Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Iron Lady vs. The Crazy Ladies

Amid this year's Oscar buzz and heated Republican primaries, I managed to catch Meryl Streep's most recent Best Actress nominated picture, The Iron Lady. The film centers around Margaret Thatcher, Britain's first female Prime Minister, flashing between a present day, senile stricken Thatcher, and the fierce politician in her prime, The Iron Lady. Thatcher, a known and staunch conservative and fervent ally of Ronald Reagan, remains a controversial figure in present-day England. Knowing her political leanings and philosophies, one might make the quick comparison to some of the American Right's new female superstars: Sarah Palin, Christine O'Donnell, and Michele Bachman. However, that conclusion would prove unworthy of Thatcher's legacy. Now, to get things straight (as straight as I attempt to get things), I am not a politician, I did not study political science, and I am certainly not a Republican. Instead, I am a concerned citizen, a bright thinker, a feminist, and an avid movie watcher. Sitting in the theater on Sunday, I could not help but admire and somewhat sympathize with the Thatcher character, no doubt inspired by Streep's superb recreation of the British leader. Ms. Thatcher emerged from the working class to not only attend Oxford, one of the most prestigious universities in the world, but secure that country's top political office, holding it longer than anyone else in the twentieth century. This all in a country whose class system is even more powerful than that in the US (for now). For that alone, Ms. Thatcher represents a sort of feminism, placing her in the company of other Great Women like Hillary Clinton, Rigoberta MenchĂș Tum, and Mother Teresa. Thatcher sternly believed in her brand of fiscal conservatism, bravely combating the IRA and invigorating the military to win a successful campaign in the Falkland Islands. Thatcher's policies and persona were rooted in a deep belief in the philosophy of conservative spending, the ability of citizens to rise above their circumstances, the steadfastness of human will, and a true love of England. A friend and ally of Reagan, these two politicos were key players in the dissolution of the USSR and the bringing down of the Berlin Wall. So, why I am singing Ms. Thatcher's praises? Because I am disgusted with the anointing of the three aforementioned women to the Republican elite, or should I say their rise in the increasingly crazed Religious Right, the Tea Party (in gay culture, a T party is something very, very different). Let's just say Ms. Thatcher never had to release a commercial reminding voters that she was indeed, "not a witch" (a bitch, possibly). She certainly had more important matters on hand and heart than defending herself against name calling. While I may not agree with the policies and practices of Condoleezza Rice, I am not including her in this trio of atrocity, because at the end of the day she is a smart, educated, philosophical woman who also happens to be of color, a positive image for young girls everywhere. I cannot say the same for these other women. It is a shame to feminism and women around the country that these three Tea-steeped Bimbos have come to represent women in politics. The chasm that lies between them and someone like Hillary Clinton or Gabrielle Giffords is vast and should be noted. These are three of the most dangerous women in America, because they make women look stupid, pretty pieces propped up in heels to subvert the American public misinformation. They are a weak ploy by the Republican Right to swing female (and some gay male) voters away from the more liberal Left. While Bachman managed to earn a law degree, Palin and O'Donnell barely managed B.A.'s (Palin did much better in beauty pageants, place third in the Miss Alaska contest thanks to her signaure blowing of the flute). Sarah Palin is more akin to a Kardashian sister than a politician of any gravitas. Do they not both have a reality show and a family member who appeared on Dancing with the Stars? The fact that she almost became vice-president of our country is a sham and an alarming instance of the religious fanaticism that grapples so much of our country. I am not decrying religion or dismissing its importance in human life, but the degree to which the conservative Christian Right has taken to undermine the government is appalling and should be ceased immediately. Furthermore, I have no problem with being fiscally conservative and responsible. It is my belief that these values are the basis of the Republican party. However, religious fanaticism and the need to appeal to that demographic have so engulfed the Republican Party, there seems to be no turning back. How can a woman who knows so little about American history (Bachman) be considered for the presidency of the United States? By gunning up the support (literally NRA) of the Tea Party, a group which seeks to disinherit a large group of Americans (gays, immigrants, Jews, single women, etc), while seeking a political agenda that is self-serving to their mostly white, mostly Christian, many times affluent supporters. These women (especially Palin), become powerful by the creation of their own celebrity, their own brand. After Palin and McCain lost the presidential election in 2008, Palin was near broke. Rebounding like the Grizzly Mama she is, Palin has accrued a sizable amount of personal wealth, won from speaking engagements, television spots, a reality series, and two books, all of these to do with well, her, Palin Inc., rather than political ideology, service, or philosophy (Thacherism is an established branch of conservative thinking in England, Palinism is, well, a list of the outrageous and stupid things she has said - check the Internet). Palin's increasingly powerful (and less and less viably political) celebrity is based on her catch phrases, her accent, her haircut. Palin even let herself in on the joke by appearing along Tina Fey on SNL. Sarah Palin's number one interests are Sarah Palin, Inc, not America. I'd like to say Sarah Palin is Plain Dumb, but in fact I believe that behind those atrocious glasses are a shark's eyes. A shark just like Newt Gingrich, spinning questions about his multiple marriages into an attack on a recent debate moderator and a group he has termed the "media elite." By tapping into many Americans' anger, Gingrich scored the upset in South Carolina and may overtake Romney for the Republican nomination. America, it is time we wake up, look at the facts, and start voting based on philosophy, policy, and voting records, rather than surges of charisma that exploit our emotions and play to the "elite media." Let's just say I won't be voting Republican in this election, nor placing Going Rogue on the reading list for my Women's Lit class in twenty years.

What I'm Reading: Catching Fire, Wendy and the Lost Boys

What I'm Listening to: Amy Winehouse Lioness, Jesse J "Domino"

What I'm Watching: The Iron Lady, My Week with Marilyn, Underworld: Awakening, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Young Adult, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Descendants, Midnight in Paris, Breaking Bad

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