I remember when I was a kid, the biggest compliment a boy could pay me was to step to me in a fight and give me one right in the face.

A fist, that is.

It was the ultimate acceptance. I was a scrappy kid, and this was only accentuated by my little brother's tendency to run his smart mouth to much older boys, and then come find me to handle them. When I would march right up to the threatening offender and stand nose to nose, eye to eye, it almost never came to blows. There would be a startled two steps backwards, and then those words....

"I can't hit you. You're a girl."

Then one day, along came Ryan Chester. I wasn't going to fight Ryan Chester for my little brother -- I was going to fight Ryan Chester for honor. Although, today, I can't remember what about. But the point is, I waited until recess and marched right up to the kid, nose to nose, eye to eye. Ryan Chester looked me straight in the eyes, pulled back his fist, and knocked me flat on my ass.

I was instantly in love.

Not because I'm some sort of masochist who enjoys being knocked around and mistreated by men. But because Ryan Chester saw I was a girl and didn't give a damn. He literally didn't pull any punches. In other words, he saw me as an equal. We were practically inseparable from that day forward, until he moved away in the fifth grade.

My point is this: The media are carrying on and on and on this morning about how Biden is going to have to be careful not to condescend to or patronize our lovely Lady Palin in the debate tonight, so as not to offend the female voters. But as a woman, and a feminist, I will be most offended if Biden stands up and offers her the debate with a gentlemanly bow. Biden can show that he respects Palin as an equal politician by ripping holes through her worldview, her politics, and her experience (or everpresent lack thereof), just as he would with any other politician. If he pulls his punches tonight, I will lose a lot of respect for the man. And I will severly doubt his sincerity on issues such as gender equality.

Luckily, I don't think that's going to happen. My only regret is that I will have to forego the chainsmoking part of sitting on the edge of my seat and chainsmoking throughout what is bound to be one of the most fascinating (from a purely sociological stance) debates in American history.

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