Seemingly just seconds after the news leaked this weekend that current Alaskan governor Sarah Palin was McCain’s pick for vice president, merchandise appeared to capitalize on her conformity to current white bourgeois beauty standards. [Thanks to Shakesville's Sarah Palin Sexism Watch for alerting me to the existence of this stuff.]

For example, I found this bumper sticker on zazzle.com, a site where users can upload their own images for use on T-shirts, stickers, baseball caps, etc. The caption above the sticker says, “This year, vote for HOT!” See screengrab below.

Zazzle bumper sticker saying "McCain / MILF '08"

Zazzle bumper sticker saying "McCain / MILF '08"

“MILF” is a slang term for “Mother I’d Like to F**k.”

This [and the many other examples that I'm sure will be added to this post] would be useful in an ongoing discussion about the deployment of gender in this year’s presidential elections, especially comparing/contrasting the popular portrayals of Hillary Clinton with those of Sarah Palin.

The AFP disembodies Palin in a “news photo” published on September 1. When body parts of male candidates are shown, they are identified as, for example, “the hand of Candidate X was seen waving.” However, in this example, Palin is identified as her legs. [Again, hat tip to Shakesville for photo and commentary.]

Palin reduced to body parts by AP
Palin reduced to body parts by AFP

Caption accompanying photo reads:

Republican vice presidential candidate Alaska Governor Sarah Palin stands on stage during a campaign rally in O’Fallon, Missouri on August 31. Palin got comfortable in her new role as a vice presidential candidate as she made the Republican case to stay in power. (AFP/Robyn Beck)

Dubi K. sent us the following picture that has been making the round on the Internet [it is reportedly the icon for a Facebook group called "I'd Bang Sarah Palin!"]. It is a manipulation of a photo of a woman in a bikini with a gun. Palin’s head is superimposed on the woman’s body. Snopes, clearinghouse on Internet memes and urban legends, summarily debunks the picture’s supposed authenticity and supplies simiilar examples.

Photo manipulation of Sarah Palin's head on body of a woman in a bikini
Photo manipulation of Sarah Palin

An opinion piece, “The Dominatrix,” by Gary Kamiya on Web magazine Salon is advertised on the front page [as of September 9, 2008] with the following poorly done Photoshop of Palin as a stereotypical dominatrix, bringing America [as moose?!] to heel:

Salon advertises editorial about Palin with image of her as a moose-dominating sex worker.
Salon advertises editorial about Palin with image of her as a moose-dominating sex worker.

Note the equation of a powerful, assertive woman with non-heteronormative, kinky sexuality that some people find morally repugnant. My point is not to start a debate on bdsm, but to show that this picture and the accompanying article make the tired old connection between a powerful woman and “perverted” sex.

Laura C. sent in a link to this image (found at Carrion Bag) of Palin supporters:

Might be good for a discussion of the ways in which sexualization of Palin is coming from both opponents (see here) and supporters, and the ways that women may actively take part in sexualization that trivializes women as a group.

Thanks, Laura C.!

Finally, there are now action figures of Sarah Palin. The one below is the “Sarah Palin School Girl Action Figure.” Setting aside how I feel about Sarah Palin personally and politically, I hate to see a woman’s political power attributed to how sexy she might be. There are already dozens of groups on Facebook about how “sexy” or “hot” Palin is, and they have thousands of members.

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