The conclusion is based on interviews with 122 undergraduates. Basing anything on interviews of undergraduates is suspect to me. This is research?
"We hypothesize that focusing on a woman’s appearance will promote reduced perceptions of competence, and also, by virtue of construing the women as an “object,” perceptions of the woman as less human."
I prefer this explanation, written from a male perspective:
Palin exudes sexual confidence and maternal authority, which in a relatively conservative culture like ours is the most recognizable and viscerally comprehensible form of female power. It makes a lot of men uncomfortable, but that’s because it’s the kind of female power they are most often subject to, and most often fail to successfully resist.Or this, from a female perspective:
Conservative though she may be, I felt that Palin represented an explosion of a brand new style of muscular American feminism. At her startling debut on that day, she was combining male and female qualities in ways that I have never seen before. And she was somehow able to seem simultaneously reassuringly traditional and gung-ho futurist. In terms of redefining the persona for female authority and leadership, Palin has made the biggest step forward in feminism since Madonna channeled the dominatrix persona of high-glam Marlene Dietrich and rammed pro-sex, pro-beauty feminism down the throats of the prissy, victim-mongering, philistine feminist establishment.Sarah's persona -- her good looks, her America-is-great attitude, her happy marriage -- was a threat to many in the Democratic / liberal / academic / women's movement world at many different levels. You don't need to be a freaking social scientist to figure that out.
Regardless, a good excuse to run a picture of Sarah.