Whether or not you believe there is any connection between the first assassination attempt ever made on an American female politician and the gun-slinging rhetoric of the first Republican woman ever nominated for the vice presidency, what's undeniably true is that despite the vast philosophical and intellectual chasms between them, Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona and the former Alaska governor Sarah Palin have something in common: they are both cowgirl politicians. In this, they are symptomatic of the too-narrow ways in which the United States is willing to accept women as leaders.
America has no tales of Amazons or of Atalanta; our national narrative does not chronicle the defeat of an armada by a virgin queen nor a teenage Joan leading her army into battle.
What we do have, to serve as the foundational fantasy of female strength and individualism we've agreed upon as embodying American power, are cowgirls: Annie Oakley, Calamity Jane, the outlaws, frontier women and pioneers who pushed West, shot sharp, talked tough and sometimes drew blood. nytmag.

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