The Harpies Are Out to Get Sarah Palin

Mary Grabar
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Posted: Aug 31, 2008 9:30 AM

Ah! The sisterhood! I’ve experienced it. In academia the sisterhood reigns. They have a grip, and exclude every woman who does not share their animus. They are all too happy to disperse their money and support to “sisters” who join them in shrilly denouncing the patriarchy. But woe to the pro-life, pro-patriarchy, pro-West woman. Hell hath no fury--

Now Sarah Palin is experiencing it.

The reaction from feminist women within hours of the announcement of McCain’s selection of her as his running mate reveals the true nature of this “sisterhood.” The Huffington Post featured photos of Palin playing basketball in high school in order to diminish her accomplishments. Acclaimed novelist Jane Smiley’s comments were perhaps the nastiest in terms of cattiness and innuendo, with a simple series of questions beginning an entry: “Who’s that? Is this a joke? Who’s that again? She has a four month old baby and she’s hitting the campaign trail? Is she breastfeeding?” Smiley continued: “If she is breastfeeding at 3 a.m. and the phone rings will she answer it?”

Kimberly Brooks, part of the Huffington Sisterhood, commented too on Palin’s new motherhood and then weighed in with what to her are more substantial issues: “But what I really want to talk about is her hair. Can someone please get this woman to a SuperCuts? What is that thing on her head? I admit, I am completely jealous of her flawless Linda Carter Skin. And I fully expect her to take out that plastic hair clip, pull off her glasses, rip off her blazer to reveal either Wonder Woman or Demi Moore in Disclosure. But the hair has GOT TO GO.”

(I know from experience that these “feminists” go for the hair, having had my own unruly locks the target of online insults).

And then Sarah Seltzer wrote, under the title, “A Feminist Appalled by Palin,” that when she saw the announcement while on the elliptical trainer her “rage propelled me to the most furious workout I’ve had in a while.” It’s mostly Palin’s pro-life position that enrages these women, and Seltzer sees this pick as just another instance of the “right wing” using “prominent women to keep the rest of us down.” Seltzer provides a link to an online magazine called, appropriately, “Bitch.”

Back in May, these same women reacted in a similar mean-female-dog manner to Phyllis Schlafly’s honorary doctorate from her alma mater, Washington University. Leading the pack were professors, like Mary Ann Dzuback, director of women’s and gender studies, and associate professor of education and history, who was quoted as saying, “The university has completely disregarded the concerns about anybody who cares about full and equal rights for women, who cares about the intellectual quality of feminist debate, and who cares about women’s desire to enter the work force.” Schlafly earned a law degree from that university and has had a very distinguished career in writing, speaking, and public policy.

The fact that she did it while raising six children enraged the harpies even more.

They are livid because Schlafly was able to do this before the “movement”—THEIR movement. She gives the lie to the notion that the 1950s was a time of oppression by the patriarchy. In my own field, academia, one would think that no women taught or wrote during that time, but a surprising number of women turn up as authors of scholarly works.

Yet, feminists cling to their conspiracy theories. Katha Pollitt, in a Nation Magazine column on Schlafly’s honorary degree, wailed: “sometimes I think we’re truly going backward, as Republican hegemony, conservative Christianity and anti-feminist media propaganda take their cumulative toll.” Those like Pollitt resort to misrepresenting Schlafly: “After four years of hard work, female seniors get to watch their school honor someone who thinks they should park their diplomas in the kitchen sink.” Pollitt’s most recent book-length work was a tell-all collection of essays, published originally in The New Yorker, about a liberated, live-in, abusive boyfriend who cheated on her with her friends.

Commentators charged Schlafly with hypocrisy for denying women career opportunities and keeping them subjugated by husbands.

The reality is that these feminists don’t care about women. They cannot recognize that it is Western (patriarchal) civilization that accords women the greatest rights in the world. It supports women and their children. It nurtures women like Sarah Palin. I’ve seen it personally with friends earning Ph.D.’s, who were supported by conservative blue-collar husbands. And I’ve heard too many liberal women complain about the poor treatment they get from liberal boyfriends.

The feminists are livid that Palin did it outside the movement, that—unlike Hillary Clinton--she began not out of her own ambition, but as a result of her concern for her own children, as a PTA mom.

I kept my eyes glued on the television all evening Friday.

On Saturday, I went to our local book festival in Decatur, Georgia. True to form, this festival, run by the federally supported Georgia Center for the Book, was heavily liberal in terms of books and authors. The official bookseller at author signings was Outwrite Books, our local gay bookstore and coffee shop.

I made my way past Revolution Books, the massage booth, and plethora of opuses on “spirituality” to a talk by a token conservative, Kathleen Parker on her latest book, Save the Males. The question-and-answer session turned to Palin’s nomination, and one angry woman in the audience commented that Palin knew that her baby had Down’s Syndrome and yet had him anyways. She said that it was irresponsible of her to accept the nomination when she had a special needs baby.

Well, we know what Hillary or any one of her pro-choice sisters would have done. We can imagine her crying out, “Come you spirits / That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, / And fill me from the crown to the toe topful / Of direst cruelty! Make thick my blood, / Stop up th’ access and passage to remorse, / That no compunctious visitings of nature / Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between / Th’ effect and it! Come to my woman breasts, / And take my milk for gall. . .”

These women have blood on their hands, and they are very angry and bitter.