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Monday, November 10, 2008

Teacher, Teacher I Declare (Or, From My House I Can See London and France)

Recently reported by the Associated Press:

< <Republican National Committee lawyers are still trying to determine exactly what clothing was bought for Palin, what was returned and what has become of the rest. Palin's father, Chuck Heath, said his daughter spent Saturday trying to figure out what belongs to the RNC.

"She was just frantically ... trying to sort stuff out," Heath said. "That's the problem, you know, the kids lose underwear, and everything has to be accounted for.

"Nothing goes right back to normal," he said.>>

Pretty sobering stuff.

I admit that I laughed with my husband a few days ago after joking that the RNC would soon be going through Sarah Palin's underwear drawer and checking the tags on her panties. (Oh, that p-word! Always sure to evoke laughter with its frisson of both the forbidden and the familiar. ) As an Obama supporter, I was still on a victory high and relished laughing heartily at the expense of the opposition. But you know, it wasn't really that funny. Or rather, it was funny, but mostly in that really sad, outrageous kind of way. It's even sadder to imagine that it's even close to being true.

The RNC needs to stop. And we, progressive women of all colors, need to tell them to stop.

The presidential campaign of 2008 won't be soon forgotten. For black feminists it offered some particularly interesting dilemmas that caused us to query our racial and gender loyalties. First there was the epic battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination. (See my blog post Barack and Hillary Once Upon a Time in America). After Obama snagged the nomination, a number of women Democrats, mostly white, vowed not to support him, even if failure to do so meant cutting off their gendered noses to spite their progressive faces. Or is that progressive noses to spite gendered faces? That's the problem--is sexual difference more fundamental than any other identity marker, as philosopher Luce Irigaray once posited, and if so, should it mean always voting your gender, no matter what?

Some women, again, mostly white, said yes. So, when John McCain cynically/thoughtlessly selected as his running mate a woman who seemingly lacked the preparedness generally found among nominees to high national office, they felt that a vote for the McCain-Palin ticket was a vote for women's collective rights. But as Sarah Palin, via the opinions she expressed, revealed herself to be the anti-Feminist (sort of like the anti-Christ but with lipstick), many progressive women balked and joined the Obama camp.

Camp Obama is a pretty nice place to be these days. There are lots of activities from which to choose. There is no riflery like there would have been at Camp Palin, but the campers are more diverse and they sing in much better harmony around the campfire. Around the campfire there is lots of laughter, mostly the earnest, kindly sort. Only occasionally is the laughter ironic or ambivalent.What's that smell? Hey Judy, is gender burning? Gee, I hope not, we'd better pull it off the fire/pyre. We'd better put some fiyah in the wiyah and call for help to extinguish the flames. Gender may be hard to locate sometimes and even harder to describe but it's definitely not dead or disappeared.

No disappearing act--that's what Sarah Palin is currently guilty of. The attempt to undress her is in the hope that like the invisible man of science fiction (see H.G. Wells, not Ralph Ellison, but really, either one is instructive here), she won't be there when the clothes come off. What could be better than a ritual public stripping?

Better be careful, laughing at Sarah Palin's clothes debacle could be the death of us.

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