The Magazine

Loathing Sarah Palin

The Two Months Hate of feminists.

Oct 27, 2008, Vol. 14, No. 07 • By JOSEPH EPSTEIN
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A few months ago Vanity Fair ran an article about the discovery that the playwright Arthur Miller, with his third wife, the photographer Inge Morath, 40 or so years ago had a Down syndrome son. Miller promptly clapped the boy into an institution--according to the article, not a first class one either--and never saw the child again. Most people would have taken this for a heartless act, one should have thought, especially on the part of a man known for excoriating the putative cruelties of capitalism and the endless barbarities of his own country's governments, whether Democratic or Republican. Yet, so far as one can tell, Arthur Miller's treatment of his own child has not put the least dent in his reputation, while Sarah Palin's having, keeping, and loving her Down syndrome child is somehow, by the standard of the liberal woman of our day, not so secretly thought the act of an obviously backward and ignorant woman, an affront to womanhood. "Her greatest hypocrisy," proclaimed Wendy Doniger, one of the leading feminist lights at the University of Chicago, "is her pretense that she is a woman."

The daughter of a dear friend of mine used to say of her mother, "I sense her rage." Of course when the daughter said this, my friend's rage would only increase. Suggesting that liberal women feel rage over Sarah Palin is, similarly, likely only to enrage them all the more. But rage in their reaction to Governor Palin is emphatically what I do sense on the part of liberal women--that and delight in any attempt to humiliate her. (Tina Fey, take a bow, and, hey, let's watch that Katie Couric YouTube interview one more time!) I wonder if the women who loathe Sarah Palin with such intensity oughtn't perhaps to reexamine the source of their strongly illiberal feelings.

Joseph Epstein, a contributing editor to THE WEEKLY STANDARD, is the author most recently of Fred Astaire.