Why Liberal Women Hate Sarah Palin: Abortion and Jealousy

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The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto has put forth a loaded question: Why do liberals hate Sarah Palin?

Liberals say they despise her because she's a "moron," Taranto explains, but that's nonsense. She may not be a skilled extemporaneous speaker or a product of an elite college, he argues, but she's a highly accomplished person who "in an earlier age would have been called a feminist pioneer."

Taranto casts aside male Palin-hatred for his investigation, noting dismissively that "liberal men put down Palin as a cheap way to score points with the women in their lives, or they use her as an outlet for more-general misogynistic impulses that would otherwise be socially unacceptable to express."

No, Taranto argues provocatively, the "unhinged hatred" stems mainly from women who feel Palin threatens their very sexual identity. And "the root of Palinoia" is abortion:

To the extent that "feminism" remains controversial, it is because of the position it takes on abortion: not just that a woman should have the "right to choose," but that this is a matter over which reasonable people cannot disagree--that to favor any limitations on the right to abortion, or even to acknowledge that abortion is morally problematic, is to deny the basic dignity of women.

To a woman who has internalized this point of view, Sarah Palin's opposition to abortion rights is a personal affront, and a deep one. It doesn't help that Palin lives by her beliefs. To the contrary, it intensifies the offense.

Taranto offers another diagnosis of Palin-hatred from reader Jessica Faller, who he describes as a left-leaning New Yorker. It's not a pretty theory. Faller claims Palin's "sex appeal"--combined with the abrupt and audacious way she captured the national limelight during the 2008 presidential campaign--made women jealous:

Because the devil in the red dress wasn't orating like a professor, it roused an unquenchable forest fire of rage and loathing in the breasts of many women, perhaps of the toiling [gray mouse in a pantsuit] variety, who projected onto her their own career resentments and personal frustrations.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.