HOW NOT TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY

Recently Sarah Palin appeared at an event dressed as your 15 year old daughter.

Seriously, those Superman t-shirts were popular at Hot Topic. In like 1997. Now, in an effort to give her the benefit of the doubt, clearly this is some sort of casual, let's-attract-some-young-people kind of event (note the guitars in the background). Nonetheless, it is difficult to comprehend how it is difficult for Palin (and her acolytes) to comprehend why no one takes her seriously.

In a perfect world people would not be judged on their appearance. The world's greatest surgeon or lawyer could walk around dressed in a burlap sack and no one would think less of them. Every pair of pants would have an elastic waistband. Unfortunately the world is not perfect, and thus we are forced to wear real pants and uncomfortable business attire. In a professional setting, walking in wearing pajama pants and that bitchin' mustard-stained Primus t-shirt (Pork Soda-era) isn't going to cut it. And even if we are wearing the latest fashions, other people will make judgments about us if we are wearing, shall we say, "age inappropriate" attire. Is it fair? No. Is it stupid? Yes. But it's one of the many parts of adulthood that we stare down, suck it up, and accept.

So maybe Sarah Palin is some kind of agent of change, a radical willing to lead the way toward a new, less shallow society by encouraging us to judge her on the content of her ideas rather than her appearance. A few problems emerge. First, just imagine what the reaction among Palin's conservative fan base would be if, for example, Elizabeth Warren appeared at a campaign event dressed this way instead of Palin. Oh, the pant-shitting, my friends…the pant-shitting seas would be angry that day. Second, everything about her political career has been an effort to divert attention from her ideas (or "ideas"). Third, she gets a tremendous amount of mileage out of her appearance ("Dan Quayle with tits" was my conclusion the first time I heard her speak) and martyrdom (Look at how mean the media are to Queen Sarah!). Finally, we do have a regrettable tendency to judge female public figures on their appearance and style, full stop. Would we be so critical, or even notice at all, if this was a male political figure? For once I'll argue that we would. If Mitt Romney or Barack Obama – or even a professional Appearer like Russ Feingold or Al Gore – dressed like a 15 year old I'm pretty sure it would raise a lot of eyebrows and be grist for the commentary mill. Imagine any of those men wearing this and escaping comment:

The reality is that Palin, to the extent that she ever was, is no longer relevant. She'll probably be appearing in a thong and halter top soon just to get a few more minutes of attention. "Shame" is not part of her vocabulary or worldview. Someone toss her a multicolored beach ball and she'll do a trained seal act if it means you'll look at her and/or give her a few more dollars. If she has to dress like the Lord Mayor of MILF Island, so be it. And she wonders why she's taken as seriously as Carrot Top, even in the milquetoast-preferred, content-optional world of the Beltway.

By the way, take one last glance at that picture and remember that John McCain wanted that to be next in line for the presidency. Country first.

84 thoughts on “HOW NOT TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY”

  • I'm no Sarah Palin fan, but there is a lot of thinly-veiled sexism inherent in criticizing a female public figure for how she dresses. See also, Hillary Clinton & pantsuits, Michelle Obama & sleeveless tops, etc.

  • Elusis, there's a difference between criticizing a woman's clothing for being unflattering or unfeminine, and criticizing a supposedly legitimate political figure's unprofessional appearance–which is the point Ed is making with his Al Gore/Justin Bieber comparison.

  • There's nothing sexist about good manners, and expecting good manners from others. I'm not talking about holding a door open for a woman–although if you're right ahead of her and she's carrying something heavy, then yes, do that. I'm not talking about all the little bullshit ways the pre-feminism culture told us we had to remind "ladies" that they were helpless little marzipan princesses who'd shatter if they were ever forced to do something as vulgar as drape their own napkins. I'm talking about genuine, common-sense good manners.

    What constitute such manners? Like porn, they're hard to define, but easy to recognize. In general, respect for the other person. Wearing a tie to a business meeting is artificial, of course, but it's an artifice that you engage in to indicate that you're taking this seriously enough to be dressed like you're getting paid handsomely. Picking up the check if it's the other person's birthday, and splitting the check fairly if it's not. For women, it's usually more complicated (when isn't it? God bless the double standard!) But in certain situations, it's exactly the same: If I am presenting myself as a leader, and therefore your superior, I will dress as a serious person because I want you to take me seriously, and I have to show that I am willing to make an effort for you to take me seriously because I do not have right to assume that you will do so just because I want you to. Politics is a service job, you my public/followers are the customer, and I have to wear the uniform, because I respect you. Simple as that.

