Friday, September 5, 2008

Can Sarah Palin Have It All?

I ran across an opinion article by Barbara Curtis in The Christian Science Monitor, which was posted on Yahoo News (I pasted it below). It responds to the criticism that Sarah Palin is too ambitious, and doesn't give enough time to her children.

Before you read it, let me first say that I don't view myself as a feminist at all. I am pro-life, and I feel no ill-will towards men. I believe in the Biblical call for men to be the spiritual leaders of their homes. But I think equal pay for equal work is a no-brainer. And I think a husband who doesn't bother to help his wife with childcare, or shopping, or chores, is just immature and selfish. (He's obviously not displaying the sacrificial, Christ-like love the Bible commands from husbands.) I feel no ill-will towards women who choose motherhood AND careers. Does some of this make me a feminist? I don't know. I personally wouldn't choose to leave my children for a career. I'm not wired that way.

I think finding quality childcare is very, very hard. If one finds an ideal situation in which the children are well loved, well cared for, and the arrangement is stable, I don't necessarily think the children of working women are at a disadvantage. Being absent does probably mean you have fewer opportunities to pass along your values, unless you find a truly like-minded caregiver who would commit to teaching them.

If a woman would clearly be depressed being at home with children every day, then a high-quality childcare situation would be more ideal for her children. If there is a frequent turnaround of care givers, as is the case in many childcare centers (due to really low pay), then the children may suffer. Attachment disorder, in particular, comes to mind. It is common among foster children, and I wouldn't be surprised if it also happens to a small percentage of very young daycare children.

Some women have to work, and have to choose the cheapest childcare available, which may be very poor quality. That is a tragedy. I guess I would classify a woman as selfish who would CHOOSE to work (who could survive without the extra money), even though her childcare situation is known to be mediocre or poor.

If God created each woman equally suited to full-time childrearing, I think it would be easier for me to feel that a woman's place is in the home, exclusively. I'm certain he can change hearts, give us abilities we lack, and make any woman a successful full-time mother. But what about the fact that some women are clearly gifted with outstanding leadership abilities, organizing abilities, or other outside-the-home, work-related abilities? These skills might be used in volunteer work, rather than paid work, but that too takes time away from children. Someone else still has to care for the children while the volunteer work is being done. Does that make it wrong? What is the standard? Does it have to be work that serves others, like teaching, nursing, social work, etc.? Does the caregiver have to be a family member?

I don't have an answer. I know there are Biblical examples of strong women who helped plant churches, and in the absence of available men, even taught in home-based churches. My husband, a former Bible college student, is at work while I blog, but I know he would be able to come up with the names and verses to support this. I'll add them later, if you're interested. Granted, I don't know if these women had young children or not. I don't recall reading that kind of detail.

I don't look down on Sarah Palin, and I've been angered in the past week by some of the coverage surrounding her choices. As far as the criticism that her daughter, Bristol, got pregnant because of Sarah's career lifestyle, well, that's really kind of silly. I could homeschool my children throughout their school years, and never work outside the home, and yet still, my teenage children could procreate in the short time it took me to do a grocery run.

We don't plan on giving our children the freedom to go on dates alone. They would have to be chaperoned, or see their significant others at our home, unless a marriage date was solidly set. Still, we can't handcuff them to our wrists. Premarital sex is chosen, even by Christian young people who are trained in how to avoid it.

What's your take on the criticisms of Sarah Palin?

See article below - "Sarah Palin CAN Have It All"

