Earlier today, I heard WAMU's normally sensible Kojo Nnamdi (pictured here with a fan I gave birth to) laughing about David Letterman's Sarah Palin joke. Nnamdi suggested that the joke was fair commentary, given that Palin makes at least "part of her income'' from pushing abstinence. (She does? News to me.) He also said she should expect to be the butt of such jokes because her teen-age daughter had gotten pregnant and then decided not to marry. Only, that was last year's brouhaha; the issue here is whether it was OK to refer to any presidential hopeful (or any school board candidate, for that matter) as looking like a "slutty flight attendant,'' or to tell a joke about a professional athlete "knocking up'' a teen-ager. Nnamdi said he found Letterman's belated apology "strange'' – and guessed he had probably been forced to offer it.
Here's what I find strange: Why anyone would find it strange. Also why this incident is seen through such a partisan lens.
Are conservative women really more likely to be roughed up in the media, as Matt Lewis argued last week? I don't think so, because for every Carrie Prejean, the Miss USA runner-up mocked for her answer opposing gay marriage, there is a Teresa Heinz Kerry, mocked for speaking five languages. (Too ditzy and retro for prime time, or a show-off smarty pants? If it's got to be one or the other, you'd almost think the real issue was gender. Nah, couldn't be...)
For every outrage like the Playboy.com article hating on conservative women, there's an out-of-bounds slam on a liberal woman, like the RNC's charmless web commercial comparing Nancy Pelosi to Bond villainess Pussy Galore.
My point is not that one or the other side has it any better or worse, but on the contrary that women across the spectrum are treated in ways that ought to be unacceptable, period. Is it so hard to agree that we can always differ with a woman's politics, but ought to lay off gross remarks about her looks, sexuality and children, no matter who she is?
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