Monday, September 1, 2008

What's a feminist to do?

By now the news of John McCain's nomination of Sarah Palin for his running mate is well known and the Republican camp is touting it as an enlightened pick that furthers the cause of the feminist movement. I've hear several right-wing pundits declare that although Palin is pro-life and a former beauty queen, as the mother of five and a female governor, she is a role model on par with Hillary Clinton for the "average female voter."

So far, I have seen no record that Palin's history of leadership has supported women in America. Particularly not to the extent that Clinton's investments in Head Start, healthcare, prenatal care and sexual health education supported women for nearly two decades. Palin's views on the choice movement alone suggest she is intolerant of the rights of women who disagree with her views on reproduction and morality. In fact this nomination has also been criticized as an insult to women.

What I have seen in the media is in-depth coverage of Palin's personal life. Reports that her 17-year old daughter is expecting and will marry the father of her unborn child surfaced today. The choices that teens make about their sexuality and their fertility are often debated (I'm recalling the media circus that Jaime Lynn Spears faced recently) in American culture. However, speculation around how Palin handles her own daughter's pregnancy has no place in speculation on how she will lead and advise our country's political policy. One would hope that faced with this public scrutiny she would understand the need for privacy and personal choice in reproductive matters.

More importantly, this is a chance for pro-choice feminists to use the incident as a platform to judge Palin not as a mother or a soon-to be grandmother, but respect her right to choose and advice her own daughter privately --judging her own her own record as a politician, which up until now is fairly unimpressive.

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