Thursday, September 4, 2008

Now to Sexism

There are some people out there, including one who commented on my last post, who think it’s fair to ask whether a woman with five kids including one pregnant teenager and an infant with special needs will have the focus necessary to be Vice President?  It is a question one would never ask of a man in a similar situation.  Indeed if Todd Palin had been selected by John McCain, the father of those same children, no one would dare pose, even think, that question.  If Joe Biden, as a single father, could tend to his sons and his duties as a Senator, so too should Sarah Palin, especially since Todd is on the case at home.   Let’s not delude ourselves; sexism is alive and thriving in our society.  It is an equal opportunity provider that gives its all to White, African American, Latino, Asian or any other woman without prejudice.

Sexism is a river that runs deep beginning with the incredible notion that God is a “he”.  Remember the Don McLean lyric in American Pie, “the three men I admire most, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost”?  Yes every time American families attend church or synagogue they are reminded of divine masculinity, a lesson drummed into their childrens ears at an early age.  It is one that we routinely explain away or pretend is not there.  That God which both Democrats and Republicans invoke so solemnly at the conclusion of their speeches is a he-god.  If you have any doubt, just get on a platform in the public square and refer to God as she.  You’ll be lucky if you’re not tarred a feathered.  So if the Creator is “he”, it follows that anything really important can only be done by some he, unless of course we want to make some extraordinary exception.  So that’s where I (and we) stand on sexism. The point is that, with all due respect to the Women’s Movement, the issue of jobs including political ones and however important it may be, is at the margin of the problem.  To deal effectively with a cancer, you have to go to the source not simply the metastatic effects.  Let’s see who wants to take the primary source of sexism on.  Don't all raise your hands at once.

In the end Sarah Palin, as was the case with Hillary Clinton, is a candidate for high office subject to same scrutiny one would give to a man seeking it.  I agree with Barack Obama and Joe Biden that family is off the table.  I also feel that with regard to sexism, racism and family candidates can’t have it both ways.  They can’t use gender, race and family and then tell the press and public not to comment.  Governor Palin parades her family when suits her and then expects everyone to remain dutifully silent.  She introduces her son who is off to Ayrak (why can’t people pronounce that correctly after all this time) not simply to show us his face but to make a political point.  She parades her pregnant teenage daughter and her soon-to-be teenage son-in-law, but considers any comment about them off limits.  Politicians are users, sometimes in the worst most self-serving ways.

But let’s do leave her family out of this, even if she doesn’t.  Sarah Palin compared herself to a pit bull last evening, backing it up with tough words.  Let’s hope she doesn’t expect her male opponents to characterize her any less generously.  No they shouldn’t use sexist innuendo, and no they shouldn’t question her patriotism.  But don’t expect them to sit by when the governor who supposedly rejected the bridge to nowhere, took the money allocated and ran straight to the Alaska bank.  Let her not get away with proudly telling us how she gave Alaskans a big rebate without pointing our that her fellow citizens benefited financially on the backs of citizens in the lower forty-eight and Hawaii’s high gas bill.  Let her not talk of Democratic tax and spend without pointing out that Bill Clinton left us with a surplus which Republicans squandered big time along with dramatically increasing the federal headcount and payroll.  Sarah Palin has joined the not-so-straight-talk express and now she takes full responsibility for it. 

Republicans love referencing Harry Truman these days.  Pat Boone that great political sage defended Sarah Palin saying that she had as much experience as Harry Truman when he was tapped by FDR.  Apparently he didn’t read David McCullough’s book, much less pay attention in his history class.  Truman, of course, was a second term United States Senator who had presided over a very sensitive and high profile investigation on war production, things I don’t remember seeing in Palin’s resume.  Truman also knew that politics and government were tough.  Perhaps his metaphor was sexist, but his most famous (and widely quoted) aphorism had something to do with hot kitchens.  Some like giving hot, but if not careful, one can always get burned.

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