Feminine Politics and Palin

In the past two weeks, Sarah Palin has changed the scene of the presidential elections. As only the second woman to run for vice president of the United States that is a remarkable achievement. Yet, there is one thing she has not changed: The masculinity of American politics. To the contrary, with her tough talk attacks she’s adding something quite familiar to the debate.

First of all: There is no doubt that there is a need for more women in politics in the United States–and, for that matter, in the world. Our world is still very much ruled by men and that’s neither right nor a good thing. But, as far as I can see, the main reason why we would like to see more women in politics would be because they would present a different, more feminine, perspective.

Today’s complex world with many contradicting and opposing objectives favors feminine leadership. As heads of the household women traditionally have been better than men at bringing together conflicting elements. Women are naturally inclined to find the solution that works best for everyone. They want to avoid the macho response that isolates a party or an interest. Women tend to involve more people in the decision-making process and they are natural negotiators. They will focus more attention on matters involving personal safety in their immediate vicinity–family, education, child care, health–and they are not so obsessed by the far less clearly defined concept of international safety.

So, yes, our world would be a better place with more feminine leadership. But the interesting thing is that feminine leadership doesn’t have to come from women. The Chinese have that wonderful concept of the importance of the balance between yin and yang. While women are more yin and men more yang, in both genders there is an ongoing dance between the feminine and the masculine.

And, from what she is showing the world so far, Sarah Palin, a lifelong hunter who goes ice fishing, is not necessarily a woman that will bring a lot of feminine leadership. She reminds me more of the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, another social conservative. Thatcher was widely seen as the “best man in the cabinet.” She tightened welfare laws and did away with a school program that provided children with free milk. And she was not a great supporter of the cause of women. As it has been said: “The only women for whom Margaret Thatcher paved the way were the Spice Girls.”

To the defense of Thatcher, Sarah Palin and many other women, it has to be said that it’s not easy as a woman to show your feminine side. A woman politician who appears feminine is soon regarded as a “little mother.” She is not regarded as being decisive. In today’s masculine world a woman leader must be extra tough and strong. We saw that Hillary Clinton in her campaign always stressed her readiness to be the “commander in chief,” not exactly a feminine thing. Yet, one of the best moments of her campaign was when she showed her vulnerability in response to a caring question of another woman.

One can easily argue that her husband Bill was more of a feminine leader. Bill Clinton had a talent for bringing people together. He found the balance between showing his feelings and showing power. Former Swedish Prime Minister Olaf Palme and former German Chancellor Willy Brandt were also good examples of feminine leaders. So were Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi. And, interestingly enough, Barack Obama. Obama presents himself as a coalition builder, as someone who wants to listen first before he acts tough. Obama is more likely to bring more much needed feminine powers to our world than Sarah Palin.

What we really need is a world where there is not such a strange disconnect between homes and offices. So often fathers, who care for their children and their friends, as business leaders take decisions that do not reflect the same care for people and that they would never take at home. And as long as many people think that a mother as a mother is not fit for political office, our society will lack the necessary balance between yin and yang. We need fathers and mothers in politics and in business, because we need a balance between care and decisiveness, between listening and acting, between the feminine and the masculine. And for that balance to become healthy we need a lot more of the feminine. Bring it on Barack Obama and Sarah Palin!

Jurriaan Kamp is the founder and editor of Ode Magazine, the magazine for intelligent optimists.


Karen Howard
Karen H5 years ago

Palin was chosen because the male GOP felt we needed "inspiration". Unfortunately, they forgot we want someone with intelligence, common sense, and most of all an open mind. Palin's mind is like a steel trap: closed forever. Her way is the only way. How sad.

Audrey H.
Martin Hill6 years ago

Margaret Thatcher was not perfect but her level of intelligence is far beyond Sarah Palin. Heaven help the the U.S. if Palin were ever elcted

Tony R.
Anthony R6 years ago

Women (or indeed men) like Palin should stay at home and keep out of the way of the rest of us.
I've nothing against women in politics, business or anything else, just Palin as she's not a full shilling!

Camila K.
Kamila A6 years ago

She is an embarrassment to American women. Sarah is too ignorant to hold any office, too lazy to learn the facts, relying on her pageant training to get her through. She is a narcissistic socially disordered moron. Most heinous woman of the year award is hers. She is not the mother of Trig either, which is the giant elephant sitting in the room that no one seems to notice. It matters because it tells what stuff she's made of, definitely not for the USA, in any office. http://www.care2.com/news/member/796015720/2815549

pam w.
pam w7 years ago

The Republicans served up an enormous insult by assuming women would vote for Sarah Palin just because she's female. She's not only anathema to everything an intelligent, THINKING woman stands for, she's anathema to anyone who cares about the environment!

I hope they continue to offer up this empty-headed, smirking bobble-doll as a serious candidate.....please do!

Janice P.
Janice P7 years ago

I cannot agree with "Bring it on... Sarah Palin". The last thing women need is more women in positions of authority (and especially public ones) like Sarah Palin. She is an insult to every woman, who endeavors to public office or any managerial position. Just because she is a female does not mean that she can contribute something of import to society.

Stay home, Sarah Palin!

Ellinor S.
Ellinor S7 years ago

Well Margaret Thatcher and Sarah Palin has proved one thingh and that is that just because you are a woman doesn't mean that you care about children's welfare or womens welfare.

June H.
June Higgins7 years ago

If anyone believes that one sex can be a better leader than another, I will have to disagree. I don't care about a politician's feminine side or whether they are loaded to the gills with testosterone. Sex makes no difference. I want a candidate that can do the job they were elected to do. My vote is not based on party politics, or whether I feel that we need more women. I will vote for the person that believes the closest to what I believe, and who says that he/she can deliver what they promise. As far as Sarah Palin, she is a poor example of a politician. She spews rhetoric. I have never heard her actually discuss politics or policy. Her speeches are filled with trumped up allegations, pure lies, and insults. But she never comes out and says what she can do for the American people. Has anyone ever heard her discuss her agenda? What does she want to do as a leader? Nobody knows. It is all a narcissistic, attention seeking, act. She loves the lights. She would be better in a comedy act. As far as a comparison to Margaret Thatcher...Oh Please! Where do you see the likeness? A woman that knows the needs of the people and acts, or a woman that can't state the needs of the people, because she is too busy listening to hear her own voice. I have a talking parrot that I would rather see in office.

Patricia McCaskill

Thanks for your posts Isabel and Phoenix Flame you said it all for me.

Sheila Larkin
sheila l8 years ago

Unfair comparison of Palin to Marg. Thatcher. She is her own person. Certainly, a very biased, one-sided opinion piece to negatively describe Sarah Palin again. I am not a Tea Party Supporter of Ms. Palin; but I keep a more open-mind. Articles like this, drive independents more to the right.