Mommy Palin

I’ve been thinking about the recent controversies surrounding motherhood and Palin’s fitness to run for Vice President. During Giuliani’s speech at the convention he said:

How dare they question whether Sarah Palin has enough time to spend with her children and be vice president. How dare they do that.

When do they ever ask a man that question? When?

This has generally been passed around as a viable feminist perspective since it is essentially saying “a woman can do anything a man can do.” My biggest question though is why would they want to.

Being Vice President (or being President if John McCain, the oldest Presidential candidate ever, leaves the picture) is, I would think anyone would agree, a huge time commitment. I am absolutely fine with Sarah Palin deciding that she is willing to take on that commitment. I don’t personally like her politics, but there’s absolutely nothing in her genetic makeup that prevents her from doing a fine job of it.

No amount of feeling good about the role of women in the world or supermomery is going to change the fact that there’s just not enough time in the day to take an active role in the lives of five small children while doing a good job as one of the most powerful politicians in the world.

This is a point where I disagree with many traditional feminists who tend to see the world in terms of men grabbing up all the power and then using that to oppress women. I’m certainly not saying a wide variety of shitty things have been and are still being done to women. What I disagree with is the idea that it’s just been roses for guys.

For every woman that is treated like a chunk of meat there’s a guy who feels like the only way he can get into a relationship is by conquering another person. For every woman who smacks into the glass ceiling working her way up the corporate ladder, there’s a guy selling his soul and personal relationships just so he can make some money.

To women, I would ask, would you really trade the rich relational emotional texture of your life — your connections to the people that are important to you, your intimacies and pleasures — for football, cars and the inability to tell the people closest to you that you love them for fear of being seen as gay?

To dismiss the social mores that go along with being a man as just choices people make is as naive as saying that women can get ahead if they simply work harder. The system does damage to both sides, and recognizing that is a part of bringing fairness not through wresting power from those who have it but by helping them to recognize the costs that they don’t yet recognize they are paying.

Being a woman has it’s advantages as well and the permission to take time out of the busy world to raise children is one of those. I really like kids and Jenni does as well, but we are not having kids for a few more years because we both recognize that developing our professional lives is what we want to do with our time right now.

If Sarah Palin is willing to spend less time with her kids so she can be a politician, it’s her life and her decision. She can do an amazing amount of good in either role, and I really don’t know what she should do. I just want the simple recognition that actions have consequences and no amount of political doublespeak is going to change that.

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