Chalk another one up under “psychoanalysis of comfortable, bored people.” I’m so glad someone’s covering that beat. It’s so neglected. Why, between all the “how to talk to your children about Random Issue X” and “tonight on Health Beat: Liposuction Advances for YOU!” I hardly ever hear this demographic spoken to directly. Thank God Belinda is here to explain to me that my animosity towards Sarah Palin has nothing to do with anything about me, or her, or my life, or her policies to improve or wreck that life. It’s to do with that I’m a chick, and thus the Hive Vagina dictates my behavior with regard to others with the ladyparts.
The hatred women have for Sarah Palin, and others had for Hillary before her, is not necessarily about politics. Anybody can run the numbers on how many people Palin’s pro-life, pro-gun, socially conservative policies will seduce and how many they will alienate. Rather, the test that the McCain campaign failed to put her through was the Abbotsleigh Ladies College test. (Named after my high school. Go, green and gold!). It’s a simple three-point pass-fail exam: Will the other girls like her?
I’ve heard this over and over since the debate. She’s so feminine! She’s so cute! She’s so colloquial! Rich Lowry thinks she was winking at him! People are just calling her stupid because she’s a girl! She brings this lovely real-life mom persona to the vice presidency! It’s darling, her not knowing shit! Hee!
First things first. Can we please put to rest the idea that there is something charmingly, exclusively female about acting like a childish fucking nutjob? I’ve been blaming Sex and the City, but honestly, that show’s been off the air for years, so let’s please stop pretending it’s our divine right, delivered to us with our uteruses, to act stupid and wacky and trivial, and make decisions based on nothing. I amdone with that shit. It excuses bullshit behavior and it’s not okay. But excusing bullshit behavior seems to be entirely what this piece is about:
Women are weapons-grade haters. Hillary Clinton knows it. Palin knows it too. When women get their hate on, they don’t just dislike, or find disfavor with, or sort of not really appreciate. They loathe – deeply, richly, sustainingly. I do not say this to disparage my gender; women also love in more or less the same way.
I’m pretty sure Miss Belinda here is just a couple of Cosmos away from a piece about how if you don’t have five girlfriends you tell everything to and who understand you so much better than your doofy male partner, you’re just not getting the good out of life. Pop in Steel Magnolias or the Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and kick back with an appletini, it’s all good. With the collection of fucking sexist clichés she’s carting around here, I’m surprised chocolate-eating doesn’t make an appearance. Or PMS. Did she trip and fall into an episode of According to Jim?
When men disagree, the steps to resolution are reasonably clear and unsophisticated. Acts of physical violence are visited upon one another’s person or property, and the whole thing blows over. Women? Nu-unh. We savor the discord. We draw it out. We share our contempt with our friends, like a useful stock tip, or really good salsa. And then we all go hate together: a mutually encouraging group activity for when the book group gets quiet.
Since Belinda’s making this about every woman, let me just describe my hating process for you. First I stab a pen into my desk chair’s arm hard enough to make a hole, which usually takes care of my urge to violence. Then I get on Google chat with Mr. A and tell him about what’s pissed me off. Generally, by the end of five minutes he’s got me laughing about it, constructing elaborate and wildly disproportionate responses to whatever it was, like “you should set his toupee on fire” for a guy who likes to look down my shirt, and I feel bad for being susceptible to somebody else’s bullshit and letting it bug me. If it’s someone being REALLY awful, it’ll bother me for a day and a half, during which I might tell my mother or one of my friends about it, especially if I can turn it into a funny story.
Then Itry to move the fuck on. I’m not always successful; sometimes I get hung up on stupid shit, but overall? The animosity that lasts, the people I would back over with a car if I saw them again, whose every utterance makes me cringe and whose every attribute inspires me to yet further loathing? They’re people who hurt my friends or my family. People who treated the people I love badly. I don’t view hating them as some kind of fun activity to indulge in with my gal-pals for entertainment value. I view it as a justified response to someone being a complete and total jackass.
And you know, most of the women I know, and count as friends, are exactly the same way.
Are there women who are petty, jealous, gossipy, vicious, and small-minded like Belinda describes? Sure. And there are men who are petty, jealous, gossipy, vicious and small-minded, too. Collectively, they’re known asassholes. Or as George W. Bush calls them, “my base.” There is nothing inherently female about holding a grudge. In fact, I’ve met more than a few men who are experts at it, who remember someone who slighted them 30 years ago. They might not make fun of his hair over White Russians at the local bar with a cutesy name, but the burn still smolders, so do not come in here and try to tell me it’s all good because that’s just how we girls are. Jesus tits.
Here’s why Palin doesn’t make the grade:
1. She’s too pretty. This is very bad news. At school, pretty girls tend to be liked only by other pretty girls. The rest of us, whose looks hover somewhere around underwhelming, resent them and whisper archly of their “unearned attention.” So, if everyone calls your candidate “hot,” you’re in a whole mess of trouble. If the Pakistani head-of-state more or less hits on her, well, yes, she’ll get a sympathy vote, but we’re in Dukakis-in-the-tank territory. It’s an admiration vaporizer. (Of course a candidate can’t be too ugly, or it will scare the men, who are clearly shallow as a gender.)
2. She’s too confident. This also bodes ill. Women have self-esteem issues. But they also have other-women’s-esteem issues. As almost any woman – from the head of the Budgerigar Breeders association to Queen Elizabeth – can attest, it’s almost impossible to get confidence right. Too timid and you’re a pushover. Too self-aggrandizing and you’re a bad word unless it’s about a dog, or Project Runway’s Kenley. Or Michelle, my best friend until 9th grade, after she won that debating prize and got cocky.
3. She could embarrass us. History is not on Palin’s side. Every time a woman gets a plum job, be she Hewlett-Packard’s ex-boss, Carly Fiorina, or CBS’s Katie Couric, there’s always that whispery fear that people will think she got the job just because she’s a woman. So if things don’t go well – and a couple of YouTube clips have suggested that they’re certainly not going well for Palin – women are the first to turn on her for making it harder for the rest of us to louse up at work.
If there’s a unifying theme to this election, primaries to general, it’s been the dismissal of every legitimate thought of everybody ever with some shrug and comment about his or her demographic. Women don’t have any real reason to support Hillary, it’s just the Hive Vagina. Obama supporters are just young, or black, and not really thinking this through. Veterans HAVE to be for McCain, because he is one too! Not to mention white folks, who by nature, if they are hard-working, are Republicans, and “real.” Nobody has any idea who they are or what they want, to listen to this collection of deeply confused, unhappy people known as our punditry.
And by the way, Belinda, not all women have self-esteem issues. Thanks for your concern, though.