Like a bad soap opera, the republican choice for vice-president is full of irony, pathos and a plot that not only is predictable but gives voters – women especially – reason for thoughtful concern.
I am a woman – first and foremost. Being a woman is more than breasts and a vagina. It’s something deep-seated, spiritual, soulful and inherent. It’s a sisterhood built on the foundation laid by all the women who have preceded me and made stronger by my contributions for my future sisters.
Whether black, white, gay, straight or trans – we are family. And I would like to believe that I’ve got all my sisters with me. But then came Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska and vice presidential nominee for the Republican party.
Yes, Sarah can bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan, but somewhere along the way she seems to have forgotten that the majority of American women still do not have economic parity with the average man. And although her choice to have a child after 40, continue her pregnancy even after learning her baby would be born with Down ‘s syndrome and raise him in a loving family should be respected, Sarah would deny other women the right to make the same choices in their life with her pro-life stance. While campaigning in 2006 for governor of Alaska, a state with a rape rate 2.2 times above the national average with 25 percent of all rapes resulting in unwanted pregnancies, Palin went on record saying she would deny abortion rights to women even in the case of rape even if it were here own daughter. A nice shot in the arm for McCain’s checkered record on abortion rights.
Although a beneficiary of affirmative action, especially Title IX, our pistol-packing Sarah has thrown her hat in the ring, crawled in bed with John McCain who voted in support of a ban led by Ward Connerly that would end race and gender based affirmative action policies in his home state of Arizona. Connerly, McCain and the good ol’ boys of the Republican party hate affirmative action, leading initiatives to turn back affirmative action legislation across the country – even right here in Michigan. Preferential treatment, entitlement, women/minority quotas, they hated it – but then came Sarah.
Or maybe we should say then came Hillary Clinton, our 21st century Maude. You remember Maude from the 1970s don’t you? Maude Findlay, a very outspoken woman who wears her liberal politics on her sleeve. Well, cross out Maude and you’ve got our Hillary – “compromisin’, enterprisin’, anything but tranqulizin’ – right on, Hillary!,” running a campaign that energized and mobilized and empowered millions of women voters, leaving “18 million cracks in the highest, hardest glass ceiling.” Now that’s a sister that really cooks but she didn’t get the nomination – for president or vice president.
Disappointed, yes, but dazed and confused we are not. Give us sisters a break McCain – any old vagina won’t do. You can take Sarah across the country, giving homage to Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Clinton, claiming to carry on their fight for women’s rights. We are not that easily fooled. We see your Stepford candidate for what she is – the Republican Party’s 360-degree turn-around on affirmative action this one time to get a win.
While criticizing Barak Obama for his lack of experience, the GOP overlooked experienced Republican politicians like Olympia Snowe and Kay Bailey Hutchinson for Palin. On paper, Palin looks like June Cleaver – a soccer mom, wife, mother of five. But with only four years on the city council and six years as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska (population under 10,000) and less than two years as governor of Alaska, where’s the experience? Do you really think she’s in the same league as Hillary Clinton, Geraldine Ferraro or even Snowe or Bailey-Hutchinson? To paraphrase Lloyd Benson, we have fought for women’s rights; we know women’s rights; feminisim has been our fight. Sarah Palin, you’re no feminist.
With her extreme views on abortion, opposition to same-sex marriage, support for the discussion of creationism in public schools, support of abstinence-only sex education in schools, Palin won’t shatter the glass ceiling for women. She’s up there on a ladder patching the cracks.
No one would have been more thrilled than I to see Hillary Clinton at the top of the Democratic ticket and in the White house. Like my sisters – the sisterhood of the traveling pantsuit – I am disappointed. But just as I turned to Hillary for change, for the continued evolution of “Woman Power,” from her, I continue to find great wisdom.
“I want you to ask yourselves: Were you in this campaign just for me?” she asked at the Democratic Convention. “Or were you in it for that young Marine and others like him? Were you in it for that mom struggling with cancer while raising her kids? Were you in it for that boy and his mom surviving on minimum wage? Were you in it for all the people in this country who feel invisible?”
And that is really what it’s all about. So as Sarah Palin purrs up there on the platform beside John McCain, hoping to lull us in to believing that her candidacy is a step forward for women and somehow retribution for the Democratic Party not selecting Hillary Clinton, I am going to stand with my sisters and vote for real change – not the consolation prize. So thanks, but no thanks, Sarah. We’ll just wait until the right woman comes along.
Or as sister Helen would say “We are women, hear us roar In numbers too big to ignore and we know too much to go back an’ pretend. ‘Cause we’ve heard it all before and we’ve been down there on the floor. No one’s ever gonna keep us down again.”‘