The female Republican groundswell for Palin is rooted in something far deeper than politics.
BY EDITOR HOLLY MULLEN
%uFFFDPalin-powered Females First, a promise: This is not a column about the politics of Sarah Palin. Still, about that Tina Fey-does-Palin send up on Saturday Night Live last week: It was hysterical. Speaking of hysteria, I think I finally get what’s going on with all the shero worship of the GOP veep candidate. It’s bigger and more impor tant than any governor of 700,000 people showering the lower 48 with piss and vinegar.
There is something bubbling under the surface of women who, influ enced by the conservative men they honor, suddenly see their chance at full equality in the guise of Sarah Palin. How else to explain the near reverence conservative Republican women are showing toward this can didate? Palin is the antithesis of every value the right wing has belittled in progressive women.
She works full-time outside the home—and not in some mundane little side job. She’s a governor, for heaven’s sake, and potentially the second-most powerful person in the world. She’s the mother of five, including a baby with special needs who will need social services his whole life. She speaks her mind. She hunts and fishes.
And amazingly, the woman is idolized for this way of life—from Sean Hannity to Dr. Laura to John McCain to average women who post com ments at SLWeekly.com More than anything based in a political platform, the Palin women have exposed their own pent-up feelings about their role in society.
Millions of them want more to life than the narrow road they’ve been encouraged to trod. They sense there is more to this life than pushing a triple-wide stroller through the park, and trying to reclaim a delayed career 22 years later. It’s taken a woman in a red suit and Kawasaki designer eyeglasses to let them know that options are A-OK. The question is, where will this new permission for empowerment lead these women? Because, much like the earlier waves of the women’s movement, once you realize there’s more than the limited role ascribed to you, it isn’t long before you want more.
Will the Palin-powered women start thinking about the logical next steps in their evolution? What about equal pay for comparable worth? Jobs with more generous maternity leave benefits? What about the drive for affordable child care, and not just for middle- and upper-class families, but everyone? And, if your own child is suddenly made a celebrity on a national convention stage for her out-of-wedlock pregnancy, perhaps you’ve unwittingly become a poster candidate for more rigorous sex education in the schools. Beyond, of course, the obviously fallible theory that abstinence-only curricula prevent teen pregnancies.
If all of these issues sound suspiciously like Democratic Party values, it shouldn’t be too surprising. It’s been the original party of feminist women and men since the whole talk of equality between the sexes caught fire more than a century ago. If it takes Palin to get you there, go right ahead.
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