Could there be anything more sexist than not putting a woman on the ticket as VP because it didn't work out with Sarah Palin? Everywhere you turn right now, all the talk is about who will be the Republican VP candidate on the ticket with Mitt Romney. And this talk is inflammatory in its sexism. And like alot of sexism, it is overt and covert. The sexism is obvious much of the time, but it is also insidiously implied, always a more disturbing trend.
First of all, the history of Sarah Palin on the national scene in many ways has been one big smear job. The people who opposed her were so desperate to cancel out her positives that they did one of the biggest hit jobs in political history on her. For some that statement is a piece of drama queen hyperbole. To those folks I say baloney!! To hide behind that form of reasoning exposes one to being a hypersexist. Why? Much of the smearing of Palin was 100% sexist. The 2008 election unleashed the latent sexism that permeates our culture. And it also showed that people could shamelessly use sexism as a tool to defeat a female contender for president/vp and somehow that was ok.
The much deeper meaning is that these sexist tools are used all of the time in all ways in just about every aspect of our culture. We all know the drill------women don't make as much as men, women hold few political offices in proportion to their numbers, even fewer top positions in the private sector, domestic violence runs rampant, and women are still mostly relegated to sex symbol status, their brains being of minor importance. Women are still ridiculed as stupid, less or not qualified for much, bitchy if they show any spunk, and are honored for keeping their mouths shut unless being asked to insert something in them for the pleasure of males. The job of raising children is still considered a lesser profession and is relegated to women who receive no respect whatsoever for doing this job. Sigh. Welcome to a woman's world!!
God forbid a woman should aspire to rise to the top. She will be ridiculed, taunted, misrepresented. She will of course be made to look stupid because people think women ARE stupid, all evidence to the contrary ignored. It is a subliminal and not-so-subliminal response to the specter of female power. I know all of this is depressing to read, but 2008 shined a bright light on how much more progress needs to be made for women to be able to correctly say that we can be or do anything. At this point, that statement is aspirational and mythical. And sadly, nothing could be further from the truth to say that we can be anything. We can DREAM of being anything we want to be, but the empirical proof of such a statement really doesn't exist.
Which brings me back to the Palin effect. There seems to be a reluctance to take any of the female VP talk seriously because of what happened to Palin. Everywhere you turn, if a female name is mentioned, the conversation almost always comes back to what happened to Palin. It is the 800 pound gorilla in the middle of the room. And the mere mention of the Palin effect seems to put a chill on any hope of a female VP. The Palin effect alone appears to be the reason why we shouldn't have a female on the ticket.
Many of the problems that Palin encountered can be overcome. Actually ALL of the problems Palin encountered can be overcome. Although it will take alot of courage for the Romney campaign to nominate a woman, I think that the positives far outweigh the negatives.
First of all, in 2012 there will be no mystery or surprise if the other side uses sexism to attack a female VP candidate. The BEST way to handle that is to turn it around and shame the other side for using that sexism as a tool. The McCain campaign did that a little, but not much. The sexism MUST be attacked head on over and over and over and over again whack-a-mole style. I think that the Romney campaign could change history on that score (attacking and shaming the sexists) and level the playing field for all women going forward. Again although that would require courage, the political points (and actual points needed to win) gained by such an act would be the real game changer Romney needs to win.
Secondly, (although this also fits neatly into the above point----but MUST be emphasized) there will have to be CONSTANT vigilance not to fall into the "that woman is not experienced" category. NO ONE was less experienced than our current president when he ran having had little to no executive experience, but a narrative was spun that he WAS and he won. Most of the women mentioned for VP have had much more experience that President Obama, and that experience needs to be honored for what it is------experience. When that experience comes wrapped in a female package it never seems to resonate enough. The Romney campaign can easily turn that negative around as well.
It IS encouraging that Romney has chosen a woman to head up his VP selection committee, and it is also encouraging that he chose a female running mate when he ran for governor of Massachusetts. I really hope that he discovers that a female running mate is the winning ticket for 2012.
All of the constant speculation about the Palin effect as a reason not to nominate a woman needs to go away. We learned alot having Clinton and Palin run in 2008. We need to use those lessons, learn from them, and make another attempt at putting a woman on the ticket. The more we do it (and there should ALWAYS be women on the national ticket from here on out) the more likely we are to have many many successes. To NOT put a woman on the ticket because she is a woman is just too sexist for words. Really now.......we can do better than that weak piece of reasoning. Enough already!!