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Just a Thought on Palin

September 3, 2008

I’m noticing that some folks are asking how Sarah Palin could possibly consider running for VP while having a young baby at home, and how she could have possibly returned to work so quickly after giving birth. I have one thought for those folks: your privilege and/or sexism is showing.

Sexism, because I don’t believe that all of these people asking how she could do anything with a baby around would all be asking the same if Palin were a man.

The privilege is really the meat of it, though, because many women simply can’t afford not to return to work soon after giving birth. Many employers offer inadequate leave, and many women and their families simply can’t take the economic hit of unpaid leave. Palin is the Governor – she has an office, she has support, she has money, she has health insurance, she has a husband who can and should help with the baby. Many, many women lack the kind of support Palin can command to assist in caring for her child.

Sure, campaigning and being VP may be demanding. However, if, with all of the resources at Palin’s fingertips, the situation still seems inadequate for providing for a child, if the deck still seems stacked against working mothers, imagine how women without the luxury of these choices must feel.

I just found a post on Feministing along the same lines, asking what McCain/Palin will do for all women. Ann writes:

“The media are clamoring to ask whether she can juggle her children and her career. But they aren’t saying a peep about whether she wants to enact policies that will make it easier for women — especially women who do not enjoy the privilege that Palin and McMorris Rodgers do — to perform this balancing act.”

“The real story here is not how Sarah Palin chooses to balance her own life. It’s about whether she (and McCain) are committed to making these choices easier for all women. And clearly, the answer is no.”

While I’m quite sure I disagree with Palin on any number of things, her choice to work while having children is the least of possible criticisms. She’s lucky she had the choice.

17 Comments leave one →
  1. September 3, 2008 12:12 pm

    Rachel, hats off to you for your consistency. I couldn’t imagine a pundit saying that maybe Barack should stay home with all of his many children, and that by running for President, he is a bad dad.

  2. September 3, 2008 12:41 pm

    Glen, thanks – the pundits would *never* suggest that Obama should just stay home and raise his girls.

  3. September 3, 2008 4:59 pm

    I totally agree. The priviledge thing bothers me the most. Of course, there are other things that could be added to this- such as the criticism that her baby has Down Syndrome so how dare she return to work when this baby is so young? That one bothers me as well. Regardless of the fact that I dislike the media angles and irrevelent commentary about her personal life and family issues, I highly suspect that she is the epitome of an anti-feminist despite the fact that many Republicans like to compare her with a progressive feminist.

    Like Glen says, no one is critisizing Obama about running for president with two young school age daughters.

  4. September 3, 2008 8:18 pm

    Whether or not she has young kids is irrelevant – what I can’t understand is how women can support her and her anti-woman policies.

  5. September 4, 2008 6:17 am

    Trisha, and that’s the kind of thing we *should* be talking about!

  6. Michelle permalink
    September 4, 2008 10:03 am

    Have any of you folks actually given birth? Typically three days later you are leaking milk like crazy and it’s unlikely the baby has nursing down pat. You are passing quite a bit of blood and it may hurt to walk because of tears/cuts on your perineum. You are likely beyond exhausted. The baby needs around the clock care. It took all I had to get through the first few days when I had my children, and they luckily had no health issues. OTOH, I know my former SIL had a baby with Down Syndrome and she found it necessary to scrap her plans to return to work because the child needed so much extra care, such as frequent therapy appointments and such, that trying to combine that with a job wouldn’t have worked because she would have needed to take off for an appointment just about every day.

    I’m sick of people saying this view is sexist. The fact is, men do not have tears on their genitals after their wives give birth. They might be tired, but they are not as bone-deep exhausted as a woman who has just done the incredibly physical job of giving birth. Men do not produce milk, get sore nipples or engorgement, etc.

