Tuesday, September 9, 2008

On the Sexual Fecundity of Sarah Palin. . .

I just read an interesting post by blogger Will Wilkinson (whose blog is The Fly Bottle). Click here for the entire post.

He writes, "Palin exudes sexual confidence and maternal authority, which in a relatively conservative culture like ours is the most recognizable and viscerally comprehensible form of female power. It makes a lot of men uncomfortable, but that’s because it’s the kind of female power they are most often subject to, and most often fail to successfully resist. . . .I feel that Hillary’s struggle to connect as a strong leadership-worthy woman was part of an attempt to forge a sense of feminine authority not founded on maternality and female sexual power. That she almost succeeded in this is astounding, and I think hugely to her credit."

I found this point interesting, and I agree. Hillary's power didn't arise out of her sexuality or her maternality--that's why she seemed so threatening to men and women. As a culture, we have a history of deeming middle-aged women (past the age of fecundity) who have wealth and power to be "witches," manipulative, shrewish, dangerous. Think Martha Stewart, Leona Helmsley, the Salem witch trials.

Palin, on the other hand, is liked by men more than women (see yesterday's CNN poll). Women find Palin more threatening than men do, although many women do find her appealing, more "warm" than Hillary Clinton.

Wilkinson continues on his blog, "But we all know that politics is a primate sport. We’re used to marveling over the fact that the taller man usually wins, that a commanding, alpha-male jock toughness is de rigeur for successful presidential candidates. Palin’s gut appeal drives home the perhaps inevitable but nevertheless regrettable fact that female political success is at some level going to be grounded in primate appeal, too." Does he mean to say that part of Palin's image if a pose? That she postioning herself as uber-mom because that is the way to achieve "primate appeal," to get men to instinctively like her because of her maternal and sexual appeal?

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