In most of Western Europe – possibly excluding the Brits – the elevation of an attractive woman to high office is not greeted with as many catcalls, derision and innuendo as it is in the US. This is because attractive women in Western Europe – especially the Latinesque ones (France, Spain, Portugal, Italy) and the Scandinavian others – celebrate attractive women as smart, put together, and formidable.
In contrast we see attractive women as frivolous, dim-witted, overly sexual (because unlike in Europe, any sex might just be too much), and predacious. This is a source and a by-product of a puritanistic sexism that, frankly, precludes women from equality.
It also results in there being more – as a percentage of the population – attractive women in Western Europe across age groups than is the case here. Making the effort to look good has benefits there that are more or less lacking here, unless you work in the fashion or marketing business or want a seat on the board as a token.
Seriously, spend some time in Chicago, Atlanta, Phoenix, or Dallas and then in Paris or Rome of Madrid or Stockholm and report back on how many women in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s still turn your head in each place. (I leave New York City out because between the fashion industry, the actors, and the large numbers of women from Europe and South America (Argentina? Colombia? Venezuela? Chile? Seriously hubba hubba) the numbers get all skewed.)
So there’s my sympathy for Sarah Palin. Of course I think she’s unfit for the vice-presidency, but the tone of the discussion about her is tainted and it distracts from a serious discussion of her qualifications.