"How are hockey moms different from pit bulls? They wear lipstick."
Governor Palin, her face expertly made-up (including lipstick), her hair perfectly coifed, her outfit fashionable and figure-complementing, is herself an example of the division between the sexes that persists in our culture.
That women still want to wear makeup reflects a failure of the feminist movement in particular and the immaturity of our culture in general. Makeup is a mask that allows women to tap into corporate power. I don't mean corporate as in business, but rather corporate as in the power of the group versus the individual.
Men achieve this power by actually belonging to corporations - whether they are lodge brothers, corporate raiders or political standard-bearers. Women counter by painting their faces. Hiding physical imperfections or accentuating certain features makes sense only if the result is more power for the individual, whether sexual, social, or corporate.
Why makeup? The French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss once asked a native informant why his people tattooed their bodies. "Because we are not animals," was the reply. That women still use makeup is a reflection of their continuing status as not-quite-human. To put it in a more Lévi-Straussian mode, women without makeup are still seen as "natural," while men without makeup are seen as "cultural."
By acceding to cosmetic industry standards of beauty, women who wear makeup promote a status quo that says women are not equal to men. Men can be "cultural" just by showing up. Women, to participate in the culture, must put on a corporate mask. While a woman who uses makeup is considered "cultural," a man who uses makeup is considered absurd. Mass media meditations on masculine makeup — like Some Like It Hot, Tootsie, and Mrs. Doubtfire — are always comedies.
Madison Avenue-driven cosmetic companies have made some inroads into the use of body fragrance by men, but they have not yet found the right inducement for men to paint their faces, highlight their eyes, and gloss their lips. My suggestion is that advertisers market tattoos as acceptable body paint for men. Invent a tattoo "makeup" that needs regular renewal but involves some pain to apply, and your fortune is made.
In politics, the play of the game depends on who makes up the rules. Republicans are expert in framing arguments in their favor, in starting whisper campaigns to malign opponents while maintaining deniability and in lying with impunity to advance their candidates.
In gender relations, the play of game depends on who rules the makeup. Though it may be true that Hilary Clinton's unsucessful presidential campaign left 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling, until women can be "pit bulls" without the lipstick, they will not succeed in breaking through.