ONE STEP FORWARD, TWO STEPS BACK

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September 17, 2008 by Judith Liebaert

The other night I was surfing the channels hoping to catch the latest, relevant, political news. (An aside here, CNN’s Keeping Them Honest is a ray of sunshine in this hurricane season of misinformation.) Indulging in a bit of nostalgic gratification (oh, for the days when the choices seemed as black and white as our television screens), I lingered on Nick at Nite. There was the lovely Elizabeth Montgomery, twitching her little, upturned nose and creating chaos in Darren’s life.

I’ve always liked Elizabeth Montgomery or more accurately, Samantha Stevens. I like what Sam stood for in the midst of fast changing social values. Okay, so the writers had to employ devices like witchcraft and a “twin” cousin to reflect the burgeoning independence of the American woman. And her mother, Endora – a divorced, independent woman, not on the prowl for a replacement hubby? Pure progressive genius.

Over the years, I’ve held Elizabeth /Samantha up as an example of a healthy, mature woman with a normal body weight. In her stylishly simple “house dresses” one could easily see that below her waist were curving hips and extending from her sleeveless bodices, shapely upper arms. And yet, in the animated credit roll for Bewitched, Samantha was drawn in the exact proportions of a Barbie doll.

Fast forward to 2007 when AMC debuted it’s critically acclaimed hit Mad Men, giving us the real skinny on what Darren was doing at the ad agency office in the 60’s. The little woman at home might have had some healthy meat on her, but the men of Madison Avenue were all agog at the perfect doll image. And thus began the quest to remake ourselves in the image of a man’s fantasy.

Bringing us to 2008 where the ugly beast (man’s fantasy) rears its head and roars, “She is WOMAN!” If you haven’t seen the picture of Sarah Palin’s head photo-shopped onto a 20-something, stars-and-stripes-bikini clad body toting a rifle . . . you haven’t missed much. Puhleese! Every woman in America knew that photo was a phony. No mother of five has an abdomen like that.

A male coworker, who at best is very discriminating in his political opinions and at worst is down right cynical, responded to my inquiry as to his thoughts about Palin as VP, “Sticks and stones might break my bones but a woman with a gun excites me.” I have no doubt. But what about her qualifications, experience, ethical action in the face of opposition?

In her biography, now running on the aforementioned CNN, Sarah poses for a model’s shot, completely wrapped in the American flag. Truly offensive. Does its hoped for effectiveness lie in the anticipated certainty that men will be captivated by the thought of what she is wearing (or not wearing) beneath the flag? So captivated that they will be oblivious to her lack of qualifications? Forget about Sarah P capturing the women’s vote. She has men across America fawning over her they way they secretly fondled their sister’s Barbie dolls. They want to keep her image in their minds; they want to see more of her when they turn on the nightly news. If that means voting her into national public office, so be it.

Yes, Governor Sarah Palin is the dream girl of the Mad Men, and we all know sex sells. She might stop long enough in her whirlwind photo op tour (her appearances on the campaign trail can be considered little more than that in light of her refusal to take questions) to ponder this. If her running mate can laugh at an accomplished, powerful woman being called the B-word, what might be the so-called locker room exchanges directed at her?

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One thought on “ONE STEP FORWARD, TWO STEPS BACK

  1. Laura says:

    Yes, you certainly summed up wonderfully how Sarah Palin is not a symbol of feminism, but sexism. Boys using girls for their own fantasies and purposes. I would utter something not nice about John McCain for choosing her, but I am hoping that his wife might have done that already. Oh, I meant wife one and wife two.

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