The picture above is NOT A PARODY, it is the actual cover of Mother Jones magazine, a periodical named for a feminist icon:
Mary Harris “Mother” Jones (August 1, 1837 – November 30, 1930), born in Cork, Ireland, was a prominent American labor and community organizer, who helped co-ordinate major strikes and co-founded the Industrial Workers of the World. Her activities were done under the moniker of Mother Jones, after which Mother Jones magazine is named.
But it’s all good, because two women (Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery) came up with the idea and another woman was the illustrator:
It’s not that there aren’t enough clues on the cover of the new issue of Mother Jones—the headline, for one—but since you (well, a couple of you) asked: Yes, that is a full-throated homage to the B movie classic Attack of the 50-Foot Woman. If you’re like us, your knowledge of American cinema doesn’t encompass the full plot of this 1958 gem, but suffice to say that it involves a wealthy heiress, Nancy Archer, who after an encounter with an alien is found on the roof of her pool house and soon grows into a giantess. She goes searching for her no-good husband and his mistress, Honey Parker (!), and mayhem ensues. We liked the image because of the subtle historical echoes and… oh, who are we kidding: We liked it because the poster is awesome. (The echoes, though, are there: 1958 was an election year, in a recession, that dealt the president’s party a big string of defeats and launched the Senate careers of, among others, Gene McCarthy, Robert Byrd, and Edmund Muskie.)
MoJo’s creative director Tim Luddy encouraged illustrator Zina Saunders to follow the poster out the window in tone and feel, tweaking only the landscape to look more suburban. Saunders, who by the looks of her gallery has been mildly obsessed with Sarah Palin (to terrific effect) took the assignment very seriously, at one point sending a picture of Palin in her beauty-contestant days to confirm that she’d gotten the proportions right.
So what if they portrayed the most popular female Republican in the country as a monster in a miniskirt? When women do it it’s okay. Besides, they got the proportions right. That’s what really matters.
The Mother Jones cover has turned the scantily clad, rampaging female into Sarah Palin standing over a suburban street and crushing a house in her left hand while minivans and SUVs careen in the street and tiny human figures (of tastefully multi-ethnic skin tones) flee in a panic. The headlines emblazoned across the cover say “ATTACK ON THE MIDDLE CLASS!” “A confused & frightened citizenry votes against its own self-interest” “They say they’re taking back America, but really they’re taking… your money!!!”
No, really. It’s just like that.
I was rolling my eyes at the comic cheesecake, but was curious – was this going to be a trashing of the Tea Party? An indictment of the out-of-control Glen Beck? A write up on Palin’s political tactics?
None of the above. Aside from a rambling Editor’s Note blaming the poor folk for being stupid and a juvenile one-page comic trying to reduce Beck to racism (no, he’s Father Coughlin, a far more complicated situation), there is nothing about the upsurge of political resentment on the Right; the three articles connected to the lurid cover are all about the Democratic failure, especially Obama’s failure, to strongly and systematically defend a liberal social and economic position. Galbraith delivers the sharpest smack-down, David Corn dissects how Obama “blew it”, while Kevin Drum weakly tries to hand-wave away the criticisms, but ends up repeating an apologist version of Corn’s analysis – too little, tepidly presented, and hey even Bill Clinton lost seats in the mid-terms, so lay off, will ya?
So, tell me again – What this has to do with depicting Sarah Palin as stroke material? Why is a series of articles detailing failures on the Left to combat the aggression of the Right being sold with a extremely sexualized image of Palin and accompanied by headlines that scream (In all caps, red typeface) about what this fuckable Amazon is trying to do to you gullible fools? I’m suppressing a smirk at the ironic juxtaposition of the written message and the visual appeal. The text talks about people being tricked into voting against their own self-interests, while the image is designed to get horny men to buy the magazine in the hopes of more soft-core porn on the inside, when there isn’t any.
Who exactly is being led around by the short hairs here?
Calling women whores for political fun and profit is not just for Jerry Brown’s campaign. It is the way that political challenges from strong minded women are met. Whitman, Hill and Palin are all turned into objects of desire, and then their actions are judged by their ostensible fuckability quotient – too old and dried up so she’s whoring, too independent and aloof, so she’s a liar, too slutty and hot, so we can’t take her seriously. It’s how you try to delegitimize a woman seeking, or even merely disrupting, power, by foregrounding her sexuality. It also cuts to the infantile root of the fear of strong women, that they may turn into all-powerful monsters who keep you from having sex and might even kill you.
What it does not do is focus the attention of Democrats on battling the continued erosion of their economic and political protections in the face of the concerted assault of the Right – an assault conducted by powerful men in back rooms, not by radioactive Amazons in the streets of suburbia.
It’s writing like that that makes us willing to forgive a lapse in judgment and some personal insults.