Friday, September 5, 2008

Women in the Workplace

I am going to blog a bit today about Sarah Palin. No, I am not making a political statement, coming out for the right wing and all of that. Sarah Palin is simply an example of the point that I am going to make with this entry.

A number of years ago I decided to give myself a very loose "degree" in women's studies. So I started reading all of the old feminist tomes, the ones that were popular in the birth stages of feminism, not the ones written when feminism became a bad word in the minds of most of the American public.

This is what I learned. At the time of its 20th century "birth" in this country, the feminist cause was made up largely of women with families, both the stay and home and working type moms who wanted a more equitable world for women. The heart of the ideal was that a woman, mother or not, could have any job that she wanted and not be penalized for it socially or economically.

It seems that Sarah Palin is a good example of this. Already the mass media is throwing criticisms about her ability to lead. They are trying not to say it, but the feeling is that she won't be able to lead or do her job well because she has small children. I can't help but noticing over and over again in our "progressive" world that this is never a question for men. At it's inception, the goal of feminism was to make this a possibility, for women to be judged on their abilities in all areas not just their abilities as a mother. It is also, according to the media, Sarah Palin's fault that her 17-year-old child is pregnant. I haven't gotten to the teen years yet in my parenting journey, but I have a number of friends, great parents, who have and they are surprising years to say the least. For those of you who remember being a teenager, you may also remember how much you knew about the world and how little your parents seemed to know of it.

Again, I am not making a political statement. Whenever the "old" premises of feminism are trotted out for examination, people are quick to dismiss this close inspection as political or social or emotional, anything but what it truly is. We are in a backlash era. I will watch the news and the political debates. I may even start a tally of the following:

How often will Sarah Palin's appearance be criticized in the media?
How many times will her daughter's pregnancy be blamed on her lack of skills as a mother?
How often will we have to hear about how she won't be able to lead effectively because she has a special needs infant?

It will be these types of references that will enforce my notion of how far behind we are in this country in the area of equal rights for women. Welcome to the backlash era of America.

1 comment:

BonnieChasteen said...

Hey, Moonaroo--interesting comments about Palin. I, too, have a sort of approach-avoidance response to her. Part of me thinks, "You go, girl!" The other part of me thinks, "You've been entirely co-opted by the conservative male patriarchy."

I think the media criticize her because she seems like a Stepford Wife.

Don't you think it's ironic that her party promotes "abstinence training" instead of birth control? I have nothing but good wishes for her children and forthcoming grandchild, but if Palin preferred her daughter wait until she at least achieved majority age before she got pregnant, she might have had frank, non-judgmental discussions about sex--and helped her get a reliable method of birth control.