here's a column doing the palin thing which i wrote last week and haven't been able to peddle, possibly because everyone is writing about palin.
Moms, Libidos, and Leadership
By Crispin Sartwell
Hillary Clinton's campaign, which brought a woman closer to a major-party nomination than ever before, could be dismissed as a little anomaly in the patriarchal flow of American political power. But with McCain's plucking of Sarah Palin, we have a mini-landslide, a shift in the gendering of American leadership.
And suddenly guys like me are having all sorts of funny ideas.
To begin with, I think everyone from good ole boys to feminists have underestimated the extent to which we live in a matriarchal society. I was raised fundamentally by a woman, as, I believe, were most Americans. A woman was my first model of leadership. Starting in pre-school, I was taught by women who stood to me in positions of authority. Women were and are the dominant figures in my neighborhood and my town.
So when I was confronted with the idea of being ruled by Sarah Palin, mother of five, my response wasn't "huh?" but "duh." Of course.
And it's not only a matter of the actual power of women in families and communities, but of effectiveness and moral authority. The very most competent people I've ever known - the sharpest, most energetic, best-organized, most focused - are, like Palin, the mothers of many children, You just can't believe what a mom like that gets done in a given day, all the loose ends she keeps track of, and the way everyone ultimately does what she says. I myself have raised five kids (with two different women), and mostly I was just hiding in the corner, trying to stay out of the way.
And in many or most American communities, the real moral authority rests with women, and particularly with mothers. They hold communities together, do whatever organizing gets done, embody the community's conscience. They protect their children, often from idiotic, addled, or destructive men.
Obviously, women and mothers can have many problems. But by and large mom is less likely to be an addict or a sex fiend or an abuser than is dad, and one would think this might be desirable in our political leadership. The patriarchy gave us Bill Clinton, Elliot Spitzer, John Edwards. Their wives are better people and would have been (and may yet be) better leaders.
I think, as well, that as women rise to their inevitable total domination, we heterosexual men are going to be grappling, as it were, with whole new sets of feelings.
For one thing, and though it's indelicate to mention it, American national politics now engages our sexuality as it never really did before. I always thought Hillary was pretty cute, but people have gone outrageous on Palin: it's all "she's so babealicious!"
After awhile, you just can't help seeing this a sexist dismissal. But sexuality and power are intertwined in amazingly twisted ways, and once the "babe" proves herself extremely formidable, or describes herself as a pit bull with lipstick, the sexual response may be muted, or intensified.
I myself have regarded the female fans of the Kennedys, Bill Clinton, or even Obama as little better than ancient groupies, squealing unserious ageing chicks without a brain in their heads. They might as well vote for the Jonas Brothers.
Well now the shoe is on the other fool. Of course, as any of the women I just dismissed would agree, you can't let your gonads make public policy decisions. Babealiciousness is irrelevant to political leadership. But the question of the relation of sexual to political power is complex.
I've always been a bit mystified by the term "charisma," which seems to denote some amazing Fu-Manchu hypno-stare which turns the idiots around one into zombie acolytes. To the extent that the idea has any meaning, though, it has something to do with sexuality. And now men like me are going to be responding to charisma in leadership, whereas before we were just puzzled by the whole idea.
At any rate, for heterosexual fellows, American politics is beginning to turn into something of a Freudian circus, an arena for the expression and repression of libido and a way to deal with our feelings about mom, unfortunately at the same time.
But I actually believe all of this makes American politics better. Certainly, it makes it more interesting.
Crispin Sartwell teaches philosophy at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA. His most recent book is Against the State: An Introduction to Anarchist Political Theory.