Impresaria or Imposter? Aren’t we all…

Impresaria or Imposter?  Aren’t we all…

Staying on the topic of Sarah Palin—if I can realistically count my glasses post as an article—I’d like to comment on Judith Warner’s latest article on “Poor Sarah” in the NY Times (9/25/08).  

In reading her op-ed, Warner made me realize that my already confused stance on Feminism is actually more muddled than I thought.

Where to begin?  

I am a child of the Seventies.  That puts me in the strange position of being a “second wave feminist”—one who has the luxury of reconsidering our “gains” in society and culture from a liberated foxhole (or “DFP” for you military buffs).

I have a product-of-the-late-Sixties mother who worked part-time as an executive secretary during my childhood.  It seems most period career choices for women back then consisted of housewife, teacher or secretary.  So, as a result, my mom was “mainstream”.  While she worked, I was cared-for by my grandmother who came of age in the Forties.  Unlike my mother she neither had a degree, nor could drive a car.  

Even as I child I saw advantages and disadvantages to both of these lifestyles.  My mother was independent, mobile and able to spend her own money.  I might add that she was also seemingly forever stressed-out and/or suffering from headaches.  To the contrary, my grandmother was tied to her house and had little disposable income, but she made her own schedule and had lots of fun teaching me how to cook and keep house.  From that early age it seemed to me impossible that women could be both a successful careerist and available caretaker.  It took a village.  Or, at least two women.

And, here’s where Warner comes in.  

What a provocative idea Warner has, that one could feel sorry for Sarah Palin as a well-kempt working mom who began to wilt under the glaring media- and international spotlights.  Warner perceives Palin as a sister-sufferer of imposter-syndrome.  (Is there anyone who hasn’t yet suffered from, or at least heard of that phenomenon?)  As evidence of Palin’s professional-woman’s strained survivalist-instincts, Warner notes Palin’s slumping posture, impossibly-perfect hair and nervous tics (the folded-hands-on-knees and deer-in-the-headlights look) during her visit with Henry Kissinger. Warner exudes compassion for this girlfriend out of her depth.  

I suppose that we women could feel empathy for Palin.  We’ve all met smarter people, or been put on-the-spot in a high-pressure situation.  Might Sarah Palin be a hapless victim? A woman put in the precarious position of Veep candidate by the irresistible, synergistic forces of an enticing career move and her own hubris?  

But, this scenario would assume that Palin was circumspect enough to realize that she’s out of her league.  After all, she could cry “Uncle!”  Or, “I want to be there for my kids while they’re small.” And we’d all understand.  But, we all know she won’t.  She won’t admit that she’s “just one woman”.  One woman without the credentials necessary for the job she’s applied for.

In a sense the problem is that Palin is just like any other person.  (As she loves to admit with her small-town, hard-working rhetoric.) In fact, like most people who are unqualified for something due to a lack of gifts or experience, she just don’t see it that way.  After all, it takes gumption to say you’re focused on education to Katie Couric’s face when—in actual word and deed—you despise intellectual pursuits.  (In this regard she sounds mightily like our intrepid former National Education Secretary, William Bennett, who spent the other morning on the Today Show bashing intellectuals.  Fine sport for a Ph.D. in philosophy.)  

Fortunately, in the real world, when people without credentials apply for management positions their cv never gets past the door.  Unfortunately, in this election year, a desperate, eager-to-reinvent-its-image GOP was not beneath finding a pliable and perhaps gullible “hick chick” for its ticket.  Not kosher, no matter how classically good-looking she is.

At this point you might well ask what my life is like.  Do I work?  Yes.  Do I have kids?  Yes.  Am I, therefore, in taking Sarah Palin to task somewhere between deeply conflicted and suffering from split personality disorder?  Absolutely.   Every day I question whether or not I am doing either of my vocations (maternal and professional) well.  And, I have a sneaking suspicion that most women are in the same rickety boat.  Unfortunately, as a post-modern woman I remain compelled to do both.  And, that’s why I can fathom why Warner’s feeling sorry for Palin.  And, yet, my platonic intellect tells me that Palin is not up to the task of world leader.  (Never mind the our polar opposite political stances…)

Couldn’t we at least get someone who knows why being an “elite” is a good thing?  Even Martha Stewart understands that one…

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6 Responses to “Impresaria or Imposter? Aren’t we all…”
  1. John Graden says:

    Interesting article on Palin and the Impostor Syndrome. That is also the subject of my book. It’s a fascinating topic and affects over 70% of the population. I have more information on it at http://www.JohnGraden.com and speak about it at http://www.JohnGradenTV.com

  2. Kimberlee says:

    Thanks for your comment John. Judith Warner really takes the credit for associating Palin with the syndrome. I just found Warner’s assessment interesting. And, thanks to you, now I can answer my own question of how many people have suffered from it! Thanks, and hope you visit again.
    Best wishes,
    Kimberlee

  3. Anne Deneen says:

    Kimberlee, in answer to your comments on Sarah Palin. I, too, have a sense of compassion for her, pretty much for any woman in the public eye, no matter how much I may disagree with her politically. I thought choosing Palin for VP was as cynical a move as any I’ve ever seen, and I’m sad that she accepted the invitation, and didn’t see the inherent exploitation. I am astonished still at the depths of internal and external oppression women have to deal with every day. I felt so sorry for Palin during the interview that I had to keep turning off the TV. I was lucky enough to be a first wave feminist, bowled over at the time, and remembering always the heady sense of freedom of those first wave women, the poets and artists, activists and writers, mothers and working women. What scares me is that many, perhaps most of the younger women I know now–the high school women, and recent college graduates, think sexism is gone, and they haven’t been prepared to recognize it when it comes their way. Years ago, Robin Morgan wrote about pre-feminist consciousness: that somewhat private agonizing struggle of self-doubt and self-critique women direct at themselves. I see many young women struggling with crippling self-doubt, that I would call internalized sexism, the constant nagging fear that one is not doing things well enough, or brilliantly, or beautifully enough. Sexism is a killer, and kills slowly and surely sparks of creativity, compassion, and brilliance in women and men, children and adults. I am sure you know that your struggle around your dual vocations is as politcal a struggle as it is personal, and the reason it’s still so hard is that the models we have for gracefully achieiving that balance are still few and far between. I’m pretty sure we’re all on the front lines of that struggle, trying to find a way to create lives of dignity, justice, and grace. En la Lucha, Anne

  4. Kimberlee says:

    Dear Anne,
    You have written such beautiful and eloquent words that I am speechless! How rare! :)
    I agree that we are still collectively struggling, and it is even more difficult, seemingly, because we cannot always see the obstacles in our path nowadays. You and I will walk together though, and that will make the journey joyful and the burden lighter.
    Peace,
    Kimberlee

  5. omgdidisaythat says:

    May I just bring things down just a notch or two?

    Sarah Palin is perfect!

    In a matter of only a few weeks she has demonstrated that she knows (i do not normally swear, particularly on the blogs of others – feel free to edit) F#$% ALL – about anything.

    No economic sense, no sense of diplomacy or world affairs, no sense of intelligence when it comes to running a country. For these reasons she has much in common with not only most women in America but most men too. Because she has that ‘hockey mom’ feel, the suburban housewives across America must be practically wetting themselves in anticipation of having someone in power that they can really relate to.

    Still, she might not know what she is doing, but it is hard to imagine it would be worse that cheney.

    God bless America, my prayers are with you.

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  1. […] believe it’s almost been a year since I wrote an article on Sarah Palin- (September’s Impresaria or Imposter?) and, now surprisingly she’s back in the news cycle with a vengeance  with her same […]



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