Friday, October 3, 2008

Following The Rules

Linda Hirshman has a snarky column in The Nation about Sarah Palin following the advice outlined in a self-help book called The Rules: Time-Tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right in her political campaign. Hirshman notes that Palin has flirted, winked, flattered, made up, and played hard to get ahead in her campaign. In other words, she's all style and no substance. The more we get to know Palin the more it's an accurate assessment.

I doubt that Hirshman is saying that Palin consciously follows these rules, but it's true that the media narrative has separated women into two categories: those that play up their "feminine" sides to get ahead, and those that try to compete on the same level as the boys. If you're looking for examples, Palin and Hillary Clinton fit pretty squarely into each narrative.

For women that are ambitious, you either play up your adorable/sexy side or you have nutcrackers made with your face on them. It's a maddening duality of stereotypes. Women, much as media find it convenient to package them into neat little types, aren't one-dimensional. Even powerful women are human. I can only hope that we will begin to allow "ballbuster" women to be cute once in a while and vice versa. And maybe let them have other dimensions as well.

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