Did you hear about the massive fight that broke out between Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty? Or how about the one between Ron Paul and Herman Cain? No? Surely, then, you heard of the brawl between Huntsman and Gingrich? Chances are you haven't heard of fights amongst those candidates but I'm sure you've heard of the now infamous "Catfight of the Century" between Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann.
That "cat fight" as one CNN pundit termed it, was nothing more than a throwaway comment by a Bachmann staffer about Palin as a candidate. If any of the above mentioned male candidates had said that about another, it would have passed unnoticed by all but the most die hard politicos.
So what made this different? What made this different was something creeping around the end of this Presidential race that nobody wants to talk about: sexism.
That, like feminism and all that goes with it, is an ugly word for conservative women, but it's fair in this instance, especially since most of it is either being perpetrated by the mainstream media or ignored by the so-call women's groups on the Left.
The comment that caused the brouhaha came from Bachmann strategist Ed Rollins when he said Palin wasn't a serious candidate. Bachmann did not say Palin was ugly. She did not say Palin was fat. She did not accuse Palin of stealing her boyfriend. Aside from debating the merits of that statement and whether or not it was strategically necessarily, it's a fairly innocuous comment considering the endless insults that are hurled around the political arena. The manner in which a media storm ensued, pitting these two women as more WWF mud wrestling divas than legitimate presidential contenders is offensive.
The media is pitting a Bachmann and Palin matchup as if women competing against each other have only two choices: either rip each others hair out in a mud wrestling primary contest or sit by genteelly lest they be accused of not being ladylike. Both are horrific stereotypes of women designed to either keep us in our place or marginalize us. Either way, it's a disgrace . . . especially when it's coming from so-called enlightened media elites.
The question being debated in the media about how Palin and Bachmann should play this out, whether they should be tough on each other and risk looking like petty prom queens or go easy on each other out of respect to their shared womanhood is a ridiculous one. They share chromosomal traits, not a mother. These women have gone up against formidable opponents in the political arena and held their own. Both are well aware they are entering one of the fiercest fights of our lifetime and they ought to compete against each other as they would against any opponent. They ought to compete to win.
Jennifer Stefano is a co-chair of The Loyal Opposition of Pennsylvania, a grassroots conservative group.
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