US election skanks

ACCUSATIONS of sexism are ricocheting round the American presidential campaign like bullets in a bank safe.

There are so many shooters firing from so many ideological angles, it’s hard to work out who, if anyone, is landing a shot.

First, the Hillary Clinton campaign. While some claimed it was sexist that Billary got a shot at the title in the first place (because she was merely riding on her husband’s stained, blue coat-tails yadda, yadda, yadda), most of the complaints related to classic misogyny such as:

* From Facebook: “Hillary can’t handle one man; how can she handle 150 million of them?”

* From MSNBC host Tucker Carlson: “There’s just something about her that feels castrating.”

* From the president of the Foundation for the Defence of Democracies, Cliff May: “At least call her a vaginal American.”

* From radio shock jock Rush Limbaugh: “Mrs Clinton’s testicle lockbox is big enough for the entire Democrat hierarchy.” (Limbaugh also suggested America wasn’t ready to watch a female politician age because only men looked more “authoritative, accomplished [and] distinguished” as they approached the grave.)

* And, last but by no means least, from YouTube: “Hillary is a dumb c… and satans [sic] ho.”

Once you’ve recovered from that lot, let’s move on to the Sarah Palin campaign. The Alaska Governor tried to pre-empt critics by describing herself as a pit bull in lipstick (certainly a far superior dog metaphor than a chihuahua in fatigues). Since then, however, the gendered vitriol has come thick and festery:

* From comedian Bill Maher: “I will send [Barack Obama] whatever I have to to keep this snarling bitch out of the White House.”

* From The Huffington Post’s Michael Seitzman: “I want to have sex with her on my Barack Obama sheets while my wife reads aloud from the constitution. (My wife is cool with this if I promise to ‘first wipe off Palin’s tranny make-up’.)”

* From’s Gary Kamiya: “For the die-hard Republicans who lusted over Palin at the convention, her whip-wielding persona was a turn-on. The more Palin drilled the Democrats, the more hotly the base yearned to drill her.”

* And, last but again by no means least, from YouTube: “Sarah Palin is a dumb ass buckey beaver bitch who has a slut for a daughter.”

While Clinton and Palin couldn’t be more different politically, the abuse (as opposed to the considered criticism) they’ve been copping is identical: aspersions cast on their abilities as wives and mothers, an obsession with their appearances, and accusations that they are either too youthful and foxy, or too old and ugly.

Far worse, however, are the fantasies and threats of sexual desecration. It is this sleaze – even more than the dismal number of women in positions of power – which provides incontrovertible proof that the playing field for political females is still far from level. After all, when was the last time critics of Obama or John McCain said they needed some sense f..ked into them?

Another disturbing double standard concerns the fact that while most of the unsavoury Clinton character assassination came from the Right, most of the Palin pounding is coming from the Left. And not just from men, either.

On last week, Cintra Wilson dismissed Palin as a Republican blow-up doll and “f..kable” Christian Stepford wife in a sexy librarian costume. “Palin may have been a boost of political Viagra for the limp, bloodless GOP,” Wilson wrote, “[but] ideologically, she is their hardcore pornographic centrefold spread.”

It’s understandable that many women want to distance themselves from Palin given her rabid anti-abortion stance. It’s also understandable that the feminist establishment is bristling at suggestions that Clinton supporters will flock to Palin simply because she also has a vagina. As Gloria Steinem wrote last week: “Palin shares nothing but a chromosome with Clinton.”

But it’s not good enough for disappointed members of the Left to justify their offensive remarks about Palin on the grounds that their opponents said similar things about Clinton. To twist the words of Voltaire: Some of us may disapprove of what Palin says, but all of us should defend to the death her right to say it without being called a skanky ho.

- originally published in The Australian on 18-09-2008.

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