“Former Beauty Queen, Future VP?”
That’s the title of today’s article at The Huffington Post about the former city councilwoman, small-town mayor, and current Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin, who is McCain’s pick as VP. A wide range of people seem to be surprised and fascinated by the fact that, back in the day, Palin was a beauty queen and a runner-up for the title of Miss Alaska in 1984.
Let me make my position clear. I most assuredly do not think that Governor Palin is ready to be a heartbeat away from the presidency, and I’m no fan of her policies and positions on major issues including reproductive choice (she’s a “pro-life” feminist), conservation of the environment and wildlife, gay rights, and the war in Iraq. Clearly, on these issues and others, her positions align her with the conservativism of President Bush and her running mate, Senator John McCain. Even if I were not an Obama supporter (which I am), I wouldn’t even dream of going near that ticket on election day! [Wondering what pro-life feminism is? Check out Ruth Rosen’s excellent article on AlterNet.]
Despite my objections to Palin, the reaction to her from some quarters strikes me as unfair and/or inappropriate. Some bloggers are writing about how “hot” or “smoking” Palin is–objectifying her sexually in shockingly disrespectul ways. Others–including some femininsts–are making snarky comments about the fact that she was a beauty queen, as though this fact in and of itself illustrates why she could not possibly be a good running mate or possible Commander-in-Chief.
Which brings me to main point of this post, which is much bigger than this debate about Palin. As a feminist and a self-identified femme, I’m tired of the ancient cultural stereotype that brains and beauty are mutually exclusive catagories in women. It creates double binds for women which I would like to see femininsts interrogate, not reinforce.