Hence Enterprise’s “Computer” voice…
I never knew this, but apparently it’s common practice to have women do voiceover work for negative campaign ads. They’re thought to be more soothing and trustworthy for negative ideas than men. That idea really tied together why Sarah Palin so often gets away with saying things that would get a man tarred and feathered in the media and in public discourse.
Linda Hirshman at Double Ex effectively brings this information to play:
The female voice is particularly effective in the health care arena. Even after 40 years of feminism, when children are sick, they are cared for primarily by their mothers. And the adults storming the Democrats’ town hall meetings were raised when women did even more of the child care than they do today. So a woman, especially a mother, is a familiar figure to be warning about sickness and other health-related danger: Bundle up! You’ll catch your death! To be sure, there are exceptions to any rule. But to test the power of this cultural role, think about how weird it would have been had Newt Gingrich stood up and said that he’s afraid Barack Obama will kill his baby (rather than simply endorsing Palin’s statements, as he did on This Week With George Stephanopolous last Sunday).
For all of these reasons, the Palin and Sisters quartet is effective. But theirs is a risky strategy. It cashes in on some pretty silly sex-role stereotypes about how women are nicer political players. And using mother figures to scare grown citizens is infantilizing. Instead of big strong tea party revolutionaries intimidating their woozy senators and representatives, the euthanasia crowd looks more like, well, panicked children.