Whatever your political affiliations are, whoever you voted for in the Presidential elections, whatever your opinion of Palin is, politically, I ask you to leave it at the door. This post is not a political post. It is not intended to show you or the world that Palin should have won the Presidential ticket for McCain, or that she should win the Presidential ticket for herself in 2012, if she goes for it. This post is about the messages our daughters are receiving about womanhood, because what I am doing here is comparing two women — a mother and her daughter. For the sake of getting through this post, I ask you to look at Sarah Palin as a WOMAN — for now.
Sarah Palin, also known as “Sarah Barracuda” back in HS for her competitive athleticism, is a former hockey mom, a maverick, and a rogue. And whatever your political slants are, Palin is an accomplished woman. Let’s look at these professional and academic achievements. She is:
- a politician
- an author
- a speaker
- a political commentator
- First woman elected Governor of Alaska who served for three years
- Second woman Vice Presidential Candidate
- Wasilla, Alaska’s Mayor from 1996-2002
In HS, she was co-captain and point guard of the Girls’ Basketball team and a member of the cross-country running team. She was also awarded a College scholarship and received a BA in Communications and Journalism. After College she worked as a sports reporter for two local TV News Stations.
Whatever you may think of her as a politician, you have to agree, after seeing her credentials, that she is a strong and accomplished WOMAN. Sarah Palin is an achiever, competitive, and empowered. She is the embodiment of true womanhood, unchained, unhindered — the symbol of what women can achieve if they want to, despite the myriad of disdain they will receive for it.
And now let us take a look at her daughter, Bristol Palin. Bristol is eighteen and a mother, flustering over a baby belly during her mother’s Vice Presidential Election in 2009. She is reverently addressed as a teen mom and has received favorable commentary from the world and from the same tabloids that unabashedly unveil the faults of her mother. A teen mom, her sexual irresponsibilities have resulted in a child, sympathy, and star-studded fame. She has accomplished nothing more, achieved nothing more, striven for nothing more, and yet she is a star, a celebrity teen mom, her face and baby plastered all over the covers of People Magazine and Hollywood Life. She is a teen idol now, a celebrity name — and she has done nothing more than have a baby before she was supposed to – that and strip off her outfit, followed by a strip tease in Dancing with the Stars.
The message we are sending our girls via the Palin Women is as follows: You want to be famous, dance with the stars, be popular and a beloved presence in the media, a role model to the future generations of girls? Well then, get pregnant, have a baby out of wedlock, be irresponsible, take back the baby’s father who denigrates your mother and family for money, and parade your bad decisions and behavior for the world. Be a teen mom and proud of it — don’t worry — they will love you. They will make you famous and rich.
But whatever you do, don’t be like your mother. Don’t be competitive, don’t strive for advancement at work and in the world. Don’t go against the government or the big boys that make all the rules for society and for women. Don’t balance motherhood and family with a professional career, especially when that career steps onto the toes of masculinity. Don’t strive, don’t use your brain, don’t go to college and earn a degree, don’t be empowered or ambitious; leave that to the men and your mother. You don’t want to be like your mother, do you? Look what happened to her — she’s a lost cause. No one likes her. She may have been voted Miss Congeniality when she was younger, your age perhaps, but look what happened when she stepped out of her dress and into the breeches of men. But you, you’re a teen mom — you’re shining in the limelight — you’re a good girl — a right girl — and you will reap the rewards for your stereotypical femininity.
This is the message our girls, our daughters, are receiving when they see Bristol take her place among celebrities and stars of Hollywood, seductively dancing away her baby fat — she’s gone from unwed teen mother to salacious stardom.
And her mother, Sarah Palin, the woman, the politician, the overachiever — the world hates her, mocks her; society is repelled by her; the media castigates her, burning her at the pyre for witchery and bitchery. The National Refrain goes something along the lines of “Burn the Bitch, Kill the Witch,” the media that showcases her daughter’s lack of serious achievements, standing beneath Sarah’s burning flesh, dancing, chanting, blowing on the flames to quicken her tortuous demise. When people see her face plastered among the pages of magazines, newspapers, and TV News Shows, they smirk and spit on everything she represents. But when I see her, I just see a woman. A woman who started off as a stay-at-home-mom and then went into politics to change the way politicians functioned. She has accomplished great things, things many women never dreamed possible for themselves or for their sex. She plays in the playground with the big boys, and they knock her down because she is the first woman and apparently weak and soft and domestic, but she gets right back up, dusts the dirt, grime and spit right off her face, and continues to forge her way past the patriarchal walls and glass ceilings that endure to keep her homely, motherly, soft-womanly. She has spirit, drive, ambition, and competitive gumption that was prevalent in HS. She has accomplished more than many of us women, moms, daughters have accomplished, sitting at home with our own children as our dreams lay idle and presently forgotten. Despite her conservatism, we should rejoice in the fact that she has paved a strong road behind her for the daughters we bring into this world. Sarah Palin’s struggles and achievements have forged a path, albeit thin and unmanicured, pebbled and dusted, but it is there, waiting for our girls to widen its confines, and then trudge through it so that perhaps they can be Governors, Mayors, and even Presidents of this, our America.
Copyright© 2010 by Marina Delvecchio. All Rights Reserved.