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November 18, 2009

Questioning the "Palin Double Standard"

The photo of Sarah Palin on the cover of Newsweak seems to be generating quite the controversy. Even the notoriously Lefty Media Matters is outraged... outraged I tell you... about Teh Sexism of it all:

... this photograph may have been completely appropriate for the cover of the magazine for which the picture was apparently intended, Runners World. But Newsweek is supposed to be a serious news magazine, and the magazine is certainly not reporting on Palin's exercise habits.

Like her or not, Palin is a former governor and vice presidential candidate. She deserves the same respect every single one of her male counterparts receives when they are featured on the cover of the magazine. I must have missed the cover of Vice President Joe Biden in short shorts or of Mitt Romney in a bathing suit.

I'll return to the bolded sentence in a moment, but first a few stipulations:

sexist2.jpg 1. Yes, I think Newsweek intentionally set out to diminish Palin. The photos inside the article all have a common theme: they all emphasize her sex appeal in a way that implies it's the most (or possibly the only) important thing about her. Showing a truncated shot of her legs in high heels while three men in the background appear hypnotized by the view up her skirt has got to be the Mother of all Subliminal Messages.

Just what are we supposed to take away from that one? That her appeal to conservatives - and particularly conservative men - is largely based on her iconic GILF (Governor I'd Like to ... well, you get the picture) status?

2. That said, I find the commentary on her wardrobe and personal style interesting:

Look at this picture right here. And what do you see? Can't we just acknowledge it? Sarah Palin is sexy, and she doesn't seem to hide from it. She shows her gams. She openly embraces her femininity. And how many other successful female politics do the same? Not Secretaries Hillary Clinton or Janet Napolitano, not Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison or Dianne Feinstein, or even next- generation female leaders like Jennifer Granholm, governor of Michigan, or California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman.

Symbolically, all these female politicians have played by the old pantsuit rules of the workplace. They don't pretend to be men. Every so often, they acknowledge their feminine side, usually by talking about motherhood.

But, far more often, American female politicians have seemed to keep their femininity under wraps, so to speak. But it's different with Sarah Palin. And it strikes a chord.

It does strike a chord. The question is, what kind of chord does it strike? Palin fans may not care for my next point, but I'd like to ask them to consider my general argument on the merits. Divorce it, if you will, from specific references to Palin or the way she's been treated by the media. Let's examine the question in the abstract.

Few of us would argue with the premise that the image a politician projects - the way he presents himself - conveys a message about how he sees himself and also about how he wants to be seen. Applied to a man, this statement seems fairly unremarkable. So why do we see a double standard when the exact same statement is applied to a woman? I am reminded of a conversation I had with my Dad over 10 years ago.

First, some context. My Mom and I had been out shopping for business attire. After raising two boys, I completed college and had just been hired by a Fortune 500 firm. It's worth noting that prior to this I had worked on and off, but never in what I'd call a professional environment. Most jobs I'd held involved business casual attire. In the job I was transitioning to, the men wore suits (not sports jackets, but suits) and Hermes ties to the office.

As a Marine officer's wife, I had several suits in my closet already. They were useful for attending daytime receptions and dress parades. But they weren't business suits. I may not have been able to put my finger on exactly why they weren't suitable for the office, but I knew it nonetheless.

Women, whether they dress for social occasions or the workplace, have far more fashion options than men do. No matter the occasion, our attire is more individualistic and more nuanced. The standard male wardrobe, on the other hand, tends to be fairly formulaic. In a formal office environment one sees charcoal grey suits with white shirts and small patterned ties. A more artsy (but still formal) workplace or a sales environment features colored shirts and suits with edgier tailoring and fabric. For social occasions, ensembles range from the suit to the quintessentially Southern khaki-pants-and-navy-sport coat to khaki pants and polo shirt/button down oxford, to the truly casual jeans and t-shirt. On the negative side, male dress codes don't provide much opportunity for the expression of personality. On the positive side, deciphering the dreaded "Business Casual" or "Casual" on a social invitation is far less fraught for men than it is for women.

My mother and I returned home triumphantly brandishing a cute navy suit with a short, peplum jacket and pencil skirt. It looked good on me. Like Palin, I look best in closely tailored suits that are nipped in at the waist and skirts that don't flare out at the hems. After regaling Dad with carefully chosen examples of our shopping mojo, I was dispatched to the back bedroom to subject my purchases to paterfamilial inspection. And this is where I love my Dad. As I paraded back and forth across the living room carpet showing off my best fashion-show model pivot, he beamed with paternal pride. "You look marvelous", he said.

"Well, the skirt needs to come up about 2 inches", I said. At only 5'4", I've learned that skirt and sleeve length makes all the difference between looking sharp and looking like a child playing dress up in Mommy's clothes.

My Dad said, "No. Leave the skirt where it is. And you should wear a lower heel for the office."

I wasn't pleased. Not by a long shot. Anyone who knows me knows I love my high heels. But after a short time in my new office environment I had to admit something: he was right. I didn't like admitting that a shorter skirt and higher heels injected the wrong note into what was supposed to be a professional environment. I'm a woman. I wanted to like what I saw in the mirror; to feel pretty. But that wasn't the goal. The goal was to look professional; to get work done, not attract admiring gazes from my co-workers. I knew Dad was right. It wasn't the office that needed to adjust to me: it was I who needed to adjust to the office.

This is what bothers me about Sarah Palin; about her reaction to the way she's portrayed in the media. If the image she chooses to project is that of a woman who is confident in her sexuality but wants you to notice it, that's fine. But having made that choice, it's a bit much to complain when people comment on the very attribute you've chosen to emphasize. If you do so in an environment where other women dress conservatively, your decision will stand out. It will excite admiration from your fans and criticism from those whose short list of Presidential qualifications doesn't include the terms, "sexy", "unconventional", or "hot".

During an interview conducted shortly before the Palin/Biden debate, Jennifer Granholm made an interesting observation:

In general, do you think there's a difference between debating a male and a female opponent? I do think, generally, it is more difficult for a man to debate a woman. I think that citizens have certain expectations still ingrained in them about how men and women should behave and comport themselves. And for both sides, there are pitfalls.

Such as?
As a man, you don't want to be perceived as beating up on a woman. As a woman, you don't want to be perceived as being shrill or unlikable or harsh. I think those are things that I'm sure both sides are keeping in mind.

How have you prepared for your own debates, mostly against male opponents?
I've really tried to show that I can throw a punch and could take a punch. You're in there playing in the big leagues, playing with the big boys; you've got to show that you can throw and land some punches of your own.

Do you think that women are judged differently when they run for office?
Women often use that Ann Richards line about how you have to be twice as good as a woman to be considered as good as a man … That sort of striving to be twice as good, either in your credentials or in your ability to govern, is very important for a woman, because there aren't that many of us yet in these positions. You have to really demonstrate that you are capable of taking this on.

What about how they run and present themselves?
I… hate to say it, but women running for office have to run like a man. The fact that you're a woman is obvious. You don't need to talk about it. I would encourage women to downplay the gender issue as much as you can. If you're married with kids, obviously the voters want to know about your family. But I never put the kids or the mom thing out on Front Street because they're electing an executive. Being a mom clearly demonstrates that you can relate to what people are feeling and experiencing, and you don't want to hide that because that's part of why you'd be an effective executive. But you're not running as a mom, you're running as an executive, and that's what [voters] want. Most people want responsible executives. You have to be pragmatic. They want someone who is a fiscal tightwad usually and able to make tough decisions. I think you have to convey to people that you are the best executive around.

Again, let's separate her argument from her politics. I think her argument is dead on.

Is Palin really being judged by a double standard? Or is she being judged by the image she chooses to project? I mentioned my love affair with high heels earlier. Palin's shoes excited a lot of comment during the campaign. Let's take a look at them:

130071.jpg

In the words of the inimitable Mr. On, those aren't sensible pumps. They're what he aptly terms, "Catch me, f*** me shoes." Allow me to submit two other photos for your consideration:

slide_3432_48592_large.jpg

slide_3432_48583_large.jpg

Now the question. What is your viscereal reaction to Palin's appearance? What's the first thing you think? Is it, "Damn, now there's a competent executive?"

Or is more like, "Damn, she's hot?"

Don't get me wrong: I love Palin's shoes. And I love her sense of style. She's a knockout. I freely admit that I have shoes with heels that high in my closet - piles of them. But I don't wear them to the office, because in a work environment I don't want people thinking, "Damn, she's got great legs".

I want them to think, "Damn, she knows her stuff." The primary image I want to project at work is credibility, not sexiness (or even attractiveness).

I'm not so sure it's men who are subjecting Palin to an unfair double standard here. I think she could fairly be accused of expecting to be treated differently than a man who dressed similarly. Remember that bolded sentence at the beginning of this post? When was the last time you saw Mitt Romney or Joe Biden dressing in a manner anything close to seductive? When was the last time you saw either of them deviate from traditional male politician attire?

Women have a very bad habit of flouting long established conventions and then complaining when when people react the way they have always reacted. They want the freedom to ignore deep seated differences between men and women while escaping the entirely predictable consequences of doing so.

Trust me: I sympathize. It would be nice if we lived in a world where large numbers of people judged each other on ability rather than appearance. It would be nice if the sales guy down the hall could dress like a hot Latino cabana boy and still be admired for his mind. But we don't live in that kind of world.

It's not impossible for a woman to be viewed as both hot and a competent leader. But pretending there's no conflict between being seen as a GILF and a no nonsense professional verges on the delusional. It's OK to present a folksy, refreshingly authentic, unconventional persona ... if that's what you're selling:

Grant that the editors of Newsweek hate Sarah Palin. We have every reason to believe that the choice of photo of Palin in shorts represented an attempt to diminish and belittle Palin, to portray her as a cheesecake bimbo, the political equivalent of Lindsay Lohan. Palin herself writes:

The out-of-context Newsweek approach is sexist and oh-so-expected by now. If anyone can learn anything from it: it shows why you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, gender, or color of skin. The media will do anything to draw attention - even if out of context.

That this is "sexist," OK. Gotcha. But does Sarah Palin want to assume a feminist victimhood posture, to say that she is being oppressed by the patriarchy?

No, I think not. Excuse me for suggesting that the way for Palin to leverage this -- to "re-brand" herself as they say -- is to lean into the curve. The better response would be along the lines of:

"Yes, I am a woman. Yes, I have legs. And, yes, I've been told they're very nice legs. Exactly why the editors of Newsweek decided that showing me in shorts was appropriate for the cover of their magazine is for them to explain -- and good luck with that. I guess I'm trying to figure out what side of the double-standard applies here. Levi can get naked for Playgirl and still be taken seriously, but Newsweek thinks it's something scandalous to show me in running shorts? Just wait until I grant my first in-depth foreign-policy interview to Maxim!"

The downside, of course, is that by flouting convention you've pretty much assured that people will talk about you. If you're a woman, you've also made it harder for anyone but your most ardent supporters to envision you in a job that has never before been held by a woman. The problem is that it's not your qualifications that are front and center: it's your womanliness and your looks.

Unlike Stacy, I do think female politicians are subjected to sexist attacks. But politics is a blood sport. Your enemies will throw the entire kitchen sink at you if they can - just to see what sticks. Smart politicians assess their vulnerabilities. Some actively rebut such attacks, as Bill Clinton did with the "Bubba" meme. And some minimize the usefulness of such attacks by not becoming defensive; by refusing to rise to the bait.

The problem is that Sarah has done neither. When the way your enemies seek to frame you closely mirrors the image you've chosen for yourself, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that you've just made their job a whole lot easier.

That's not blaming the victim. It's just common sense.

Posted by Cassandra at November 18, 2009 03:37 AM

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Comments

I do think, generally, it is more difficult for a man to debate a woman.

I don't even try, any more. I just say, "Yes, dear"...