    Sarah Palin believes that she deserves to be taken seriously, no matter what. Due respect, but that privilege belongs to absolutely no one, particularly not in America. Automatic respect for someone as a fellow human being?–she gets that–we all should get that. But automatic respect for someone who wants to lead the nation? No–that shit is *earned*. We do not have aristocracy–we have celebrities, yes, and what delightful clowns they are–but we do not have a class of people who are so inherently superior that everything they do is justified by who they are.

    So: No. Not acceptable, Gov. Palin. You have a job. Respect the job. You have customers in the form of a national audience. Respect them. Wear the uniform. Yes, it's probably archaic and more than a little silly, but even so, the public space is not your own private playground, and you will respect your fellow citizens when you enter into it as one who wants to be elevated above the common throng.

    This isn't about gender. Don't want to wear heels? Don't. Don't want to wear a skirt? Don't. Don't want to wear hose? Don't. Don't want to wear makeup or jewelry or elaborate hairdos? Don't, don't, and don't. I have no problem with a woman wearing only what a man asking for a similar degree of respect would wear. But that's the point. Same standard. Not for all women, just as not for all men–but for all *people* who want the job of leading the many. Show us the respect. Verbally, Decorously, and, yes, Sartorially. The last may be less important–perhaps even *much* less important–but it's still on the list, and if you ignore it, you're half-assing it. Don't.

  • *So* cranky and verbose and why-won't-he-shut-the-fuck-up this evening. Apologies for the tl;dr–I had an academic article accepted for publication today and I'm feeling my oats.

  • Elusis, there's nothing sexist about criticizing a politician for looking like she bought her outfit at Hot Topic. It's just undignified.

    I think Sherrod Brown is adorable, but if I saw him in a get-up like the Biebs is wearing, I'd think he'd taken leave of his senses.

    I'm the same age as Sarah Palin, and that outfit screams at me. It reeks of trying too hard. There are certain things you don't wear, even if you have the bod for them. At least not at a professional appearance.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    Jayzoos!
    I'd rather trust a rabid wolverine to be near the launch button than this puerile princess.

    Thanks Bill Kristol and John McCain!
    Because of you, we will never be rid of "The Whore of Babblin'-on!"

    Conservatives LOOOOOOVES them some mean and stupid – and she's the mother-grizzly-load as far as those are concerned.

    "Does this outfit make me look stupid?"
    "No, Sarah, actually that outfit's fine… (Whispers an aside – 'If you were a Twisted Sister groupie who just got out of seeing Christopher Reeve as Superman in 1978')."

    You've got to give her some credit though – who knew victimhood could be a 7 figure a year salary? Especially with a low double-digit IQ.

    Of course, if she looked like the spawn of Dick Cheney and Candy Crowley, you wouldn't have to have people in Hazmat suits hose down the male Conservatives.

  • By the way, take one last glance at that picture and remember that John McCain wanted that to be next in line for the presidency. Country first.

    Better than that. John McCain chose that to be next in line for the presidency, over Mitt Romney.

  • I am assuming that the picture above is taken from the "Steelman Surge BBQ", in which case I think that Sarah Palin deserves a twinge of sympathy. One clearly can't turn up to a barbecue in business dress, unless the barbecue part actually means some kind of witty pulled pork hors d'oeuvre, and everyone else who is going to be sharing the platform is also going to be wearing the same.

    There are no words on an invitation more heartsinking than 'Dress: casual', and the almost infinite gradations thereof. It's rude to show up your host(ess), and uncouth to be overdressed. However, as Palin is presumably doing Sarah Steelman a favour(?) in stumping for her, it seems unlikely that Steelman's office wouldn't be at hand to advise exactly what the candidate was planning to wear. This really leaves no rational explanation for any of that outfit, even if Steelman was dressing up as a bewedged Spiderman fangirl.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    Elle,
    Maybe it's me, but if see 'Dress: casual' I might think, "Ok, maybe I'll wear some tasteful khaki's and a golf shirt. Or maybe shorts, a t-shirt, and some sandals," and not, " Let me see if I can find what I wore back in the late 70's to 'DISCO SUCKS!!!' night at the local bowling alley."

