Left: Alaska governor Sarah Palin, first Republican woman nominated for Vice President. Photo by ABC NEWS.
The Palin groupies are on my last good nerve. However, in reading their effusive praise of Governor Sarah Palin, I am at last able to articulate my problem with her.
I was once in the same position as Sarah Palin. I went into my high-school-aged daughter's room very late one night, to sneak some clean laundry into a drawer. And alas, she was gone, the window open, the curtain flapping in the night air. ALIEN ABDUCTION!?! Well, sorta.
It was, I knew, the Video Store Guy. I felt the blood rushing to my head. I was livid. As I wrote in the piece linked above, if I'd known about water-boarding then, I might have given it a try.
But quickly....another emotion flooded in. OMG. No. Please, no.
We must act. NOW.
Of course, no gynecologists were available at 3am in the morning here in the Carolinas, but I left a hysterical phone-message anyway: WE NEED AN APPOINTMENT! (Like, last week.)
As a Catholic, I don't mind admitting to you: I am uncomfortable with abortion. I would never have one. (I would also never make it illegal, FTR.) Therefore, the idea that I may have to make this decision for my minor child, sent me into a panic. I honestly didn't know if I could. The very idea made me dizzy, seriously. NOT GOING THERE.
Also, the idea that a BABY (Video Store Guy's BABY!!!!) might materialize on my doorstep, quite literally? NOT GOING THERE EITHER.
It should be noted that here in the south, my daughter was a seasoned veteran of abstinence-based education and workshops. They offer these everywhere; she attended several of these programs at her friends' churches, as well as one at our own. They aren't all bad; they are usually fun for the kids, featuring food, music and what-all. They try to emphasize positive family-communication through role-playing. They just didn't address the actual existence of Video Store Guy and his winsome good looks.
Clearly, that was gonna be MY job.
And so, I acted. After the Rx was given, I could actually breathe again. And as I mentioned in this space last week, I AM now a grandmother, but on my daughter's terms, and (WHEW!) Video Store Guy is long out of the picture.
This is why I am suspicious of the Sarah Palins of the world. We were in the same place, and she looked the other way. She allowed her daughter's biology to dictate her life. As a candidate, of course, any discussion of putting the baby up for adoption (a reasonable and intelligent choice, but one I knew my daughter would never choose, since she is incapable of giving even KITTENS away) has been scuttled. How much of a CHOICE is young Bristol being given? Was it her choice to broadcast her personal business all over the country, climbing on a stage PREGNANT and YOUNG, her sexual history up for discussion before she even realizes that this will follow her throughout her life? (Especially with an identifiable first name like BRISTOL: "Oh yeah, the kid from Alaska that got knocked up!" is not something you want to hear when you are in your 30s and trying to get a decent job.)
It is considered unfeminist to call Sarah Palin a lousy mother, yet she is the type of 'pro-family' and anti-feminist Republican woman who called ME a lousy mother when I dialed up the gynecologist. I received a phone call from one of the mothers of the aforementioned church-going teens, my daughter's friend. (Or, was.) The call went like so:
"Don't you think that's [birth control Rx] giving her permission to have sex?"
"Well," I replied, "She didn't ask my permission to climb out the window, so I don't think my permission matters much, at this point."
Of course, you all know the outcome of this conversation: this woman's daughter was no longer permitted to hang out with mine. And I'm sure Sarah Palin would have reacted similarly.
Interestingly, during the New Hampshire GOP presidential debate, back in 2000, there was this exchange between candidates Alan Keyes and John McCain:
KEYES [to McCain]: What you would say if your daughter was ever in a position where she might need an abortion? You answered [earlier today] that the choice would be up to her and then that you’d have a family conference. That displayed a profound lack of understanding of the basic issue of principle involved in abortion. After all, if your daughter said she was contemplating killing her grandmother for the inheritance, you wouldn’t say, “Let’s have a family conference.” You’d look at her and say “Just Say No,“ because that is morally wrong. It is God’s choice that that child is in the womb. And for us to usurp that choice in contradiction of our declaration of principles is just as wrong.And now, McCain chooses someone who DOES draw their children into this discussion, who is supposed to be an example for all of us. Senator John McCain has uttered the nauseatingly contrived phrase: AND WHAT A LOVELY FAMILY! AND WHAT A LOVELY FAMILY! at least 50 times now. (I just saw another stump speech with Palin today, in which he repeated this.) What are we to take away from that? That teenage pregnancy is good? That forcing girls to get married is good?
McCAIN: I am proud of my pro-life record in public life, and I will continue to maintain it. I will not draw my children into this discussion. As a leader of a pro-life party with a pro-life position, I will persuade young Americans [to] understand the importance of the preservation of the rights of the unborn.
Sarah Palin's motherhood is being presented as a pro-life example. And as such, that POLITICAL example is open to analysis and criticism, since they are the ones making it political.
(Crossposted at Feministe.)