Sunday, March 20, 2011


There is a wonderful website which “The Sage” highly recommends to everyone regardless of your age, your politics or your gender: The Boomer Broads . “The Boomer Broads”, Anne-Marie Aigner and Janet Prensky, two of the brightest, funniest and most articulate voices on the Internet today are partners in the Aigner-Prensky Marketing Group a Boston based marketing, public relations and, promotions firm with an impressive list of clients. Their respective bios are equally impressive and reflect the successes each has fought for over their long careers.

I’ve known Anne-Marie Aigner since high school days and have always been a fan of her wit and intellect. I like her- - -a lot. I’ve never met Janet Prensky but I hope to someday because I just know I’d like her every bit as much as I like Anne-Marie. So, I’m hoping what I’m about to write won’t turn Janet Prensky into “a friend I’ll never make” nor Anne-Marie Aigner into “a friend I once had”.

Every week these two wonderful folks produce a 10 to 15 minute video commentary on the hot topics of the day. These videos can be found at their site and on You Tube. I never miss watching their commentary because it is fast paced, generally dead on target, unusually insightful, often thought provoking and always entertaining. I am a huge fan of “The Boomer Broads”. But, in this week’s video “Celebrating Women’s History Month” I think Janet Prensky got it wrong when she went into a short monologue about Sarah Palin in which she referred to Palin as a “woman [who] has set back women” and one who has “set our gender back”. Then she added that “we” (presumably all women) “are in flux because of the tea party woman”.

OK, time out for disclaimers. The Sage, although a political conservative, is NOT a Palin supporter and would never back her for any sort of run for national office on any ticket. Sarah Palin simply brings nothing new in the way of actionable ideas to the national debate. There is staleness to her political rhetoric that leaves me cold. Whatever she’s saying is always something I’ve heard before. But simply because she brings nothing new to the national discourse and debate does not mean she hasn’t contributed to it. In fact, I believe she has contributed to the political architecture of this country like no other politician in my memory.

Sarah Palin has done the improbable in completely energizing an army of conservative, stay at home, keep your opinions to yourself, wives and moms who suddenly find their opinions do matter and their thoughts and values regarding family, equality, career and “choices” are not necessarily in line with the shriller voices of the more strident segments of feminism. These women- -Palinistas- - are organizing themselves into powerful voting blocs. They are running for office at the local and state levels and- - -they are getting elected. Just ask SC Governor Nikki Haley.

But Janet Prensky- -someone who strikes me as a committed feminist but not a shrill or strident one- - - isn’t alone in her disdain for her gender mate, Sarah Palin. My wife cannot stand her. Neither can my daughters, nor can most of my liberal/progressive female family, friends and acquaintances. And I think, after talking to them, I understand why.

Ever since Betty Friedan first published “The Feminine Mystique” in 1963, the book widely viewed as the manifesto for “second wave feminism” in the USA, there has been an expectation among women of a kind of uniformity and conformity within the “sisterhood”- - -what’s good for one woman is good for all women- - -especially when it comes to the clash with men and the battle against stereotypes. This demand for conformity has been an accepted and unchallenged concept within the vast ranks of feminists who have emerged over the last 50 years. Unchallenged, that is, until Palin and her ilk came along and suddenly proclaimed to women it’s OK to stay home and raise the kids if you want; it’s OK to work part time or not at all if you choose and, it’s OK to want to choose life if your conscience or your religious beliefs won’t let you choose the alternative. With a message like that it’s no wonder Palin is thought of as a traitor to the generally perceived goals of the feminist movement. But saying Palin is someone who has “set our gender back”? I don’t think so. That just may be the antithesis of what is actually happening.

In arguing that Palin has set women back, feminists have implied that somehow women have lost ground, have had opportunities taken away and equality truncated. They would have us think that since Palin emerged on the scene women have been denied tenure, passed over for promotions, fired, not hired and, overlooked in increasingly large numbers. But there doesn’t seem to be much real evidence of any such thing. In fact, I challenge anyone to point to just one woman, by name, in the public eye, who has been denied any opportunity as a direct result of something Sarah Palin has said or done. In reality just the opposite seems to have occurred. Women, especially conservative women, are getting elected to leadership positions in record numbers. Again, just ask Nikki Haley.

So perhaps there is a viable case to be made that Sarah Palin, rather than setting women back, has made a strong contribution to the advancement of all women not just a select and elite few. It might just be that she, more than someone like Maureen Dowd, is doing more to bring about intra-gender equality rather than focusing on inter-gender politics. Maybe she deserves an "atta-girl" or two from all women.

And for the record, Janet, I agree with you about Kate Gosselin. Forget about setting the gender back- - -she may have set the species back!!

One last thing: I’m planning a trip to Boston this summer to see family and renew a couple of old friendships. I hope to make a new one while I’m there.

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