In short, Sarah Palin is the emblem of what feminism was supposed to be all about: an unafraid, independent, audacious woman, who soared on her own merits without the aid of a patriarchal jumpstart, high-brow matrimonial tutelage and capital, and old-boy liaisons and networking.”

Note that the political women he mentions are all Democrats. So, how does Hanson’s article fit with Ferraro’s point?

I have to say that I believe that the whole thing about gender roles is a very acute observation but goes deeper than the observation that Obama acts like a woman and Hillary acts like a man. It is true that Hillary acts like a white man it’s a simple enough pose for her. But Obama has a harder task. If you read about his high school years, it would appear that he (raised by white people) taught himself how to act like a black man back then. If this is true, then today he would be what we used to call an oreo (black on the outside/white on the inside) a retro-fitted black man who acts like white woman who is trying to act like a white man.

As convolute and fascinating as the sexual personae of the denizens of the Democrat political establishment is, it is a distraction from the most important thing that can be learned here. That is, that journalism in the form of our current elite band of mass media practitioners are the “hand that rocks the cradle” in the way we view our politicians. They are the ones who present the candidates and their ideas to us in ways that subtly highlight these behavioral traits and lead the public perception to points of view. Point of view, in fact, is the journalist’s stock in trade. And journalism’s point of view is essentially aligned with the feminine persona- Story telling, social consciousness, caring for the weak, preventing conflict…,

Just as Hillary covers her female identity and becomes the “male candidate”, through being, in Oleson’s words, “in your face, authoritative, know-it-all” journalists usually layer those behaviors over the female persona of their profession in order to compete with each other for authority and “professionalism” .

Knowing everything and maintaining the initiative to be in everybody’s face all the time makes you brittle, defensive and inflexible it forces you to keep the world at a distance and to be guarded and combative.
It’s the lack of warmth and humor that is the tip-off. There’s no warmth because the layers of insulating role-play isolate the human core of the personality and keep it under pressure and molten with stifled rage, even while the outside facade is iced over with a brittle shell of outward calm that the merest hint of humor would shatter. When the keen edge of humor touches that icy shell, that slick veneer of smugness fractures and the rage bursts forth like volcanic eruptions.

It is counterintuitive in a way. They want to be loved so they put up barriers. They want to be respected so they never give anyone permission to see who they really are. They want to be egalitarian so they seek power. They want to be right about everything so much that they will not engage in debate and reasonable discussion without denial, labeling and hysteria. Most of all they want everyone to agree with them; so they believe in ineffectual, “consensus” policies and useless platitudes that are easy to rationalize and then build fortifications of emotion, identity and empathy so that anyone who dares to try to breach it with reason becomes an identity abuser (racist, sexist, fascist, etc…), an emotion crusher and an inhumane monster without empathy.

Look at all the Democrat women that Hanson mentioned above. They all have some variant of that layered-on masculine stiffness and control. They are all “professional women”. Which, as near as I can tell, requires them to comport themselves as a superannuated, over intellectual college sophomore playing a lesbian in a community theater performance. I’ve know a few real lesbians in my day and they have most are a hell of a lot more interesting and natural than those creepy Madame Tussaudes versions that Pelosi and Clinton Play on television.
And yet, as Hanson pointed out, they have advanced their careers to this stage- by means that are specifically feminine (what Tennessee Williams might have called “depending on the kindness of strangers”).

With all this gender bending and manipulative affectation going on, it should be no surprise that when a vivacious, unaffected, and un-androgynous woman like Sarah Palin comes along, and with a straightforward appeal, cuts through all the posturing and playacting with which Dem Women and Dem Fem Men trick out their lives, they don’t just resent it, they fear and loath. It doesn’t just threaten their ideological house of cards; it exposes the silly, debilitating game they play with their public images.

Palin reminds me of no one so much as a female Ronald Reagan- The Happy Warrior, The Great Communicator never had to pretend to be anything that he wasn’t to attract attention. His emotional security and self-possession made him an almost irresistible charmer. Secure in her identity, Palin is natural, direct and just as charming in he was.

Sarah Palin has not been untrue to herself. That is why she comes across as a real person to us. Absent the tension of the personality layering and façade maintenance she, as Reagan did presents a strikingly open and affable face to the world. This makes her charming and persuasive in a way that Hillary, Pelosi, all the political crones and media furies that Hanson mentions and many more, could only dream of. No wonder they (and their frustrated supporters) are furious.

And if you think the Dem Women and DemFemMen have knotted themselves up, wait till you take a look at those journalists who have made an career out of the same, very intimate sacrifices in order to be accepted by their editors and peers as well as have to access to their news sources.

They write news stories with semi-subliminal emotional and empathic slant that attempt to lead the reader into their interpretation of the events and evidence being covered. Under the banner of “afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted” they blindly support insurgencies that promise change even if it is obvious to most observers that the change they advocate will bring disastrous consequences. They fail to report on pertinent events that might “embarrass” anyone they consider sensitive or an underdog. Worst of all, they allow evil to go unchallenged by resorting to the sickening moral relativism of “evenhanded” reporting in place of accurate and honest reporting.

The pain and rage with which much of the media have reacted to Sarah Palin’s nomination for Vice President is an instructive example. It forces them to admit that their professional ethics are negotiable. They claim that They are journalists to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted; Even as they feverishly search her past for reasons to declare her unworthy and ineligible- to find some flaw or misdeed that might forced John McCain to ask this talented, hard working, successful woman of the people to resign from the ticket. They must be aware at some level that in rushing to the defense of the elite, independently wealthy, powerfully connected (yes, connected to the despised white patriarchy!) DemFem Man Obama, that they are actually comforting the comfortable. He is comfortable, they are comfortable and they expect to get us comfortable with him too. That awareness that their pretense is being exposed inflames their rage even more.

They are all so busy building, elaborating and justifying their careers and their personality composites that they seem to have forgotten why they are there. They are so occupied with keeping the whole creaking, smoking, wobbling Rube Goldberg system working (and paying them) that they often forget to care whether anyone in the real world even wants to read, hear or watch The News as they are constrained to present it. This is one reason why the Internet has sucked away so much of the Mass media’s audience.

This shapes up as a battle between “Professionalism” (shackled by ideological group-think and prejudice) and Authenticity (freedom of thought and expression) and I do believe that the people instinctively know which one they favor. I also believe they are right.


lgude said...

Spot on. It is interesting that Paglia writing at Salon as an Obama supporter sees Palin in a positiver light as a different kind of feminist as do you and Hanson. And she knows a thing or two about Sexual Personae too.

I could not have described the layering of posturings as well as you have delineated them - perhaps because such multiple facades are part of my own survival mechanisms. But I sure do recognize them as I have experienced and deconstructed them in myself and others. I also can't help but notice that your description of how the media elite keep the "whole Rube Goldberg system working" applies equally well to my experience of the academic world - again in myself and others. I noticed a few years after graduate school that what I was doing as an academic was looking for an agenda I could push rather than searching for truth. I realized we had become more like salesman than academics. Then I nailed a fat grant with 10 minutes of slick talk out of one narrow facet of one facade and I knew it was all true.

Chana @ Lemon Lime Moon said...

Well the article you quote has a guy defining for women what feminism is about.
He calls Palin "non androgenous" while Hillary is a guy.
Yet Palin is hardly a nurturing mother and hunts like hard core guy.
I think it is that Palin is a male creation and that is why men like her.

Her jumpstart includes a house husband who allows her the freedom to work rather than care for the home and a Dad who taught her the manly arts.