When Sarah Palin was introduced as McCainâ€™s running mate less than 24 hours after Barack Obama accepted the nomination, this staunch Obama supporter (who took lots of grief for not joining the 18 million women who supported Hillary) said out loud to my TV, â€œOh shit.â€
Almost two years later, the phrase still applies.
So what is it about her thatâ€™s made other women — smart ones, not so smart ones, old, young, middle-aged, moms and women who arenâ€™t — fall in line behind this woman who abandons jobs, makes up words and calls the press “sick puppies?”
At the time of her nomination, everyone told me I was nuts to be worried. However, no amount of encouraging words would soothe for this reason: we live in a tabloid news-loving culture and Sarah Palin had â€˜Tabloid Queenâ€™ written all over her.
Almost two years later we now know that whether she quits jobs or makes stuff up, women love her and not just Right wing zealot women, either. Pro-choice women have climbed aboard the Palin train. All those women ticked off at Hillaryâ€™s defeat – many of whom believed Obama stole the nomination back at the Primary Election stage – had no place to put their rage. Even though Hillary Clinton told them she was 100 percent behind Obamaâ€™s nomination, and even though our Secretary of State has done nothing but sing his praises since, some of Hillâ€™s supporters have held onto their rage; “some” of 18 million is still quite a lot.
I consider myself a “thinking womanâ€™s” woman. I figured women like me — women who donâ€™t exercise knee-jerk responses every time some guy says something stupid about women –would not, could not, be taken in with Palinâ€™s obvious “playing to crowd” rhetoric.
I was wrong.
They love their Mama Grizzly.
So how dumb is Sarah Palin? Probably not so. She was a Communications major who wanted to anchor the news but had five kids instead. If she has â€˜brillianceâ€™ itâ€™s found in her instincts. She spotted something in this culture much like the founder of another women’s movement, The Cougars, spotted something–a whole lot of ticked off women. As polar opposites as these two movements might appear, the Cougars and the Mama Grizzlies share this: they speak directly to women. Â There are no middle men in these all-girl groups. Palinâ€™s pack include many of Hillaryâ€™s 18 million who believe our President is not hearing them. Cougar founder Linda Franklin attracted the â€˜Over the Hillâ€™ crowd; aging women told to turn â€˜invisibleâ€™ by our anti-aging culture. Franklin wasnâ€™t about to fade away just because she reached an age where women are expected to give up their groove. Sexy women donâ€™t want to give grooves up and now they donâ€™t have to. Now they become Cougars; hot gals that make for hot topics in tabloid news. Is it a coincidence that both movements branded dangerous animals to their image? I donâ€™t think so.
There is a group of women in this culture mad as hell. Men, mostly, are the reason why. Palinâ€™s rhetoric speaks to them. Â Finally, someone is listening. Theyâ€™re tired of taking what the sexist culture dishes out and now they donâ€™t have to. Theyâ€™ve got their Mama Grizzly looking out for them in a way that Hillary Clinton could not. Â As brilliant as our Secretary of State is, she did let a man publicly humiliate her for many years. And in the end, she did concede to a man even though her 18 million supporters begged her not to.
My guess is, the Mama Grizzlies and Cougar movements are here to stay. Women in this culture are hungry for heroes. In this era where tabloid news is now the mainstream, competition for the sexiest headlines is fierce. Like the Cougars, who now have the added status of a TV series, the Mama Grizzlies create provocative headlines because Palin knows how to masterfully manipulate tabloid news. Thatâ€™s the brilliance of this Communications Major and mom of five.
It bears repeating.Â â€œOh shit.â€
Marla Millerâ€™s byline first appeared on The Daily Pilotâ€™s editorial page. From 1991-2006 she wrote OCRegister’s Coast Magazine spotlighting OC civic & business leaders. She was founding editor of a Newport Coast lifestyle magazine, 2006-2009.Â A Daley Democrat from Chicagoâ€™s south side, her reinvestment in the body politic was triggered by the 2008 national elections. Her viewpoint is informed from her childhood and from living and raising her family in OC for almost three decades. â€˜Fairnessâ€™ themes inspire her political writing.