Monday, September 08, 2008

Assailed or Idealized

CNN’s John Roberts has recently mused about Sarah Palin’s relationship with her youngest child. He is quoted as saying, “Children with Down syndrome require an awful lot of attention. The role of vice president, it seems to me, would take up an awful lot of her time, and it raises the issue of how much time will she have to dedicate to her newborn child?”

Why oh why oh why are those questions not asked of fathers? Has anyone questioned Barack Obama about how he plans to balance being the president and not miss out on important years of his young daughters’ lives? Of course they don’t, because they assume Michelle Obama will take care of things....

While the skeptical words from people like John Roberts bother me, I am getting equally perplexed by how others want to play up the allure of Palin’s “supermom” status. Since when does being a supermom equate to having the credentials to be Vice-President of the United States? Why is there so much focus on her role as a mother? While it is understandable to show appreciation for Palin’s role as a mother, what we should be talking about are issues like her position on global warming, health care, the war in Iraq, and the economy, not her baby or her daughter’s pregnancy. What a grande distraction from the real issues! These concerns would not be the focus if Palin was a man.

Even in the midst of all the Palin adoration at the Republic National Convention, I still sense she is not being treated as an equal at all, but as a token woman being used to rally emotions. And that frustrates me as much as the outright misogyny and pejorative language that assailed Hillary Rhodham Clinton. Michelle Obama, too, has had to contend with sexism – and racism as well....

Whether a woman is being assailed or idealized on the basis of her sex, there really is little difference. In neither case is she being treated equally to a male candidate, who is not being evaluated based on his gender, how well he fits a gender role, or how well he parents. So, while the sexism at play with Hillary Rodhman Clinton might look completely different than the adoration given Palin by some enthusiastic voters, I would argue that there really is little difference at all.
[via 72-27]

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