Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Women Against Sarah Palin

Recently several friends sent me the following URL for a web site titled “Women Against Sarah Palin.”
One friend expressed hesitation about going after Palin in such a way, saying that we should not stoop to the level of our opponents in this election. Another friend fears that the attacks on Palin will deter other women from running for high office. I, however, felt a sense of relief that at last I had found a place to express my dismay at this woman’s nomination for an office that puts her a heartbeat away from the most powerful position in the world. I oppose her not because she’s the mother of small children, but because of her anti-woman stands on issues. This woman, while posing as a feminist, has made statements espousing the most anti-feminist ideas possible. Being female does not confer the mantle of feminism on a person. What then does make a feminist?

According to The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “feminism” means, “The theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes,” as well as “organized activities on behalf of women’s rights and activities.”

What this means in real life is that people, both women and men, are committed to full participation and equality for women. It means women take charge of their lives and decide their fates on a level playing field. This means, among other things, that women have the right to control their own reproduction, to decide if they want to be mothers, if they want to stay at home with their children, or if they want to enter the work force.

Both John McCain and Sarah Palin say they are opposed to Roe v. Wade as unconstitutional. Sen. McCain has voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and opposed renewal of The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Palin made Alaskan rape victims pay for their rape kites and wouldn’t allow abortion even for rape or incest. She also cut funding for teen mothers.

It is difficult to know in what way either of these candidates supports the feminist agenda. By contrast, the VAWA was drafted by aides in Sen. Joe Biden’s office and Barack Obama has made it clear that he trusts women to make their own reproductive decisions.

Of course, Gov. Palin is not the presidential candidate, but that fact has been obscured by the near-celebrity status accorded her by a cadre of adoring mainstream media figures. In fact, one has to marvel at McCain’s ability to take the attention off his weak candidacy by choosing Palin as his running mate.

Also obscured in the rush by some women to support Palin because she is a woman “just like them” is the fact that the McCain/Palin ticket would be the worst thing for women since George Bush—oh, wait. Even George Bush supported VAWA.

Gov. Palin, like many women of her generation, balances the demands of motherhood with the demands of her career. Does this balancing act automatically make a person a feminist? No. Palin’s opportunities as a woman make her the recipient, not the proponent of the benefits of the feminist movement, benefits she and McCain would likely undo if they were elected into office. That is the reason I added a comment to the Women Against Sarah Palin web site. Too many women and men have fought for too long to gain equal rights for women to have those gains undone by an administration avowedly against those rights.

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