Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Scarlet VP

I’m not usually one to yell "sexism" at every turn, but I do hate hypocrisy. When many "progressive" people clamor for Sarah Palin to step down, go home, and take care of her family, such helpful advisors undescore a prevalent bias that a woman's career goals are pretty insignificant. They feel that Palin, as a woman, should easily sacrifice a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity the moment there's an issue involving her soon-to-be-adult daughter.

Even if Palin were pro-choice or pro-comprehensive sex ed (as I am), her daughter still could have gotten pregnant. Earth to fellow sex ed instructors (I teach about contraception and STDs in Juvenile Hall): Providing comprehensive education does not entail actually showing up to the bedroom. You can't control what teenagers do. All of those excuses about her conservative political positions justifying criticism of her family's problems are red herrings.

Why would any "liberal" think that Palin's first responsibility should be to "spare" her family, rather than worry about her career goals? I ask all men out there: Do your careers have such little importance, that you would sacrifice everything you’ve worked for, the moment your 17-year old made a mistake? No, you’d probably work longer hours to make more money, so you could help support the child. And you’d become as successful as possible, to become a role model for your child and grandchild.

In college, I used to see many women wearing shirts announcing “I had an abortion.” It seems that having had an abortion is a source of pride for some people. However, apparently being pregnant is so unbearably shameful, such a huge scarlet letter, that people are saying that Palin should step down simply to avoid “exposing” her daughter or thrusting her into the limelight. Well, there would be no limelight if people stopped acting like pregnancy was the greatest possible scourge for a young woman (And don’t tell me that your mentioning these things are justified because it simply reflects what conservatives believe. You either uphold your principles or you don’t. And you don't take out any potential conservative hypocracies on a 17-year-old, who may be pro-choice, for all you know).

Palin’s son is in the army. Although, this decision is extraordinarily honorable, it involves enormous danger and risk. Yet, we are more “worried” about the young woman who will have a baby in a safe environment than the other kid who is potentially one convoy trip away from getting killed. Do we only feel the need to "protect" girls, rather than boys? Or is it just that this has nothing to do with women’s welfare, and everything to do with pregnancy taboos?

Update 2.12.09 It feels strange reading this post, so many months later. Soon after posting it, I became thoroughly underwhelmed with Governor Palin, as did many others. Was I right to avoid judging her so quickly, and to give her a chance, or should have I been clued in to her lack of qualifications much earlier? Not sure.

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