Friday, October 03, 2008

Little Starbursts

Rich Lowry is a writer for the National Review blog "The Corner."

He is also, this much is clear, sporting an erection from Sarah Palin's debate performance last night. And I'm not speaking figuratively. I'm speaking literally.

Here's his entry from the Corner:
"A very wise TV executive once told me that the key to TV is projecting through the screen. It's one of the keys to the success of, say, a Bill O'Reilly, who comes through the screen and grabs you by the throat. Palin too projects through the screen like crazy. I'm sure I'm not the only male in America who, when Palin dropped her first wink, sat up a little straighter on the couch and said, "Hey, I think she just winked at me." And her smile. By the end, when she clearly knew she was doing well, it was so sparkling it was almost mesmerizing. It sent little starbursts through the screen and ricocheting around the living rooms of America. This is a quality that can't be learned; it's either something you have or you don't, and man, she's got it."
For obvious reasons, I find this to be very, very offensive. I think he was trying to seem gender neutral by saying that Bill O'Reilly has this quality as well, but it's clear that Lowry is attributing far different powers to the two. The implication is that O'Reilly can jump through the screen and grab anyone by the throat. (He grabs me by the throat, too, but it's one of those chokeholds that sucks a little of my life force away while it's happening. Really, I'd phrase it more like, "Watching Bill O'Reilly is like being strapped into the Machine from The Princess Bride and it sucks a year of my life away each time.") In contrast, Sarah Palin's powers seem only to affect men. Namely, she's a seductress. Palin's star quality seduced him. Let's not kid ourselves here. He is talking about that feeling in your gut when someone is turning you on. Now, there's no denying she's an attractive lady. Plenty of women find Bill Clinton to have a seductive quality. But to write this entry, for the National Review, in regards to a vice presidential debate is downright insulting, inappropriate, and unprofessional. He can try to couch it in magical, fairyland terms all he likes (sparkling, mesmerizing, little starbursts), but the man is saying that Palin winked and the dicks of America stood at attention. What. The. Fuck. WTF?

Those on Palin's side have been arguing for weeks that there is a subtle media sexism at play here. Anyone with even the most basic common sense can see that this is the ploy of deceptive people trying to wrest a different, gentler set of standards for their Republican darling, which is, in itself, a subtle form of sexism. By treating her as they would treat any politician, the media is actually the entity that's behaving correctly. Trying to insist she deserves an easier run is the true sexism. But then THIS ... to have a Palin supporter claim that she has a special power over men? This is sexism in its most blatant form. This is not to be tolerated. This is what women fear from men, Rich Lowry. This is why the workplace was so hard to break into. Because no matter our qualifications, no matter our level of professionalism, no matter how much dignity we carry ourselves with, there are always going to be men like you who can reduce our effectiveness to one of a sexual nature. You unbelievable asshole.

Here's the e-mail I sent to Rich Lowry a short while ago in response:
"This is the kind of reaction the women in this country should want men to have to the possible first female Vice President in American history? Little starbursts my ass. Here's what I thought when Palin "dropped" that first wink at us: "Did she just wink at us like she was America's cocktail waitress?" And sure enough, here you are, on the verge of slapping Sarah Palin on the ass and asking her for another of those fantastic whiskey sours. Sarah Palin just winked the whole of womankind into an episode of Mad Men.

You sexism is showing, sir. And, unlike Sarah Palin, it ain't pretty."
I encourage you to write him as well, be you male or female, letting him know exactly why you think this was a ridiculous, stupid piece to write.

Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan.

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