I just read this Slate magazine article on the Newsweek cover of Sarah Palin, and I'm sitting here steaming.
Before I go any further, I want to make my political position known. I'm a Democrat. I cross party lines when I feel another party offers a better candidate. I've voted Republican, Libertarian and Green before. I'm voting for Obama/Biden in this year's election, but I'm not an avid supporter. I do not think Palin is qualified to be Vice-President of the United States, and I have very mixed feelings about McCain. This isn't the year for my political passions to ride high. I'm damn near burned out, and whoever wins, it's going to be rough going for the American people for a good while. The last eight years have nearly totalled this country, and we'd all better get prepared for a bumpy ride.
The feminist in me though is still blazing bright. Fox News got its panties in a twist because Newsweek magazine didn't retouch the cover picture of Sarah Palin to their taste. Gasp! What's the problem here? Palin is not physically perfect. If the Republican party were looking for merely a babe for photo shoots, why didn't they get a Real Doll? By creating an uproar over what is actually an attractive photograph of Palin, it's almost like people are saying you're destroying her credibility by pointing out physical flaws. That, of course, leads to Palin's very questionable credibility. If her strengths were something other than her looks, would an unretouched photograph really be an insult? Why has no one suggested that not photoshopping Obama's ears to look less like Alfred E. Neuman's is politically motivated? How about demanding that more attention be given to McCain's hunkier younger self?
Palin is a beautiful woman. She got the lucky draw in the gene pool, and she obviously puts effort into her self-presentation. These are not bad things. Get over it. What qualifies her for the vice-presidency is not her figure, her face, those cute glasses or that up do. I personally haven't figured out what does qualify her, but listening will tell me more than looking.
The ageism of this gets to me. It reminds me of the Anna Wintour pictures at Huffington Post. Sarah Palin is 44 years old. I think she looks younger, but looking one's age and being a certain age is only insulting if only a specific age is considered acceptable. The minimum age to be the US President is 35. Only the middle aged and older qualify. Again, this is a feminist issue. Obama looks good for 47. Biden looks a bit worn for 65. McCain looks damn good for 72. Why aren't the men's appearances worthy of Fox News debate? Personally, I don't want a kid in the President's office unless she's playing on the floor at her parent's feet. Maturity is a plus. Maturity connotes though and the Executive office demands a certain dignity and sense of decorum, and this failed to impress me on that score.
I'm also riled up about what we expect from our media. Newsweek is not a fashion magazine. They are not hocking a dream of beauty to sell clothes and makeup. They're providing information and opinions on a variety of current events. If Vogue didn't retouch her pictures, I'd suspect a political agenda. For Newsweek, I hope it's more par for the course. I'm also sick and tired of the media making mountains out of molehills and of the hypocrisy of Fox News.
I've been ranting about fluff that gets poured onto a political race, but I'm hungry for more substantive. I haven't really found it anywhere yet.
Sarah Palin, feminism, ageism, media