  • JDryden, "If I am presenting myself as a leader, and therefore your superior, I will dress as a serious person because I want you to take me seriously, and I have to show that I am willing to make an effort for you to take me seriously ".

    Exactly. Michele Bachmann as a potential President gave me nightmares, but she understood how to dress herself. There are entire stores that make their money on bland, inoffensive clothes that are appropriate in casual gatherings and Casual Fridays in the office. Palin could have made her appearance in ironed chinos or khakis, a casual top or short-sleeved sweater, and sandals and have been appropriate to the event. Instead, she fulfilled the right-wing demand for women to be sleazy and trashy–and therefore easy to discount.

    P.S. She is not "Gov Palin". She quit halfway through her term several years ago go to be a fame-whore on Fox.

  • Also wanted to comment: I am not a fan of Bieber, but he is a teenager in the entertainment business–that is, he is there to entertain the tween girls, not to make national policy. His clothing is age- and career-appropriate.

  • @Cund Gulag

    Oh, I agree that her outfit is so unstylish that it stretches the meaning of the word. My point on top of that is that there are a thousand different things that women can wear under the rubric of 'casual', and this presents its own challenge.

    I'm sure, for example, that turning up to a gathering of Tea Party-ish 'just all-American folks' in an outfit that could be worn to an East Hampton clam bake would be its own kind of sartorial faux pas.

  • The t-shirt would be okay in some instances. The capris, too. But those shoes only belong on a ditzy woman looking to meet the cast of Jersey Shore.

    I am all for casual, and think the business world really needs to pull the enormous stick from its ass. But that outfit is a mess for a woman of any age or profession.

  • Couldn't she have found a nice pair of American athletic shoes? The ones she had on seem mismatched with the slacks and tee.

  • But those shoes only belong on a ditzy woman looking to meet the cast of Jersey Shore.

    I think your point might be on the wrong side of the line separating "this person's sartorial behaviour seems strangely unprofessional" and "you can discern a woman's intelligence based on her purchase of specific types of shoes."

  • I still shudder to think that this woman was nearly one 70+ year old heartbeat from the Presidency.

    Be afraid. Be very afraid.

  • Elle, there's a bit more available evidence about the subject's intelligence than that provided by those shoes. And those shoes suggest not a lack of intelligence per se, just a lack of taste in prospective mates. I see dumb. Other men see such shoes as a sign of outward subservience. Either way: unattractive to me. But for her target audience of drooling starbursty fanboys? She's smart to wear those shoes.

  • This is SP's way of informing the world that she no longer wants to be in politics, but instead wishes to be a talking head on Fox for the rest of her life.

    Sadly, she will soon learn that Fox has an off-camera dress code; that conservative hockey moms don't identify with or admire women who dress like truck stop hookers; and that her male fans prefer her as a wicked femme top Sunday School teacher. She could have gotten away with any balloon-gram delivery girl costume better than this earnest, inane effort.

    Well, she shouldn't be judged by her looks, no matter how she has invited it, no matter that she joined the looks-judging team and worked the room dry. That we may know her by her words, here is a quote from Sarah herself:

    "But when I hear a statement like that coming from a women candidate with any kind of perceived whine about that excess criticism or a sharper microscope put on her, I think, man, that doesn’t do us any good. Women in politics, women in general wanting to progress this country, I don’t think it bodes well for her, a statement like that. Because, again, fair or not fair it is there. I think it’s reality and it’s a given, people just accept that she’s going to be under a sharper microscope. So be it. Work harder, prove to yourself to an even greater degree that you’re capable, that you’re going to be the best candidate.”

    (p.s.: congrats to J. Dryden, amen to Major Kong, and to heydave: don't creep me out with clown-whores ever again, please, but the answer is both.)

  • @Jon

    My point isn't that Sarah Palin is smart; it's that you can tell she isn't by the things she says and not by the shoes she wears.

    I guess one of the ways we'll know we've reached the holy land of equality is when male politicians are called 'rent boys' for wearing slightly unsuitable outfits to barbecues.

  • I don't know, man – she might be ahead of the curb.

    Everyone's so starved for attention, it seems only a matter of time before politics is fully overtaken by Reality TV and the culture of narcissistic self-humiliation.

    Wait…

  • Admiral_Komack says:

    I've seen prettier women.
    I've conversed with intelligent women.
    I enjoy the company of beautiful, intelligent women.
    Sarah Palin is neither.

