"Palinizing" Prejean, Prejeanizing Palin: Two Conservative Women Look Out For #1S

Carrie Prejean has complained of being "Palinized" — that is, discriminated against because she's a conservative woman — but she and Sarah Palin have more in common than just a victim complex.

I've had the unenviable task of reading both Prejean's Still Standing and Palin's Going Rogue in the last couple of days, and I gleaned the following striking similarities:

Both were self-described "jocks" turned beauty queens.

Palin: "I thought it was a horrendous idea, at first. I was a jock and quite square, not a pageant-type girl at all. I didn't wear makeup in high school and cut my hair short because I didn't like wasting time primping. I couldn't relate to the way I assumed most cheerleader types thought and lived, and figured it was those girls who were equipped for the pageant thing.
On the other hand, there was the scholarship money."

Prejean: "When I told my parents and my sister about it, they looked at me like I was crazy. They knew me as the girl who scraped her knees sliding into second base, who got a fat lip jumping up for a rebound in the midst of flying elbows at a basketball game. But a beauty contest?"

Both were accused of skipping public appearances, but say they had good reasons.

Palin: "My opponents and the press had a field day with that one: "Palin a No-Show at Chamber Of Commerce Luncheon Debate." [...] I couldn't make the media understand why I had chosen to skip another rubber-chicken campaign stop and instead attend this significant military exercise. I tried to explain: the Chamber of Commerce be here next week; our troops would not."

Prejean: "The reason I was not at the press conference is that I had not been invited to be at the press conference. The first I heard of it was when a reporter asked me to comment on it a few days in advance. I told him I had no idea what he was talking about. [...] This was the second time in about a week that he and Shanna had "scheduled" an appearance for me (the other was the pro-gay marriage public service ad) when in fact they had never invited me at all and knew I would be out of town — and then portrayed me as running out on them!"

Both say they have the same views on gay marriage as Barack Obama.

Palin: "I explained to Schmidt that I oppose homosexual marriage, but that didn't seem too controversial in the campaign since the Democrat candidate for president held the same position."

Prejean: "When I later googled "Obama," "marriage," and "man and a woman," I found that Barack Obama's answer was almost identical to my own, although he managed to work in opposition to Proposition 8."

Both say they resisted pressure to give "safe" answers.

Palin: "The bottom line was that these were political answers — and I couldn't force myself to play it safe and sound like a politician. On top of that, there were probably ten cards for a single topic with a different set on nonanswers on every one. So in the end I'm thinking, Okay, which nonanswer do you want me to give?

Prejean: "Roger wanted me to reinforce the first part of my answer, and buck the whole question back to the right of states to regulate marriage. He wanted me to punt."

Both feel persecuted by the liberal media.

Palin: "Reporters from across the nation camped out at the end of our driveway in Wasilla and on the ice in front of our home. [...] Every once in a while a friend or family member would think they could trust a reporter, and so they'd talk to them. And almost 100 percent of the time Todd and I would get a call later from a panicked loved one saying, "Geez! We can't win! That reporter took what I said all out of context." Or even worse, "I never said that!" We assured them we knew, it was okay, it was just the unproductive game some chose to play."

Prejean: "Somehow the liberal media can get away with these degrading, disgusting jokes about a conservative woman, while still touting themselves as open-minded and tolerant. What is Sean Hannity or some other conservative media figure (male or female) had said something like this? Especially if he said it about a liberal woman? But for some reason it was perfectly acceptable for these men to belittle me on live television. Laura Ingraham pointed out the one-sidedness of "tolerance" in her television debate with Gloria Feldt (a liberal feminist who said I — another woman! — needed a "heart transplant" instead of breast implants). Laura commented — quite rightly — that she would be taken off the air if she spoke of liberals the way these media figures were speaking about me."

This last illustrates the most fundamental similarity between the two women: they believe that they are special, and have been singled out for special scrutiny. As we mentioned before, the conservative media is every bit as prone to attack journalism as the much-maligned liberal media, and Hannity, Ann Coulters, and others have said plenty of nasty things about liberal women. Palin and Prejean have both experienced sexism — Perez Hilton's post-pageant comments about Prejean
were a particularly noxious example. But instead of making them more sensitive to the problems of other marginalized groups, like gays and non-conservative women, their difficulties have only served to heighten their exceptionalism.

Still Standing is actually a more enraging book than Going Rogue, in that it deals more closely with its author's upsetting views on social issues. Prejean writes,

If it isn't right for the public schools to teach a single faith perspective, how can it be right for them to teach an anti-faith perspective, to teach that homosexuality is a normal lifestyle, when to faithful Catholics and Evangelicals and others who support traditional morality, it isn't? This sort of double standard in our public life is dangerous, but it's what political correctness is doing to us: it is putting just not just our freedom of speech, but our freedom of conscience at risk.

She also says,

I think my whole ordeal reveals just how the culture of political correctness uses shaming, blackmail, and other forms of emotional abuse to force people and organizations to either stick to our beliefs and suffer the consequences, or throw away our beliefs just to be left alone.

What she doesn't acknowledge is that people with beliefs the exact opposite of hers have been facing this choice for decades. Neither Palin nor Prejean seem to understand that while they ask America to sympathize with their victimization, they're also asking us to support policies that victimize others. Prejean's views on gay marriage and Palin's beliefs about reproductive rights (and welfare, and healthcare reform) aim to restrict people's freedom to live the way they want. To espouse these views while complaining about handlers who try to rein them in and reporters who criticize them reveals a staggering egocentrism. This is just one more thing Palin and Prejean have in common, and perhaps the reason both of them are still appearing on television long after each has arguably lost her relevance: both of them are tireless promoters of themselves.

Still Standing: The Untold Story Of My Fight Against Gossip, Hate, And Political Attacks
Going Rogue: An American Life