Io has a great post about Sarah Palin and the fact that it is being crammed down our throats that she is a mother. It really is getting a little ridiculous. I had started to leave a comment for Io, but then it turned into a giant rant, so I've moved it over here. So, before you read, go read Io's post (and the comments), and then come on back.
I totally agree with Io about her thoughts on this topic. In a few short days, Sarah Palin has become a caricature of a woman. With any other candidate, we'd be talking about gun control, abortion, foreign policy experience, offshore drilling, ANWAR, Iraq, the economy, etc. But here were are, talking about how she is a parent. It's the ultimate sexism, because if she were a man, it would simply be taken for granted. As we get more women in high offices, I think this will eventually change, but Sarah Palin is also missing a big chance to change things. She has allowed herself to become part of the problem. You can hate Hillary Clinton all you want and criticize her for being cold and harsh--she didn't use Chelsea as a prop. It's offensive to me that Palin is willing to prostitute herself in this way. And we most certainly wouldn't be talking about this if Romney had been the pick, despite the fact he also has a pack of children. He trotted them out for the photo op, but they weren't exactly central to his campaign theme, IMO. Motherhood seems very central to the Palin Persona. Does the campaign really think America is that dumb, that the Motherhood Gimmick is going to win them the election? And do they really think that little of Hillary Clinton supporters, that they think that Hillary supporters are going to see a vagina on the ticket and be blinded by the light in the voting booth? What I liked about Hillary was that she was tough and smart and had good ideas--things that had nothing to do with her gender. Voting based on gender is like voting based on color or religious preference. . .superficial and absurd.
I wish they'd shut up and talk about stuff that matters, because frankly, being a parent is rather pedestrian. It's normal (well, normal in neighborhoods other than this little corner of the blogosphere, perhaps). It may make one slightly more qualified to lead the PTA in a town of 6000 people, but it certainly does not make one more qualified to lead a diverse nation of 300 million people. In other words, it should be a nonissue.
But my feelings about the Mommy Candidate situation are multifaceted. As a successful, childless professional woman over the age of 35, I have had a whole lot of experiences with the mother vs. nonmother debate. On one hand, there are definitely those out there who think that motherhood gives one superpowers mere nonmothers don't have, and I have been condescended to more times than I can count, and yes, it's annoying.
On the other hand, there are those who think that I can work harder and do more because I'm not tied down by burdens at home. So, in some sense, I'm more valuable (and, I get a lot more dumped on me and a lot more expected of me sometimes--my supervisor is a middle-aged, childless, single male-- which isn't fair to me, either). Men, by the way, are not subject to such an analysis AT ALL, in my experience. The women in my office who have kids have to deal with the subtle discrimination all the time(the "I'm not sure she can do it, because of the kids," generally whispered in a voice that is meant to sound concerned about the woman in question.) It's highly offensive not only to the woman in question, who is generally as hard working and present as I am, and certainly as all of the men in the office. Yet, I've seen men with the same number of kids, whose children are the same age, not face any scrutiny at all, while women in the same position have to prove they can "handle" the job and being a parent. It's such crap. America likes to think that it's achieved equality because there are women in the boardroom, but just because we're sitting there doesn't mean we are treated equally.
So I guess what I'm saying is that while I'm totally annoyed that there's so much coverage of Mommy Palin, I am also all to aware that there are so many important professional jobs where motherhood is an impediment for very intelligent, highly competent women. And I'm not entirely sure that the vice presidency will not be one of them. I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop for Ms. Palin, because when you live by the sword, you die by it, too, and America is still a very sexist place for professional mothers.