Bluemont, Va. - The five children. The newborn diagnosed with Down syndrome. The pregnant daughter. Sarah Palin's life – chock full of challenge – confronts her opposition with some formidable challenges of its own. After decades of pushing equal rights and treatment for women, the Left is backtracking.
Suddenly motherhood – well, at least too much motherhood or too-complicated motherhood – is incompatible with executive responsibility. Fathers with little children or complex family issues – even some who cheated on their wives – have held office without having to justify their continuing careers. Yet women once again face a very different standard.
Who knew that beyond the glass ceiling feminists vowed to shatter there existed another barrier, imposed by feminists themselves? What happened to choice? To having it all? Have we had a paradigm shift since Aug. 29? What's to stop Governor Palin from doing it all?
This debate matters a lot to me. I have 12 children, including four diagnosed with Down syndrome. Three were adopted. I'm a professional writer. And yes, some people wonder how I do it all, or if I'm doing any of it as well as I should.
The skepticism about Palin's ability to juggle responsibilities has been punctuated with below-the-belt punches. My heart goes out to her and to every mom who soldiers on in the face of such flak. Sisterhood can be powerful, but only when we celebrate one another's accomplishments and growth – in all our diversity.
The hardworking mother rolling up her sleeves to tackle a "man's job" is a staple throughout American history and folklore. Think Rosie the Riveter. Think "Places in the Heart," featuring Sally Field as a Depression-era widow succeeding against all odds. These tales of women transformed through their work – even as they transformed the culture – resonate with me. As a second-wave feminist, I recall how we turned the medical establishment on its head over childbirth.
In 1969 it was barbaric: flat on your back, bright lights and stirrups, no husband allowed. My first, Samantha Sunshine, was whisked off to the nursery, and I was forced to stay in bed without her. Just standard procedure.
When Jasmine Moondance was born at home in 1975, I was up in 20 minutes – an older and wiser counterculture mom hip to the global portrait of motherhood as part of the fabric of life, including rice-paddy moms who simply pushed out their babies, wrapped them up, and went back to work. This kind of "Sisterhood is Powerful" approach had put women in control of their birthing experience.
And our mothering experience as well. At first it was an either/or choice: stay-at-home motherhood – discredited by Betty Friedan's "The Feminine Mystique" and Ms. magazine – or "real work" alongside men. But as time went on and women seemed disinclined to give up their biological imperative, word came down that we could have it all – work and motherhood – and outclass men at the same time.
Think "I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan" from the 1970s (and now clearly retro) Enjoli perfume commercial. Perhaps that's not what we mean today by having it all, but it's the confident spirit that rings a bell almost 40 years later.
That confidence took us places we never dreamed. In 2001, Jane Swift of Massachusetts became the first governor to give birth in office – to twins. Her maternity leave included a governor's council teleconference from her hospital bed. And while Ms. Swift was rebuked for using aides to babysit her daughter, Palin's record of eschewing the trappings of power – selling the governor's jet on eBay, for example – suggests she wouldn't make such mistakes. So what to make of the fire and brimstone raining down on Palin?
Is it because her choices aren't the ones feminists anticipated? Or was it ever really about choice at all? Just because Palin's choices skew away from abortion and toward the affirmation of life – even in difficult circumstances – does that mean they shouldn't be accorded the same dignity as those more in line with today's feminist party line?
"How do you do it all?" people ask me. All I can say is that my capacity has grown with each child. I've learned to assess situations quickly, gather information and advice, negotiate, delegate, communicate clearly, and work under great pressure and with little sleep. Put simply, motherhood is its own executive office. That's why it's a proving ground for political leadership.
"The personal is the political" was a feminist mantra I still believe. Which leads me to a qualification for office that sets Palin apart from her peers: Consistency.
You see, motherhood under pressure has a way of helping women become greater than they started out to be. And the fact that Palin has a baby with Down syndrome only makes me trust her more. Here's a woman who chooses sacrifice and challenge over expediency and convenience.
I've seen those pictures of Palin nursing her baby as she signs a bill into law and as she pushes a grocery cart. Moms understand that those photos might well have been taken just a few hours apart. That's the kind of life we lead.
Can she do it all? Trust me, there are lots of moms out here who know she can.
• Barbara Curtis, is the author of nine books and blogs at .


Barbara said...

Thank you so much for posting my article. I just want to add that I am a former radical leftist/feminist (20 years) who has now been a Christian conservative for 20 years, and a writer for 15.

The Christian Science Monitor, while owned by the Church of Christian Science, is not a part of their ministry. It is a secular paper like the Washington Post.

When I write for that audience, I try to optimize my opportunity to communicate with them by taking a certain slant - one which appeals to the common ground I share with them from my past.

I do hope you all will visit my blog, which has more distinctly Christian writing on it - but also in which I am trying to build a bridge.

momma's heart said...

Thank you for visiting me! I read your personal story and as much of your blog as I could. Very inspiring! How are you able to tell when someone has posted your articles? Technology is amazing. I am ignorant of so much of it.

I loved your article, BTW. I'll keep visiting.

Bless you,

Evenspor said...

I hate to make any judgements regarding what the right choices are for someone else's life and family. There's just no way to know, because we all are in different situations. What's right for me is not what's right for you. If the worst thing people can find to attack Palin about is her career as a public servant.... well, that speaks pretty highly of her character right there. The only other thing I have seen people complain about is her politics, which I see as pretty classic conservative, exactly what you'd expect and hope for in a Republican cantidate.

Needless to say, I like her so far. She has exactly the right stances on the issues most important to our family, and it is nice to see an actual conservative finally a part of this race.

Anonymous said...

I have to say that your views seem very close-minded. I am a full-time worker and a full-time mother. I need to work to help support our family and to provide my children with basic needs and also wants. I do not think this makes me a bad mother or selfish. I would think of all people you would see this. You choose to stay at home knowing that if you worked an outside job your husband would not have to work so much and your children would have more than they do now. I think that is your choice and your right just as it is my right to not want to struggle with money every day and to give my children with some of the extras I did not have. In no way does this say that I do not love them more than anything.

Fern said...

Pam -- I gave you an award over on my blog for this post.