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September 1st, 2008


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03:47 pm - Palin's dilemma
I don't know whether you have heard, but there is a theory that Sarah Palin - McCain's presidential running mate - has misrepresented a baby actually born to her teenage daughter as her own youngest child. Such secret adoption is a very common strategy among women in oppressive male dominated cultures, one of the many secret things they have to do to survive. It's rare in this country nowadays, but I am sure it is still widespread in Bible and Koran belts around the world.

I am by no means convinced that this has actually happened, and I think the way the story has been handled (see the daily Kos here) is misogynist and creepy. In particular the photos gloating on her teenage daughter's rounded belly are unacceptable. The left should not resort to these tactics, ever.

Not to say it happened, but I think this type of thing is understandable. Women are expected to shoulder the burdens of impossible sexual standards, which men simply don't have to worry about because women will have the secret abortions, the secret adoptions, all these things women have done for centuries to allow families to survive in patriarchy. Almost every woman in a religious society is complicit in sinning against the rules of the community, whether by earning money, or going on the pill or whatever. In fact religions like that are based on shame and fear associated with normal human coping activities. If Palin didn't do it, we can be sure that other respectable women have done such things, and will continue to do so for ever.

So I do not condemn Palin for flying while in labour (if that's what she did) or pretending to be in labour (if that's what she did). Left wing, liberal and humanist values extend to everyone, or what? What is the alternative?

Anyway, I even feel a bit dodgy about reporting and linking to the controversy, but I don't know how to make the point without doing that.

(23 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


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From:the_wild_iris
Date:September 1st, 2008 03:06 pm (UTC)
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Sounds to me like a slander with (perhaps) the underlying aim of criticising Palin's anti-abortion stance, i.e. she goes through this convoluted scheme so that her daughter doesn't terminate an unwanted pregnancy.

(At work so haven't looked at the Kos thread; apologies if that's already been said.)
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From:communicator
Date:September 1st, 2008 03:17 pm (UTC)
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Yes. I agree. And I think there's a valid point to be made, about abortion and women's coping strategies, and how people who condemn pregnancy are forcing women into various humiliating and deceitful behaviours. All true.

But on the other hand I think it's misogynist because the shame goes entirely to the woman, or girl, and none to the man involved. And the whole idea of pregnancy being a matter for shame and condemnation.

When you read the Kos article you'll see the gloating about 'seeping amniotic fluid' and so on.
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From:redstarrobot
Date:September 1st, 2008 06:45 pm (UTC)
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I'm struggling a little with the logic of this statement. It's hard to point out how people who condemn pregnancy are forcing women into various humiliating and deceitful behaviors without acknowledging that the aforementioned people do feel it's a matter for shame and condemnation; it's sort of inherent in the point. Why does that put the misogyny to rest on the people pointing out that condemning pregnancy has negative consequences?

I am, however, extremely uncomfortable with the misogyny of using an underage girl as a tool to attack the parent. It's too reminiscent of family honor lying between the legs of its women, quite aside from it being very low to use any child to reach a parent.

Edited at 2008-09-01 06:50 pm (UTC)
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From:communicator
Date:September 1st, 2008 06:57 pm (UTC)
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Sex is something both men and women do, but pregnancy and abortion are things only women do. So a person who gloats unpleasantly on sexual activity is nasty to both men and women, but a person who gloats unpleasantly on pregnancy is misogynist. I think.

Or put it like this - McCain and Palin both support policies that hurt women. We should criticise them both for that. But criticising Palin in the ways done here is picking on her for having a female body.
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From:redstarrobot
Date:September 1st, 2008 07:21 pm (UTC)
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Re: the alleged flying business, I'd agree. That's a matter for the woman and her doctor. But re: the alleged teenage daughter's pregnancy, it's criticising Palin for her (alleged) role in controlling another woman's body, in practice and not just in policy. While I'm not thrilled with the act of scrutinizing pictures of two women to diagnose whether or not they're pregnant, what Palin's being accused of is not being guilty of having a female body, but of having views that affected her teenage daughter's ability to control her female body.

I do feel it's one of those things that changes incredibly based on whether the accusers are right or wrong. Being wrong and dragging two women through pointless public speculation about how they use their uteri is pretty damn misogynist. Being right and having a parent who concealed their teenage daughter's pregnancy while espousing strong abstinence-only views is pointing out a damaging hypocrisy on the parent's part that's threatening to go from being a family hypocrisy to a national (and international) policy hypocrisy.
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From:the_wild_iris
Date:September 1st, 2008 10:35 pm (UTC)
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'Sarah began leaking amniotic fluid'.

She sounds like biohazardous waste that was accidentally packed in a Jiffy bag instead of one of those steel containers.
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From:nwhyte
Date:September 1st, 2008 03:18 pm (UTC)
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A lot of people are rushing to judgement on this. I think it's mind-bogglingly unlikely that Palin would invent the story about rushing home from Dallas after her waters broke. I think she is an adult woman who had already had (at least) four pregnancies, and knew perfectly well what she was doing. Kos have made themselves look really stupid, to say the least.

There is a wider issue here which rosefox elucidates: the left, and feminists in particular, need to be careful in attacking Palin - there are plenty of good reasons to do so without using bad reasons as Kos have foolishly done.
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From:communicator
Date:September 1st, 2008 03:22 pm (UTC)
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I don't think it is unlikely in itself, because women in religious communities are forced to make all sorts of compromises to survive and protect their families. But just because something isn't unlikely doesn't mean it happened in any particular case.

