Not their kind of success story: Palin triggers feminism reversal
The old partisan thinking about motherhood and the workplace has been rapidly reversed in America by the McCain-Palin ticket.
The stay-at-home mom was once the goddess of choice among Republicans and conservatives. Now they are inspired by Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a working mother of five, introduced as Sen. John McCain’s running mate only 17 days ago.
Democrats, liberals and feminists dismiss and even revile Mrs. Palin, for the most part.
“This is fascinating. What we are witnessing is the historic hypocrisy of second-wave feminists. Whether you agree with Governor Palin or not, she is feminism in its truest and purest form,” said Michelle Bernard, president of the Independent Women’s Forum.
“She has found a way to balance work and family the way all women hope to — with the help of a loving family. Sarah Palin is everything the feminists fought for,” Ms. Bernard said.
Feminists, are having none of it, though.
“Read my lipstick: I am voting Democrat,” reads the new motto of Emily’s List.
“We are not against a woman on the presidential ticket. We wish it was a ticket that stood for women’s issues. Where does the Palin ticket stand?” asked Eleanor Smeal of the Feminist Majority, who announced Sept. 16 that the organization — along with the National Organization for Women — endorsed Democrats Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. in the White House race.
“We want someone who is not following a script, saying what she’s been told to say,” said E. Faye Williams, national chairwoman of the National Congress of Black Women — which also endorsed the Obama-Biden ticket.
An Associated Press voter survey conducted Sept. 5 found that among white women, 65 percent said Mrs. Palin shared their values, compared with 46 percent who said the same of Mr. Biden. A new Newsweek poll revealed support for Mr. McCain among white females is 53 percent, compared with 37 percent who favor Mr. Obama.
The transformation of Republicans into energized Palin fans was quick. Shortly before Mr. McCain announced that Mrs. Palin was his running mate, the Pew Research Center surveyed 2,300 voters, asking, “Do mommies or daddies make better candidates?”
At that time, only one in five Republican respondents said they would support a candidate who was the mother of school-aged children; 53 percent of Republicans said working mothers were a “bad thing for society.” Among Democrats, a third supported mother-politicians, while 38 percent did not favor working mothers.
Conventional political wisdom is now “scrambled,” the survey said, asking, “Might the public’s long held attitudes on these ‘mommy wars’ matters bend under the force of Palin’s compelling personal saga?”
Not to some. Female entertainers have spoken out against Mrs. Palin, including Suzanne Somers, Meg Ryan, Lindsay Lohan and the singer Pink. There is some slight compromise among the culture warriors, though.
“Conservative though she may be, I felt that Palin represented an explosion of brand new style and muscular American feminism,” observed writer Camille Paglia, an Obama supporter. “Palin is about as far away from the world of Gloria Steinem & Co. as one can get.”