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Opinion

Politics show masculine, feminine contrast

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October 9, 2008

Joe Biden said that it would be a “backward step for women” if Sarah Palin were elected into office. On face value, his statement is absurd.

A female vice-president is symbolic of an impressive move toward a new era of sexual equality. As I tried to wrap my mind around Biden’s statement, I realize that there are two faces to feminism— and those faces belong to Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin.

If we do a superficial side-by-side comparison of Clinton and Palin, the first noticeable difference is their choice in clothing. Clinton wears the pants, Palin wears the skirt. The pantsuit symbolizes the modern feminist woman—masculine, tough, powerful. The skirt symbolizes the woman of the past—feminine, soft, emotional.

Clinton’s hair is short (masculine), Palin’s is long (feminine). Essentially, we are comparing the traditional to the novel. Are the American people looking for “change,” or familiarity?

The reasoning behind Biden’s statement is a reference to women’s social issues—abortion, education, and the workplace. In spite of her gender, she is painted out to be antiwoman by the left. The right wing contends that these issues go beyond women’s rights, that fairness extends to the population as a whole.

In contrast, the men of this country are being pushed into a state of identity crisis. The left values men who are emotionally connected, in touch with their feminine half, or sensitive. The right values men who stick their chest out and stand tall with a stiff upper lip. There is an evident shift in our culture away from masculine male and towards the feminine male.

Chuck Palahniuk writes in his book Fight Club that today “we are a generation of men raised by women.” The baby boomers threw a giant divorce party, and us kids were invited for all the fun. Many women were freed from their abusive marriages, and wife-beating men were held accountable. However, many other women grabbed hold of this newfound autonomy and ran away with it at the expense of their sons.

I grew up in a house where the phrase “fucking white men” was the family motto. I’m guessing that my upbringing wasn’t unique and that this could be the cause for much of today’s political clashing.

Now let’s take a superficial look at Barack Obama and John McCain. McCain is considerably older than Obama, and white. McCain represents the traditional, familiar. Obama is younger and black, and represents difference, or “chope.” (thanks to MAD TV: chope = change + hope) McCain is a tough maverick, and Obama is sensitive to our needs! McCain is masculine, Obama is feminine.

It seems to me that in the end, America is going to have to reconcile gender differences and learn to accept that not only is it okay for a woman to be masculine, but it’s also okay for a woman to be feminine. The same goes for masculine men—and those guys really could use a break after the onslaught the boomers gave them.

Think about it: the acceptance of diversity means the acceptance of the traditional as well!

Muriel Montgomery is a student at UW-River Falls.