Posted by: BillT at November 18, 2009 08:01 AM

WHAP! WHAP! WHAP!!! :)

Sexist brute!

Posted by: Cassandra at November 18, 2009 08:07 AM

By the looks of those photos, she can surely "pump-up" the crowds.

Posted by: Boquisucio at November 18, 2009 08:41 AM

*groan* :)

Posted by: Cassandra at November 18, 2009 09:10 AM

Another of those occasions where I can say dead on. If they'd used a paparazzi shot of her on the beach or through a poorly blinded bedroom window or something, I would be right there defending her honor.

But when you pose for the shot--or choose the clothes for a public event where video & still cameras are assured to be--you bear some responsibility for projecting your own image.

I personally have far more of an issue with how the flag is misused in the shot, than anything else. It ain't a coat to be tossed over a chair & leaned on, and I'm surprised that neither the subject or anyone associated with the photographer or the magazine for which it was taken realized how unpatriotic it appeared during the shoot. Talk about controlling one's own image!!! (And yes, I know others--including/especially certain liberals and associates of liberals--have done worse. But I don't think we should be grading on a curve. If it's wrong, it's wrong, It doesn't get more or less wrong based on the wrongs of others, does it?)

Posted by: repsac3 at November 18, 2009 09:13 AM

I don't agree about the shoes, although I do think she needs to wear closed toe shoes overall- feet just aren't a thing of beauty. I think the pumps give her a height equalizer- she's not a tall or weighty woman, so the sensible pumps (even though they're high heels) give her an advantage. I like all but the peep-toes and the sandals.

Re her suits: Again, I thought she looked really good and not trying to look sexy. She's the perfect person to wear Armani. Think back to Condi Rice's clothes, she was the most stylish woman on the political scene for many years and always looked appropriate. Sorry, but Palin can't look unattractive- even in chest waders!

Posted by: Annie Oakley at November 18, 2009 09:17 AM

Spot on...

As for a side note... I am trying to set politics aside, but as a MI resident, it is hard to read Granholm's words "... fiscal tightwad usually...". Then again, I guess it depends on what your definition of usually is, doesn't it?

Posted by: jck at November 18, 2009 09:18 AM

I had a hard time separating her rhetoric from her actions/political beliefs too :p

But, if you take the argument at face value I have to agree that it makes sense!

Posted by: Cassandra at November 18, 2009 09:20 AM

I like Sarah's look. She wins points with me for keeping her cleavage covered. If Newsweek had used any of your "sexy leg" photos it would have been different. But to use a sports mag photo? It's lazy and tacky. As for how men are portrayed . . . have you seen the photo of Jeff Flake with his shirt off? Let's have more objectification of male politicians!

Posted by: Kafbst at November 18, 2009 09:30 AM

I think Palin just wants to look good. Her idea of what that is seems to differ from others' but her smile is what counts. It's what makes anyone appealing or not. She has It.

Posted by: Gary Ogletree at November 18, 2009 09:32 AM

You might find some of this interesting- same arguments, different women. Hat tip; Newsbusters

http://www.nytimes.com/1993/12/12/weekinreview/the-nation-hillary-rodham-clinton-strikes-a-new-pose-and-multiplies-her-images.html
So what gives? The Vogue pictures have provoked much comment. Do they help shatter old prejudices in this male-dominated capital that women who are stylish cannot be taken seriously, and that power, in women, is not as alluring as it is in men?
Or do they revive old-fashioned assumptions that even accomplished women secretly want to be desired as beautiful objects?
The pictures hark back to the flap five years ago when first Diane Sawyer in Vanity Fair, and then Meredith Vieira in Esquire, vamped for the camera. The two women were scolded by various pundits for hurting the cause of women in broadcast journalism by encouraging sex-object stereotypes.
"I thought it was a phony issue then and I think it's a phony issue now," Ms. Vieria, an ABC correspondent, says. "Maybe women are more secure now, and being good at one thing doesn't mean you can't be equally good in some other area."
Certainly, Mrs. Clinton's pictures are not overtly sexy; she even refused to wear the $975 Donna Karan black velvet number off-the-shoulder, as it was meant to be worn, and insisted on draping it high like a turtleneck.
But they are, as pictures of First Ladies go, sensual. Britain's Economist magazine ran a story last week on the American First Lady's new "pussycat" look with the headline "Come up and vote for me sometime." In The Irish Times, Conor O'Cleary wrote: "This is Hillary the sex goddess. . . . In one picture she parts her lips suggestively; in another the first lady gazes at the camera with bedroom eyes."

Naomi Wolf argued in her first book, "The Beauty Myth," that women were burdened by trying to live up to impossible expectations about good looks promulgated by a greedy beauty industry. But now, her tune changed, she says that the glossy Vogue shots put the First Lady at the forefront of "a spontaneous uprising" among women who refuse to let men define their sexuality.
"Women are eager to affirm the fact that female sexuality should no longer be perceived as undermining female authority but complementing it," said Ms. Wolf, who publicizes her new book, "Fire With Fire," with glamorous photos of her own. "Now women are beginning to define power and eros as being interlinked in women. Women won't be reading the many faces of Hillary Clinton as an impossible image to live up to, but as a liberating affirmation of how multi-faceted the female consciousness is."

Posted by: Annie Oakley at November 18, 2009 09:51 AM

I must have missed the cover of Vice President Joe Biden in short shorts or of Mitt Romney in a bathing suit.

True, but we have seen Obama in a bathing suit and that didn't seem to hurt him much.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at November 18, 2009 10:12 AM

By overemphasizing her attractiveness, they reduce her to just a hottie that McCain picked so he'd have something nice to look at during the campaign, no substance, all sex appeal. The Oprah never asked her an issues question as far as I've heard. The picture you use of just her legs with the awestruck guys in the front is supposed to look a strip club picture, again making her out to be nothing but an object, not be taken seriously. That is how the left view women, which is why the leading leftist women you mention all dress like men. Leftist men don't like strong women, and leftist women don't like overtly feminine women who are not strippers or actresses or hookers. It's that simple.

And you're way off if you think she's asking for this line of attack. She is consciously portraying herself as herself - as opposed to the crafted image of Emperor Obama, which is about a millimeter thick - and the interesting thing is that when people attack her for being upfront about her femininity, it says more about them than it ever will about her. If you're focusing on her choice of shoes and the message it sends, then you're part of the problem, frankly.


Her appeal is her no-nonsense approach to issues, her disdain for the press who tried to mold her and she refuses to play along, her direct speaking style [see Pres. George W. Bush], and her consistently positive attitude. This woman was pulled from near obscurity in Alaska to the front page and lead story in every major news organization, and for 2 months was subjected to every single nasty, ugly, vile attack imaginable and she can still put on a genuine smile, which makes her attackers all the more small and mean. People who pay attention generally distrust the media, and when she tells them to go to hell and "stop making things up", that hits home.



To close, just look at the Newsweek photo of the Sarah Palin doll dressed up like a slutty school girl and then tell me what's to blame for that - the image she portrays, or the increasingly vicious misogyny of the left. No contest.

Posted by: Ted at November 18, 2009 10:21 AM

Why does Palin look sexy? Because she CAN. Have you seen most female politicians? Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, and the evil oompa loompa from Arizona herself, Janet Napolitano? They have to cover up in pantsuits and "sensible" clothing, because anything less would run the risk of turning people who observe them into stone.

No one wants to see someone unattractive, male or female, in sexy or revealing clothing. Think Jacques Chirac in a speedo.

That having been said, liberals clearly focus on Palin's looks to ignore or diminish her substantive views. All of the liberal Manhattan elites agree that she is just not the "right sort of people" to be invited into their oh-so-exclusive cocktail parties for the usual hobnobbing, name-dropping, status-climbing, and exchange of insider trading tips, daaahling.

Posted by: a former european at November 18, 2009 10:24 AM

So, you're saying only pantsuits are allowed on female politicians, or it's open season and time to reduce any heretics to redneck porn star cum dumpster status? No highlighting that beauty ladies, that makes you SLUTTY, and then the long knives will come out.

Posted by: Patrick at November 18, 2009 10:33 AM

I stipulated all of this up front :p

I'm not disagreeing that they're trying to diminish her. What I'm saying is that women in a professional context generally do NOT try to look sexy. As Granholm put it, far from emphasizing their sexuality, they de-emphasize it.

I know lots of women who are extremely attractive in my professional life. In fact, several are better looking. But I can't think of a single one who dresses the way Palin does. Not one.

My point is not that she can't do it. Clearly she can and that is part of who she is.

My point is that if intentionally decide to leverage your looks and sex appeal, more than a few folks will assume that's all there is. It's a human tendency :p

we have seen Obama in a bathing suit and that didn't seem to hurt him much.

I would argue that if Obama intentionally dressed to look sexy, it would have. He would have been taken less seriously. Before Levi Johnston posed for Playgirl, I would have argued it was impossible to take HIM less seriously, but my already low opinion of him went farther down after he decided to bare it all!

Posted by: Cassandra at November 18, 2009 10:34 AM

No Patrick. That's not what I'm saying at all. You need to read more carefully instead of trying to put words in my mouth.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 18, 2009 10:35 AM

Cass,

I might be willing to concede the "you posed for it, you own it" thing. But I need to disagree with this:

When was the last time you saw Mitt Romney or Joe Biden dressing in a manner anything close to seductive?

When was the last time you saw President Obama rising out of the surf like Daniel Craig in Casino Royale. When did you see President Obama coming out of the gym and reporters commenting on his six pack? When did you see White House reporters drooling and squealing like a pack of women out at a bacholerette party because President Obama was wearing tight jeans?

Oh wait... all three of those happened:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/08/14/obama-bodysurfs-in-hawaii_n_119070.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/12/22/obama-shirtless-in-hawaii_n_152873.html
http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/politics/2008/05/08/obama.jeans.cnn

No, I'm not including you or even making you responsible. But clearly it DOES demonstrate a double standard. It's AWESOME when President Obama goes around being all sexah but when that horrible Palin woman dares to be anything other than dowdy, why it demonstrates how she's unqualified for office and a tramp and stupid and a bimbo and can't be taken seriously...

In this case, what's good for the gander ought to be just as good for the goose. If it's not unprofessional for the President to play up his sex appeal (something I also remember Bill Clinton did before he got all skeezy), then why should it be any different because she's a woman.

One of the things I value so highly in you Ms Cass, is that you don't hold men to a lower standard (i.e. the "boys will be boys" or "they can't help behaving like cads, they're men"). But by the same token, you sometimes ARE harder on your own gender than should be required. A woman should NOT have to dress like a nun in order to be taken seriously. If the standard for Presidents was full business formal at all times, then maybe, yeah. But clearly the press is allowed to drool over a man, but that woman BETTER be unattractive or else! Sorry, no sale here.

Posted by: MikeD at November 18, 2009 10:36 AM

To close, just look at the Newsweek photo of the Sarah Palin doll dressed up like a slutty school girl and then tell me what's to blame for that - the image she portrays, or the increasingly vicious misogyny of the left. No contest.

Ted, technically you are correct that it's not Palin's fault for the slutty doll thing. But at the same time it's not the woman in the bikini jogging through Central Park at midnight that's at fault for getting raped.

That, however, does not make doing so a good decision.


When I decided to take a position managing people I had to give up the khaki/polo shirt look for slacks and a tie. Why? Well, it certainly wasn't because I love wearing a leash. It's just what our culture expects. If you are going to buck that culture, you do have to expect some level of the culture bucking back. That isn't to say that every attack is fair game (the slutty doll thing surely wasn't).

And that is the real question. Where is the line?

And since the line isn't going to be clear cut for a single person, much less across a group of people, one person's "Out of line" will be another's "Come on! There just buying what she's selling".