    HAVING SAID THAT, I personally don’t think much of any new father who works long hours and ignores his children. Not only does his partner need his assistance and emotional support, he needs to bond with the child. How can anybody tear themselves away from a precious newborn? Nobody should have to and policies should make it so. Every parent should get generous leave. Furthermore, anybody who can voluntarily decide to focus attention anywhere but on his or her newborn child, assuming that person had a choice, is not as good a parent as he or she could be. Just my opinion. I would have been extremely upset with the father of my children if he had just gone off to work right after their births.

    BTW, Obama’s kids are well out of the newborn stage. There is a significant difference between caring for a newborn and an older child. It’s just plain silly to equate a newborn with a kid in elementary school.

  7. September 4, 2008 11:18 am

    Michelle, but it’s none of our business if she felt up to returning to work. As I mentioned, she’s lucky she had the choice. Obama’s children are not newborns, but neither would he be subjected to questions about whether he “should” be running if they were.

  8. Michelle permalink
    September 4, 2008 11:36 am

    Why wouldn’t Obama or any other man be subjected to comments if he gave his children short shrift? Why would you assume nobody would care about that? And maybe Palin felt up to coming back to work, but I think a newborn deserves to be the center of his or her parents’ world for a little longer than three days. My opinion, as a mother who cherishes her children, is that a loving parent doesn’t hand the baby off to somebody else and go back to work a mere three days after giving birth. I really hate this awful view that to make it in a man’s world a woman has to practically deny that she has had a child. We ought to expect (and make it possible) that every new parent take some time to give every new child his or her birthright of love and parental attention in the newborn period. I do not see anybody who chooses to do otherwise as a role model. Every family should do their very best to give every baby a loving start, and that means devoting some time to every child.

  9. September 4, 2008 4:19 pm

    Obama IS giving his children short shrift. It’s been reported that his eldest burst into tears when she saw him on tv because she misses him so much. It’s been reported that he’s only been at home 10 days last year.

    The Clintons (not this time, but back when he ran), the Bushes, the Gores, the Obamas, the Palins – anyone who seeks high office when they have minor kids exposes them to all kinds of craziness. All these politicians give their kids short shrift. Heck, to be a councillor locally requires giving up evening after evening of your young kids’ lives.

    Look, I wouldn’t make the kinds of choices they made, but then I’m not a politician. There are lots worse ways to be a bad parent.

    And anyway what do you want? A political system where only people with no recent experience of parenting very young children can run for office? What if they have a kid while in office (as Gov Palin did?) Should she be forced to step down? No, don’t think so.

  10. missedconceptions permalink
    September 4, 2008 10:56 pm

    I, for one, would ask how a man could leave a 4-month old baby.

    I physically can not be apart from my child for a long period of time, and not just because I am breastfeeding. Maybe it is because he is my first (or, perhaps because I have a soul) but I can not stand to physically be away from him for more than a few hours.

    The fact that she was proud of going back to work after 3 days is bizarre to me because, like someone said above, your milk comes in and even with an “easy” (Palin’s words) labor, it was still LABOR. It’s almost like, well, like she didn’t really have a baby at all.

  11. drew permalink
    September 5, 2008 11:36 pm

    Palin will do NOTHING for women’s health issues. When Alaska had a 7 Billion dollar surplus, she denied funding for domestic violence shelters, breastfeeding in the workplace, and insurance for mother’s of low income children. She refused to collaborate with women’s groups that identified as pro-choice on these issues although she agreed to speak and pose with them for her own political gain.

    http://www.alaskaprochoice.org/

  12. September 6, 2008 3:33 pm

    How can anybody tear themselves away from a precious newborn? Nobody should have to….

    How can any adult spend all of their time with a newborn? Also, you’re assuming Gov. Palin *had to* return to work. Have you considered that maybe that’s what she *wanted to* do? People, yes even women, react differently to the arrival of a newborn, people have different life circumstances, and people use different considerations in their decision making process.

    My opinion, as a mother who cherishes her children, is that a loving parent doesn’t hand the baby off to somebody else and go back to work a mere three days after giving birth.

