Female politicians should be respected despite ideologies

On Nov. 6, I needed a pick-me-up after the ugly election fallout. I watched my favorite NBC comedy “30 Rock,” which, by the way, I have loved long before Tina Fey became the water cooler celebrity of the year by her uncanny (and hilarious) Sarah Palin impersonations.

One of the episode’s subplots really struck a chord with me. In that episode, two characters, a black man, played by Tracy Morgan, and a white woman, played by Jane Krakowski, are having a conflict that turns into an argument over which group has it harder – black men or white women.

The timing of it was not lost on me.

Knowing Fey’s penchant for timely satire, I wondered if this could be a comment on this year’s election.

Unlike some people, I don’t believe Fey ruined Sarah Palin’s, and by extension John McCain’s, chances at the White House; the Republican Party was doing a fine job on its own by its lack of unity and assumption that evangelical Christians would carry it through.

For the last week I’ve heard from many people, including Vice Chancellor Don Mills, about how sore the loss over Barack Obama’s victory is turning racist and ugly. There is no denying it, and there is no excusing it.

But what I was afraid of the night of the election, and what has unfortunately come true, is sore victory from Obama backers, mostly directed at Palin.

Just look at Fey’s message board on the Internet Movie Database; there are people thanking her for winning the election for Obama by exposing Palin for the “idiot” she really is.

I’ve seen Facebook status updates from friends wishing the (expletive) Palin good riddance. And I’ve seen more “Go back to Wasilla, Caribou Barbie” posting on message boards than I ever care to see.

We cheer as Obama will become the first black president. And we should, even if our main gripe is with his ideology; this is truly a turning point in our country and impressive when we consider the Civil Rights movement was at its peak no less than 40 years ago.

But the woman’s rights movement has made great strides, too. We should celebrate women like Palin, Hilary Clinton and Geraldine Ferraro for showing young girls that dreams of the White House can be within reach, not denigrate them with terms for female dogs and disproportionately figured dolls.

If you don’t agree ideologically with Palin, fine by me. Just respect the woman, and respect that her, as well as Clinton’s, presence in this year’s campaign helped make about 10,000 cracks in the glass ceiling.

In the episode of “30 Rock,” Krakowski and Fey’s characters complained how hard it is for women, including among their reasons that “we can’t be president.” I can’t help but think Fey, no matter what her political affiliations, knew what she was talking about as she said it.

Maybe both women and blacks still have a long way to go. But until we stop seeing politicians like Obama and Palin as just “the black man” and “the hockey mom,” maybe we all have a long way to go.

Valerie Hannon is a senior news-editorial journalism major from Allen.