  • I must be one of the few (if nevertheless proud) Americans who can see absolutely nothing of value in one's sartorial choices being taken (especially out of context) as indicative of one's value to the national discussion. It is a horrible indictment of our collective intelligence that we dress in mid-summer as though it is mid-winter, with multiple layers of clothing that at best serve as indicators of our willingness to spend both time and money on something that is undone in seconds (as when we open our mouths to expel sounds or to insert food). It's foolish, and is just another way in which we are our own undoing.

    I don't care what she's wearing (especially, as noted above, given that she's at a barbecue), though I do wonder at women who torture themselves with the high heels for "fashion". If you came to my barbecue wearing a shirt you expected to never wear again because you couldn't stop the deliciousness from dribbling down your chin as you chomped on whatever hunk of flesh I made for you, I would applaud your foresight.

    On the other hand, I care deeply about whom we as a society take seriously once we've had the opportunity to receive their unvarnished opinion about the matters of the day. And the fact that Sarah Palin remains a fixture of the public consciousness speaks *volumes* about us, and the people who cheer her. Unfortunately, what it speaks quite clearly is that we are proper fucked.

  • Ironic, is it not, that a woman who despises and resents the old male power chimps nonetheless dresses to manipulate them, because she's learned that works every time.

    Remember the incident with the push-up bra at the Wasilla city council meeting?

    So, this is a shout-out to the old goon teabaggers who think she's the perfect wife. "Save me from those rich snooty old-style Republicans – we'll show 'em, eh, boys?"

    And don't imagine for one millisecond that teabagger women don't see Palin as a role model.

  • J.Dryden wins the comment section today.

    And Anonymouse, Ed wasn't criticizing Justin Bieber's outfit, he was saying that if any of our male politicians/Faux News whores showed up at a barbecue dressed like Mr. Bieber, they'd be criticized. Hell, Obama got comments for wearing "mom" jeans.

  • @mothra, yes, I understood Ed's point. Where I differed was that Bieber is perfectly dressed for his age and occupation. Palin is trashily dressed in that picture even if her goal was to be a teenage singer.

    @Elle: last summer I wore khaki cargo pants and an elbow-length v-necked t-shirt to an East Hamptons clam-bake…are you insinuating that is "elitist" dress? Or that the country is so divided that the Teabaggers would cringe at the sight of a 50-year-old former political aspirant *not* showing up at a public fundraising event looking like a $5 crack whore? I'm not sure I get your point. I'm a woman, I understand the frustration with "casual" dress…but Palin was not hanging around in her own backyard; she flew across the country to appear at a fundraiser. Anyone with sense knows you don't make a public fundraiser appearance in front of tv cameras looking like you mugged a truck-stop worker along the way.

  • Elusis: Although criticism of a woman's outfit CAN be sexist, it isn't sexist in and of itself to criticize a woman's choice of clothes. What we choose to wear is often designed to convey a certain impression — and that goes double for political figures. If the impression she is trying to convey with her outfit is phony or stupid, I think it's perfectly fine to criticize it.

  • There's layers of stuff here. There's the "dresses inappropriately" layer, which is mainly a judgement by the women in media on most Democratic politicians; there's the "slutty Mom" layer, which is mainly a judgement by younger commentators on aging women who are desperately signalling "Look at me! I'm [still] sexy! You [still] want me!"; there's the "stupid politician" layer, which is a judgement by most of us on the kinds of willfully ignorant idiots who seem to gravitate to the GOP; and then there's the "why can't you just leave for God's sake!" layer which is the judgement by any and all of us on anybody who's still trying to hang on to the last shreds of public attention long after the fifteen minutes are up. There's probably a few more layers in there as well, but who cares. Palin had her Evita moment, and that's gone. Why give her any more attention?

  • Amused,
    Does the line "lord mayor of MILF Island" suggest that maybe the image projected on Palin by the op is, I don't know, sexist? I mean Palin is dumb, ill-informed, dangerous, and holds demented positions, which would seem to be enough ammunition to argue that she ought not be taken seriously without to some worn out sexist crap aobut MILF Island. What next? Attacks on the Obama's mom jeans? The post is wrong-headed.

  • In a just world she'd be working some nondescript job in some nondescript office park in a nondescript suburb of some medium-sized city in one of the square states – never having ventured anywhere near politics.

    Sigh.