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at November 18, 2009 10:44 AM

While the author makes some valid points, I can't buy into the argument entirely. The left's treatment of Sarah Palin certainly should not be based on whether her heels are 1-1/2 inches too high or her preference for skirts over pants. The author takes a "you can't fight city hall" or "do as the Romans" approach here. The astonishing thing is that these are exactly the ideas that liberals (of which as an occasional reader I am aware the author is not) would crucify most people for holding; they largely eschew conventionality as a defense for traditionalism. It makes no sense to grant them a pass by allowing them to approach the situation in a way they themselves philosophically condemn.

Since the left CLAIMS to believe that things should be appraised only on their intrinsic value rather than their appearances (although in practice this seems lacking), their approach to Palin is indeed unfair. To be consistent with their purported beliefs, they should be seeking to discredit her thinking rather than her appearance.

I am sympathetic to the author's views. For most people, I agree that a conventional approach is probably best. It makes no sense to dress in a business setting in ways that distract from one's true purpose; her father was dead on regarding her heels and hem height. This argument, however, cannot so easily be applied to politics. Indeed, the way one is able to set oneself apart from others is a critical factor in one's success. Sarah Palin, in a commonsense way, has used her natural attractiveness to try to produce that crucial difference. We can argue over whether she has overdone the attempt or not, but that misses the point. She is clearly not so overstated as to encourage the treatment she has received.

Perhaps the author believes her female office counterparts who dress somewhat too provocatively (and this is somewhat nonsensical in the case of Palin) deserve to be the subject of lurid water-cooler conversations and outright sexual harassment. At the very least she seems to believe that they bring their problems upon themselves to some extent. That's the same concept that says that people deserve (at least a little bit) to be robbed because they dress too upscale in the wrong neighborhood. While I agree common sense should dictate, that thinking goes too far in my opinion.

Posted by: Tim at November 18, 2009 10:48 AM

A woman should NOT have to dress like a nun in order to be taken seriously.

True. But on the other hand when have people's REAL standards for men and women ever been the same?

Normally conservatives argue with me that men are men and to expect them to behave is naive and foolish :p

Again, I'm not saying that it's right for her to be treated that way. I'm saying it's a predictable consequence. I don't like that, but my subjective preferences don't dictate how the world is.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 18, 2009 10:49 AM

And because it took me so long to get that out that the tone of the conversation changed, I now need to make crystal clear that I do NOT think you're being unfair to her. I just think it's a problem with society in the same sense that there's still a perception that a guy who sleeps around is a "stud" and a gal who sleeps around is a "slut". It's an unfair double standard that needs to end. And I hold you accountable for neither.

Posted by: MikeD at November 18, 2009 10:49 AM

I disagree. I don't think that Palin's dress is inappropriate for the workplace and how she dresses does not diminish her competence in my mind.

I think her opposition is so against her that they would twist absolutely anything to marginalize her and cast it in a negative light. For example, if there was a parallel universe in which a liberal Sarah Palin existed, you can bet that her attractiveness would be used as an asset on magazine covers rather than a detriment. She would be portrayed as the "Devil Wears Prada" type of woman--competent, steely, and fashionable all at the same time. I believe no matter how Sarah Palin dressed it would be framed in a negative light. If her clothes were dowdier in that picture, they could run the same headline ("How Do You Solve a Problem Like Sarah?" with just a different negative caricature of the person.

Posted by: M at November 18, 2009 10:51 AM

Perhaps the author believes her female office counterparts who dress somewhat too provocatively (and this is somewhat nonsensical in the case of Palin) deserve to be the subject of lurid water-cooler conversations and outright sexual harassment.

That is both an exaggeration and a distortion of what I argue in this post.

Two wrongs don't make a right. And I haven't addressed whether liberals (Newsweak) are betraying their own values in judging by appearances or seeking to disparage her abilities b/c she happens to be good looking. Of course they are.

But this is also predictable. If you assess your vulnerabilities (as I mention in my post) and your opponents are trying to portray you as a brainless Barbie doll who was only chosen b/c she's superficially attractive, what's the rational response?

I argued, she should either:

1. Develop thicker skin and say (as Stacy did) "Yes, I'm an attractive woman. Next!", or

2. Tone down the appearance aspect and make sure everything about you projects professionalism and substantive competence.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 18, 2009 10:56 AM

"They're" not "There". I promise I do know the difference. :-)

But like Mike, I do think Obama, like Clinton, has played up his attractiveness and that this has at least not been a negative. I do remember lot's of stories of people having sexual fantasies about him.

But this just seems to make my comment about line drawing more apt.

Clinton played up his attractiveness and it helped him. That is, up until the point when he overplayed it and it became sleazy. So there *is* a tipping point.

And I don't remember many on the right complaining too hard about that when it happened to Clinton.

But is that tipping point for playing up your attractiveness in a different point for the women v/s the men.

And has Palin crossed it?

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at November 18, 2009 10:59 AM

"Ted, technically you are correct that it's not Palin's fault for the slutty doll thing. But at the same time it's not the woman in the bikini jogging through Central Park at midnight that's at fault for getting raped.

That, however, does not make doing so a good decision."

That doesn't even make sense, unless you're saying that Sarah Palin is going to extremes to prove that she's a feminine woman, which she is not. And it appears that you're saying that Sarah shares some blame in the slutty schoolgirl photo, which is the height of delusion. There's no "technical" about it, it's a leftist view of non-feminist women that is the problem, and if you are giving Sarah Palin even a hint of the blame, then you are just as bad. If you think she should "tone down her appearance" then you are letting leftist misogynists set the agenda, and that is the antithesis of what she is as a person and politician. Get a grip.

Posted by: Ted at November 18, 2009 11:06 AM

whoops goofed up the tags there...

Posted by: Ted at November 18, 2009 11:08 AM

And it appears that you're saying that Sarah shares some blame in the slutty schoolgirl photo, which is the height of delusion.

Actually he said exactly the opposite, Ted.

If you want to argue a point, try addressing the point he *did* make!

Posted by: Cassandra at November 18, 2009 11:12 AM

I know plenty of female partners at major law firms who dress similarly to Sarah Palin- and no one would DARE question their competence- at least, not abd live! Her hair may need a little help, but that's a daily problem for almost all women.

No matter what Sarah Palin does, the media will spin it to try to denigrate her. If she dresses like Hillary, they'll say she's trying to cover up her lack of competence and looks unattractive. It's a measure of how much the media FEARS Palin that they try to make every photograph into a sexual innuendo. Remember the cartoon they put out of Condi Rice as a parrot? Tell me how she deserved that? Palin might as well be Palin- but she needs better advisors who can exercise more control over her media appearances. She should have had more control over the Runners' World photo subsequent to the photo shoot. Also, it was suggested last night that she insist upon certain things in any interviews- live only, no editing, and two cameras. She needs a good media person- and heaven knows Steve Schmidt and Nicolle Wallace weren't it!

Posted by: Annie Oakley at November 18, 2009 11:16 AM

I honestly don't see workplace inappropriate sexiness in Palin's clothing. I don't know if that's my age, my own personality, the fact that I was born and raised in California, or what speaking. I did grow up as the daughter and granddaughter of politicians, so it's not because I was never exposed to appropriate business/work attire. I know what it looks like. I even own some.

It looks dowdy. And I just don't see how that is necessary for men or women. I also don't see that a women dressed in a dowdy manner gets advanced based on her performance in a more equal rate. I see the opposite. Getting advancement is about being noticed (in the correct way, of course. Not all publicity is good publicity), and people respond to attractive people more positively than those who are not. The exact same knowledge and presentation given by someone who looks dowdy and someone who looks appropriately attractive will sound more impressive coming from someone who looks attractive.

And honestly, anyone can be attractive with the right attention to clothing and detail and a good, warm smile.

Men have fewer glaringly obvious options in dress on the surface, but there is nothing that holds against men selecting their suit cuts, tie and shirt colors, etc from showing off their best attributes. Study after study have shown that men who are taller, physically fit, and more attractive tend to do better in the professional world. TEND (Donald Trump's hair is a glaring exception to that rule).

In a way, men are held to the same standard, they just have to be more subtle about it. Buy a suit with three buttons if you are over 6 feet. Have it tailored to make your shoulders look broader. Don't wear pleated pants - they make you look "gutty". Even a man's hair makes a statement about their work ethic - the artfully tousled short hair being a "young go-getter", the carefully groomed flip showing a hard worker who toes the line.

When AFG needed suits for civilian wear, I tailored them myself (luckily I can sew, because that gets EXPENSIVE). We considered it necessary, because looks DO matter, however much we don't want them to.

I don't see much "fashion forward" in the way Palin dresses. She just doesn't look dowdy.

Of course I think the left hates her and uses her obvious attractiveness against her. But if they didn't have that they would use something else. It is what it is. She's been a success by anyone's definition thus far, and other than the White House, what does she have to add to her resume? Where has she been held back? I don't think that had she dressed like the Pantsuit Brigade she would have somehow turned the election around.

It's just a part of who she is - our dress says something about us. She's comfortable in her clothing, and that says the most to me. She's not acting a part, she's being herself. She'd be far less formidable were she obviously uncomfortable and acting.

People will complain about her looks - but you know, they complain about Hillary Clinton's looks as well. A lot. People make fun of her pantsuits (although I think it was well deserved when she wore that one that looked like the Univision bumblebee). People make fun of her hair, people make fun of her LACK of femininity.

It's a battle that is useless to fight - so why bother?

And my caveat is that I was a tremendous fan of Palin, and have become very disappointed by her.

Posted by: airforcewife at November 18, 2009 11:20 AM

The specific application of the question I asked to Palin is straying from the point I asked you to consider:

... consider my general argument on the merits. Divorce it, if you will, from specific references to Palin or the way she's been treated by the media. Let's examine the question in the abstract.

Again, the question is NOT whether two wrongs make a right, or whether Newsweak was right to use a jogging photo of Palin on the cover.

The question is: If there is a double standard here, what is it?

Here's a mental exercise for you:

Try to imagine a very attractive male politician who looked and dressed like a hot male model. Do you think such a male politician would be taken as seriously as one who kept to the traditional business suit uniform common to candidates for political office?

Can you even imagine the male equivalent of the way Palin dresses?

Of course not, because try as you might, you won't be able to come up with a male politician who openly leverages his sex appeal (not good looks mind you, but sex appeal). The very idea is both ridiculous and unprecedented.

So... what "double standard" has been applied to Palin that would not be applied to a man who presented the same public image?

Posted by: Cassandra at November 18, 2009 11:23 AM

It's a battle that is useless to fight - so why bother?

I agree, and that why I say either develop thicker skin or tone down your image (which I'm not sure is the right answer). That's why I linked Stacy. His point was, why not embrace it? Or at least deflect their attempts to belittle you with confidence and humor.

Letting bullies see they've scored points on you is rarely helpful.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 18, 2009 11:27 AM

Cass, I wonder if somewhere Palin has an image consultant who knows exactly what they're doing, and is doing a long-term calculus. Palin's image may be unconventional to you and I, but we're looking at it with our generation's eyes. You've gotta admit that by contemporary standards, Palin's mode of dress is pretty tame. And I think she is intentionally stoking the controversy. Perhaps she has a mischievous streak in her that likes to yank people's chains, but even when she doth protest too much, she's getting publicity. She's doing something that no other nationally-known female politician is doing: adapting the imagery of Hollywood to her own purposes.

This plays a lot better with the younger set. It looks strange to us, but it really isn't about us. Palin knows that the high point of her political future is still ahead of her. Realistically, she doesn't have a chance of winning the GOP nomination in 2012; 2016 is the earliest feasible date. By then, a fair bit of our generation won't be around, while the generation that she caters to will have increased in numbers and likelihood of voting.

One other thing: By 2016, Palin will of course be seven years older, and like the rest of us, she'll have to adapt her mode of dress as she ages. But this is another part of the long term strategy: audiences won't see her as she is then; they will still see her as the youthful Sarah Palin of 2009. It will work in her favor in the long run.

