I've written before about how this election feels like the year in high school that I got breasts and boys started paying attention to me. You'd think that this was the year that women finally proved that they can get elected to office, will show up to vote and care about politics, even though all those things have been true for a long, long time. Apparently, though, this is new information to the political and media establishments, if a spate of stories late this week are any indication.First up, Lois Romano calls it "The Year of The Woman" in the Washington Post, since no one thought that being a woman automatically disqualified Hillary Clinton or Sarah Palin from running for or holding office. That's apparently "news" or "a trend" in the parlance. It's also noteworthy that feminists don't like the misogyny hurled at Sarah Palin and that her position on reproductive choice and initial embrace of the label "feminist" — a label she has since rejected — has sparked a broad discussion about whether feminism as a movement can embrace women with illiberal views on choice. We're also supposed to be excited that Sarah Palin can look cute and hug John McCain and run for office. Well, while I am glad that being attractive doesn't disqualify her but I don't like that she makes it so much a part of her public image and then seems ill-grounded in the issues the candidates are supposed to be running on. Conservative activist and lawyer Cleta Mitchell has a answer to my concerns, though:

"Even if Sarah Palin is as 'unqualified' as the left would have us believe," she wrote recently in the Wall Street Journal, ". . . then former congresswoman Bella Abzug's lifelong goal has been achieved. She used to say that she was 'working for the day when a mediocre woman could get as far as a mediocre man.'

Dick Cheney is many things, but he's not mediocre. Dan Quayle, though... But, no, I'm sorry, I kind of want the woman who breaks the glass ceiling to be more than mediocre, so that no one can come up behind her and superglue it back together. The Economist notes, rightly, that women vote in larger numbers than men and that while they support Obama by a small margin, "A whopping 60% of women aged 50 and younger have a negative view of Mrs Palin, according to a poll released by the Pew Research Centre on October 21st." While conservatives, including McCain campaign manager Rick Davis, have said that's because we're jealous of her being pretty and happy, could it be because women are paying attention and aren't keen about the winking, the hair-tossing or her stance on many issues? The Economist thinks that might just be possible:

Mr McCain has left traditional women's issues to Mr Obama - in the final debate the Republican candidate derided women's "health" as an excuse for abortions. The campaign is instead pursuing women through broad arguments of character, leadership and policy — something similar to the appeal to "security moms”"that worked well for George Bush in 2004.

That is, in fact, what they're trying to do — get us to stop paying attention to the issues and think John McCain is just a bang-up guy. Whatevs, people, fool us once... Finally, JoNel Aleccia at MSNBC puts together a strong piece debunking myths about women voters that, since it needs to be said at all, makes my head want to meet my desk (if I had one...a desk, that is). The myths dispelled include the idea that the McCain campaign was trying to take advantage of the female vote with Palin's nomination, that we vote less often, that we vote only on "women's issues" — as though the economy and the health care system and the war have no effect on our lives — and that the gender gap is growing and it's our fault (in fact, men are the more fickle voters). Now if only we could get someone to debunk the idea causing all these stories to get approved that play into the stereotype that women don't normally care this much. Ideology Aside, This Has Been the Year of the Woman [Washington Post] Palin Changes Tune On Feminist Label [CNN] Hard To Get [The Economist] Rick Davis: Palin Drives 'Liberal Feminists' Crazy Because She's 'Attractive,' 'Competent,' and 'Happy.' [Think Progress] When XX Marks The Ballot: Six Gender Myths [MSNBC] Earlier: Does Anyone Else Feel Like Their Value As A Voter Has Just Been Discovered?