  • @Anonymouse

    That clothes function as signifiers of many things is not, I'm sure, a surprise to any of us. That's what we're discussing, after all. Minute differences in colour, cut, stitching, wear, and accessories signify a range of things, including class, national identify, and, yes, broad political affiliations. We are capable of making very fine determinations based on what people wear, and what cosmetics they choose.

    I have no idea what kind of clothes would be de rigueur at a Tea Party barbecue, and would have to ask what to wear to one. You imagine your clam bake outfit to be neutral and straightforward, but that's similar to people believing themselves to have no accent. In many European cities your outfit would be likely to be read as 'gauche American'. I think it's entirely possible, based on the furious rhetoric about latte-drinking and other signifiers of 'the elites', that your simple khakis and shirt might be read by some Tea Party-ers as 'East coast snootbag'. I am not, of course, saying that you are either gauche or a snootbag, but I can't discount the possibility that Ms Palin knows her audience better than I do.

    I'm not sure I understand this preoccupation with Palin looking like a 'whore', which seems like a pretty ugly and sexist insult for wearing a questionable outfit. I think she looks mumsily unfashionable, but cannot discount the possibility that America's sex-workers have embraced this as an aesthetic. Most prostituted women wear easier access trousers, though, because it's time-consuming to take them off completely for each trick, but dangerous to pull them halfway down because then you can't run.

  • I assume the headline HOW NOT TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY is Ed talking about himself writing a very long essay making excuses for a very cheap shot. I should note I hate everything Palin stands for and think she's a vapid person, but this is bull.

    A simple google search turns up hundreds of photos of politicians wearing jeans, some with t-shirts, some even with baseball hats. It's normal and often expected and vastly dishonest to attck Palin for this.

    Y'all are also wallowing in a double standard as I'm sure you've read about some right wing attack on unserious clothing and thought "oh please." One expects more from an alleged professor. This is as bad as that creepy sexist rant against your student.

    Also how is "Mayor of MILF island" not Rush-level sexism? She's wearing jeans, heels and a t-shirt and OMG you can see her breasts. When Gabrielle Giffords was a rising star, she faced similar attacks all the time. Were those okay?

    Is it the Superman logo on the T-shirt which makes her unserious? I guess she should be more like our President, who talks about how much he likes Anne Hathaway in The Dark Knight Rises and poses in front of Superman statues. The point being, no politician has to project a sober adult image at all times and that's no reason to take anyone seriously. Example one: Mitt Romney.

    This is shallow, hypocrital and sexist and really rich coming froma crowd who correctly criticizes the right for doing the same

  • JDryden, "If I am presenting myself as a leader, and therefore your superior, I will dress as a serious person because I want you to take me seriously, and I have to show that I am willing to make an effort for you to take me seriously ".

    The picture has nothing to do with your comment. An invited speaker at a Bar-B-Q who is not running for president can dress like everyone else at the Bar-B-Q. What she's wearing isn't even that youthful or tasteless, especially for a Bar-B-Q this summer. Sandra Bullock is Palin's age. If you saw her at a picnic wearing a Superman t-shirt would you be all OMG fashion fail so unserious or "casual event, t-shirt, normal"?

    What is relevent to your comment: if you want your politics to be taken seriously, you've got to have integrity and own what you are doing. You don't get to bloviate about seriousness in support of a blog post taking potshots at a woman's clothes and calling her a MILF. You don't get to voice rigid judgemental blather about what clothing counts as "resoectful" which reads like it was written in 1912 and not be labeled reactionary. And you certainly can't pontificate on what serious people do while suporting blog post which is as catty and shallow as TMZ.

  • First of all, "y'all" makes you sound like a drooling idiot. Stop saying it if you want people to listen to you without laughing.

    Second of all, if that picture is the functional equivalent of jeans and a baseball cap to you, we have nothing to talk about here. Your mind distorts things to fit your narrative and let you fulfill your hobby of trolling the internet to make pitifully trite OMG YOU HATE WOMEN AND I TOOK SOCIOLOGY 101 SO LET ME EXPLAIN HOW comments.

  • Sandra Bullock is Palin's age. If you saw her at a picnic wearing a Superman t-shirt would you be all OMG fashion fail so unserious or "casual event, t-shirt, normal"?

    The first thing, with almost blinding intensity. Fashion may be a capricious mistress, but she throws her glass of champagne in the face of adults who wear Superman t-shirts.

  • CollegeFreshmen says:

    I was always told to dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Sarah Palin was clearly never given this piece of advice.

