Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What worries me about Sarah Palin

I have been trying to put into words what worries me about Sarah Palin (besides the fact that she's a religious extremist who wants to charge raped women for their rape kits.) I felt like a "bad feminist" for questioning how she could possibly do all she does with 5 children, and I felt secretly horrified, though also afraid to admit it to my feminist brain, when I heard that she went back to work 3 days after her special needs child was born. But this article by Emily Bazelon and Dahlia Lithwick in Slate Magazine spelled out my fears for me. The whole article is here, but these are the paragraphs that made me sit back and say "Exactly!" 

"We don't begrudge Sarah Palin her decision to run for vice president, or her decision to have a baby with Down Syndrome, or even the act of doing both at the same time. Under most circumstances, that kind of ceiling-cracking would have us burning our nursing bras in solidarity. But oh how we wish she didn't have to hear about her pulling off all these feats without household help--and without, or so she's determined to make it appear, breaking a sweat or gaining a pound. Most of us mommies wish we could tote our kids to the office and work uninterrupted as they macrame quietly in their Pack-n-Plays. It never worked for us, though. Does this woman sleep? Do conservative feminists really have to be the kind of larger-than-life working mothers, who make every pro-family policy or job-based concession the rest of us require, and have finally demanded, seem like self-indulgence?

Think of the family-friendly policies Palin's example would seem to brush aside. No need for child care subsidies or universal preschool if a mother of five can run the state without a babysitter. Who really needs family leave laws that protect women's jobs if a governor can go back to work a few days after giving birth? And no need, it would seem, for employers to make any kind of concession to the complications that working parents bring with them to the workplace. Feminism, to the GOP, appears to mean never having to say you're exhausted."


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