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Why Feminists Hate Sarah Palin: It’s Academic

The attacks on her have roots in ivory-tower intellectualism.

by
Mary Grabar

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October 2, 2008 - 12:00 am
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Feminists have long blamed male oppression for women’s cat fights. But this election season, feminists have engaged in the worst kind as they lobbed personal insults at Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin, who more than any of their feminist standard-bearers seems to not only have “had it all,” but to have done it all. Conservatives have rightly noted this deterioration of the “sisterhood.”

The histrionic attacks are rooted in something much deeper than simple political disagreement.

What the feminists hate is that, on the job, Palin is one of the boys.

That Palin thinks like a man, or logically, is what has made the left livid. As appropriate to their modes, they respond emotionally. The men in their movement, who have become one of the girls in terms of thinking, respond with personal insults, even going so far as to mock the looks of her baby, as Bill Maher recently did.

But if one looks to other arenas, like the humanities departments in universities that have been transformed by feminism, one can see that such personal attacks are entirely consistent with the left’s version of intellectualism. When I entered graduate school in the 1990s I quickly found out that character assassinations had become the staple of literary scholarship.

This change followed the takeover of humanities departments, like English, by women, beginning around 1980. That year women began out-earning men with regard to doctorates in English, by two percentage points. The percentages rose, until in 1995 women began earning about 60% of such Ph.D.s, a figure that has remained roughly consistent since then.

The influx and domination of women in the field has had a devastating impact on intellectual discourse, for not only did men capitulate to women’s demands on affirmative hiring practices, but to their demands to change the tenor and standards of scholarship itself.

The 1980s saw a concomitant change in the popular culture, as women wedged their way into boardrooms and military academies. While John T. Molloy may have in 1978 urged women to dress and act for success by imitating their male business colleagues, psychologist Carol Gilligan, in her 1982 bestseller In a Different Voice, promoted women’s ways of thinking, based on emotion and consensus, as superior to the old patriarchal mode of logic and independence.

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