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Let's look at those 'silly arguments'

By Ruby Hamad - posted Friday, 19 September 2008

Having being accused by the writer of invoking six “silly arguments” in my rejoinder to Ben Peter Terpstra’s article “Girl Power is back”, I am writing this response.

Once again, right off the bat, Terpstra’s article grates when he refers to Palin as “a great woman”, without actually telling us why he thinks she is so great.

Is it the fact she is under investigation for abuse of power?


Is it the fact that she fired a Wasilla council librarian shortly after the librarian stated that she would under no circumstances ban books from her library?

Is it the fact that, as Mayor she charged rape victims for the cost of investigating their rapes?

Is it the fact that as Governor she has used her position to settle personal vendettas and appoint grossly unqualified friends into positions such as one within the State Division of Agriculture, after said friend stated that one of her major qualifications for the job was a “childhood love for cows”?

Is it the fact that the National Organization for Women (NOW), who has long held a neutral stance in general elections, is so appalled by the prospect of Palin in the White House, making decisions on women’s issues that they have endorsed the Obama/Biden ticket?

Is this what makes Palin “great” to you? Because, to the rest of us, it is these issues and more that terrify so many of us.

Terpstra has expressed dissatisfaction in my calling his article sexist because he feels that he has the right to use what he deems “politically incorrect” terminology such as “girl power”. Well, of course this is true, we are all free to use whatever words we wish, whenever we wish to use them. However, when doing so we should be aware that we are opening ourselves up to scrutiny and criticism. OK that’s silly argument one taken care of.


What about silly argument two: is using the term “girl power” when referring to Palin sexist?

First, Terpstra cries foul stating that “leftists” and Hillary Clinton supporters themselves have used the term, and wonders why he has been singled out. The answer is of course, context. The reason I “singled” him out is simply that my article was a response to his writing in this particular instance. Furthermore, there is a difference between an unknown supporter posting a “Hillary Girl Power” video on YouTube and a writer in a political journal using the same term. And just for the record a quick click on the YouTube link in Terpstra’s article reveals that it has had the grand total of 676 views (viewed on September 18, 2008), hardly the Internet phenomenon he made it out to be and was uploaded by a 19-year-old teenager from the Netherlands.

So while that teenager may have been driven by a sense of empowerment to praise Clinton in that video, the same cannot be said for Terpstra. A place for everything and everything in its place, please. The fact that he used the term “girl power” in a respected national journal to describe a major figure in current world politics makes the appearance of such a colloquial term stand out like the proverbial sore thumb. It is patronising and the written equivalent of a pat on the head.

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About the Author

Ruby Hamad is a freelance writer and recent graduate from the Victorian College of the Arts, where she majored in film writing and directing. She also has a Bachelor's degree in Political Economy from the University of Sydney. Ruby lives in Melbourne where she is working on a new feature film script.

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