Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

02 September 2008

Work it, Mom Monday on Tuesday

This time it's not that I posted late or anything! But I finally got most of my thoughts around Palin down and now it's time to share.

Why Sarah Palin is good for feminism:

It was the tweet heard around the world. Sarah Palin is John McCain’s pick for his running mate. Ah, sweet irony.
Palin is now the second woman to ever be chosen for the vice-presidential position on a major party ticket. This is a major milestone for women in this country. It was a generation ago, 1984, that Geraldine Ferraro was the running mate for Walter Mondale. The college students I work with on a daily basis weren’t even born then. Think about that.
That said, I think that Palin may be the best thing for feminism since Alice Paul went on a hunger strike. Stay with me...

It is obvious to many women that the decision to pick Palin is a direct ploy to woo still angry Hillary Rodham Clinton supporters. For some of those HRC supporters McCain is far too conservative for them to really vote for and the addition of a NRA-supporting, abstinence-only toting, polar bear-hating woman to the ticket isn’t going to sway them. Yet, the GOP is playing Palin as if she is the answer to disgruntled feminists.

In Palin’s address at McCain’s announcement that she would be his running mate she uses these key feminist phrases:

• “I’ve stood up to the old politics as usual, to the special interests, to the lobbyists, the Big Oil companies and the ‘good old boy’ network.” Feminists are often talking about how best to either dismantle the “good old boy” network or create one of our own to push, nurture, and mentor young women to powerful positions.

• “…it’s fitting that this trust has been given to me 88 years almost to the day after the women of America first gained the right to vote.” Reminding all women that in 88 years of women having the right to vote only two women have ever been a running mate on a major national ticket for the White House.

• “It was rightly noted in Denver this week that Hillary left 18 million cracks in the highest, hardest glass ceiling in America. But it turns out the women of America aren’t finished yet, and we can shatter that glass ceiling once and for all.” This plays right into the McCain ads that question why Obama didn’t choose Hillary for Veep. A sharp reminder of the sexism that Hillary supporters are still fuming about. It’s a thinly veiled message to women everywhere, “See, we’re not as sexist as those Democrats! We chose a woman!”

I have already heard from friends who say that mothers, grandmothers, and other women in their lives are saying things like “But she’s a woman, she can’t be sexist!” or “But she’s with Feminists for Life! I should vote for feminists right?” Never has it been more advantageous to call yourself a feminist in the political sphere.

Obama has spent a fair amount of time (but ya need to spend even more, Senator!) trying to convince women that he will be their advocate. McCain has Carly Fiorina leading his Women for McCain campaign. But as I’ve heard in other conversations, we should always turn that phrase around, no matter who the candidate and ask, “Is it McCain/Obama/Palin for Women?”

And this is where the debate on what is feminism, who is a feminist, and what a feminist candidate really looks like it will enter the public discourse. Yes, I believe that Palin being on the GOP ticket will bring this country to a national conversation around kitchen tables, at the coffee shop, before staff meetings about what it means to be a feminist.

Feminism according to the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary is defined as, “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes; organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.” Does Governor Palin exhibit this definition?

• Palin is a lifetime member of the NRA: I know plenty of gun-toting feminists, but they differ from the NRA in that they believe in sensible gun laws. The NRA time and again lobbies against the assault weapon ban which most Americans support. Guns for hunting and self-protection are debatable among feminists, but I would never say all feminists are anti-gun.

• Palin believes we should teach creationism in school: Again, I know plenty of church going feminists who find solace in Jesus each and every single day. Yet, they also subscribe to the idea of separation of church and state and never, ever try to push their beliefs on others. They would also never use their opposable thumb on their nose and scoff at teaching a tried and true theory called evolution.

• Palin believes in teaching abstinence-only until marriage: This has to be one of the most dangerous laws we as a society have ever allowed to pass. First, teaching AOUM leaves out all medical fact that condoms can save our children from getting a sexually transmitted disease or infection including HIV. It leaves out vital facts from young women about not getting pregnant. We live in a sexualized society where everything is sex, sex, sex…It is our responsibility as parents and human beings to educate our children on what sex really is, how to have loving sex, and how to enjoy sex. Yes, I said we need to teach our children how to enjoy sex. I hope everyone reading this enjoys the sex they are having, so why not teach our children that sex is best left to having in a loving & safe relationship where both parties will get the most enjoyment as possible? Not to mention that AOUM doesn’t work.

• Palin is a member of Feminists for Life: Their major claim is that abortion gets men off the hook. I can understand that. But by removing the choice from women to carry a pregnancy to term or not, not only keeps the men on the hook, but also keeps the women on the hook. Maybe women who have abortions are trying to reclaim their own lives and could give two hoots about the men? Palin even opposes abortion to save the life of a woman and in cases of rape and incest. Think about that again, Vice-President Palin would work to ensure that 12-year-old girls who were raped & impregnated by a family member would have to carry that pregnancy to term, give birth, and raise that child.

• Palin has joined forces with a man, McCain, who believes that women just need more job training to have equal pay. Who voted against strengthening the Violence Against Women Act even when the amendment was attached to a “pro-life” bill, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. Note that link is to a PDF document, please refer to pages 6 and 10.

The GOP has rarely shown me any evidence that they want to create a society where women are free to make their own decisions, earn what they deserve, and have the support of a country that claims to have family values. Governor Palin fits that mold even with her beauty, smarts, five children, and uterus.

Just because she has to sit to pee and calls herself a feminist doesn’t mean she is one.

Feminists work to ensure that women and girls have access to equal education, have agency in their health decisions, are respected whether or not they give birth, and ultimately trust women to do what is right for them. Palin & the GOP do not trust women…They only trust women who can stand up and say, “Vote for me so I can tell you want to do with your life.” The Pink Elephants give a great break down of things Palin has done for Alaska, but none related to moving women forward towards equality.

What does a feminist candidate look like to you? What does feminism mean to you? I’ve met plenty of feminists who call themselves Republicans, but they usually differ from me on business issues. Some are even endorsed by feminist organizations. Are you one? How do you reconcile the tension between feminism and the goals of the Republican Party?

Originally published at Work it, Mom!  Rescued from the Internet Archive.

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