Christine O or Pristine the Virgin Queen as she’s dubbed in some corners of the Internets, is the new “it” girl. Since her surprise victory in the Republican senate primary in Delaware, she’s all over the headlines the youtube and the cable.
We see and hear her in many incarnations. There she is in the 1990’s on Politically Incorrect, a woman in her thirties who still looks childlike and has big curly hair leftover from her college days in the 1980’s, promoting chastity and discussing her brief flirtation with Satan. In more modern times, when asked about the whisper campaign started by her supporters that her primary opponent is secretly gay, O’Donnell replies that the opponent needs to “put his man-pants on.”
You can listen to a radio interview where a conservative announcer loses patience as she insists that in a previous senate bid, she “tied” Biden in two counties that she clearly lost.
Post primary, she’s been handled, dressing now in Palin red and even adding eyeglasses to give her gravitas. She skips Meet the Press, but stops in to visit the friendlier Scarborough Country because she had “business in New York.” Pristine has now been parodied on SNL and been the subject of countless masturbation and witchcraft jokes.
Is it ok to laugh or should we be taking her more seriously?
After all Palin was funny at first. Remember the good old days when she spectacularly messed up with Katy Couric and Charlie Gibson? She might not have cost McCain the presidency; his complete befuddlement at the economic collapse probably sealed his doom, but she certainly didn’t help. She should have retreated after the election, but instead she quit her job, went to work for Fox, got a fat advance on her book published by another Murdoch entity, and is now being touted as a likely contender for the Republican presidential nomination.
The joke has worn thin, and those of us who believe in evolution, like social security and understand that regulating health insurance companies does not mean “death panels,” are all a bit nervous and have stopped laughing. Even if she can’t get elected, Sarah can certainly rile up her base. Does Pristine represent a similar threat?
Is it because unlike Palin, O’Donnell has never actually been elected to anything? Nope. Is it because she’s dumber than Palin, more gaffe prone? Doubtful.
It’s because she’s an unmarried woman with no kids who talks about chastity and decries masturbation while shaking her long locks and looking like an overage cheerleader.
There’s something just too weirdly jarring about this. All we can do is wonder about what’s really in her dirty drawer or what led her while in college to give up her sexy ways and become a celibacy crusader. Lots of spiritually seeking young people get religion. Some may become missionaries in foreign lands, feed the hungry, go into seminary or join a religious order, but few translate their fervor into founding an organization devoted to promoting abstinence.
Maybe something happened. It’s hard to look at her, especially in those clips from the 90’s when the bloom was still on the rose, and not wonder. Was there some football hero she had a crush on who got her drunk and cruelly pimped out an incapacitated Pristine to his friends? Was she too guilt-ridden and perhaps disturbed by her own vulnerability to call it rape? Was her decision to be chaste a way of empowerment, keeping herself from ever feeling so used again?
That’s where my mind goes. Others may have their own theories. You can’t help having a theory. Closet lesbian? Out and out hypocrite? Hormonally challenged? Tease?
Rush Limbaugh and Jon Stewart both think her opponents will make too much out of Pristine’s anti-masturbation stand and the voters won’t care. They may be right in that the jokes will become silly and her opponent can’t run on being the pro-jerk-off candidate.
But maybe Limbaugh is just trying to change the subject, canny enough to know that there’s something about Pristine that doesn’t make sense and won’t resonate with voters.
Palin may be a phony who uses her kids as election props, but she has kids to use. Most of us don’t buy her narrative, but her audience does. She’s a “mom”. She’s not only a “mom,” but a “special needs mom.” One of her sons is a veteran. Her daughter made a mistake, but chose life and responsibility.
Palin gets that her audience isn’t anti-sex. They simply believe sex should be heterosexual and within the context of marriage. Outside of that it’s sin. They understand that human being are prone to sin and no one is perfect. Thus Sarah’s daughter Bristol can be forgiven as long as she’s learned her lesson and has the baby. An abortion would have been unforgivable, but “choosing life” is brave and they love her for it. Doesn’t matter that who knows who is actually raising the baby while Bristol dances with the stars and collects fees for lecturing other teens. Doesn’t matter that we were treated to a fake engagement during the Republican National Convention. It’s the myth that counts. Sarah’s “momma grizzly” rhetoric hits home especially for woman who’ve succeeded at little else in their lives besides having children.
Pristine is something else. There’s a strangeness to a woman who extols traditional values but is unmarried, childless and chaste at forty-one. We could take it if she looked more like the repressed lesbian/nun types with which we are familiar. If she resembled your mustached, never married great-aunt, the one who sacrificed her youth taking care of her widowed mother while buying generous gifts for her nieces and nephews, voters might buy it. They’ve heard that story. They could even feel a little sorry for poor Pristine, too plain to ever catch a man. But the problem is Christine is just too sexy for her celibacy.
She comes off at best as a scold, a high-maintenance prude who never met a man who could measure up to her ideal husband — Jesus Christ.
There are of course women who do marry Christ. They are called nuns. But they choose the veil and not politics and cut off their locks. Pristine is a Catholic while the majority Tea Partiers including Palin are Protestants. Catholicism despite JFK and Joe Biden is still viewed by many “real” Americans as a foreign church. The scandals haven’t helped. Joan of Arc may have led France, but there is no American mythological equivalent and real America disdain the French. Our nuns may be beautiful like Ingrid Bergman or even cute and feisty and fly like Sally Fields, but they don’t rule. Moms rule.
Real American women leaders aren’t nuns, they’re moms.