Not their kind of suc­cess story: Palin trig­gers fem­i­nism re­ver­sal

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY JEN­NIFER HARPER

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.”

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