As for how all this squares with the conventional critique of image in male vs. female politicians: I honestly don't know that it matters much. Palin's political career is feeding off of the controversy right now, so she clearly has no motivation to try to stop it. She's betting, and she may be right, that future trends in social mores will eventually render all of these questions moot.

Posted by: Cousin Dave at November 18, 2009 11:33 AM

"Actually he said exactly the opposite, Ted.

If you want to argue a point, try addressing the point he *did* make!"

Try reading what I posted...he made a ludicrous analogy that can only be read one way - that she is overemphasizing her appearance much like the woman jogging thru Central Park in a bikini. And by using the word "technically", he is hedging it by again using that analogy...basically saying it's all Newsweek's fault for running the photo, but if she wasn't wearing f**k me pumps all the time and trying so hard to look so damned hot, they wouldn't have done it in the first place. Only way to read it, try it.

Posted by: Ted at November 18, 2009 11:40 AM

That makes a lot of sense to me, Dave.

Like I've said, I don't necessarily have a problem with her doing it. And I think she looks very good.

But I also think it's not exactly the conventional image most Americans have for our President :p I think it's a risky gambit - maybe it will work for her but I'm betting it won't unless she brings something we haven't seen yet to the table.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 18, 2009 11:42 AM

And, to correct the double standard you're talking about, read all the fawning reports of Michelle O and her fashion choices. This is a woman of zero accomplishment but her looks and clothing choices are celebrated as accentuating her already legendary term as first lady, the smartest one ever, career woman, super mom, etc. ad nauseum. It's left vs right - if Sarah were a democrat, we'd be reading vastly different things about the exact same woman.

Posted by: Ted at November 18, 2009 11:44 AM

"Of course not, because try as you might, you won't be able to come up with a male politician who openly leverages his sex appeal (not good looks mind you, but sex appeal). The very idea is both ridiculous and unprecedented."

Gavin Newsome, San Francisco

Posted by: Ted at November 18, 2009 11:47 AM

How does she look slutty? Is this the 1600's? She looks healthy and fit. I don't get it - I agree that this is a hit job by Newsweek but wearing fashinable shoes is too much for you? C'mon now.

Posted by: bandit at November 18, 2009 11:47 AM

Ted, you don't get to substitute your interpretation for what he said, no matter how emphatically you feel about the subject, and then insist yours is the only interpretation.

I didn't interpret it that way, so clearly it isn't.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 18, 2009 11:47 AM

Ted, how do you get me blaming Palin out of "the slutty doll thing surely wasn't [fair]"?

But as Clinton demonstrated, there is a point where you can overplay your attractiveness and it becomes a political liability.

Since Clinton was both a man and a democrat I can not then say that the mere existance of that tipping point is evidence of a double standard when applied to a conservative female.

Some of the comments are justifiable and others are not.

Where I think the double standard is in that Clinton used his position of power to sexually exploit not one but 3 women and he was never considered more than "a dirty old man" in the press whereas Palin dresses more appropriately for a night out on the town and not a day in at the office and some in the press goes all nuclear on her.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at November 18, 2009 11:48 AM

How does she look slutty?

Again, you are putting words in my mouth. Nowhere in the post do I say she looks slutty.

If you want to argue, stick to what I said - not some exaggeration or distortion of what I said.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 18, 2009 11:48 AM

Gavin Newsom

The evidence doesn't seem to back you up, Ted :)

His attire would not be out of place even in the most conservative office environment.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 18, 2009 11:50 AM

Ted, how do you get me blaming Palin out of "the slutty doll thing surely wasn't [fair]"?

Because he's not interested in arguing what you actually said :p

Posted by: Cassandra at November 18, 2009 11:52 AM

Cassandra, with all due respect please tell me how else to read the analogy. Comparing Sarah's choice of image vs. a woman running thru Central Park in a bikini at midnight gives me only one way.

Yu-Ain Gonnano, your analogy says that she is deliberately being provocative, and she "technically" isn't to blame for the photo posted, where "technically" is used to say that she isn't to blame for it because she didn't create and publish the photo, but just like that bikini woman, what she's doing isn't a good idea and to expect bad things will happen because of it.

Posted by: Ted at November 18, 2009 11:54 AM

Cass, I think the double standard is that they promote a "sexy" demeanor for President Obama and Michelle Obama (Really, Michelle? Number 93 on Maxim's hottie list? I'm sorry, but not based on the criteria they were using for the rest of the list. And it's not like I would be on the list under that criteria either, so I'm not being nasty), and then try to create a derogatory "sexy" for Palin.

It's like Vogue Sensual vs. Trailer Slutty, in their application. Remember that horrifying article about the woman who waxed on about the Obamas looking like they have sex and like it? Because that's acceptable.

Well, I think it's pretty obvious the Palin's are perfectly healthy in that regard as well. And yet, that is somehow worthy of derision rather than freakish dreams written up in opinion columns.

So I think I have to say that the double standard I see doesn't really relate to her clothing at all. That's just the "proof" used to shore up the idea of the trailer park slut image they'd prefer the narrative to relate.

I don't see the same attention given to Michelle Obama's clothing choices - the same negative attention, that is. And as a high powered female in the workforce (formerly), she should at least be subject to some of the same "rules".

I do very much appreciate that Sarah Palin hasn't given an interview while horseback riding in a tight t-shirt, though. When Katherine Harris did that I couldn't look. I still carry the mental scars.

Posted by: airforcewife at November 18, 2009 11:56 AM

"Because he's not interested in arguing what you actually said :p"

A mind-reading blogger? Awesome! I think I have posted quite clearly how I view this issue and my disagreement with actually posted words, since I bothered to quote them.

Posted by: Ted at November 18, 2009 11:57 AM

Your answer is right there:

just like that bikini woman, what she's doing isn't a good idea and to expect bad things will happen because of it.

Male politicians (especially conservatives!) have all kinds of slime thrown at them. Yu-Ain isn't saying that's right. He's just saying that if you make it easy for them, it's even less surprising when it happens.

Still wrong. Just not in the least surprising.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 18, 2009 11:58 AM

I always thought the key point about Mrs. Palin's beauty was the context in which it was put. What she seemed to be trying to say with it was that a woman could be married, a mother, and a successful professional, while still being beautiful and having fun. Her 'uniform' of suits with skirts and high heels was about defiance of the concept that only liberal women could be truly 'empowered'; she could make her own decisions, as a wife and a mother and conservative, even where it it wasn't 'what was done.'

So, yes, she was breaking conventions, but that was the point. Her message to the culture was meant to reinforce the joys of marriage and family, and demonstrate the happiness and stability that they make possible.

She pulled it off in Alaska; the problem was that she didn't have time for a real introduction to the national stage. People saw things the way you describe here: 'high-heels means bubble-headed,' etc.

I suspect, though, that she's going to succeed at changing the environment -- at making it adapt to her, that is. And that could be important, particularly in terms of the political allegiance of the young women who are one of the left's strongest support groups. A lot of political belief in youth is cultural rather than considered; it's about what seems cool and free and righteous, rather than what practically proves to work over time. Insofar as she can show a cool, free, and righteous side to conservative femininity, she could drive a wedge in that group.

In any event, I never saw Mrs. Palin's dress as an expression of sexuality. She was always clear -- quite expressive, in fact -- on her love for her husband and her devotion to her marriage. Marriage is the container for sexuality that we have developed across centuries; and a strong marriage is surely a reliable container.

That makes a difference in how you perceive her beauty, I think: sexuality is restrained by the institution of marriage, and what remains is simply a lovely woman who has some things she wants to do in politics. I happen to agree with most of those things, so she and I are natural allies.

Posted by: Grim at November 18, 2009 11:58 AM

Really? You guys see the way Palin dresses as appropriate evening wear, but too provocative for business attire? Have I stumbled across an AARP site by mistake? Hey look! Those darn kids are on your grass again! Here's your walking stick, go shake it at em!

Posted by: Happy Jack at November 18, 2009 12:00 PM

"Your answer is right there:

just like that bikini woman, what she's doing isn't a good idea and to expect bad things will happen because of it.

Male politicians (especially conservatives!) have all kinds of slime thrown at them. Yu-Ain isn't saying that's right. He's just saying that if you make it easy for them, it's even less surprising when it happens.

Still wrong. Just not in the least surprising."

Nice selective quote there, very dishonest. There's nothing overtly or deliberately provocative in her style and dress. And to say that there is, and that it's purposeful, and to say that if misogynists on the left want to tear her down because of it and she should know better and not "make it easy on them", then you are saying she is to blame. It's simple logic.

Posted by: Ted at November 18, 2009 12:02 PM

...she could make her own decisions, as a wife and a mother and conservative, even where it it wasn't 'what was done.'

And she absolutely can do those things :p

What she can't control is what others think of her for doing them.

To AFW, when is the last time you saw Michelle Obama (or Laura Bush) in a skirt that was several inched above the knee and 3 1/3 inch heels?

Again, when I was 45 I wore skirts that short and heels that high. But I would not have expected people to see me as "Presidential" :p

Or even professional, as I did not dress that way for work. I have no problem dressing that way, but neither was I blind to the potential down side of doing so. There are advantages and disadvantages.

One of the disadvantages is that when we think of the VP or Pres of the United States, we don't generally envision stiletto heels and a miniskirt! There's a mismatch there that I still think requires effort to deny.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 18, 2009 12:06 PM

You guys see the way Palin dresses as appropriate evening wear, but too provocative for business attire?

By DC standards, yes. I don't see female executives in 3 1/2 inch heels or open toed platform sandals.

You guys are really funny. My husband loves when I dress that way, but when he sees secretaries dress that way at the Pentagon he thinks it's unprofessional. It has to do with the image you're trying to project.

Also, I think I might hold a Vice President or President to a slightly higher standard than your average office worker, but hey - that's just me.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 18, 2009 12:10 PM

then you are saying she is to blame.

No, I'm not and restating your opinion that I am doesn't make it so.

I'm saying that she's handing ammunition to those who want to tear her down. She can certainly do that, and I've never said she can't or even shouldn't.

I'm saying it's a waste of time to get all thin skinned about it. If that's who you are, shrug it off and move on to more important things.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 18, 2009 12:12 PM

Interesting. Verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry Interesting. But I have no desire to see the glistening pecs of Barry O, nor any part of the oh so inappropriately stylish Worst Lady. I must admit she FINALLY dressed appropos for a somber moment at Ft Hood.

They are, by far, the most classless rubes to use 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, as a rental home in the memory of many. In addition, they abuse the trappings of power and do all they can to keep all of it opaque to their adoring public.

Fortunately, their adoring public does not include me. I will do my duty because I long ago gave my word and took an oath that means something to me. Seatwarmer irrespective, this is my country and if no one else will defend it, I will.

I would be proud to have a President Palin. She is, by far and away, better than anything the demoncrats can field.

May God save us from stupidity.

Sorry to have strayed from the thought of the day, but in the end....it is all about Barry and his myrmidoms.

KP

Posted by: Kbob in Katy at November 18, 2009 12:42 PM

There is absolutely nothing requiring the actions in question to be deliberate, provacative, or even deliberately provacative.

Honesty and/or ignorance don't create protective force fields.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at November 18, 2009 12:47 PM

No, you don't get to control what people think of you; and everybody is in danger of being put into a pigeonhole. You probably captured the stereotype that people would put me in the other day, when you said I was 'that violent Southern redneck who keeps quoting Aristotle.' If I were to run for national office, I'm sure that the "quoting Aristotle" part would get dropped, and the violence and Southerness played up by the media.

You're also right to say that there's a way of countering that, which is to reject anything that fits the stereotype. This is how John Edwards won office: you gussy up with pretty hair and expensive suits, and you speak the Queen's English in public with just enough of a flat accent as to avoid any appearance of being Southern.

