“If this doesn’t resonate with every woman in America, I’ll eat my hat.”
—Alaska delegate Bill Noll on Sarah Palin
You don’t have to be anti-man to be pro-woman, just like you don’t have to be pro-Palin to be pro-woman. The surge of women rising up to stand behind this conservative beauty queen from Alaska just because she’s a woman is alarming. Women’s rights are not simply about achieving the power and status classically held by men. It’s about protecting and supporting the rights of women of all classes, races, cultures, and beliefs. It’s about real women facing tough issues. Palin’s record and values are far from this idea. She was chosen by John McCain specifically because he believes that American women will blindly vote for any female candidate regardless of their qualifications. Let’s hope we’re smarter than that.
I admit, she’s gorgeous, thanks to the wonders of Botox and hair product. But Palin’s semi-sarcastic speech at the Republican National Convention made me cringe at the thought of her at a table with world leaders representing our country with her opinions on education, war crimes, a woman’s right to choose, the environment, guns, censorship and religious freedom. And frankly, as a woman, an American, and as a basic global citizen, I am embarrassed Palin believes humans have not contributed to global warming and would represent this view for America. I am also a bit concerned for the polar bears she’d like to plow over to drill for oil in Alaska. And that’s just the top of the list. What about her children? If she is so family focused, God-centered, conservative, and traditional, shouldn’t she be spending most of her time raising and nurturing her growing brood?
Dr. James Dobson, who blamed the decline and fall of morality on “working mothers and permissiveness,” and told us that real women “are merely waiting for their husbands to assume leadership,” now says “I believe Sarah Palin is God’s answer.” Of course. But don’t worry, sexism is still alive and well, although it is captivating to watch the same people who criticized Hillary applaud Palin. I remember back when a Hillary hater asked McCain “How do we stop the bitch?” John responded “Excellent question!” Now his campaign says it’s “offensive and disgraceful” of Obama to use the word “lipstick.” Unbelievable.
Sen. John McCain’s choice of the Alaska governor as his running mate is an obvious effort to appeal to disappointed Hillary Clinton fans and get them to vote, ultimately, against their own self-interest. Democrats have relied on women in recent presidential elections, so much that McCain strategists believe they need to hit hard among women over all, especially white women. The McCain campaign has spotted two ripe demographics: Professed “Wal-Mart women,” who shop at the store at least once a week, earn less than $60,000 a year, have less than a college education, and hold a poor impression of Mr. Bush. They tend to call themselves independents and say their economic situation is fair or poor, listing the economy as their prime election issue. McCain strategists believe this group will be attracted by the ticket’s “maverick” image. The second group is women in important suburbs in Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
The conservative virtue of Palin’s life is that she doesn’t need anything from anyone outside the family. She isn’t lobbying for maternity leave, equal pay, or universal pre-K, let alone universal health insurance or college tuition breaks, especially for that soon-to-be-teen-mom and her soon-to-be husband. Compare this with the Wal-Mart mom juggling day-care fees and gas bills, dreaming about a job with benefits and the flexibility to be home when the kids are sick. Somehow the original women’s movement slogan, the personal is political, has been convoluted. It’s much more fun to talk about the candidate’s family and shoes and hair than Iraq, a poor healthcare system, and the recession. If Bush was the guy you wanted to have a beer with, Palin is the hot mom you want to go to aerobics with. But that doesn’t make her qualified for the next President of the United States, and I hope that women everywhere, republican or democrat, conservative or liberal, single mothers or new college voters recognize the discrepancies between what women want and what Palin wants.
This is an interesting election for sure. Regardless of what happens, it will be a monumental November where historical landmarks are made. Though I believe most positive change happens outside of government policies and corrupt political leaders, I have to invest some hope in what the White House is capable of. Barack Obama is not perfect, but I do think he is capable of positive change, for men and especially for women.
So Bill, get ready to eat your hat.