But I agree that attacking a woman for doing the things that women have to do, is simply attacking her for being a woman. We must do better.
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From:altariel
Date:September 1st, 2008 03:19 pm (UTC)
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I'm glad you've posted, I have been extremely uncomfortable reading similar posts (to the one you link to on Kos). As you note, it relies on (surprise surprise) a double standard: she's damned for flying or for lying. (I've read criticisms of her being a working mother too.)

Edited at 2008-09-01 03:24 pm (UTC)
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From:communicator
Date:September 1st, 2008 03:28 pm (UTC)
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I think the deepest double bind which underlies the rest is that women are expected to cover up the sexual secrets of the community, and then condemned for it. We can't join in with that game. It's like shaming anti-gay activists for being gay - we shouldn't do it.
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From:iainjcoleman
Date:September 1st, 2008 03:31 pm (UTC)
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I don't know whether you have heard, but there is a theory that Sarah Palin - McCain's presidential running mate - has misrepresented a baby actually born to her teenage daughter as her own youngest child.

I've read about it, and I'm a bit baffled. It seems massively implausible to me, and the purported evidence doesn't seem to me to demonstrate anything very much. But the story should be eminently refutable. Palin is a prominent public figure in her home state - surely there must be plenty of pictures of her at verious function in late pregnancy, where her midriff is not conveniently hidden behind a desk or what have you. Why haven't her people just killed this thing stone dead? It could be they are hoping the Obama campaign will associate itself with this theory, and are waiting till then to provide a refutation. If so, I think this is a mistake: I don't see Obama being that foolish, and as ths thing rumbles on it will be causing damage to Palin.

Almost every woman in a religious society is complicit in sinning against the rules of the community, whether by earning money, or going on the pill or whatever.

So much the worse for religious societies - which is what Palin wants to turn the US into. I don't have much sympathy for her, I'm afraid - although I do feel sorry for her teenage daughter.
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From:communicator
Date:September 1st, 2008 03:44 pm (UTC)
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I don't have much sympathy for her

Nor me, but I compare it to the way abortion and contraception providers must help all women whatever their background - even knowing they will be back on the protest lines on Monday.
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From:communicator
Date:September 1st, 2008 03:49 pm (UTC)
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Yes. That's your strong maths instinct coming out. Most people don't have that instinct I'd guess.
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From:communicator
Date:September 1st, 2008 03:48 pm (UTC)
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I suppose it depends which wins out - the protectiveness that the media extend to right wing politicians, or the prurience about women in the public sphere.
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From:iainjcoleman
Date:September 1st, 2008 03:51 pm (UTC)
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I'm betting on prurience.
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From:archbishopm
Date:September 1st, 2008 03:52 pm (UTC)
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OMG. A POLITICIAN MAY HAVE LIED???

:-p
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From:communicator
Date:September 1st, 2008 03:53 pm (UTC)
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Lied while in possession of a uterus. The second part being what makes it news.
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From:iainjcoleman
Date:September 1st, 2008 08:15 pm (UTC)
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She wants every other woman's uterus to be public property. Irony also helps make things into news. As does schadenfreude.
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From:emeraldsedai
Date:September 1st, 2008 10:10 pm (UTC)
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While I've tried to stay away from the news, especially the political news, as much as possible lately, I do still look at DailyKos a few times a week. And I feel pretty comfortable in saying that whatever dKos may now be, it no longer represents progressivism or the left in any meaningful way.

I stopped commenting and posting there a year or so ago, because it had become an echo chamber of some pretty ugly sentiments. I think it has run its meteoric arc and is jumping the shark.
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From:communicator
Date:September 2nd, 2008 09:37 am (UTC)
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After I wrote this I read in 'Pandagon' that the article I linked to isn't by the main Kos person (is he called 'Kos' - not sure?) but by a diary contributor or something, and hence shouldn't be used to judge the whole site. Also that commentators on that site had offered many of the same criticisms and thoughts that we've been saying today. So I think I should moderate what I said a bit.
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From:emeraldsedai
Date:September 2nd, 2008 04:16 pm (UTC)
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Yes--Kos is the head honcho of DailyKos. It's short for Markos--Markos Moulitsas Zuniga is the whole handle, anf he has stepped from being "merely" a blogger to authoring books and going on TV and stuff.

His blog software is Scoop, which is like the quintessence of democracy: any registered member can post a "diary", and all other members can give it more power by recommending it or posting comments to it. The "recommended list" tops the front page of the blog, and diaries that remain there for an hour or a day (by virtue of the number of recommends and comments it has drawn) can have considerable power, as there are tens of thuosands of readers.

The front page itself contains articles by "front pagers"--Kos himself and some hand-picked top bloggers.

So the whole thing has a kind of bi-cameral quality, in which the FrontPagers are senior, experienced, trusted and select, and the Recommended List is the voice of the rabble.

Sadly, someone not intimate with DKos or Scoop could easily assume that a rabid, ranting, photo-filled diatribe in the Rec List for an "official" Kos point of view. Kos himself is a sort of moderate libertarian--hence his almost complete non-interference in the workings of the Rec List system.

[ETA: Geez, edited for crazy spelling!]

Edited at 2008-09-02 04:18 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:hafren
Date:September 2nd, 2008 07:43 am (UTC)
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I feel sorry for the daughter, but Palin herself shoots bears for sport. Hence there is nothing you could do to her, up to and including assassination, that wouldn't leave me feeling the world was a better place for it. Bears, after all, are a lot scarcer and more pleasant to have about the place than stupid vicious people like her.
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From:communicator
Date:September 2nd, 2008 09:37 am (UTC)
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Shooting wolves from helicopters too, which doesn't seem very 'sporting' at all, even if you think hunting is a sport.

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