That's fine, if all you want is the office. If what you wanted was to defend the culture of the South, though -- to show that it contains much of tradition and honor, and ought to be valued on its own terms -- you've no choice but to take up the challenge. You wear your cowboy hat, and you go out and fight them.

I think that's what Mrs. Palin has done, from the female rather than the Southern perspective. She's making a point.

Yeah, that means she's got a fight that she could have avoided. However, fighting for what she loves was the whole point.

Posted by: Grim at November 18, 2009 12:50 PM

"No, I'm not and restating your opinion that I am doesn't make it so. I'm saying that she's handing ammunition to those who want to tear her down. She can certainly do that, and I've never said she can't or even shouldn't."

Wow! Don't you understand that "handing ammunition" means you think she IS partly to blame?

Let's try this: I have a baseball bat. I give it to you, and you hit me in the face with it. Whose fault is it? Well, technically, it's yours for hitting me with the bat, but if I didn't HAND IT to you in the first place, you couldn't have hit me. That's what you and the other guy were saying, and I'm saying that you are wrong for thinking that. If she is being who she is, then she is setting the agenda, and anyone who takes that to the extreme of saying her choice of shoes is inappropriate - see above - or her skirts invite photos of her as a slutty schoolgirl is the one with the problem, and that's how it should be discussed, rather than wondering "I wonder if her image is causing all this?"

I don't think that you or he think it's right, but you do think that she's partly to blame for it based on your words, and that's silly, wrong, and sad.

And, to finish, because I am finished here, to say that her pointing out that Newsweek acted with sexist intent is not "thin-skinned", it's accurate, and it's also brilliant by using the left's overused term to point out exactly what it is. Notice that she's not upset about it, she's doing the Reagan "there they go again". It's a nuance that you missed, not surprisingly, and it's something you would do well to think about...especially when much of your main post is pointing out the same bit of sexism. Good luck

Posted by: Ted at November 18, 2009 12:54 PM

By the way, I'm interested in your thoughts on the second issue I raised above: that her obvious devotion to her marriage and husband should be significant in how we read her beauty.

You've occasionally spoken, with proper outrage, to cases where some conservative women are treated as sex objects 'without inviting it' (e.g., the Playboy piece on 'conservative women we love to hate,' or something like that). I always thought that was a fair and proper objection.

Do you feel that wearing open-toed shoes, etc., is due 'invitation' to view a woman as a sex object? Doesn't the fact that she is plainly committed to her marriage make clear that there is no 'sex' being put on the table?

It seems to me that a woman ought to be allowed to be beautiful without being treated as a sex object by the public culture. I understand that some women do 'invite' the public to think of them as sex objects, as for example porn stars and prostitutes.

I don't see that a married woman who is clear on her intention to abide the restrictions of her vows is doing anything of the sort. Her "sexuality" is not 'out there' for people to feel invited to comment on; she has every right, I think, to be received and treated with respect and honor.

Posted by: Grim at November 18, 2009 12:57 PM

You guys see the way Palin dresses as appropriate evening wear, but too provocative for business attire?

I constantly remarked to the LG about how about a quarter of her work wardrobe simply would not fly at my office but was apparently fairly tame at hers.

But then again, I work at a bank and we're kinda known for being stuffy.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at November 18, 2009 12:58 PM

Governor Sarah Palin.

Posted by: John Pasadena at November 18, 2009 01:13 PM

Doesn't the fact that she is plainly committed to her marriage make clear that there is no 'sex' being put on the table?

When has that ever been the case? Does being married stop men from looking at women? Fantasizing about them?

Of course not. And in general the more attractive you make yourself, the more of that type of attention you will get whether you want it or not. The same woman will get more attention if she wears high heels and short skirts than she would in a burlap sack. She will get more attention than she would if she wears a nice pantsuit.

And she will get more attention that she would if she wore a sensible business suit with low heeled shoes.

Marriage has nothing to do with it. Trust me on that one.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 18, 2009 01:16 PM

My ladies all wear ACUs or Army Blues. few fashion faux pas, except for the occasional inappropriate/unauthorized nasal piercing...which is immediately addressed.

Posted by: Kbob in Katy at November 18, 2009 01:18 PM

Ted, I can't read Cass's mind and she and I obviously don't agree on the finer aspects of work-clothing. Which is fine, it's entirely possible the disagreement is based in my being rather declasse.

But I really don't see that Cass anywhere is putting forth that Palin asked for nasty treatment by her dress, rather I see that Cass is stating that Palin made a conscious choice to dress a certain way with the full knowledge that women are attacked for their clothing and then is whining about the people who attack her for attacking her on something she knew she would be open to attack on.

Convoluted much?

In any case - inasmuch as Cass has said it, it is true. When you are in politics every decision you make is scrutinzed; from clothing to hairstyle, to policies, to choice of vacation destination. The appropriate response to that silly sort of attack is either (a) ignore it and let it roll off, or (b)hit back.

Whining is not hitting back. And while treatment may not BE fair, when you talk about "not being treated fairly" in the political arena you are immediately branded a whiner and you can just go home. No one wants to be led by a whiner. NO ONE.

That is not saying Sarah Palin is a whiner, that is not saying she is not being treated unfairly. It is saying she made a choice to dress the slightest bit outside of the conventional Pantsuit Brigade and she has to realize that she'll take hits for it. And that life is not fair. And move on.

To many people there is nothing Palin will ever do that is right. She could wear a burqa and she would be attacked because a breeze outlined her chest. Unfortunately, those people run several major "news" outlets.

But that's just how the cookie crumbles.

A big part of my personal disenchantment with Sarah Palin is the fact that she spends so much time complaining about her treatment. I get that she wants to point out how nastily she is treated - I remember once at a full on formal political function, some ass got up to the mike, pointed my Dad out, and called him several names (including incompetent and racist - neither of which are remotely true). At a mike, in front of hundreds of people.

It was horrible. And yet, you move on. You can't dwell on it because that is not leadership. Dwelling helps no one and inspires no one.

I also remember the way Hillary Clinton handled Don Imus's roasting of Bill - by pointedly drinking her water rather than applauding him. I thought it was a perfect stroke.

Cass - correct me if I'm misinterpreting you - but the issue isn't that Palin is "asking for it" (as I'm reading what you said), it's that Palin seems to have lost her Big Girl Pants in regards to reacting to the whole thing.

That, I agree with.

Posted by: airforcewife at November 18, 2009 01:19 PM

Local lady's column...another of my daily reads:

http://rightwingsparkle.blogspot.com/2009/11/pres-obamas-weakness-means-danger-to-us.html

She hits a home run with this one.

Posted by: Kbob in Katy at November 18, 2009 01:23 PM

Cassandra, you last post is one of the reasons I love your blog, tantalizing insights into the working of the female mind. Just enough info to inform, but not so much that I fall dead from the shock of actual understanding.

Posted by: Happy Jack at November 18, 2009 01:23 PM

I think Palin's wardrobe choices are just fine. She has a nice figure, but does not wear what I would classify as revealing clothes. Her debate outfit was the equivalent of Biden's, IMHO, hair pulled back and controlled, dark suit that blended into the background, shoes in which she could walk comfortably and with a normal gait, and which made her closer to Biden's height. All the skirts I've seen her wear are knee length or an inch below, and straight. Good on that, because when you're up on a platform you don't want a gust of air blowing up your nether regions and giving the crowd a peep show. If she doesn't want to wear pant suits, great! She demonstrates to me that she can be womanly and still throw a punch. What's more, if she had worn pant suits, they would have been a slim fit that grabbed her @$$, and everyone would complain about her showing off her tush.

When I first moved to Houston in the late 70's it was a three-piece-suit town. I was a secretary, and applied for jobs all over. The way she dresses was the required dress code for brokerage firms, and for the executive secretarial staff at oil companies. The brokerage firms required 3" heels and suits for women, so I don't think you can say her heel height is unbusinesslike, or chosen for sex appeal. I think she looks well turned out. When a person takes care with their dress, they respect their audience.

Hillary worked hard to get rid of the frumpy look when she was campaigning for the senate, but after she was sworn in quit doing her hair and wearing makeup for a few days. People felt like there had been a bait-and-switch, and complained about her drowned-rat look. She started wearing makeup again and doing her hair. The thing is, the drowned rat is the real Hillary. The slim suited woman in heels is the real Palin (as is the woman in chest waders and acrylic nails).

In the last two pictures in your post, where she's wearing clunky shoes, she ruins the look of the outfit. Should she have ruined the look of all her outfits by wearing ugly shoes? Shoes like this or this or even this low heel would not have been appropriate, but her shoes were mostly dark and understated. The dark red ones are fine with me, the bright red ones should not have been worn. It's the choice of the press to photograph the crowd through her ankles, but we know the press is not serious about getting to the important part of debates today, and that is why we're all posting at blogs and watching the internet for our information. The press is committing suicide with this approach.

Palin does not walk provocatively, does not stand with her legs tantalizingly apart with one hip thrust out, and even in the Runner's World photo assumed an demure pose with legs together, and wore black shorts which made her interesting bits disappear. However, I was offended by the draping of the flag on the chair and her elbow on it. She should know better than that.

Newsweek is trying by the unauthorized use of that photo to diminish her impact as a serious player on the world's stage. Shame on them.

Shame on Palin for calling it sexist, however. She should laugh and comment that Newsweek must be in bad financial condition to have to run with a "used" picture, one already seen in a runner's magazine. Some other poster above made a valid comment that Palin should guard her image more carefully. I thought Hillary's whining about the boys beating up on her was unpresidential, because only in the US does anyone give a s#!+ about treating women with "equality". Certainly Ahmadinejad doesn't care. Palin should not go down that road, either. She has made her mark without riding a husband's or father's coat tails to her current station in life. When she just lets it roll off her back, she's more effective.


Posted by: MathMom at November 18, 2009 01:28 PM

the issue isn't that Palin is "asking for it" (as I'm reading what you said), it's that Palin seems to have lost her Big Girl Pants in regards to reacting to the whole thing.

AFW, that is exactly what I meant to convey :)

Regardless of how many times Ted wants to tell me that I really mean to blame her for her opponents' utter lack of class, that's not the point I was making.

My point is that complaining is an even worse tactic for women (because of the perception that women can't hack the rough and tumble of politics) than it is for men. Crying sexism invokes the image of a victim, not a leader.

I really think Stacy nailed it: don't let it get to you or distract attention from the points you want to make. Libs would rather talk about her image than her ideas.

Why is she accommodating them?

Posted by: Cassandra at November 18, 2009 01:40 PM

Just enough info to inform, but not so much that I fall dead from the shock of actual understanding.

OK, that was funny :)

Posted by: Cassandra at November 18, 2009 01:41 PM

Wow, this got a bit crazy while I was away. The only things I would like to clarify is I personally don't give a rat's patoot how she, or ANY other politician dresses. As long as they're legal, the can wear what the heck they want as far as I'm concerned. Clothing does not influence me.

Seriously, I realize that the public demands that the President dress in a suit for a State of the Union address, but if he showed up in jeans and a t-shirt, I personally would not care or be offended. But I also realize that my opinion is worth exactly what I paid for it, nothing. I think she dresses in a flattering but still classy manner (I mean, it's not like she's wearing six inch heels and spandex). And good for her for being able to pull it off. I'm personally more interested in what are her policy initiatives and how she plans on defending the country and bringing down the national debt than if her skirt's an inch higher than it should be.

Posted by: MikeD at November 18, 2009 02:08 PM

MathMom:

I happen to think her proportions are way better in a shorter skirt. Her build and mine are not dissimilar, though I'm definitely not claiming that means I'm hot! The thing is, an inch or two of extra skirt length on a woman of my size is the difference between your Grandma's meatloaf and a steak-like sizzle :p

Regarding:

All the skirts I've seen her wear are knee length or an inch below, and straight.

