The latest Palin meme that has the VP pick going ‘off message’ smacks of more nasty gender politics – just like the wardrobe furor. An off-the-record McCain staffer described her leaving the narrow GOP talking points as ‘diva’ tactics – a not-so-subtle way to gender-code her as John McCain’s unruly woman leaving the masculine fold.
Not to say that Palin doesn’t embrace some fairly uncool gender roles – ‘hockey mom,’ also stay at home mom who sees contraceptive is unacceptable, etc. – but it makes me very uncomfortable when people describe her as a MILF or hyper-sexualized moose hunting snow bunny.
One way or another Palin functions as a symbol of women in politics – I’d like to see folks be able to talk about her actions on the campaign trail without needing to talk about her as a woman in the same way that they talk about McCain or Obama or Biden without needing to talk about them as men. It continues to mark women in politics as exceptional (and possibly deviant), and that’s dangerous in its own right, independent of the dangers of a Palin/McCain Presidency.