    You projecting your choice and your circumstances tells us nothing about how loving a parent Gov. Palin is or how much she cherishes her newborn.

    Bottom line, Rachel is spot-on; it’s none of our business if she felt up to returning to work 3 days postpartum.

  13. Tina B permalink
    September 8, 2008 5:51 pm

    I agree that it is none of our business if she felt up to returning to work 3 days pospartum but it makes me question her priorities. I believe that once you decide to have children, you are first a mom then whatever your career may be is second. Otherwise, what’s the point.

  14. Basiro permalink
    September 9, 2008 12:59 pm

    My children are now 33, 31 and 26. I went back to work ata flexible, part-time job, when my youngest was 8. To this day, I can see a difference in her “neediness.” I thought I was being a role model, showing her that women could work and raise a family – but even though she loves her job as a teacher – her goal is to be able to be a “stay at home mom.”

    I do agree, however, that there are many children who are much better off, being raised by someone other than their moms, and the Palin children, may be an example of such children. If you don’t love sitting on the flooring with blocks and crayons and books all around you, and you don’t mind leaving the dishes in the sink while you read just one more story, you may be better off hiring someone else to do the raising for you. On the other hand, if you return to work after 3 days, it’s possible the true bonding of mother to child may never actually happen.

    But I agree with others here, that the issue isn’t what she chooses to do for her own family, but rather the impact her policies

  15. Basiro permalink
    September 9, 2008 1:14 pm

    My children are now 33, 31 and 26. I went back to work at a flexible, part-time job, when my youngest was 8. To this day, I can see a difference in her “neediness.” I thought I was being a role model, showing her that women could work and raise a family – but even though she loves her job as a teacher – her goal is to be able to be a “stay at home mom.”

    I do believe, however, that there are many children who are much better off, being raised by someone other than their moms, and the Palin children, may be an example of such children. If you don’t love sitting on the flooring with blocks and crayons and books all around you, and you don’t mind leaving the dishes in the sink while you read just one more story, you may be better off hiring someone else to do the raising for you. If you return to work after 3 days, it’s possible the true bonding of mother to child may never actually happen.

    But I agree with others here, that the issue isn’t what she chooses to do for her own family, but rather the impact her policies force on the rest of us. Five chilren are a lot to raise (neither of her older chilren have plans for higher education? Interesting.) Is that a model for our nation? Refusing help for women in need? Only supporting special needs programs AFTER she knew she was going to have a special needs child of her own. Refusing to support sex education programs? Even if the rise in teen pregnancy is a blip and not a trend – that is still unacceptable! If the government hadn’t thrown so much money away on abstinence only programs, we should have seen those numbers continue to drop – not to mention STDs.

    Is her husband quitting work? Will he be staying home to raise the children? The reason you don’t hear people questioning the men about their children, is that their spouses have given up their careers (yes, even Hillary) while in the White House) so there was someone there for the children. And in my memory, there were never 5 children! So, lets see what the story is – and where the family values truly are.

  16. Michelle O permalink
    September 12, 2008 4:29 pm

    I think you are on the right course, but I little misconstrued. You see coming from someone who was born in Alaska, I have whitnessed how Sarah Palin takes a course of action. Having a baby has nothing to do with the abilities that she has to help run our country. I know the Palin family personally because I went to school with her daughter and my cousin was on the same hockey team the Trek Palin was on. Also my aunt is good friends with Sarah. I know she can pull through, after all 3 years ago she was the mayor of my home town named Wasilla and did alot of good for our small community. You mentioned that Tom should and can step in to help out with the baby, but the truth is, that he already has. He has already become Mr. Mom. Because in case you have forgotten, Sarah is the Governor of my state. Even though it is not as high ranking as VP, its still a tough job. She has done so much good in our state that I have full faith in her. She had no problem running my state, I know she can help run my country.

    govresponse@hotmail.com

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