Thursday, September 04, 2008

Sarah Palin: Part Deux

Well, my goodness, what a maelstrom. I haven't seen y'all this riled up since I told you I was getting worms (update on the worms coming soon btw). I seriously think we broke a new record for comments.

I hope everyone still loves each other after all that because I'm about to embark on another journey so buckle your seat belts!

Actually I just wanted to clarify/address a couple of things.
1. The "If she was a man..." argument: People make this argument often when discussing identity politics and it infuriates me. It infuriates me because there is an imbalance of power at the heart of any discussion about race or gender. Men in our society have historically held more power then woman. White people have historically held more power than people of color. Period. Therefore, it is illogical to reverse the positions and assume the same rules apply. Different rules apply precisely because there is an imbalance of power. It's the reason I can call my girlfriend a bitch but her male coworker can't. It's the reason we wouldn't have to worry about how a male candidate like Sarah Palin would be treated because if Sarah Palin was a man she would have never been picked in the first place.

2. Women with young children in public office: Let me make myself perfectly clear. I do not in any way believe that being the mother of young children disqualifies you from public service. In fact, I was thinking back and I remembered "Oh wait, I do actually care about equal representation for women!" because I posted a Washington Post story that profiled working moms in Congress, including one Republican who had recently given birth to a child with down syndrome. However, I loved that article because there wasn't a single thread of "you can have it all" in the entire piece. Debbie Wasserman Schultz talks about the guilt she feels leaving her 8 year old with a fever to go to a fundraiser. Deborah Pryce talks about putting her daughter on a pretty unique schedule so they can spend time together. And then there is Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who gave birth to a son with down syndrome in April of 2007. (FYI - she took a month, not three days off)

"Our goal is to maximize our time together as a family as we learn more about the demands and what it's going to take," said McMorris Rodgers, who took a month off and eased back to work part time, shuttling between her Hill house and the Capitol complex to greet constituents or attend committee meetings. A beeper at home summons her when it's time to vote. She breast-feeds Cole while flipping through briefing books.

All I'm saying is that I would like to hear the same honest, self-reflection from Sarah Palin. I don't think that's sexist - just the opposite. I can't emphasize this enough. I don't think it's progress to expect women candidates to act like male candidates and never address how they are going to meet the challenges of work and family. We want to go in the other direction. We want male candidates to be forced to answer these questions because everyone doesn't assume their wife will take care of the kids. In fact, I would hope that the power of female candidates is their ability to uniquely understand the concerns of primary caregivers all over this country and bring those concerns to the forefront, because like it or not women are the overwhelming majority of primary caregivers. I wish she'd come out and said, "I am making history not only because I'm a woman but because I'm a working mom. I understand the challenges and sacrifices mothers all over this country make every single day. I know that we do the things we do because of our kids, not in spite of them, and I will bring that very valuable perspective to this administration." Then I would have stood up and cheered. But she didn't.

To be honest, as someone who wants to run for office one day, I'm going to go ahead and say I have thought more about this issue than anyone who reads this blog or made a comment. I have spent a lot of time thinking about the fact that because of the career path I want to take I will simply not be there for my children all the time. There will be times when they are sick, or in a school play, or just need a hug and I simply will not be there. I have decided that the benefits they will receive will hopefully outweigh the costs. I have chosen a partner who is committed to my goals and was raised in a family where everyone pitched in no matter their gender. I have decided to move home and be near my family because if I'm not going to be there all the time I want the people who raised me to be there in my place. So, please, do not think for a millisecond that this is not an issue I have not thoughtfully considered or that by pointing out that men are held to a different standard you are somehow telling me something I didn't already know. And to imply that I only care about the equal rights of women in my own party is such a low blow I will only address it to say, how dare you.

3. GOP - Party of Progress?: So, just to be safe I went to John McCain's website and you know to see if they all of a sudden supported the Family and Medical Leave Act or paid maternity/paternity leave or the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act? Turns out, not so much. What about equal benefits for part-time work or universal preschool for all three and four year old? Nope. Maybe making discrimination against parents illegal or a universal child allowance? Negatory. Actually there wasn't a section on women's issues at all.

However, Obama has a section on women and families. Of course, he supports Fair Pay and you can read about his support for expanding the Family and Medical Leave Act, high-quality after school programs, and a child and dependent care tax credit here. Oh, and he wants to protect against caregiver discrimination.

So, yeah, on your mark, get set, go!

P.S. This is completely unrelated but if I hear one more Republican say that Sarah Palin is more experienced because she's made executive decisions and Barack Obama has not I'm going to scream. Unless I was taking a nap and missed John McCain as Governor of Arizona, I'm pretty sure he has never served as an executive either.

P.P.S. I just watched this video and gave my first ever donation to Barack Obama.


Anonymous said...

i'm voting for kim kardashian.


heather said...

Your gender analysis in point 1 is thoughtful and interesting. Thanks for the insight!

Annie said...

I like a lot of things about Obama and this video is pretty moving, but I can't figure out if it actually means anything.

Annie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah said...

Oh no, I don't think it's supposed to convince you to vote for Obama. It was played at the convention and I think it's intended audience is definitely those who already know they're going to vote for him and are excited about his candidacy.

Haley said...

As a person who does not plan on running for office, but just maintaining a career as a lawyer, I am also faced with those same concerns about how I will raise a family and have a career. I have the same worries and thoughts about what the future holds for both my family and career and I think you articulate those concerns very well. I think that it is awesome that you and Nicholas have come together and made decisions on how to raise your child/children in the best way you think possible. In the end, that's all we can do.

Jessica said...

Thanks for the clarification.

Although I hesitate to believe that you would stand up and cheer if she came out and said she can't do it all and she's making family sacrifices because she thinks she can make a big impact on the country.

It doesn't make sense that that single issue is keeping you from applauding her.

Sarah said...

I definitely would. Again, it's not like I agree with the Republicans in that article but I still totally admire them for their honesty.