This essay originally was published on the blog of the author, who expresses her own opinions, not necessarily those of The New Agenda.
An article posted on The Daily Beast, entitled “Palin Can’t Outsmart Letterman” and authored by Margaret Carlson, is rife with sexism and gender-coded language. The title of Ms. Carlson’s article sets the tone for the entire piece.Ms. Carlson starts off by belittling Palin’s intelligence, claiming that Letterman has the bigger brain of the two. This attack on Palin’s intelligence is obviously sexist. There are numerous examples of male politicians without ivy league educations whose intelligence has not been called into question, e.g. John Edwards, John McCain and Arnold Schwarzenegger, to name a few. What evidence does Ms. Carlson have that Sarah Palin, a self-made woman and successful governor, is dumb?
Ms. Carlson goes on in her article to use gender-coded language by saying that “The governor has spent much of her public life in high-pitched feuds-but taking on late night’s prince shows a complete lack of political sophistication.” The term “high-pitched” is referring to a woman’s naturally occurring vocal range, which is higher than a man’s. The use of the description of a woman’s natural vocal range as a disparaging adjective is a textbook example of gender-coded language that has been around for a long time. Another common, derogatory term used is “shrill.” This type of language is demeaning, misogynistic, and reminiscent of the Victorian era.
Ms. Carlson then went on to say that since Letterman’s joke was really about Bristol, Palin’s 18 yr. old daughter, it is excusable. Indeed, she says that: “When you become the ambivalent poster child for unwed motherhood, you attract off-color jokes.” Or in other words, Bristol was asking for it. Bristol deserves to be the butt of misogynistic jokes. I guess that if a black person becomes a public figure, then they similarly deserve any racist jokes thrown their way? Using Ms. Carlson’s logic- they do.
Ms. Carlson’s piece is clearly a pile of s***. What she doesn’t seem to understand, is that by perpetuating stereotypes and participating in mainstream misogyny, she is ultimately hurting herself because she is one of us- a woman. And as a woman, Margaret Carlson won’t be spared from sexist attacks herself, just because she has also participated in them.