Novel

Bad Year for Women

2008 was supposed to be the “year of the woman.” But as Amanda Fortini writes in New York magazine, Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin “came to represent—and, at times, reinforce—two of the most pernicious stereotypes that are applied to women: the bitch and the ditz.” Hillary “inspired in her detractors an upwelling of sexist animus,” but the real damage was done by Palin. “By stepping into the spotlight unprepared,” Fortini writes, “Palin reinforced some of the most damaging and sexist ideas of all: that women are undisciplined in their thinking; that we are distracted by domestic concerns or frivolous pursuits like shopping; that we are not smart enough, or not serious enough, for the important jobs.” Politics’ newest queen, Michelle Obama, appears to be succumbing to the same forces: “As she prepares to move into the White House, she appears poised to recede into a fifties-era role of ‘mom-in-chief.’”