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November 14, 2009

Carrie Prejean was Palin-ized

I saw the clip of Carrie Prejean on Larry King Live the other day and wow, let's just say I have some very strong opinions about what she said. But first let me get a few things out of the way...

The musical monologue that Taylor Swift sang on Saturday Night Live last weekend is still stuck in my head, so forgive me if I take inspiration from her right now and start this blog with all the things about Carrie Prejean that I'm not going to talk about:

I'm not going to talk about Perez Hilton or the Miss USA Pageant or gay marriage, because it's already all been said (although we must admit that Jay Smooth had the best theory).

I'm not going to talk about the "racy" photos or the sex tape, because I don't think there's anything wrong with that sort of stuff. (While I do think it makes her a little bit of a liar and a hypocrite, if there's one thing we don't condone over here, it's slut-shaming.)

I'm not going to talk about her breast implants or the new book she "wrote".

I'm not going to talk about her getting fired as "Miss California", the multiple lawsuits or the abrupt settlement.

And I'm not even going to talk about her awkward "departure" (even though she didn't actually depart) from the Larry King interview or her apparent inability to understand and answer questions.

What I do want to talk about was really only a small moment in the interview but I have a big opinion about it...

KING: You've characterized yourself as being "Palin-ized". What do you mean?

PREJEAN: Well you look at, uh, Sarah Palin and Congresswoman, you know, Michelle Bachmann. They are relentlessly, um, you know, torn down by the liberal media. I mean, they're wonderful women... they're intelligent... they're great mothers.... um, they're brilliant. And yet there is this double standard that conservative women are fair game to be attacked and it's not right and it needs to stop.

KING: Doesn't the conservative media tear down liberal politicians?

PREJEAN: Not to the extent that liberals do to conservative, uh, women. I think that they get away with it. Um, if you look at Keith Olbermann for instance... I talk about it in my book... some of the things that he, uh, says on his show about conservatives... if Sean Hannity or if Bill O'Reilly said anything like that about a liberal woman like Sonia Sotomayor or Michelle Obama he would be off the air. And there is this double standard and Americans are now exposed to it.

Um... what!?

Can we all take a minute to giggle over the fact that she has the nerve to compare herself to a former-Governor/Vice Presidential candidate? No matter how unqualified you may feel Sarah Palin was to have those positions, it did happen. So far Prejean's greatest accomplishment has been winning "Miss California"... temporarily.

Although wait, now that I think about it... If you think about it, maybe there are some similarities: They were both beauty pageant contestants and models. They both lost their respective "competitions" (Miss North Carolina took home the crown for Miss USA and well, we all know what Joe Biden is doing now). They both are against same-sex marriage. And they both apparently suck at interviews. Hm, maybe this comparison isn't as far off as we thought. But I digress.

Now, there is no doubt that the media - not just the "liberal media" - has at times harshly criticized Sarah Palin, but it's not always about the fact that she's a conservative woman. Sometimes it's about the fact that she just really kind of sucks. It's not sexist to question someone's qualifications or criticize someone's policies. Yes, a lot of the things said about Palin were completely sexist - and that's not okay - but it wasn't entirely from the liberals.

We agree that you shouldn't fight anti-gay bigotry with misogny, so we do have sympathy for the way that Prejean, like Palin, was treated badly by the media. But if she's really going to pretend that liberal women don't get the same fucked up treatment (if not way worse) then she's seriously deluded.

It's interesting that she used Sonia Sotomayor as an example, because we have no shortage of evidence to prove her wrong. We compiled a top 10 list of fucked up things conservatives have said about her this past June. Some of the "highlights":

"I know lots of stupid people who went to Ivy League schools." -- Karl Rove

"Hey, Hispanic chick lady! You're empathetic...you're in! That's the way it really works." -- Glenn Beck

"Let's hope that the key conferences aren't when she's menstruating or something, or just before she's going to menstruate. That would really be bad. Lord knows what we would get then." -- G. Gordon Liddy
Michelle Obama was the other example she used. Hm... What about the Republican activist who compared her to a gorilla? Or the columnist who gave her the title "First Bitch"? And who can forget Bill O'Reilly saying she looks like an angry woman? (Check out Michelle Obama Watch and Feministing's and Shakeville's ongoing "Michelle Obama Racism/Sexism Watch" series for more.)

And how about Nancy Pelosi? Glenn Beck joked about poisoning her and Michael Savage referred to her as "Mussolini in a skirt with bad rouge [...] and too much Botox". For more offenses, check out Media Matter's compilation of attacks on Pelosi's looks or New York Magazine's recent article "Why is Nancy Pelosi Always Smiling?"

And then there's the obvious... Hillary Clinton. We could fill pages and pages with all the bad things people have said about her over the years. Lars Larson compared her to Glenn Close's character in Fatal Attraction... Don Imus called her "that buck-tooth witch, Satan"... Novelty stores sold Hillary nutcrackers and everyone obsessed over the fact that she wears a lot of pantsuits.

Even Sarah Palin complained about her whining. Hm. A teenaged Chelsea Clinton wasn't spared either: Rush Limbaugh called her a dog and who can forget John McCain's hilarious joke "Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because her father is Janet Reno."

Yeah, the right wing media never gets away with any sexist attacks on liberal women. Thank God Carrie Prejean was able to expose Americans to this terrible double standard!

Look we won't pretend that the left wing is always super awesome (some of Keith Olbermann's comments have pissed us off, although he does spread it around both parties) but c'mon, let's be realistic here. The "liberal media" doesn't get away with anything that the other side isn't also guilty of. (According to Prejean, shouldn't they all have been kicked off the air by now?) Ever since Sarah Palin was picked as John McCain's running mate the conservatives "discovered" sexism. That is, they pretended that they actually care about sexism, but of course, they constantly contradict themselves. The way that women - throughout the entire political spectrum - are treated in the media is a big problem. But blaming the left wing for it is neither fair nor productive.

The press (and the blogs) really did give Carrie Prejean a hard time, but blaming them for all of her problems isn't fair. She made some mistakes and hiding behind religious discrimination or sexism or "Palin-izing" isn't going to make those mistakes go away. (And if she is really so concerned about sexism and double standards... what was she doing in beauty pageant in the first place? But that's a whole other issue.)

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