If You Think You're About To Say Something Sexist...

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Then you're probably right. Here's Todd Purdum on Sarah Palin:

Another aspect of the Palin phenomenon bears examination, even if the mere act of raising it invites intimations of sexism: she is by far the best-looking woman ever to rise to such heights in national politics, the first indisputably fertile female to dare to dance with the big dogs. This pheromonal reality has been a blessing and a curse. It has captivated people who would never have given someone with Palin's record a second glance if Palin had looked like Susan Boyle. And it has made others reluctant to give her a second chance because she looks like a beauty queen.

I think some more thinking could have helped this graph. A lot. It is, in my estimation, certainly arguable that Sarah Palin's appearance has played into her reception. My sense is that it's helped.

Purdum thinks the mere mention of this notion invites attacks from people who spend their days waiting to accuse people of sexism. He is wrong. They invite attacks from people who wonder why he's speaking as though there have been a parade of women who have scaled the national political heights. In the literal sense, there has only been one other--Geraldine Ferraro. Thus Purdum is basically arguing that Palin is better looking than Ferraro. A more charitable interpretation throws Hillary Clinton into the mix.

More seriously he invites attacks from people who think his notion that Palin is  "the first indisputably fertile female to dare to dance with the big dogs" is fairly ridiculous. Indisputable to who? The underlying argument holds that anyone whom the author doesn't deem attractive, is somehow disputably fertile.

What we are talking about is who is fuckable, and who isn't. Frankly, speaking as a man, I'm always skeptical of the "fuckability" concept. I've seen to many men step to with women carnal intent, and then deny it later. Usually after rejection and dismissal, but sometimes after success.This game of fuckability, or "indisputable fertility," is exactly that. It allows men to assert control over a situation, in which, most frighteningly, they often have very little

Hillary Clinton haunts the dreams of no less than half the men who rag on her appearance. And should she ever step to any of them, there'd be very little dispute of any kind. Indeed, it would offend the senses of a polite society were we ever to honestly contemplate exactly how large a portion of womankind men regard as "indisputably fertile." Some of them are scientifically infertile. But brothers don't really care. Let's not act like we do.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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