Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Attacking the 50 Foot Woman

While much of the blogosphere is talking about the audacity of Virginia Thomas trying to shame Anita Hill into taking back her testimony against Clarence (read Historiann's take on the matter), I want to bring up something that isn't online as far as I can tell, but needs some analysis. And it's kind of related to the nonsense being inflicted on Ms. Hill.

The Spousal Unit reads Mother Jones online a fair amount, mostly to follow Kevin Drum's blog and for the occasional article. A family member gave him a subscription to the dead-tree version of it as a birthday present and the first issue arrived yesterday.

The cover, which I looked for but could not find posted on the web site, is a variation on the iconic movie poster pictured here. In this pulp classic, a wealthy woman who is being abused and cheated on by her scumbag husband has a run in with an alien from outer space and is transformed into a 50 foot tall giant. Her husband attempts to murder her with a lethal injection, but fails. She goes after him and his mistress, kills the mistress and seizes him. She is killed by an explosion and her homicidal spouse is crushed when she falls with him grasped in her hand. Good cheesy fun.

The Mother Jones cover has turned the scantily clad, rampaging female into Sarah Palin standing over a suburban street and crushing a house in her left hand while minivans and SUVs careen in the street and tiny human figures (of tastefully multi-ethnic skin tones) flee in a panic.  The headlines emblazoned across the cover say "ATTACK ON THE MIDDLE CLASS!" "A confused & frightened citizenry votes against its own self-interest" "They say they're taking back America, but really they're taking... your money!!!"

No, really. It's just like that.

I was rolling my eyes at the comic cheesecake, but was curious - was this going to be a trashing of the Tea Party? An indictment of the out-of-control Glen Beck? A write up on Palin's political tactics?

None of the above. Aside from a rambling Editor's Note blaming the poor folk for being stupid and a juvenile one-page comic trying to reduce Beck to racism (no, he's Father Coughlin, a far more complicated situation), there is nothing about the upsurge of political resentment on the Right; the three articles connected to the lurid cover are all about the Democratic failure, especially Obama's failure, to strongly and systematically defend a liberal social and economic position. Galbraith delivers the sharpest smack-down, David Corn dissects how Obama "blew it", while Kevin Drum weakly tries to hand-wave away the criticisms, but ends up repeating an apologist version of Corn's analysis - too little, tepidly presented, and hey even Bill Clinton lost seats in the mid-terms, so lay off, will ya?

So, tell me again - What this has to do with depicting Sarah Palin as stroke material? Why is a series of articles detailing failures on the Left to combat the aggression of the Right being sold with a extremely sexualized image of Palin and accompanied by headlines that scream (In all caps, red typeface) about what this fuckable Amazon is trying to do to you gullible fools? I'm suppressing a smirk at the ironic juxtaposition of the written message and the visual appeal. The text talks about people being tricked into voting against their own self-interests, while the image is designed to get horny men to buy the magazine in the hopes of more soft-core porn on the inside, when there isn't any.

Who exactly is being led around by the short hairs here?

Speaking of short hairs, what about the new attack on Anita Hill? In that situation, when Hill was required to provide public testimony on workplace sexual harassment by Clarence Thomas, the media circus that ensued was to slut-shame her. She's an angry spurned woman. She's a man-hating lesbo. She liked what he said and did. She's making it all up. She's politically motivated. She's out for revenge. She's obviously a woman with problems. And, now, she's the one who is the aggressor and owes an apology for lying about what she enjoyed getting.

Calling women whores for political fun and profit is not just for Jerry Brown's campaign. It is the way that political challenges from strong minded women are met. Whitman, Hill and Palin are all turned into objects of desire, and then their actions are judged by their ostensible fuckability quotient - too old and dried up so she's whoring, too independent and aloof, so she's a liar, too slutty and hot, so we can't take her seriously. It's how you try to delegitimize a woman seeking, or even merely disrupting, power, by foregrounding her sexuality. It also cuts to the infantile root of the fear of strong women, that they may turn into all-powerful monsters who keep you from having sex and might even kill you.

What it does not do is focus the attention of Democrats on battling the continued erosion of their economic and political protections in the face of the concerted assault of the Right - an assault conducted by powerful men in back rooms, not by radioactive Amazons in the streets of suburbia.



Anonymous said...

Both Sarah Palin and Christine O'Donnell are fairly typical Republicans in their political views. Both are reasonably intelligent and neither one is particularly kooky, at least not in comparison to the rest of the GOP.

So why do they generate so much hysteria among fauxgressives?

When are the fauxgressives going to go apeshit over a male Republican?

harpie said...

Oh, I am so glad you're back!

The Fabulous Kitty Glendower said...

It is so good to read you again. I never really knew the story of the 50 foot woman. It sucks that she dies too.