Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Mommy Wars: Maybe it's not the media echo chamber only

Unpleasant truth: How many women out there honestly believe that Palin can't have it all and question her decisions? I started thinking about this all after a conversation with my own mother tonight, a Hillary supporter who is now open to the McCain/Palin ticket but who claimed she has suddenly had a pause because of how much Palin is dealing with in her personal life with all of her kids. This from a woman who herself had a child as a teenager and manages to balance career and family concerns.

I had a dismaying thought: I watch the media hysteria on this topic, and get angry. Some women watch it, and they agree with the media. They wonder: What the heck is Sarah Palin thinking???

Then, I read this story. Turns out my mother is not alone.

I'm getting an increasing sense that it's not only the media asking the question - should Palin be running for vice president with all of those kids, including a pregnant daughter? Good grief. I suppose it's borne out of some women's own practical life realities - the trying to balance it all phenomenon, only to realize that something has to give. I get that.

But still. No one raised this question about other women with children (Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Nancy Pelosi). Is it because the children are older? Is there an ideological bias? Granted, a lot of women in political life have been childless (Condi Rice, Janet Reno). Is that the message we want to send? That it must be either/or? Then what the heck have we been talking about all of these years? Why are we even bother sending our young daughters to college? (Sarcasm, there).

What's the message here? That only women without young children should run for public office? This is putting the issue of gender advancement back years. I wonder if younger women feel this way or if there's a generational divide. (50 and up, like my mother?)

And what of Todd Palin? Doesn't this line of thought do him a great disservice, as if he's not an equal life partner and father? As if he's a missing person in his own family?

Now, my mother herself was a single mother who raised her kids without the help of a partner. Maybe that colors her experience... I don't know. But if Todd Palin takes on additional childcare duties while his wife is the quintessential breadwinner, what business is it of the rest of the world and what, for goodness sake, does it have to do with her ability to lead?

I understand the practical realities - I am a working mother - but it's frustrating to say the least to see Palin's career choices and historic achievement so devalued by average women, not just the media elites.

You know what I wanted to say to my mother (and did): Sarah Palin has made a choice, as all women do, about what the proper balance is between work and home for her own family. Presumably, she made this choice together with her husband, Todd. What right does another person have to challenge that personal choice? I say that women should back off and let other women come to their own decisions about their own lives.

More on the Mommy Wars. I keep thinking: Why are we talking about all of this? It's ridiculous.


Kari said...

I'm sickened at the double standard that has surfaced.
Women can go out and be the bread winners, they can do anything they want and can. They can get high end exec jobs, run companies, etc but suddenly they cannot be vice president because they need to be back at home taking care of their children.

Boonton said...

Is this not a valid response to Palin and her supporters throwing up the fact that she has 5 children in our face non-stop? At some point aren't young children especially demanding and a potential problem if you're trying to do a job like President (which as VP Palin must be ready to do from day 1)?

Hillary only had one kid, Bush had two teens if I recall correctly...Bush I and Reagan had adult kids. Carter I'm not sure about and Nixon I believe had an adult daughter. Johnson's kids were old I think bringing us all the way back to Kennedy who did have two kids (or was it three). Before that we had Eisenhower and Truman and Roosevelt....I don't believe any of them had young kids in the White House (please check me if I'm wrong).

I don't have any real stats on VPs but I think you're hitting upon a point here where charges of sexism start sounding less legit and more like politically correct nitpicking. Motherhood is a job and a demanding one at times. If you want the world to judge your family then you have to accept positive as well as negative judgements....especially in this age of reality TV where shows like Nanny 911 invite the public to come into people's houses and criticize their family dynamics.

Obama has taken a dramatically different tact. He let's people know he has a wife and kids but the kids are off limits. Aside from a single photo op/interview done during a holiday that he said he later regretted, the kids are not put on public display and as a result the public can focus on more relevant criteria.

Amy said...


And Palin threw her kids into the limelight? If you recall, it was LIBERAL BLOGGERS who suddenly decided her kids were fair game, that Trig wasn't her son (who she should have aborted, anyway, because he's disabled), that it was Palin's lack of pre-natal care that caused his Downs, etc., etc.

Palin let the world know she's married with kids - but the media decided the kids - a minor and a disabled infant - were fair game.

So no dice. Your attitude seems to be women can be whatever they want...except a mother of more than 1 or 2 kids.

If Palin had a "D" after her name, you'd love her.

Freakin' hypocrites - ever last liberal.

Anonymous said...

"He let's people know he has a wife and kids but the kids are off limits. Aside from a single photo op/interview done during a holiday that he said he later regretted, the kids are not put on public display"

Except for that one other little moment when they were all on the stage waving at Obama on the Big Screen following Michelle's convention speech, and his youngest had to point out that he didn't seem to know where he was. They both love to talk about thier kids, thier role as parents, etc. I don't know any candidates that don't. Stop acting like Obama doesn't put his kids out there for public consumption.

Umbrella Shoppe Collectibles said...

I am the stay at home dad of 2 little boys. I am so aghast and offended at the endless implication that the moms are the only parents that can care for their children. This is such stereotypical thinking. Dark ages. What gives with the silence of groups like NOW?

Jadis said...

I just had an argument with a dear friend about this yesterday. She was furious with Palin for accepting the nomination because of her baby having Down's - I asked her if she would feel the same way if TODD Palin was running. Never got a response. The thing that floored me was that she is a staunch feminist! I just don't get it.

Ciccina said...

Thank you for what you are doing with this blog. Thank you for writing it in a way that makes this dyed-in-the-wool Democrat feel comfortable (meaning, I don't feel manipulated for the benefit of the GOP; I feel that this is genuine criticism of the subject at hand).

I probably disagree with Governor Palin on just about every single issue, but I abhor the way the media, some Democrats and those asshat bloggers at Kos and HuffPo are behaving towards her.

I was already disgusted by the way the Democratic leadership and the Obama campaign treated Senator Clinton, and was planning to vote the Democratic line down-ballot but not vote for president. That is still my plan, but now my disgust at the way some Democrats are behaving towards Governor Palin is part of the reason as well.

As a feminist, I will not stay silent while they do this. I have been and will continue to object at the top of my virtual lungs.

Tom said...

This is the time to call out anyone that still spouts this double-standard garbage. I was even shocked at the insensitive "sweetie" remark by Obama. I never question my female co-workers about how they can balance work and home life - that's their family's business and not mine. My brother and his wife split their care of their one-year-old and they do just fine, thank you.
The continued sexist attacks on Sarah Palin (and the ones that Hillary Clinton had to endure) have no place in our lives.
One more point - everyone keeps bringing it up that the Palin's have five kids - but one is in the Army (i.e. not at home) and two are teens, so really there are only two that are under 8 years of age that need constant care.