So much has been said about Sarah Palin since the 2008 elections. Few people outside of Alaska knew much about her prior to the VP bid that made her an instant celebrity. Now she’s a media sensation with more than 610,000 Twitter followers.
Palin did one good thing for women (and coincidentally, for herself) by calling attention to sexism during her 2008 campaign. Who could have guessed that Fox news would ever care about double standards, however briefly? But let’s be clear, taking upskirt photos of a female politician is sexist. Questioning her credentials is not.
The problem with Sarah Palin is that though she markets herself as the ideal modern woman, she advocates policies that limit our rights. She is the perfect example of a why a woman candidate is not necessarily a woman’s candidate. Feminism advocates the right for women to be treated as men’s intellectual and professional equals. Based on this criteria, Sarah Palin is a major league anti-feminist. Here are the top 3 reasons why Sarah Palin is bad news for young women.
1. She is against big government everywhere except your uterus.
Sarah Palin has expressed harmful views on a woman’s right to choose and supports abstinence-only education. She has said that abortion should be illegal, granting exceptions only when a mother’s life was in danger. In November 2006, Palin declared that she would not support an abortion for her own daughter in the case of rape. At the time, her daughter was 14. Palin would prefer that we return to the dark and dangerous days before Roe V. Wade. Perhaps the fact that 70,000 women die annually from illegal abortions worldwide is among the many things she unaware of.
Ironically, while she wants to deny our access to safe and legal abortions, she is a supporter of abstinence-only education though it has been consistently proven as ineffective. American women have their first sexual encounter at the average age of 17, meaning that more than half of women have sex before graduating from high school. Teenagers and young women who do not use contraceptives properly are more likely to have unwanted pregnancies. Unwanted pregnancies lead to abortions. This is fact.
Furthermore, she is insensitive to sexual violence against women. During her two terms as mayor, the town of Wasilla charged victims of sexual assault the cost of their rape kits. You might think that requiring victims to pay the cost of their own rape kit is despicable, but don’t forget that prosecuting rapists burdens the taxpayer. Sinking a few million dollars into an athletic center, however, does not. Did she think women could cut out the middleman by using Tae-bo to punish their attackers?
Lastly, she wants to defund Planned Parenthood, an organization that helps women of all income levels have agency over their own bodies. Maybe she would use rather use this money to issue red-white-and-blue American-made chastity belts.
2. Her proposed policies harm working women
Though she made wage discrimination a talking point throughout her campaign, she took positions against the Lily Lebdetter Fair Pay act and the Paycheck Fairness act, bills that restore essential protections against wage discrimination. She dismisses concerns about women’s pay by throwing out conservative buzzwords (see interview with Katie Couric). Currently American women make 77 cents to a man’s dollar. If we want to change this, we need a doer — not a talker — in office.
Furthermore, she has also expressed opposition to government programs that help women with issues like affordable child care. This issue is pivotal for women in the workplace and greatly affects lower-income families. Other developed countries are light-years ahead of the US on this issue.
3. Most importantly, she is unqualified.
Palin captivated people who would have never given someone with her record a second glance if they were unattractive. She rose through the GOP ranks because of her good looks, not her abilities. She expresses inconsistent views, is unable to speak clearly and has no transparency. What does it say about the nature of modern American politics that a public official who is proud of what she does not know is not only accepted but applauded?
Furthermore, she reinforces materialism, anti-intellectualism and gender stereotypes. From the winking to the wardrobe, she consistently encourages the gender conventions that are helpful to her.
Overall, Sarah Palin is a terrible role model. Just like Paris Hilton or the people on Jersey Shore, she is committed to celebrity, not public service. She resigned as governor to pursue more lucrative opportunities. To date she has had a reality television show, a multi-million book deal and a show on Fox News, not to mention all the free swag that comes with being the GOP’s darling.
The GOP is trying to break away from its white rich old man image (though white rich old men are their policies’ main benefactors), by showing their supposed diversity. Don’t let them get away with it. We must elect someone who is an advocate for our rights, regardless of their sex, race or age. With regards to a woman in the White House, any woman will not do.