Conservative though she may be, I felt that Palin represented an explosion of a brand new style of muscular American feminism. At her startling debut on that day, she was combining male and female qualities in ways that I have never seen before. And she was somehow able to seem simultaneously reassuringly traditional and gung-ho futurist. In terms of redefining the persona for female authority and leadership, Palin has made the biggest step forward in feminism since Madonna channeled the dominatrix persona of high-glam Marlene Dietrich and rammed pro-sex, pro-beauty feminism down the throats of the prissy, victim-mongering, philistine feminist establishment.
Heh ... pure Paglia. Obviously impressed. With the lib reaction? Not so much:
Over the Labor Day weekend, with most of the big enchiladas of the major media on vacation, the vacuum was filled with a hallucinatory hurricane in the leftist blogosphere, which unleashed a grotesquely lurid series of allegations, fantasies, half-truths and outright lies about Palin. What a tacky low in American politics — which has already caused a backlash that could damage Obama's campaign. When liberals come off as childish, raving loonies, the right wing gains. I am still waiting for substantive evidence that Sarah Palin is a dangerous extremist. I am perfectly willing to be convinced, but right now, she seems to be merely an optimistic pragmatist like Ronald Reagan, someone who pays lip service to religious piety without being in the least wedded to it. I don't see her arrival as portending the end of civil liberties or life as we know it.
Or said another way, the left overshot the runway by a large margin and looked foolish. And they're left with the impossible job of trying to backfill all of their lunatic charges with real facts - something they've yet to produce. The tidal wave of rants has slowed a bit as they assess the damage they've done to themselves, but then when any hint of something which may be construed as negative floats by, they again gear up into hysterical overdrive.
It is certainly premature to predict how the Palin saga will go. I may not agree a jot with her about basic principles, but I have immensely enjoyed Palin's boffo performances at her debut and at the Republican convention, where she astonishingly dealt with multiple technical malfunctions without missing a beat. A feminism that cannot admire the bravura under high pressure of the first woman governor of a frontier state isn't worth a warm bucket of spit.
That last line is a critical point. It points out the difference between real feminists and faux feminists. If feminism is about the advancement of the cause of women, then there's no required ideology attached is there? Paglia is calling out those reputed "feminists" to celebrate what she sees as an example of what real feminists have been working to accomplish for decades.
She goes on, ironically describing what I would call Palin's greatest strength in this regard - her feminism is natural (and that's why it is engaging and viewed as authentic):
Perhaps Palin seemed perfectly normal to me because she resembles so many women I grew up around in the snow belt of upstate New York. For example, there were the robust and hearty farm women of Oxford, a charming village where my father taught high school when I was a child. We first lived in an apartment on the top floor of a farmhouse on a working dairy farm. Our landlady, who was as physically imposing as her husband, was another version of the Italian immigrant women of my grandmother's generation — agrarian powerhouses who could do anything and whose trumpetlike voices could pierce stone walls.
Now that's the Sarah Palin brand of can-do, no-excuses, moose-hunting feminism — a world away from the whining, sniping, wearily ironic mode of the establishment feminism represented by Gloria Steinem, a Hillary Clinton supporter whose shameless Democratic partisanship over the past four decades has severely limited American feminism and not allowed it to become the big tent it can and should be. Sarah Palin, if her reputation survives the punishing next two months, may be breaking down those barriers. Feminism, which should be about equal rights and equal opportunity, should not be a closed club requiring an ideological litmus test for membership.
Those of us who have seen real and authentic feminists in our lives, such as Paglia describes, have always rejected what she calls the "prissy, victim-mongering, philistine" version of the "feminist establishment". Sarah Palin is the embodiment of that rejection and it frightens the hell out of them.
Paglia takes another well-deserved whack at the Dems and she nails them to the wall:
The witch-trial hysteria of the past two incendiary weeks unfortunately reveals a disturbing trend in the Democratic Party, which has worsened over the past decade. Democrats are quick to attack the religiosity of Republicans, but Democratic ideology itself seems to have become a secular substitute religion. Since when did Democrats become so judgmental and intolerant? Conservatives are demonized, with the universe polarized into a Manichaean battle of us versus them, good versus evil. Democrats are clinging to pat group opinions as if they were inflexible moral absolutes. The party is in peril if it cannot observe and listen and adapt to changing social circumstances.
I couldn't have said it better if I tried. Go read the whole thing.
Maybe Paglia will eventually realize that conservatism is REAL feminism: leaving people the hell alone to succeed - or fail - based on their own efforts and merit instead of their race, color, creed, gender, national origin, blah-blah-blah.
Is a woman really "strong" and "independent" if the goverment has to force other people to give her a job or a spot on a sports team?
Since when did Democrats become so judgmental and intolerant?
Been that way as long as I can remember - though now with the blogs and the internet, the mass of angry, intolerant roots can get by the top-end gatekeepers... or even convince them that judgmental intolerance will win them votes.