  • @Elle: You win with this comment.
    Fashion may be a capricious mistress, but she throws her glass of champagne in the face of adults who wear Superman t-shirts.

    Yes. That. THE END.

  • Sarah wore the goddam shirt because the candidate she was pimping for, Sarah Steelman, had shirts printed up with the Superman logo on it. Fortunately, Steelman ran last in the runoff.

  • You don't really get the whole concept of smack talk – it only works if you are honest about it. This is why The Rude Pundit can be vile and superior.

    If Palin inspires one to take the low road with her abuse of gender politics, admit it. Don't bother with cliches about adulthood when the point is she's a trashy whore. Admit she brings out the inner Daniel Tosh and run with it.

    The right is annoying when they try to cloak their own bile as the high road. Don't do the same.

    Also: It's weird you invoke Justin Beiber, a poor example as he dresses stealth conservative – tuck in shirt, put cuffs over shoes and remove the bowtie and he looks like Mitt. Leave on the bowtie and he looks like younger Tucker Carlson.

    It's Sociology 101, but basic consistency. If an attack on women in casual wear by the right is "pants shitting" the same thing isn't a integrity in one's own Serious Man Slacks. Invoking "How to be taken seriously" and standards of serious adulthood while calling someone a Mother I'd Like to Fuck who'd do anything for money is cognitive dissonance.

  • I think it's important to repeat what another commenter points out:

    PALIN WAS WEARING THE CANDIDATE'S T-SHIRT.

    A person at a political rally puts on the thing being sold/handed out at the rally. That's not dressing inappropriately. You can hate on her shoes, but not actually dressing like a 15 year old.

    We've all done this: mocking something while missing the context. The problem is when one devotes an entire essay without knowing the context.

    It's something that many Serious Pundits and Fox News does all the time. And when they do we criticize them for missing the point.

  • A person at a political rally puts on the thing being sold/handed out at the rally.

    This is not true. Politicians, or anyone else with any profile who has any savvy whatsoever, rarely do what rally or event organisers want in terms of wearing ugly things, or doing stupid stunts. They usually bring people with them whose sole job is to run interference on the stupid clothing and stupid stunt front.

    I think your broader criticisms are somewhat unfair. There are two possibilities here:

    1) Sarah Palin does not know how to dress herself for the professional barbecue-attending occasion (and/or in a way that will play outside the room).
    2) Sarah Palin is pandering to a crowd who agrees that the way to dress yourself for the professional barbecue-attending occasion is as above (and/or doesn't care how it plays outside the room).

    It's a given that this kind of discussion happens less about men, who have a far broader set of dress standards to adhere to, and we're all being somewhat rudely passremarkable in a 'imagine a VP who is so socially inept as to not wear the right thing' kind of way. I do read Ed, though, as saying that Palin was electing to dress herself in a manner that others might identify as MILF-ish. One could discuss all day the inherent sexism in the label itself, but it's not a construct of Ed's making.

  • ohplease, forget the garish t-shirt. It's the shoes. Palin thinks they look hot. They look foolish.

    The big red button on the belt is not exactly swank, either.

    The whole getup is merely more of Palin's "Aren't I just the sexiest little governor, ever?" routine. She does it on purpose.

    But alas, fail! Not professional enough either way, whether talking about politics or sex workers.

  • Clashy outfit noted. Also: yes, since you asked, it is entirely fair to judge her on the way she CHOOSES to dress. Goes to motivation.

  • Sometimes I think I'm too tough on Sarah.

    With a lot of hard work and more than a little luck she might make a reasonably passable night manager at a Wendy's somewhere.

    Not day manager, mind you. She's not ready for the big-time just yet.

  • I think I need to start keeping track of how many G&T comments threads devolve into a "feminist vs. everyone else" death match.

  • I think that there's probably a very reasonable explanation for the outfit; I imagine that Ms Governess was at the hotel, passing the afternoon with Todd and an assortment of bullwhips, lost track of time, and showed up at the campaign rally still wearing her studded platform dominatrix shoes.

    What girl hasn't forgotten to change out of her whipping sandals before rushing out the door?

