Thursday, September 4, 2008

Good Enough Vice-President?

Okay. So the whole point of this blog, or at least the inspiration for this blog, is to support the notion that women, especially mothers, shouldn't feel bad about trying to have it all, and that in order to have it all, we might not always do "it all" perfectly. Somestimes, we're (just barely) good enough. And that's . . . okay (to quote Stuart Smalley).

Now we have our poster case: Sarah Palin.

I must admit, I'm a bit thrown by the whole thing. Suddenly, I'm seeing Laura Ingraham and Rudy Giuliani wag their fingers at the double standards of those who ask, "Can she really handle family responsibilities along with being the veep or, dare we say it, the president?" It's strange and disorienting to see Republicans and even ultra-conservatives cheer the hockey mom with five kids who could be leader of the nation and commander in chief. Especially when, if I remember correctly, Hillary was attacked in 1992 (and thereafter) for being too much of a career woman. She had to write a book about children in order to (try to) shift that impression. This morning, I heard someone saying that we wouldn't be asking these questions if Palin were a Democrat. Are you KIDDING me? A Democratic mother of five would NEVER make it because conservatives would assume she's a terrible, neglectful mother instead of a kickass mother (the latter of which seems to be the take on Palin). I mean, aren't all Democrat or, worse, LIBERAL mothers bad mothers anyway? You know, since we don't have any family values.

I have heard pundits and regular people say that it's offensive for anyone to ask about Palin's family obligations when we wouldn't ask the same questions of a man. Okay, that might be true. But for me, as a mom who works, as a mom who often feels guilty when I have a busy week and am away from the kids more than usual, I just can't imagine.

I have two kids and I am a tenured instructor at a community college. My husband is a university lecturer. We are both full-time professionals, and sometimes, during the academic year, life just gets crazy. That's when I have to be satisfied with being "good enough" at all of my roles. But I do have the option of taking two extra days to get my students' papers back to them. Or I can go into a class a little underprepared and still hope to do well. I can even miss a day (or more) if I need to skip out and spend time with a sick child.

But, as I mentioned in my first post, there are some jobs for which "good enough" just isn't . . . enough. President of the United States--the office for which Sarah Palin must be ready--is one of those jobs. In order to be great at something, one must divert all resources (energy, time) into that role. One cannot put Putin on hold or wait until tomorrow to deal with the dangers of a hurrican.

I teach a Women's Studies course. I do scholarly work on feminist issues. But I still have questions about Sarah Palin as mother/veep. If I step back and think of it all very logically and objectively--sort of like Spock--I say, "Sure, why not. It's up to her. She can live her life how she chooses, and she can be veep and a parent--just like a man." And really I do believe that. But, as a mom, I just can't even begin to imagine being in her shoes.

And since her her balancing act could affect me, I just wonder.

I also wonder, if she gets to the White House, how many "good enough" moms around the country will have to hear, from hubbies or others, "Look at Sarah Palin. She does it all, and she has a more important job than you and more kids that you!" Will that be a step forward for women?

Most of the women I met in my postpartum mommy-and-me groups did not work full time, and most of them still don't. A lot of woman have realized that "haven't it all" is just too tough. That, in order to have it all, too many things have to give. Many women also realized that if they work out-of-the-home full time, they STILL do most of the work at home (as was confirmed in some recent studies). So many of those women have decided to be stay-at-home moms. Or they work out of the home just part-time in order to hold it all together. Unfortunately, this is where the supermom backlash starts. It's the notion that, "Oh, well if you're JUST going to stay home and not 'work,' then you better be a supermom. The house better look like a Pottery Barn set, and the children better be eating homemade organic food." As if perfect is the only equivlent of "good enough."

Somehow, Sarah Palin seems to fictionlize all of this. As if the woman from the "I can bring home the bacon" commercial of the 1980's just walked on to the presidential stage and said, "See? It's easy. I'm a good Christian, a good mother, and I can be President."

I can't go on. My head is spinning from the political and social whiplash that is smacking me around.


Louise said...

Rememeber that her husband is now a permanent stay-at-home-dad. She doesn't have to do it all. And she can afford a nanny. And a maid. And whatever else she may need whilst the balance of working moms work not just because they enjoy what they do, but mostly because the have to.

I have bigger problems with Palin other than her ability to be a mom/veep.
First, is that she believes in and has taught Creationism. Really? Please. Any educated human cannot deny scientific facts regarding evolution.

Second, she hid her last pregnancy until she was 7 months along. Why? Was it because she knew that the child had Downs Syndrome? She neglected to tell her older children this fact unitl after the baby was born. Why?
Third, she promotes abstinence and is against the teaching of sex education (other than abstinence) in schools, yet she has a pregnant 15 year old. How does she expect to get a nation of teenagers on board when she can't get her own children to abstain?
Fourth, not long before McCain asked her to be his running mate, she publicaly asked the question, "What does the VP do on a day-to-day basis." Hm. Clearly underqualified, not enough field/international experience (she just got her passport in the last 12 months) and WAY too conservative.

I don't think Palin is a kickass mom in any regard. I think she is somewhat of a hypocritical failure. Personally, I don't understand how any woman who has given birth can promote hunting as a sport anyway. The disregard for the life of animals versus her abortion stance is polar in thought.
I think McCain just screwed himself by chosing her as his running mate. Not that I plan to vote for him anyway, but I think Palin is the nail in his coffin. At least I hope she is.

Natasha Becoming Something said...

The daughter is 17, not 15.

All good points you made in your post.