I agree on the 'straight' part, but I found tons of photos of her in skirts at least 2 inches above the knee. I have no problem with the longer skirts, though I think shorter ones are more flattering on her.

You may find this link of interest:

http://betweenmypeers.com/2009/07/10/fashion-lab-sarah-palins-skirt-lengths/

Posted by: Cassandra at November 18, 2009 02:08 PM

It seems to me that the basic point of the issue is not whether Palin's choice of attire should invite comments, but whether it is appropriate for it to DEFINE her. I think the Newsweek's choice in photos was meant precisely to define Palin as opposed to addressing her as a real person with many aspects. I think it would be fair to discuss how her attire affects her image and certainly they can take post shots there, but to use her attire as the central theme is unfair.

Posted by: Eyago at November 18, 2009 02:21 PM

I'm personally more interested in what are her policy initiatives and how she plans on defending the country and bringing down the national debt than if her skirt's an inch higher than it should be.

One of the things my husband always admired (and commented on) about Condi Rice was her ability to control the debate. If she was asked a question she didn't want to answer, she briefly addressed it then went right on to say whatever she felt needed saying.

There was no doubt who was in charge when she was being interviewed - she danced circles around her interlocutors. Palin, if she is to be successful, needs to learn how to do that.

She's not there yet. But as Dave so astutely remarked, perhaps that's not inadvertent. The thing is, like you Mike, I don't want to have a national debate about whether people are mean too her.

I expect a President to steer her own course, not be steered by others.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 18, 2009 02:24 PM

to use her attire as the central theme is unfair.

Agreed.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 18, 2009 02:24 PM

Oh for crying out loud. Currently at work. Will return later this evening. I am wearing flats - sebagos to be exact though I do wear heals to the office also.

Posted by: BrideOfRove at November 18, 2009 02:47 PM

Wearing heels is not inappropriate even in the most conservative office. Not sure what that has to do with anything?

Posted by: Cassandra at November 18, 2009 02:58 PM

"Does being married stop men from looking at women? Fantasizing about them?"

No, it doesn't; but fantasizing is private behavior. This is a question of public behavior: of openly treating her, through commentary and observable behavior, as a sex object, and refusing to accord her any respect that might be due a candidate for office.

I don't think she has done anything to invite being treated that way, in the public space. Whatever thoughts people have about her privately, she is plainly a devoted wife and mother, and society should receive her with the respect due to one.

Consider this for comparison. Which of these women should be treated with respect in public? Which ones should be dismissed as unserious, or treated openly as public sex objects instead of serious members of the national debate?

Two of them are political figures, Mrs. Palin and Dr. Rice; two of them are political wives, who are members of the national debate only tangentially. None of them should be treated as prey objects for public abuse. Some of them have opinions that are more radical than others; some of them have credentials that are more impressive than others. Insofar as our culture treats them as prey, though, the culture is wrong.

Posted by: Grim at November 18, 2009 03:15 PM

Insofar as our culture treats them as prey, though, the culture is wrong.

That may be, Grim.

But if you're going to try and convince me you're strong enough to lead the world's largest superpower, arguing that you're being unfairly "preyed upon" is unlikely to further your case ;p

Posted by: Cassandra at November 18, 2009 03:31 PM

...openly treating her, through commentary and observable behavior, as a sex object, and refusing to accord her any respect that might be due a candidate for office.

If she's asked openly about her clothes or her 'hottitude', she ought to either reply with a calm, unemotional, "Why are we talking about the way I dress? Do you talk to Joe Biden about the way his suits are tailored?"

And then she should segue to some point she wants to make that has something to do with policy. Getting mired in this sort of thing doesn't help her project competence. It's a distraction - as it's intended to be.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 18, 2009 03:34 PM

It's not that they comment, I think. It's that they comment about it: (1) incessantly, (2) in a manner that makes it seem that is all there is to her, and (3) disrespectfully, characterizing her as a slut.

And it seems that she's p-o'd about it. I would be, too. These "reporters" are acting like adolescents.

Posted by: Kelly at November 18, 2009 03:56 PM

I would too, Kelly. And I understand.

Though I don't know that she has been portrayed so much as a slut. I got the impression it was more her being mocked as sort of an empty headed bimbo or a lightweight.

The problem with complaining about that treatment is that it doesn't really refute the implied message and in some cases (because people aren't logical) repeatedly saying, "I'm not some empty headed bimbo, you know. Take me seriously the way you do Joe Biden!" just allows people to keep talking about it ad nauseam.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 18, 2009 04:03 PM

Take me seriously the way you do Joe Biden!

I crack me up.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 18, 2009 04:03 PM

Just an observation: At my NY BAR admission ceremony, the Chief Judge of the 2nd Department wore what is considered now a mini-skirt (just above the knee) under her robes... Obviously, her outfits did not hinder her progress to that position since she was quite young by the legal profession standards...
While I always wore dark pantsuits in court, my shoes always had at least 3 1/3" heels and while not firetruck red, they were what Stacy apparently considers to be the "catch me eff me" pumps... I was always known as the "shoe and bag" lady :o) I would say that the hair is more hindrance to one's career development than shoes and skirt suits. It is funny that the left and MSM (but I repeat myself) have a hissy fit over Mrs. Palin's skirts while they marveled at the Ally McBeal power suit...

Posted by: olga at November 18, 2009 04:13 PM

To be fair, it wasn't Stacy who said that :p

FWIW, I almost never wear pants to the office. I prefer skirts.

My personal aesthetic was such that I was surprised at my Dad's admonition. That's why I brought it up. The suits I wore as a wife generally featured fairly short skirts b/c they look better on diminutive women.

For some reason, though I tried to be clear, I don't have a problem with short skirts. I do think it's not unrealistic to point out that showing a lot of any kind of skin in a professional environment sends a message that may not be taken the way the woman intends it to be.

Men and women don't always interpret things the same way. Many is the time in my life that I have said something to a man, not thinking anything of it b/c I'd have said exactly the same thing to a woman.

Except he wasn't. I think at a certain point in your life, you learn that men aren't women and make your decisions from there. Expecting them to behave like women is rarely wise.

I still expect men to behave like gentlemen and have often been told that is stupid and naive. But in return I try not to give them any excuse not to treat me as I wish to be treated and they generally are more than happy to comply :)

It is funny that the left and MSM (but I repeat myself) have a hissy fit over Mrs. Palin's skirts while they marveled at the Ally McBeal power suit...

I agree but then these same people will tell women to reveal cleavage at the office and then tell them men are pigs for looking at it. I don't get it :p

Posted by: Cassandra at November 18, 2009 04:26 PM

Cass: "But I also think it's not exactly the conventional image most Americans have for our President :p I think it's a risky gambit - maybe it will work for her but I'm betting it won't unless she brings something we haven't seen yet to the table."

I agree with you that it's risky. Perhaps Palin decided that as the governor of a remote, lightly-populated state, this was her only chance to get national exposure. I think she may have been wrong on that (I've been following her career since 2006), but this could work. I agree that she isn't ready for prime time; she's got some work on solidifying her political philosophy still ahead of her. One thing to consider: She's spent a lot of her career thinking about issues that are specific to Alaska. Trouble is, Alaska is pretty atypical of the 50 states, and she may have gotten blindsided by how non-applicable a lot of her priority issues are to the lower 48.

"But if you're going to try and convince me you're strong enough to lead the world's largest superpower, arguing that you're being unfairly "preyed upon" is unlikely to further your case"

Maybe she's simply inartful at deflecting inappropriate criticism. (And if she is, that's certainly a relevant issue for a Presidential candidate.) But I still have the sneaking suspicion that she's doing that deliberately. I believe that Palin thinks of herself as a back-to-basics feminist, and that her responses to the critiques about her mode of dress are her way of exposing the cognitive dissonance of gender feminism regarding attractiveness. She's doubtless seen the numbers about how poorly the last three GOP Presidential candidates have done with women, and by exposing the hypocrisy of leftist feminists, she's looking to split off a good chunk of the women's vote for a conservative candidate. The best part, for her, is that she really doesn't have to respond to the critique; all she has to do is keep it on the front pages. Having said all that, though, you're right in that she will eventually have to adjust her response and start sounding more Presidential, or eventually a lot of voters will get tired of it.

Posted by: Cousin Dave at November 18, 2009 04:44 PM

...she will eventually have to adjust her response and start sounding more Presidential, or eventually a lot of voters will get tired of it.

I wish I could believe that :p

Posted by: Cassandra at November 18, 2009 04:53 PM

Awww hell, and here I thought all this time I was wearin heals to make me taller. ;p

That's why Katie Couric decided for once in her lifetime to wear a pant suit for her infamous interview with Palin. I truy think it's the only time I saw her wear one.

Cass I agree with you. In the begining she was new to the media circus and maybe had just cause to complain for some of the sexist photos, but now she knows how they work. I'm not saying quite wearing the skirts and heels, hell work it but quit complaining about it, liberals (media) are clearly focused on Palin's looks to detract focus from her views. They want nothing better than to make her out to be an empty headed Barbie doll. She needs to keep lookin hot but start sounding much smarter. Short clear decise answers go a long way.

She needs to take some lessons from Bush. He was, and still, is trashed by the media but folks on the left and right are starting to realize that not speaking out actually exemplified class.

Posted by: Mrs G at November 18, 2009 05:15 PM

Well, whatever you're doing, you look mahvelous!

She needs to keep lookin hot but start sounding much smarter.

I agree. I've never thought she was stupid but sometimes that doesn't come across in her answers.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 18, 2009 05:25 PM

The same woman will get more attention if she wears high heels and short skirts than she would in a burlap sack. Not in every case! (*Sorry...I just had to show that. I'm from Twin Falls, Idaho.)

Posted by: MathMom at November 18, 2009 05:29 PM

Heh :)

That was classic. What a gorgeous woman she was.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 18, 2009 05:39 PM

Dang it, people -- get it right! Palin was dressed as sexy sporty babe on the cover of Newsweek. Some misusers of the English language referred to that as the "slutty schoolgirl" look, when it clearly is not.

For the record, connoiseurs of sexy babes all know that the slutty schoolgirl look is a plaid skirt, thin white blouse, and white knee highs (although purists may disagree, thigh highs may be properly substituted if the skirt is a micro-mini). Think Brittany Spears in Baby One More Time. "Oh baby baby ..."

I'm all about accuracy in communication.

Posted by: a former european at November 18, 2009 06:28 PM

89 comments and counting. What could it be about Mrs. Palin that would cause such a reaction?

Having a very active mesial temporal lobe and amygdalae, I can honestly say that her style has never caused me to take a second look, even though I find her very attractive.

Posted by: Russ at November 18, 2009 06:30 PM

afe, you are funny :)

What could it be about Mrs. Palin that would cause such a reaction?

You're not kidding ... on both the right and the left. Be assured, however, that Andrew Sullivan will get to the bottom of it :p

Posted by: Cassandra at November 18, 2009 06:36 PM

My comment would have made more sense if I had said "Even with a very active mesial..." instead of "Having." Oh well, that's why I read Cassandra all the time, because I sure cannot write.

Posted by: Russ at November 18, 2009 06:55 PM

I knew what you meant, Russ :)

Posted by: Cassandra at November 18, 2009 06:57 PM

I looked again at pictures of Palin during the campaign, and you're right, her skirts were not slightly below the kneecap. They were a bit above. Not my idea of "short", though, especially because they are straight.

I'm still confused, however - do you believe she would have been more effective in a pant suit and shoes that go with slacks? Single-fabric suits, not black skirt and jacket-style top? 2" heels?

I remember thinking during the campaign that she dressed beautifully. Then we learned that they provided a wardrobe for her, but that did not bother me - campaigning for the highest office in the land should not be done in clothes from WalMart. When she wore her own clothes, the difference was not great in terms of style, but the quality of the clothes looked a bit lower. She bought her clothes at a consignment shop in Anchorage, not Saks Fifth Avenue, so that is understandable, and a lesson to Michelle Obama, IMHO.