  • @ Scott: You need to put "feminist" in quotations, or perhaps italics, or all caps. Plenty of us in the "everyone else" category consider ourselves feminists, insofar as the term means "those who believe–and strive to live in accordance with the belief–that women are the moral and intellectual equals of men, and a society that provides them equal opportunity for education, employment, self-identification, and a self-chosen pursuit of happiness is not only a more just society, but one that profits culturally, temperamentally, economically, and even, if one is so inclined, spiritually." If that's what feminism is (and–let me check my copies of Wollstonecraft and Woolf–yep, I'm not alone here), then I'm a feminist, and I *really* suspect others here of being so–though I won't obligate any of them by naming names.

    I'm not sure how to articulate the opposite sides here today, but an unmediated "feminist v. non-feminist", it ain't.

    N.B.: Also, you were just being funny, and I laughed, so, you know, I can also just let it be along those lines.

  • What bugs me most about Palin, well besides that grinding-wheel-on-metal voice of hers, is the double standard.

    Palin gets to come out and attack any Democrat she wants, as viciously as she wants and she's the "Pit Bull".

    But hit back and suddenly you're the mean bully picking on the poor little hockey-mom from Wasilla.

  • So it's Sarah's shoes that make her stupid/whorish/laughable and not what she has said in the past?

    I have seen very intelligent/angelic/commanding women wearing worse shoes that that. Should I go and re-evaluate them all because of all the "wisdom" shared here or is this just a really stupid/sexist/pointless thread?

  • I wore a polo shirt, today, with a reflective "safety vest".
    'cause chicks dig reflective vests.
    I like chicks.

    —-

    Sarah Palin is too busy prostituting her self to realize that she's a whore
    'cause the clothes make the woman
    Especially if they're naked

    —-

  • To be fair: if Dennis Kucinich showed up for a casual fundraiser in a "Free Mumia" t-shirt and a pair of flip-flops, he would be inappropriately dressed for the occasion. If he showed up in skintight jeans and platform pumps, he'd look like a rentboy. If he combined the two outfits, he'd look like a whore who didn't know how to dress for a barbecue.

  • If he showed up in skintight jeans and platform pumps, he'd look like a rentboy.

    Well, quite. An unlikely image, I'm sure we can all agree. The shibboleth for looking like a 'whore' appears to be donning a pair of frumpy, fashion-backward wedges that appear to be ineptly riffing on the S/S 2012 gladiator sandal trope.

  • I'm not sure how to articulate the opposite sides here today, but an unmediated "feminist v. non-feminist", it ain't.

    Indeed. I don't even think there were two 'sides', so much as a discussion about a whole range of things. Which is why I like G&T.

  • While there is a difference between clothing that is tasteless and too casual (such as shorts at a funeral) and clothing that is tasteless and too sexual (clubwear worn as daywear), there can be a great deal of overlap. If Palin had worn surfer jams and hightops, she'd simply have been inappropriately dressed. Because she is wearing garments of questionable taste that have a sexual element, she fails in that canon as well.

    And remember: Palin has won in her category (Sunday Schoolmarm femme/top) every year she has played. She is not a non-player in the game that makes Tim Gunn shake his head and Nina Garcia purse her lips.

  • Because she is wearing garments of questionable taste that have a sexual element, she fails in that canon as well.

    I think there are several elements of cultural confusion going on here.

    To my eyes, this outfit is the anti-sex. It says 'I've just come back from vacation, and they lost our luggage that arrives later today, and I broke the laces on the tennis shoes that go with these trousers that I bought four years ago in the Gap, and had to wear these things that I must have been drunk while buying online from Cheap Shoes R Us and found at the back of the closet, and please don't judge me other mothers on the school run.' I wouldn't want to say that it would impossible to get laid in this outfit in my neck of the woods, but it would be staggeringly unlikely. Clearly, it signals different things to American eyes, and I do not have the context to evaluate it in a way that's congruent with the rest of you.

    Related to that point, I assumed Ed was joking or being hyperbolic when he said that young people would wear this type of thing, and that this was a Whitney-dressed-as-Britney scenario. Apparently, this ensemble and a pair of Uggs would place you bang on trend on many American campuses. As much as the fashion industry is laden with the problematics, I think this makes an excellent case for the distribution of copies of Vogue magazine to freshers.

    I think that the offensiveness of the terms 'whore' and 'cunt' may be inverted in a where I live/US context. I have been a bit slackjawed at the way the term 'whore' has been thrown around in this comment thread, but I have come to the conclusion that it must have a different weight, if not a different meaning, in the US. I could call someone (not in the room) a cunt in a roomful of feminists here and get nothing more than a couple of raised eyebrows at the slightly salty language. If I called someone a whore I would stop the room dead.

