Saturday, September 6, 2008

Sarah Palin's feminist folly

Posted: September 02, 2008
1:00 am Eastern

By Olivia St. John
© 2008

Bristol Palin, the 17-year-old, unmarried daughter of Sarah Palin, is pregnant. Although she plans to keep the baby and marry the father, her immoral shortcoming is still clear for the nation (and world) to see. Is it possible that her very busy, avowedly-feminist mother, the governor of Alaska and presumptive Republican vice-presidential candidate, could have made a moral difference, had she been more available for her daughter?

With this in mind, it is sobering that, among the thousands of conservative pundits praising John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential running mate, no one is asking a very important question: Does America really need a feminist in the White House?

Yes, I know that the selection of Palin appeared almost providential. McCain introduced Palin to an admiring throng on his birthday, which also happened to be the Palin's 20th anniversary, which also happened to be, almost to the day, the 88th anniversary of the day women won the right to vote. Add to that the fact that Palin's son deploys for Iraq on Sept. 11, the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and it appears the stars have aligned wonderfully for the Republicans' presidential campaign.

And yes, I know that the Aug. 29 crowning of former beauty queen Palin as "Mrs. VP America" effectively derailed the charismatic socialist festivities of Barack Obama's acceptance speech the night before. It must have been a terrible let-down for his messianic followers to see their anointed agent of change thrust from the limelight and replaced by the governor of a state with a population roughly equivalent to Fort Worth, Texas.

And yes, I know that leading Christian conservatives like Dr. James Dobson with Focus on the Family are thrilled that, in an election year when a Democrat runs on an infanticide ticket, Republicans have a two-punch pro-life ticket. It's an important year because one more pro-life justice added to the Supreme Court could mean the end to the mass slaughter of millions of unborn children within their mother's wombs. Conservatives now have hope. The timing is right.

(Column continues below)

But is it the right time for Palin's children and for the children of America?

As Palin stole the spotlight, her husband and children stood off-stage watching. Bristol held her mother's 5-month-old baby and carried her unborn grandchild. I wonder if the children know what's ahead for them.

Sarah Palin considers herself a feminist, which gives her affinity with liberals like Geraldine Ferraro and Sen. Hillary Clinton, both of whom she honored by mentioning their achievements in her speech: "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."

Described by Time magazine as fiercely competitive, Palin is not intimidated by juggling family with future responsibilities. She is ready for the challenge. But are her children?

It is clear that Bristol, at least, is not.

Last April, when Palin gave birth to her fifth child, she dutifully returned to her work as governor after three days. A few years prior, while serving as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, she kept her infant daughter in a car seat under her desk while she worked in her office.

At a time when many former feminists cry foul upon realizing they were duped into thinking they could do it all, few seem to be asking if Palin can do it all.

More and more women who work outside the home say they are stressed and overworked. They regret ever having taken the mantle of both motherhood and working outside the home. They have discovered that under the weight of too much responsibility, something has to give – and any honest woman will tell you that it is the children who get the short shrift. After all, the pressure to make a project deadline in a salaried job is greater than the pressure to make time for one's own children.

While Palin is rightly applauded for her staunch pro-life stand, her embrace of a feminist worldview as it relates to family life is troubling. Palin's desire to "shatter the glass ceiling" is legitimizing the societal phenomenon of the career-centric absentee mother.

Assuming McCain wins the election, I can't help but wonder where under her vice presidential desk Palin plans to keep her bustling 1-year-old. Of course, there will be parent-substitutes to do that job.

In a 2006 edition of Mothering from the Heart, Audrey Broggi notes that Christians who ostensibly value motherhood are undermining it in their actions and words.

"I guess somewhere along the way, Christian women decided to listen to Betty Friedan," Broggi said. "See, the family can always take the back seat – even for the sake of 'the call.' You know what they say: 'God will take care of the children for the sake of ministry.'"

Where in our culture today do women hear about the priority of home and family? Where do they hear about the seasons of life? Some of us thought Dr. Dobson understood.

"The answer to the problem facing our families is not found in government intervention, but godly intervention at home," according to a 2006 In Touch Ministries article. "Parental devotion is hard to replace … children sense levels of commitment." The article goes on to say that the greatest fear our children face is the fear of abandonment.

Some mothers get high off the status afforded by a high-paying job. Others get buzzed as they're praised for being fighter pilots in our military. And still others receive honor for taking high political positions that leave them little latitude to meet young ones' needs.

"The American female is free to be an idiot," says Nancy Levant, author of "The Cultural Devastation of American Women: The Strange and Frightening Decline of the American Female (and her dreadful timing)." Having witnessed the emotional fallout children suffer when farmed off to caretakers, she says that too many homes are sterile because mothers have "lost their senses under the highly political guise of 'liberation.'"

Too many pro-life conservatives who oppose a mother's "choice" to abandon her baby in the womb think little about how pro-choice they are when it comes to leaving children in day-care centers and public school warehouses 50-plus hours a week. A child's life doesn't end once he is born. He still needs his mother.

What message was sent to the mothers of America as Sarah Palin took the vice-presidential spotlight while her children watched from the shadows?


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