While writing this my copy of Going Rogue arrived. I looked at the several pages of pictures. I think that Sarah Palin is unable to look unattractive, and has been pretty since she was a little girl. There is a picture in there of her in a yellow raincoat with her foot on a caribou she just shot, wearing a red bandana in her messed-up hair. She is even pretty in that picture. I don't think she can turn down her beauty, and I don't think she should.

Regarding her complaining about unfair treatment in the press - I remember the frustration expressed by many of us that George Bush never stood up for himself, and now she's standing up for herself, but it is considered "whining" by some commenters. I am ok with her pushing back for a while, for someone with a loud megaphone (for a while, anyway) to shout out loud about how stupid the MSM has become, and how they fail to fulfill their obligation to the public. But there is a limit to my tolerance, too. I was not terribly impressed with the Oprah interview, because it focused on the personal stuff and was mostly girlie daytime TV. Oprah thought up the questions, and interrupted her whenever she was getting interesting. I think she handled herself well, just didn't think the questions were worth my time.

The Limbaugh interview was another matter. I thought she sounded like a serious, knowledgeable person dudring her thirty-minute interview by Rush Limbaugh. She answered immediately, quickly, and clearly, and I think got through more questions in that 30 minutes than Barack Obama has fielded in all of his many press conferences combined. The questions dealt with issues such as Afghanistan, energy independence, the economy, and only a glancing interest in the soap opera. It's linked on her Facebook page. I was impressed with her clear answers and obvious interest and understanding of the issues. During the campaign, she used much longer sentences, but I can't say they were rambling, because she always tied it in a bow at the end. I think she's decreased her sentence length by 50%, to a good advantage. Another 50% reduction will make them about right.

I am satisfied with her explanation of why she resigned when she explains how the FOIA requests had completely taken over several staff people, and was costing Alaska a lot of money. I support her decision to change the rules of the game by removing herself as a target. That is where she should stop, inside the Left's OODA loop.

But when she starts going on about how her next term would have been a lame-duck term anyway so she'd just derail that lame-duck thing by quitting now, and how she's never done things the usual way, I am turned off (and if she had said "maverick" I would have hurled). There she slips into a little self-love that I don't find attractive. If I want to see someone kiss a mirror, I'll watch Barack Obama.

I hope she hires Frank Luntz to help her polish her delivery, and visits Margaret Thatcher. I think those two could help her a lot.

Posted by: MathMom at November 18, 2009 07:03 PM

That was no ordinary potato sack, though...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at November 18, 2009 11:29 PM

Thanks. Never would have thought about this but got hooked by your story about your Dad's feeback.
I worked for a consulting firs-- and I'm a guy.

In the part of the firm where I worked, there were "us"(lots of us) and 3 of "them" that I can recall. One had the rumbled and cheap luck --- which was fine because we all knew he was the brainiest of all. Another had the "suede loafer" and "western jacket" look --- which was fine because we all knew he was the "child of the '60's" outlier type, who had great talent in "unconventional" scenarios; he was sent to China to open and office and did very well. Then there was a guy I fired. Not because of how he dressed, but that was part of a pattern. He liked to leave a couple of buttons open at the neck of his oh so starched "business casual" shirts. He was a marginal performer who apparently had charmed and bs'ed his way to a Masters degree. He was trying to get by with sloppy performance and the "manly guy" look. Wrong strategy.

So if you want to buck the apparel trend, better bring something else that's "special" to the game so people look right past it.

Here's my problem with Palin: I don't think it's helpful to your image as a politician or leader to look as if you "thought about it much" in terms of wardrobe. That's for entertainers, and narcissists (see: John Edwards), and people who have nothing more meaningful to spend their time and money on --- like heirs and heiresses who don't work hard if at all.

Hated it when "business casual" came in. Before that, I didn't have to give any thought to clothes, and could walk to the right rack to buy the perfectly ok suit, shirt, and tie/shoes any time there was 40% off at the store. No muss, no fuss. And who really CARES anyway, as long as it's "fine"? Insecure people I guess, who think fashion gives them an edge.

Posted by: Terry Ott at November 18, 2009 11:49 PM

I think this is the first post where a potential discussion of sex and relationships immediately degenerated into a discussion about

*khaaaack*

fashion.

Meanwhile --

"Yes, dear"...

Posted by: BillT at November 19, 2009 12:37 AM

Bill, you crack me up. Especially the "Yes, dear."

Posted by: Russ at November 19, 2009 01:36 AM

F*** me shoes? Hope springs eternal for the day women can criticize another woman without the catty comments. Good grief.

Posted by: Barbara at November 19, 2009 02:52 AM

F*** me shoes? Hope springs eternal for the day women can criticize another woman without the catty comments.

You know, it's generally helpful if you can try to read a post without bringing your handy dandy broad brush along. If you're simply going to read your own biases into whatever is put before you, there's little purpose to the exercise.

It takes real talent to ignore the approximately 1/3 of the post where I point out that my Dad had to tell me something I should have known for myself, or that I happen to like her shoes and own many like them. If you can read "cattiness" or criticism into this, congratulations.

You're a mind reader! Next time I wonder what it is that I really think, remind me to give you a call so you can tell me :p

Posted by: Cassandra at November 19, 2009 05:40 AM

Now THAT'S what catty is supposed to look like! *mrow*

Posted by: MikeD at November 19, 2009 08:59 AM

Or as I always like to say, "Mee-ouch, girlfriend!" :p

Yeah, I could have been a bit less acerbic, couldn't I? Nothing worse than a crabby old lady at 5:30 in the morning...

Heh. Sorry.

Posted by: Hello Kitty.... at November 19, 2009 09:32 AM

"It takes real talent to ignore the approximately 1/3 of the post..."

It also takes extreme ignorance to read this post and not be able to determine exactly who to attribute for that line.
"In the words of the inimitable Mr. On, those aren't sensible pumps. They're what he aptly terms, 'Catch me, f*** me shoes.'"


"Nothing worse than a crabby old lady at 5:30 in the morning."

Mr. DeBille *warned* you about those tiny pumpkin pies.....
0>:~}

Posted by: DL Sly at November 19, 2009 12:09 PM

hmmm, Grim, the person who labeled Mrs. Palin's boots as "hooker boots" had no clue what "hooker boots" look like... I think the article you linked to failed to cut the issue at the root by not presenting a picture of what IS "hooker boots" :o)

Posted by: olga at November 19, 2009 01:19 PM

Heh. Sorry.

For what? Like I said that's what catty is SUPPOSED to look like. :)

Posted by: MikeD at November 19, 2009 01:22 PM

I know there's a tripwire in here somewhere, so I'll be real careful. "Yes ma'am" does appear to be the reasoned approach. :)

The only thing I really considered about the Newsweek cover was that the picture was totally incongruent with the headline. OK, I get it they think she's bad, what does the Runner's World photo have to do with that?

Posted by: Allen at November 19, 2009 02:29 PM

Heh. I always the the "G" in GILF stood for "grandmother". :) That having been said...

When Hillary Clinton was running for President, I never envisioned her as a woman (well, no woman like I have experience with and look up to). She seemed more like a "wannabe man".

When I help elect the first woman President, I don't want to elect a wannabe man. I want to elect a complete woman. I want a woman who is feminine, who understands the value of a good spouse, who sticks to her marital commitments (as I'd want with a man). If she's a mother, I want a woman who supports and values her kids. If she's pretty, she shouldn't downplay it, nor should she be 'slutty'.

I find Sarah Palin to be all woman. She's a strong woman (not a wannabe man). She's competent, smart, and accomplished. She is just the type of woman I'd like to see elected.

Posted by: Tony at November 19, 2009 04:56 PM

When I help elect the first woman President, I don't want to elect a wannabe man. I want to elect a complete woman...

I know this thread wasn't supposed to be about Palin per se.

But...

Personally, she could be a wannabe man, a complete woman, or a woman and a half for all I care.

My problem with Palin is that over a year after showing up on the media stage, she's been so inept at managing her "brand" THAT I BARELY KNOW A DAMN THING ABOUT HER ACTUAL POLITICS! I know a helk of a lot about her family and upbringing. I know a helk of a lot about the media witch hunt. I know a helk of a lot about McCain's staffers trying to throw her under the bus. I know a helk of a lot about popularity.

But dammit Sarah, I don't give two $h1ts about your regrets over eloping instead of having a traditional wedding or whether Levi is coming to Thanksgiving dinner! STFU with the clucking hen routine and start talking about things like School Vouchers, cutting the budget, deficit, taxes and regulatory burdens, pushing power back down towards the states, you know, CONSERVATIVE F***ING POLITICS!

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at November 19, 2009 06:57 PM

That may be, Olga. However, I'm sure you realize that I wouldn't have used the term in any case; I just was interested in the collection of pictures.

I thought Dr. Rice's costume on that particular occasion was more aggressive than anything Mrs. Palin has ever worn in public; but tastes differ on such matters. One does not (and should not) see Mrs. Obama treated to the same hateful ranting that gets pushed off on Mrs. Palin; and certainly it is not extended to her children, who are (rightly) treated as sancrosact.

Posted by: Grim at November 19, 2009 09:05 PM

After one winter in Alaska, I'd be in the sexiest shoes I could find, stand in and not fall over.

After awhile muckalucks, just don't cut it.

Posted by: Sadie at November 19, 2009 09:16 PM

It's funny - I didn't think Rice's outfit was anything close to sexy. Classic, yes. A bit fashion forward, definitely, but in an urban sort of way.

Palin's style is very different from Rice's. Rice's outfit was military style. It wasn't at all form fitting and every inch except a few at the knees was covered by fabric. She wore a long overjacket.

Palin's clothes, on the other hand, are cut to reveal her figure and make her look more feminine. They are, in fact, cut more that way than the average business sort of attire, which is a bit boxier and the jackets are longer.

Don't get me wrong - I like her clothes. But there's a huge difference in style between the two women.

And I agree with Olga about the hooker boots ;p

Posted by: Cassandra at November 19, 2009 09:24 PM

Tastes differ, of course. But I was merely recalling the press that the outfit got on the occasion. It was read as not merely sexual, but... ah, I will stick with my earlier euphemism of "aggressive." :)

Posted by: Grim at November 19, 2009 09:28 PM

Yu-Ain Gonnano -

Did you hear her interview by Rush Limbaugh? I was impressed. It's linked at her Facebook page. If you check that page, she's putting her political views up there on a semi-regular basis.

Many interviewers ask the gossipy questions. Don't think she can help that. I just watched Bill O'Reilly do his style on her, and I thought she handled it well, even went after him once. She answers quickly and completely, IMHO. I'm watching every interview I can find, because I thought the Oprah one was mostly a waste of time, and I want to have an idea about her in case she appears on the primary ballot.

O'Reilly will have more of the interview on Friday and finish it on Monday. Tomorrow is supposed to be policy. Tonight's interview might be on the Fox website.

Posted by: MathMom at November 19, 2009 09:43 PM

I think the article you linked to failed to cut the issue at the root by not presenting a picture of what IS "hooker boots"

Hookers, Sky-scooter riders, Borg, Crash Hawk drivers, and Mi-17i cockpiteers all wear the same boots as the Grunts and Treadheads over here -- suede, lace-up, no side zippers, no straps, no nylon inserts (Nomex™ is okay). Stateside in the wintertime, all leather.

We consider non-flammable to be a fashion statement...

Posted by: BillT at November 20, 2009 02:16 AM

MM

Getting Rush to talk Conservative Politics isn't exactly difficult. :-) He won't let you do gossip talk, so the lack of it there isn't impressive.

Many interviewers ask the gossipy questions.

Yes they do.

Don't think she can help that.

Apparently, not. But that's the problem. A good leader *can*. Part of being an executive is being able to push your agenda, to focus on what you think is important and not what the other guy thinks is important: to stay *on-topic*. If she is to be a leader, she needs to set the tone, and not let it be set by the interviewer.

