About that Newsweek cover of sexy Sarah…

About that Newsweek cover of sexy Sarah…

So the blogosphere’s been buzzing about the Newsweek cover of Sarah Palin. You’ve all seen it already, but here it is anyways:

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That photo was taken from a shoot she did for Runner’s World magazine. Sarah Palin’s response was to denounce it as sexist. Many people — including some conservatives — said that she was overreacting. She did, after all, willingly pose for Runner’s World, and didn’t have a problem with the pictures then. Many people said that she’s had no problem being sexy before, that she liked the sexy picture used on the cover before too. So what right does she have to be upset now?

Here’s the thing: I don’t particularly see a picture of Sarah Palin posing for a spread in a magazine about health and fitness as her “flaunting” her sexuality. Because she’s a female politician, does that mean she’s not allowed to show off her legs now? For chrissakes, she’s wearing a long-sleeve shirt with no cleavage and running shoes. But — ZOMG! — she willingly allowed herself to be photographed in shorts, so she must be asking for it!! It really pisses me off to see even conservatives saying that a “serious politician” wouldn’t have posed for such a picture.

Give me a freaking break. I am sick to death of professional politicians. I want a real person representing me in Washington, DC. Real women wear sneakers and short shorts when they run. Neither men nor women wake up fully dressed in business attire, complete with a tie for men or hose and heels for women. Real people are multidimensional, and I don’t see a single problem with Sarah Palin wearing fitness attire for a freaking fitness magazine. Can politicians not be real people now? Have we really sunk that low? I don’t see why, once you become a politician, you are now required to appear in public only in business wear. I mean, what happens when Sarah Palin is actually running? Must she run in a three piece suit complete with heels and hose on the off chance that a photographer might take a picture of her? I like the fact that there is more to Sarah than just politics, and I don’t see a damn thing wrong with the pictures from her Runner’s World spread. I don’t see anything wrong with politicians being multi-faceted. It’s not a dichotomy. You can be both smart, and sexy; political and beautiful. I don’t understand the meme that politicians can’t willingly appear in fitness attire, that they can’t willingly be attractive, that they can’t willingly be sexy. I think that thought process might piss me off more than the actual Newsweek cover itself.

Now, I don’t think the Newsweek editors were trying to be sexist, necessarily. If Sarah Palin were a man, they’d run an equally demeaning cover. They were looking to make a statement, and it wasn’t, Oooh, Sarah Palin is sexy!. It was to demean her, to make her look unprofessional and unofficial, to reduce her to nothing more than a sexy pair of legs. The point of the cover was to diminish her in any way possible, and because she’s a woman, going after her looks was an obvious choice. They wanted an unflattering image, and while it might be a physically flattering picture of her, the Newsweek editors were hoping to leave a politically unflattering image for the cover, which is why they chose it. They don’t like her politics. You don’t see Newsweek covers of Barack and Michelle Obama or Hillary Clinton looking sexy, because they want a different image for them: strong, smart, capable, accomplished. Look at these examples:

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And don’t think that any of these people haven’t willingly posed for photos that aren’t like Palin’s Runner’s World photos. Remember the pictures Bill and Hillary staged after the Lewinsky scandal? They were desperate to look united, desperate to convince everyone that they were a husband and wife who would make it through the struggle, desperate to look romantic and still in love. So, we got these gag-worthy photos which would never be made the cover of Newsweek:

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Remember the tabloid frenzy when Obama was snapped at the beach? The tabloid magazines, along with much of the media, was drooling over his “bronzed pecs” or “sculpted abs” or some such nonsense. But of course, a serious publication like Newsweek would never show Obama as anything less than strong, wise, and divine.

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As for his fashion plate First Lady, Michelle Obama didn’t always used to be so glamorous. But again, Newsweek would never show Michelle Obama as anything less than beautiful, fashionable, and glamorous. A minute of Googling, and I was able to find this photo that would never be a Newsweek cover:

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There are plenty of reasons why Newsweek used the Runner’s World photo of Sarah Palin, and never one of the photos above. Was it sexism? I don’t think so. It’s just another typical attack on a conservative by a liberal publication, desperate to do anything they can to diminish their intelligence and influence.

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2 Comments
  • Jay says:

    Personally, I think Palin made a mistake by objecting to it. She should have said, “Yes, great picture of me, I love it!” That would have completely diffused that particular attack on her. Or if in some strange alternate reality Newsweek used that picture because they actually thought it was flattering, or if a reader saw it as flattering, then by saying she was happy with it she would avoid any charge that she was being thin-skinned or overreacting. Palin is usually pretty good at handling hostile media, so I was surprised at what I think was a mistake here.

    Like, I just saw Glen Beck doing a spot on a South Park cartoon about him, where he had a split screen with the cartoon mocking him on one side and him on the other side laughing along with it. It takes all the fun out of tryiing to hurt someone when they demonstrate that they don’t care, that they’ll just laugh it off.

  • Gotta agree with Jay. Except, of course, there is the matter of the captions; if you’re Sarah you can’t say “I love it” about those.

    Perhaps the right criticism to engage, would have been to propose alternatives for them: “She’s bad news for Barack Obama, and whoever still likes Him.” What’s the deal with her clothes? They’re selected for a specific purpose: To run. What are liberals afraid she’s going to do, and are desperately trying not to admit that they’re so afraid of her doing it? Run.

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