Sarah Palin & The Toxic Sisterhood

Illustration for article titled Sarah Palin & The Toxic Sisterhood

When we're treated to "the icy wrath of a hockey mom" - that would be Sarah Palin's capacity for holding grudges - it makes it a lot harder to argue against those "women are mean!" cliches.


Sometimes in a job where you run across a lot of media, depressing patterns appear, seemingly unrelated incidents and articles that, in some, begin to point to dispiriting conclusions about our society. Take today. Writes the Daily Mail's resident "working mum" Lorraine Candy, "it's been catfight corner at home and catfight columnists at work. While my daughters try to murder each other noisily about the house, the toxic sisterhood has been hissing and spitting at each other in print." Ah, the toxic sisterhood. That innate meanness that forces us to hate Megan Fox and makes the author's 5-year-old leave the following note for her sister in the cutlery drawer: 'Dear Sky, why are you so gredey?'"

I thought of this when, shortly thereafter I saw the NY Daily News's piece on hockey-moms' icy wrath. In this case, it was Palin's ability to hold grudges and slag off enemies in print. And specifically, campaign aide John Bitney, widely regarded as the architect of Palin's gubernatorial victory and, indeed, of the image that's served her well. The reason for Palin's hatred of Bitney - and his summary firing - aren't quite clear, although the authors mention that "Bitney appears to have been the victim of a particularly salient grudge after he admitted to having an affair with a Palin family friend - a woman he would later marry." He then lists a catty aside Palin makes about Bitney's slobby dressing.

We expect a level of inside-baseball score-settling in these kinds of books, of course. And Palin invites gendered criticism when she tries to play both sides of the "hockey-mom" coin. But this level of public pettiness - or at any rate, interpretation thereof - was intensely dispiriting. One wants to be able to refute the female stereotypes that led Candy to embark on an arbitrary week-long campaign of "kindness" (which here is interpreted as suspending all judgments, not speaking up against racism and instead utilizing techniques "that I learnt in the anger management course my staff sent me on last year.") And as many a frustrated critic has pointed out, Palin never makes this easier. And sometimes you just want to ask her, "why are you so gredey?" And tell Candy for her part that sometimes the toxic sisterhood is helped by a few well-placed judgments.

The Icy Wrath Of A Hockey Mom: How Sarah Palin Uses "Going Rogue" To Get Back At A Former Aide [NY Daily News]
Female Fury Towards Other Women Starts Early - But Is It That Difficult To Be Nice? [Daily Mail]



The "women are mean" stereotypes are ridiculous. Women aren't any meaner than men, we're just expected to be nicer. For instance, if my male coworker gossips or whines about someone, that's fine. If I do, I'm catty and bitchy, or, my favourite, PMSing.