Mocking Sarah Palin

By Jean Mavrelis - 07.09.2009

Mocking Sarah Palin isn’t a new sport. Tina Fey made a comedic art of it during the campaign.

This week Maureen Dowd mocked Palin in her column “Sarah’s Secret Diary”. I’ve noted that the act of mocking raises a cultural issue for some white women. I’ll explain what I mean. As I poured through the responses to Dowd’s article one caught my eye, because it speaks directly to the cultural concern I’m talking about.

It read, “Please move on or you will start having people feeling sorry for her. Too many already are.”

Based on my experience I would guess the respondent is a white woman. I say that because I have seen this attitude all too many times in my seminars.  If you want to get a type of white women I call “people pleasers” to side with you, you need to be a victim.  And if you want them to hate you, you just have to pick on someone, or “be mean.” 

For example, in one of my seminars years ago a white woman raised her hand and complained about a Black woman who hurt her feelings.  I explained the cultural differences that tend to play out between white women and black women and the way they handle conflict. Black women, like white women, do gossip, but when they do they start with, “And I’ll say this to her face.”  For African American women, backstabbing is a sign of weakness.  White women, on the other hand, are almost forced into backstabbing.  If you tell another white woman  that you are upset with her, she’ll thank you for coming to her, and then tell everyone else (behind your back) that you attacked her. I discuss these differences in depth in our book Corporate Tribalism. Read more »

Mocking Sarah Palin and Her Daughters

By Jean Mavrelis - 06.17.2009

I am a womanist– that means I’m FOR women – all women-all cultures-all ages.  I am proud and delighted to be a woman and yet I caught myself laughing at David Letterman’s jokes about Sarah Palin and her daughter last week. He said Palin had updated her “slutty flight attendant” look during her recent visit to New York, and experienced an awkward moment during the Yankee’s game when her daughter was “knocked-up” by Alex Rodriguez.

I asked myself, “Why did I laugh?  Why wasn’t I immediately outraged at the double slam of a promiscuous daughter and a ‘slutty-looking’ mom?”

The answer is, something made me laugh before I got to the part that objectified women.  I think it was this: a lot of people talked about how the treatment of the candidate would have been different if it had been a Black candidate whose daughter had a baby out of wedlock. I think my initial reaction was to the irony of a “sanctity of marriage” mom/political figure having a daughter who may have embarrassed her. Read more »