Impresaria or Imposter? Aren’t we all…

by Staff

THE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN

Impresaria or Imposter?  Aren’t we all…

By Kimberlee A. Cloutier-Blazzard, Bread and Circus editor and senior writer

Staying on the topic of Sarah Palin—if I can realistically count my glasses post as an article—I’d like to comment on Judith Warner’s latest article on Poor Sarah in the NY Times (9/25/08).

In reading her op-ed, Warner made me realize that my already confused stance on Feminism is actually more muddled than I thought.

Where to begin?

I am a child of the Seventies.  That puts me in the strange position of being a “second wave feminist”—one who has the luxury of reconsidering our “gains” in society and culture from a liberated foxhole (or “DFP” for you military buffs).

I have a product-of-the-late-Sixties mother who worked part-time as an executive secretary during my childhood.  It seems most period career choices for women back then consisted of housewife, teacher or secretary.  So, as a result, my mom was “mainstream”.  While she worked, I was cared-for by my grandmother who came of age in the Forties.  Unlike my mother she neither had a degree, nor could drive a car.

Even as I child I saw advantages and disadvantages to both of these lifestyles.  My mother was independent, mobile and able to spend her own money.  I might add that she was also seemingly forever stressed-out and/or suffering from headaches.  To the contrary, my grandmother was tied to her house and had little disposable income, but she made her own schedule and had lots of fun teaching me how to cook and keep house.  From that early age it seemed to me impossible that women could be both a successful careerist and available caretaker.  It took a village.  Or, at least two women.

And, here’s where Warner comes in.

What a provocative idea Warner has, that one could feel sorry for Sarah Palin as a well-kempt working mom who began to wilt under the glaring media- and international spotlights.  Warner perceives Palin as a sister-sufferer of imposter-syndrome.  (Is there anyone who hasn’t yet suffered from, or at least heard of that phenomenon?)  As evidence of Palin’s professional-woman’s strained survivalist-instincts, Warner notes Palin’s slumping posture, impossibly-perfect hair and nervous tics (the folded-hands-on-knees and deer-in-the-headlights look) during her visit with Henry Kissinger. Warner exudes compassion for this girlfriend out of her depth.

I suppose that we women could feel empathy for Palin.  We’ve all met smarter people, or been put on-the-spot in a high-pressure situation.  Might Sarah Palin be a hapless victim? A woman put in the precarious position of Veep candidate by the irresistible, synergistic forces of an enticing career move and her own hubris?

But, this scenario would assume that Palin was circumspect enough to realize that she’s out of her league.  After all, she could cry “Uncle!”  Or, “I want to be there for my kids while they’re small.” And we’d all understand.  But, we all know she won’t.  She won’t admit that she’s “just one woman”.  One woman without the credentials necessary for the job she’s applied for.

In a sense the problem is that Palin is just like any other person.  (As she loves to admit with her small-town, hard-working rhetoric.) In fact, like most people who are unqualified for something due to a lack of gifts or experience, she just don’t see it that way.  After all, it takes gumption to say you’re focused on education to Katie Couric’s face when—in actual word and deed—you despise intellectual pursuits.  (In this regard she sounds mightily like our intrepid former National Education Secretary, William Bennett, who spent the other morning on the Today Show bashing intellectuals.  Fine sport for a Ph.D. in philosophy.)

Fortunately, in the real world, when people without credentials apply for management positions their cv never gets past the door.  Unfortunately, in this election year, a desperate, eager-to-reinvent-its-image GOP was not beneath finding a pliable and perhaps gullible “hick chick” for its ticket.  Not kosher, no matter how classically good-looking she is.

At this point you might well ask what my life is like.  Do I work?  Yes.  Do I have kids?  Yes.  Am I, therefore, in taking Sarah Palin to task somewhere between deeply conflicted and suffering from split personality disorder?  Absolutely.   Every day I question whether or not I am doing either of my vocations (maternal and professional) well.  And, I have a sneaking suspicion that most women are in the same rickety boat.  Unfortunately, as a post-modern woman I remain compelled to do both.  And, that’s why I can fathom why Warner’s feeling sorry for Palin.  And, yet, my platonic intellect tells me that Palin is not up to the task of world leader.  (Never mind the our polar opposite political stances…)

Couldn’t we at least get someone who knows why being an “elite” is a good thing?  Even Martha Stewart understands that one…

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This item originally appeared in the blog Percyflage.

Kimberlee A. Cloutier-Blazzard, Ph.D., is a senior contributing writer & contributing editor of Bread and Circus Magazine and an Independent Scholar of Art History, Specializing in Northern Renaissance and Baroque. Click here to send her email.

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