A few weeks past, news sources everywhere were aflutter with new information pertaining to the “Palin family brawl” that reportedly occurred at a party in September. Namely, leaked tapes of Bristol Palin’s teary description of an assault she endured that night at the hands of an unnamed man. In the recording, Bristol was heard giving a clearly upset, obscenity riddled explanation of the events that transpired to a police officer. She recounted how she was knocked to the ground, dragged by her feet and cursed at repeatedly by a male attacker.
Assumedly, these events should have been covered uniformly. I was under the impression that we had reached a point in the evolution of our society where we could agree upon the fact that physically attacking a woman because you find some problem with her is socially unacceptable. Apparently this was naive of me. Somehow, the news media managed to take a fairly black and white story and turn it into a convoluted, messy debate filled with so many shades of gray it could be adapted as another edition of E.L. James popular book series. The woman at the center of the debate was CNN anchor Carol Costello.
Costello, a self proclaimed feminist, played the tape on air during her segment on CNN. With a grin on her face, she told viewers that “this is quite possibly the best minute and a half of audio we have ever come across.” She then instructed them to “sit back and enjoy” before playing the tape. The anchor’s comments were not only nauseating, but also very telling of a troubling phenomena plaguing many liberal news sources as well as the viewers who ingest them.
Feminism has gotten a lot of attention recently. Celebrities and regular folk alike have been taken hold of by a fervent desire to reclaim the word that has somehow over the past decade, become twisted and misconstrued into something barely short of an insult. Famous faces like Lena Dunham of HBO’s ‘Girls’ fame, and Taylor Swift, country-turned-pop darling, have come forth with statements in the news about the true meaning of the word “feminist.” This, as well as various recent viral video campaigns promoting gender equality, such as the Always #Likeagirl Campaign, and of course the worldwide hysteria inducing, brilliant speech Emma Watson made at the United Nations in September have served to spur on what many have hailed “the fourth wave of feminism.”
As wonderful as this Fourth Wave has been, it has somehow managed to pick and choose to whom it applies. The treatment of the Bristol Palin tapes by CNN only served to confirm a sad shortcoming in the feminist fervor that has seemed to grip us as of late. Feminism and gender equality applies to everyone, unless you are a woman even remotely associated with the Republican Party.
Imagine, for a moment, the type of outrage those same tapes would have caused if the girl sobbing through her account of a terrifying attack was Chelsea Clinton. Needless to say, the headlines would have read very differently. This strange phenomena is not an isolated one. Compare the scrutiny that any Republican woman in power is faced with to their Democrat sisters.
During the 2008 election, Sarah Palin’s nomination for Vice President was met with accusations that the McCain campaign was only trying to appease women voters by taking on a female running mate, regardless of the fact that Palin was a seasoned politician in her own right. This kind of attack is common for any female seeking to find their name on a ballot for the Republican Party.
There is no question of course, that women of any political creed face a cumbersome amount of trials that their male counterparts simply do not even have to contemplate. Questions from reporters like, “Who are you wearing?” and “Do you find it hard to balance being a parent with being a successful such and such?” are somehow gender specific, and those are the more harmless examples of the sexist treatment women in power receive from the media. However, the nastiness of such scrutiny somehow manages to elevate whenever that woman wears an elephant pin on her lapel.
Personally, I don’t ascribe to any particular political party. I prefer to float along in the lovely gray area we call being an “Independent.” By no means am I a Palin fan, and I certainly did not vote McCain and Palin back in 2008. However, my opinion of a woman’s politics does not affect whether or not I believe she deserves to be treated as an equal to all of her peers, regardless of party or gender. What Carol Costello and all young feminists need to understand is that the Fourth Wave of feminism becomes cheapened when we pick and choose to whom it applies. Violence against women is abhorrent, no matter who the victim’s mother is. All women in power deserve the same respect and treatment that their brothers receive, regardless of what party they vote or run for.
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