  • @Major Kong

    You are currently ahead in this week's 'top use of the word 'cunt' in a sentence' competition.

  • Elle, you forget that Palin is a multi-millionaire and is most certainly NOT the hapless just-back-from-vacation ingenue stumbling awkwardly into her first public appearance. Those stupid hooves on her feet are ones she's proudly worn to other fundraisers she's been paid to attend. The too-tight t-shirt that displays the recently-purchased chest-enhancements was not the result of a frantic, last-minute, "Oh, my gosh, my nice shirt got ruined in the hotel laundry." Ladiesbane is spot on in her assessment that Palin knows quite well what she's doing and that tastelessness goes over well with her base.

  • @Elle, do you really think "come fuck me" hooker heels and a too-tight t-shirt stretched over either blow-up breasts or recent implants are "minute differences in colour, cut, stitching, wear, and accessories signify a range of things, including class, national identify, and, yes, broad political affiliations."

    It's not as if she wore 2-inch heels instead of 1-inch heels; she is dressed inappropriately for anything but a family backyard picnic, period. I'm surprised this seems so confusing for you.

  • @Anonymouse

    I don't think Palin actually hasn't done her laundry, I'm just saying that I think that her outfit reads differently to me than it does to you because style is different where I live than where you do.

    You (the Americans commenting in this thread, I think) are reading it as some kind of licentious overture to her audience. If I had to describe her outfit in a single word I would pick 'frumpy', and those shoes strike me as actually repelling sexual thoughts in all but those with a very specific fetish. This seems like one of those tomahto/tomayto moments.

    My summation upthread was that she either doesn't know how to dress very well, or that she's pandering. It seems that we all agree.

  • Elle, Okay, I see where you're coming from. What you might not be aware of, however, is that back in 2008, the Palin family grifted tens of thousands of dollars from the GOP in order to buy them presentable clothes. in addition, Palin had the services of professional stylists and hairdressers. She also has access to these same professional folks for her gigs on Fox. In other words, she's certainly aware of how to dress professionally, and being a multi-millionaire can certainly pay a professional shopper or stylist if she's unsure what to wear. Her clothing choices are deliberate and she is no victim.

  • Judging women on appearance first and content second.

    Typical male gaze. Nothing new to see in this post.

    Yeah, I understand that any politician would come under such scrutiny, but if a man was poorly dressed, we'd just say "lol that's tacky", and move on without attributing that to his credibility as a person. Only exception would be Obama in a hoodie or something, but I digress, as that would be more about race than gender.

  • mel in oregon says:

    palin just likes to always show off, she's typical of the type of person that accomplishes nothing, so gets 40 tatoos or green hair or multiple piercings. it's a way of attracting attention. she's somewhat like the elderly person who goes & gets a tat or if male an earring because their grandchild told them it would be cool & stylish. nope, it makes you look like an asshole, which is what palin has always been.

  • That was Romney in the Mom jeans (actually "Dad jeans" are worse; look around Home Depot), not Obama. When the fuss was made, I noted that his supposed unusual underwear made a proper jeans fit impossible and that he ought to stick with khakis for casual wear.

    Around here, a few years ago, the GOP ran Joe Paterno's son for Congress in a +2 R district with a Blue Dog rep. He was roundly denounced by just about everybody for wearing sandals with a suit. Personally, I didn't care. Maybe he's got podiatric problems. I don't much care what anyone wears or looks like, just what they say and how they treat people.

    Which is why I wish you all would lay off Palin's visuals. If she wants to dress like her idea of a teen, fine with me. Judge her by what she says and does.

  • Late to the party again, but:

    It's really the shoes. Black leather platform wedge bondage sandals are totally OK by me as long as you really, REALLY can walk in them (this takes practice) but a picnic is not the place for them. Wearing shoes this inappropriate to the event makes you look both tasteless and a little stupid. Wearing them when you are a public figure who will be noticed and photographed makes you look like a tasteless, stupid, attention whore who knows sex sells….oh, wait. I guess that means she's entirely appropriately dressed. Well done, Sarah!

  • JoyfulA, Palin's visuals are just another sign that she's completely unfit for any sort of serious endeavor. She lacks common sense or any sense of appropriate behavior. Her visuals are just an outward signal to others, much like pus-filled, red blisters is an outward sign of chicken pox.

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