I just heard that former Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro passed away last Saturday. Hearing this news evoked so many memories.
I recall being a young feminist when Walter Mondale selected Ferraro as his vice presidential running mate. I was so proud and excited. What a turning point for women, I thought!
I admired Ferraro; she was a no-nonsense, straight-talking New Yorker, like me. Although my New Yorkese had been seriously watered down after a few years in California, I still appreciated an East Coast’er. You always know where you stand, as opposed to Californians who hide their displeasure behind an artificial smile.
I’m sad to hear that Ferraro has died. But my sadness isn’t just for Ferraro, it’s for all of us; it’s the death of an era when female politicians were respected and protected. What a 180 degree contrast between how Ferraro was treated and Sarah Palin!
Back in the ’80s it would have been unheard of for any woman politician, either from the Right or the Left, to be blasted with obscenities. No one would have dared.
In the very unlikely circumstances that someone did lob an obscene comment at a woman the person would face stern consequences. Certainly when Ferraro was on the ticket she was never called a monster or a b__ch like Hillary Clinton.
But whatever was done to Clinton pales in comparison to the treatment of Sarah Palin. Sexually degrading and menacing words have been hurled at Palin on a daily basis. Because no one in a position of authority called off the dogs early on (think Obama here,) it’s been open season on her and other conservative women.
With no one demanding that the verbal rape stop, the abuse has only gotten worse. Not surprisingly, just this week, Bill Maher has gotten away with a vile characterization of Palin, with no consequences at all.
Back in the day women of both parties could run for office without their daughters being subjected to rape jokes. And it wasn’t just liberal politicians. Republican Paula Hawkins was the first woman to be elected to the Senate in her own right. It would have been unthinkable for anyone to use sexually objectifying language towards her or her colleagues.
What has happened since then? So many things: there’s the Internet’s immediate gratification and anonymity. We’ve seen the unraveling of the social and moral fabric with 24/7 pornography and violent media. The Judeo-Christian values that bind us together lay in tatters.
And last, but not least, we have the reign of Obama. He apparently gestured with his middle finger when invoking Hillary Clinton’s name during a campaign speech. Obama made the classless remark comparing Palin to a pig with lipstick.
And, most significantly of all, when Palin and her daughters were menaced with sexual threats, when her church was torched with children in it, Obama said nothing. The not-so-subtle message to his base was that it was open season on female conservatives.
Next: Goodbye to All That…