10/18/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Sarah Palin is a Big Girl; She Can Handle It

As a marketer, I've got to hand it to the Republican campaign machine. They blame Obama for not having experience, then elect Sarah Palin, a complete neophyte. Now Obama's choice of Biden looks old school and it's McCain who has the fresh ticket. In fact, they now hold the ultimate trump card. They have a woman. And, like Barbara Walters said, anything that anyone in the media says against her will be branded a sexist.

Sound familiar? Charges of sexism flavored much of Hillary Clinton's campaign, only in that case it backfired because it was Clinton herself (along with Bill) who was making the charges. In the case Sarah of Palin she doesn't have to defend the criticisms deemed as a slight to her femininity -- she has the attack dogs to do it for her. It's a cheap and cynical tactic, because they know darn well that she's no damsel in distress. Palin herself has even called Clinton's claims of sexism "whining."

Meanwhile, McCain has taken the phony position of claiming the concern for Palin's lack of leadership skills is unfounded because the press, "Would never do that to a man!" Carly Fiorina makes a legitimate if unintentional point about Palin's lack of executive experience and she gets expunged from the campaign, her interviews on CNN and Fox abruptly canceled. The GOP effectively silenced the woman for speaking her mind.

If the Republicans weren't so busy chivalrously defending their VP candidate's honor they might realize that by not allowing her to be vetted and measured up by the same standards as any other political candidate they are effectively telling the world that she is not up to the job. By not allowing the media to perform its very necessary role, the campaign is saying she needs to be protected because she's in over her head.

The most egregious aspect of this sexual politicking is the McCain camp's belief that putting woman on the ticket will siphon off votes from the pro-Hillary crowd. And it's working! There are those who apparently feel they can, should or must identify with Sarah Palin simply because she's of the same gender. People of all political stripes are crying sexism when her abilities and experience are called into question. But what message does this send to the young women of America?

This entire charade is showing young girls that their role in society is affected by how they play the gender game. Girls naturally grow up to realize that being pretty opens doors. Girls get a free pass by playing the helpless victim. Are today's tweens and teens being groomed to think that's all that matters? As someone who attended an all-female Christian school where we were taught integrity and self-respect, I would like to think this generation of young women knows better. The feminist movement was a call to have women be recognized for who they are, not just their sexuality. In a way, the portrayal of Sarah Palin is a giant step backwards in conveying that message.

There's an irony to all of this in that Sarah Palin herself is as non-feminist as you can get. She not only is against a woman's right to choose, she's opposed to offering day care for single moms, she's hardly a champion of equal pay for women and she's against sex education in schools. And evidently she's against sitting her own daughters down and informing them about birth control.

But for all her anti-feminist, reverse sexism, she's about as tough as you can get. I don't feel sorry for her, and neither should the media. That's just condescending to Sarah Palin, and belittling to women in general. It's time to bring it on. She's a big girl. She can handle it.