There are 3 types of people: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what the helk happened.

Right now, she's in the second group. A leader, however, doesn't let an interview happen to them, instead they happen to the interview. Leaders are *pro*active and right now, Palin is *re*active.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at November 20, 2009 10:02 AM

That's me problem with Palin too. I mentioned the way Dr. Rice was always able to control the conversation. She went in with a definite idea of what she wanted to get across and didn't allow anyone to deflect her from her message.

I haven't seen any evidence that Palin's able to do that. To be honest, I also haven't been all that impressed with her answers even when she's asked the right questions. I think there are other Republicans who do a lot better job of defending conservative principles.

But that's just my opinion.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 20, 2009 10:11 AM

I've read that she's better in a setting where there aren't cameras and mics. But yes, Yu and Cass, the point is taken, and it's a good one.

My main problem with Palin is that populism is a temptation for her. She's fallen into it two or three times as Alaska governor. To make inroads in the rest of the country, she has to stick to the individualist principles that she trumpets as being inherent to Alaskans, and not be taken in by socialism disguised as social conservatism.

Posted by: Cousin Dave at November 20, 2009 11:56 AM

I've read that she's better in a setting where there aren't cameras and mics.

That sounds about right as she seems to have done a good job in Alaska.

It's just that if you can't direct the conversation with Katie Couric, how well will you do it with Pelosi and Reid, much less Putin and Ima Dinnerjacket.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at November 20, 2009 12:58 PM

Yu-Ain...

I'm not sure you could direct the conversation with Katie Couric, unless you carried your own camera. Palin needs to do that, fer sher. I read the transcript of the Gibson interview, and compared it to the broadcast version. It was fraudulent what they did to her answers. They simply stuck an answer onto a different question to get the result they wanted.

I assume Couric has done that as well. We'll see if she rises to your expectations as she becomes more familiar with the cut-throat world of the MSM.

I read everything that I can find written by Mitt Romney. I think he's an executive with proven experience, who has done his thinking on a worldwide scale, and has germane thoughts on many subjects of crucial importance in the world today. But he is also responsible for getting Romney care started in Massachusetts. It came out differently than what he proposed. What he proposed would probably work. But he was dealing with Democrats, and you know what happens when you let them into your bank account. I'll have to hold him responsible for that, unless he demonstrates that he understands what went wrong and promises not to try it again.

I think Romney, or Giuliani, should he decide to campaign, would be better chief executives. But can they fire up the people? We will need someone who can bring people out of the woodwork to break the Obama spell (unless his stupidity does him in publicly before 2012). Gotta admit, Palin brings out the crowds. And she is feared. Palin is attacked. Romney is not. Giuliani is not. Huckabee (such a slime) is not. She is attacked because she is feared. IMHO.

Posted by: MathMom at November 20, 2009 02:11 PM

Right now, there's really no one on the national stage who looks like "the Republican leader" for 2012. Palin has got the enthusiasm, but also has the negatives discussed above, and let's face it, she's extremely polarizing. Personally, I think she's a fine woman, and I'd be proud to have her as my President, I just don't see it happening (in 2012 at least).

Romney is a fine man and would also make a fine President, but as MathMom points out, he's got to answer for some of the more left of center stuff he did in Mass. Though, to be completely fair... he was Gov of MASS... not much different I suppose he could do. My personal squeamishness on him revolves around something different. He feels 'plastic' to me (like Edwards did, but without the ambulance chaser theme). Like he was manufactured to be a politician in a factory somewhere. And no, that's not 'code' for "Mormon" thank you very much.

Huckabee has FAR too many negatives. He is far too "Christianist" for the left, and far too socially liberal for the right. By trying to be everything for everybody, everyone ends up reading into him the parts they don't like.

Giuliani would be fine, but he's lost his window (in my opinion). All the good will he evoked by being a rock for us all to lean on during 9/11 (which allowed us to ignore HIS more liberal convictions) has faded. Not to say I wouldn't vote for him (I wouldn't even need to hold my nose), just that I doubt the base would still go for him.

Bobby Jindal maybe? Needs more exposure. In the event we don't win in 2012, my money's on him in 16. That spitfire from Minnesota? Congresswoman Bachmann is doing her damnedest to kill the Health Care takeover, and I'd be pleased to reward her for it. I just don't know her standing nationally. Interesting question.

Posted by: MikeD at November 20, 2009 04:04 PM

I hope so MM. She's got the ball in an open field, and she's looking real flashy running around east-west. But she needs to start running North-South instead and make some progress.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at November 20, 2009 05:31 PM

IMHO, Mrs. Palin is a very lovely woman.

Posted by: I Call BS at November 20, 2009 09:31 PM

Cassandra,

I think your original post was astute. She does play her sex appeal some ... and there is nothing wrong with that. The reaction to her sex appeal in turn will be sexist ... and that too is predictable. She should not complain to much about the sexism ... and i do not think she has played that card too often. Once in a while is reasonable and appropriate, to define limits.

Posted by: Huan at November 20, 2009 09:35 PM

The most competent Republican to be PotUS currently is Dick Cheney. Don't see it happening.

The most likely to win the Republican nomination currently is Sarah Palin. I do see it happening.
And I am very comfortable with her being PotUS. Not a perfect candidate by any measures, and she doesn't have to be. She just have to be more electable and more competent than the big Zer0. More competent she is.

Posted by: Huan at November 20, 2009 09:39 PM

Mike D -

The Republican women are showing some real huevos, IMHO. When I hear Liz Cheney speak (thank you, Vice President and Lynn Cheney, for procreating!) I think she has a better handle on the really tough bits than Palin. Michelle Bachmann is extremely impressive, and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee is tough, too (I keep mixing up the two MB's). I am a huge fan of Jindal, and he would be my pick over Palin. I like Jeb Bush, too. I mean, the man fielded four fargin' hurricanes in the span of a few months, and we barely heard about it because he is competent. I don't know how conservative he is, but I'm interested enough to learn. I don't know if he's interested enough to run, though.

My dream team (if they don't make it through the primaries) would have Giuliani as Attorney General, and Mitt Romney at Treasury. Giuliani took Boesky and Milken out of their brokerage houses in handcuffs in the 80's - he treated them like criminals because they were. I would not ever be concerned that he'd move KSM to New York to do a show trial. He knows evil, and doesn't flinch.

I think Romney really knows how an economy works. "But, but, but...ROMNEY FIRED PEOPLE!!!!"" Yep. But firing some people made it possible for a bunch of other people to keep their jobs, because he kept a business in business!

Posted by: MathMom at November 20, 2009 11:01 PM

Yu-Ain -

Thanks for the link to the football site. I should have had that training early in my marriage to my Husker husband, but I have finally learned when I may pass in front of the TV during a football game. I no longer block out the snap by not understanding what it is.

I think Palin has done some running North-South, just not in the Lower 48. Getting the pipeline contract is not small potatoes. If she had her say, we'd be producing from ANWR today. She knows energy, and knows Alaska and their needs. She's also been trusted with secrets, because if the Rooskies sometime choose to start bugging us, she's right - you can see Russia from some parts of Alaska. She was responsible for early warning systems and people manning them, and didn't let out a peep about it. There is a lot of other stuff that a president needs to be up to speed on, though, and I'll give you that one.

One thing that is comforting to me about Palin, regardless of her relative thinness of resume, is that she's Alaskan. She was moved to Skagway as an infant, and even now, Skagway can be missed if you blink, but you have to look hard for it first. I lived in Alaska for 2-1/2 years, and know several people who have lived there all their lives have seen it change from a true frontier to a place with a few islands of civilization.

My best friend is my age, 55, and has lived in Alaska since her birth. She was about 10 when the Good Friday earthquake hit. When people were evacuating their houses and standing outside in deep snow and extreme cold, her mother had everyone start collecting wood so she could start a fire and thaw the ground. Why? To dig a pit toilet. They slept in their car for a week in sub-freezing temperatures because of the aftershocks, and the entire neighborhood came to use Mrs. Dixon's pit toilet. There is a survival instinct in long-time Alaskans that would serve a lot of Outsiders well. I wouldn’t even think about the toilet, let alone a way to thaw the ground to dig one. True "Sourdoughs" just know how to do stuff.

Sarah Palin has been there all her life, too, and was taught self-reliance. I think those skills could give her that “something extra” as President that cannot be taught at Harvard or Yale.

Posted by: MathMom at November 20, 2009 11:12 PM

Huan -

I saw Liz Cheney on Fox a few days ago, probably Hannity's panel. They were discussing Palin's suitability for President. Liz suggested a Dick Cheney-Sarah Palin ticket, sort of tongue-in-cheek. I wish he would run. I believe, like you, that he's the only really qualified person for the job.

Maybe Liz or Mary will step up to the plate.

Posted by: MathMom at November 20, 2009 11:16 PM

Re Palin's sex appeal - I'd say that Ann Coulter plays up sex appeal. She always throws around her long blonde locks, all her books have her in short skirts or dresses, showing off about a mile of leg, and sleeveless (not particularly low-cut, though) tops. I don't see Palin doing that, ever. Have you?

Posted by: MathMom at November 20, 2009 11:19 PM

I doubt Cheney would run. He seems more of the "ruling class" than a political class at this point. Palin on the other hand resonates because she isn't of the ruling class or the political class. She seems more "one of us" type. And gives renewed hop for those of us who believes in "Of the people for the people" governance.

I would love to see a Palin/Liz Cheney ticket though; an all women ticket would be a hoot.

Sexism wise, as a guy, i think that professional women in pant suits are sexier than skirt suits. Maybe it is a power projection thing.

Posted by: Huan at November 21, 2009 07:57 AM

I agree about Dick Cheney, Huan. When asked if he would run for Pres he said, "Not no. HELL no!" He has his heart to think about at this point, and all his grandchildren.

I appreciate that he has started taking on Obama's policies, though. He knows dumb when he sees it.

Posted by: MathMom at November 21, 2009 10:51 AM

Interestingly, Cass, maybe because I'm in California, but Palin's outfits, including the high heels, wouldn't get a second look in any courtroom here.

Another thing to the double standard, just this week author Michael Eric Dyson was on MSNBC lauding Obama for bringing "sexy brilliance" back to the White House.

http://newsbusters.org/blogs/brent-baker/2009/11/20/msnbc-ebony-honoree-dyson-obamas-brought-sexy-brilliance-back-white-hou

And where has the media gone after Michelle O for her fashion faux pas? The denim short shorts as she was getting off AirForce One or the cocktail dress she wore to the Medal of Honor ceremony?

Palin in lowheeled pumps and midcalf skirts would look dowdy, not professional. Hillary wears pants suits because she is self-concious about her legs.

Nancy Pelosi wears tailored skirt suits

http://cm1.theinsider.com/media/0/382/65/400_npelosi_bpitt_090305_tsloan_85263852.0.0.0x0.400x400.jpeg

but then the media photogs are not apt to try and diminish her with taking pics up her legs.

Posted by: Darleen at November 21, 2009 11:21 AM

btw

just reviewing the pic montage you have of Palin's pumps... none of the are even close to f**kme pumps. The 3 on the left are practically ALL you would find in a shoe store here as "professional" shoes for women. 3" heels are not considered too high.

I'm already 5'8" so I like 2-2 1/2" pump and have a devil of a time finding any.

Posted by: Darleen at November 21, 2009 11:30 AM

You may have a point, Darleen.

I am from the DC area, so my sense of what is appropriate is undoubtedly influenced by what I see every day.

However, I cannot think of a prominent female politician who dresses like that. They all dress *very* conservatively, as do the men. That is what I meant to get across, though it is possible I did not do so effectively. I looked at many photos of female legislators and governors and was struck by the conservative note struck by their attire.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 21, 2009 12:24 PM

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