Sep 5, 2008

Can't Stay Quiet Any More

Well, I started this blog back in April with the very best intentions of posting regularly, then became swept up in the chaos of a book deadline, the end of the school year, and preparation for two teaching workshops in Iowa. So I missed writing about a slew of family news, including Maya's fifth-grade graduation; the arrival of our pet tarantula, Billy Bob; the 500-year flood in Iowa City; and our July in Iowa. I was starting to worry that I'd abandoned the blog as just another good idea I once dabbled with. But the events of the past week have pulled me out of silence. Even with a book deadline pressing on me, I feel there is no more important time than right now for women to speak out against the hypocrisy and danger represented by the Republican Party, through the selection of Sarah Palin for vice president.

I realize I risk angering or alienating some of my readers with the posts that are about to follow, so if you don't agree with my points of view, you might want to stop reading. Because I've got some pretty strong opinions about what's going on in this country right now, and I'm going to be posting them. Frequently, and with passion.

I was at the gym after dropping the kids at camp, just about to leave for my office, when I saw Fox News (the gym's choice, not mine) on the overhead television announcing Sarah Palin's nomination. Like everyone else in the gym, and nearly everyone else in America, my first reaction was, "Who?" I felt an initial twinge of excitement to see a woman had been chosen. Pretty much the first thing we learned about her was that she was a mother of five, with a four-month-old infant who had Downs Syndrome. It was hard for me to get past the inherent dissoance there--a special needs infant, with a mother running for national office?--but I figured well, women make different choices, whatever. Then the flood of information about her so-called experience, and the blatant manipulation involved in McCain's decision to choose her, started coming our way. Yesterday, I received an email asking all the women in America who object to Palin's policies on sex education, reproductive freedom, creationism in the schools, and environmental opinions--as well as her blatant disregard for the Constitution's mandate to keep church and state separate and provide religious freedom to all--to post their own opinions on a new blog called Women Against Sarah Palin. You can send your own submissions to

I thought a good place to start would be with posting the submission I sent in tonight. Here it is:

Of all the objectionable points that can be made about Sarah Palin's nomination, and this past week has given us plenty to object to, the point I find most offensive is this: the way the far right and Palin herself, without much else to go on, are trying to use "mother of five" as a legitimate qualification for holding the second-highest executive position in America. That's what's supposed to convince us she's the best candidate for the job? That she's a mother, "just like us!"?

I watched two hosts on "The View" last week gush over how exciting Palin's nomination was and, when pressed to explain why, shouted, "She's a mother of five!" And I had to wonder, what country did I just wake up in? Do Republicans really think women are such idiots we can be treated as if we can't distinguish between the complexities of managing a household and the complexities of managing a world power? Yes, mothers do hard, honest work every day; yes, we rely on a set of skills shared by many executives and CEOs. I've been balancing work and motherhood for almost 11 years: you don't have to sell me on the superior organization and nearly inhuman personal discipline this requires. But my dominion is over a handful of individuals who are smaller, weaker, and biologically primed to adore me. To imply that women don't know this, or to try to dupe us into delusions of self-grandeur, is the worst kind of anti-feminism possible. It's a deception that's designed to appeal to the most dissatisfied and narcissistic parts of us, the parts that need to be reassured that the work we do isn't just worthy, but that it has the potential for national greatness. The most troubling part of this is that in a society that routinely devalues the work of mothers, this tactic will actually pull some women in by making them believe Sarah Palin is just a slightly more experienced version of them. This is pure deception, and trickery, and a complete insult to any mother with a brain. It reeks of patriarchy. It shows us exactly what Republicans think of mothers' intelligence. A tactic like this doesn't foster sisterhood among women. It mocks it.

Hope Edelman, 44
Los Angeles, CA

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