This chick scares me

Monday, September 08, 2008

and not just because of the politics she is spewing. Not just because she feels all right about using her children in a way I find distasteful or the religious stuff, or the plane she didn't sell on ebay.


Sarah Palin scares me because she is perpetrating the myth that women are exactly like men.
And she does it with a narcissistic, self congratulatory smile that chills me in a way that I haven't felt in my adult life.

Now, I have Always been a working mother. From the day Emily was conceived to the day my secretary sent me home because I was audibly ( and unconsciously) doing Lamaze breathing in my office. I worked. And Yes, I delivered Emily and went back to work within a week to do interviews for teachers and the end of year ceremony for the child care.

I was hell bent on proving motherhood had not changed me.

And in doing that I nearly killed myself. Not to mention what it did to Emily.

While I was busy proving that Motherhood was not a life changing event, Emily was a failure to thrive baby. A special needs baby. One who would be weighed two to three times a week and monitored intensely. We celebrated weight gain in OUNCES. I ran back to work to prove that I could do it all. A functioning uterus did not affect my need for time off, or my ability to run a business. No sir.

My new motherhood did not provide me with empathy for other women, either. Shit - If I could do could too. Don't tell ME how hard it is, I have you trumped with hard. She doesn't sleep. She doesn't gain weight, She pukes and is constipated as a breast fed only baby. But there I was. Professional Dawn. Right on time and last one to leave at night. I, of course, didn't have the influence on things such as parental leave on a national level..but I can assure you that I hated giving my staff days off.

I suspect Sarah is much the same. Of course, I was suffering from a spiraling depression that would end with me crawling under my desk at work to get away from the people there and my avoidance at all costs with my child and husband.

I have no idea if Sarah was assessed for the signs of post partum depression - especially after the unexpected late in life pregnancy of a special needs baby... I doubt she stood still long enough to be assessed.

The other thing that scares me about Sarah Palin? Purely a gut feeling here. No factual basis, I will say up front.

I lived in a family that kept secrets. I know what it is to be standing with your family, acting out an image that is completely fictional. I know what it is to pretend that we were the type of family who never experienced mental illness, or suicide attempts, or drug and alcohol addition. Everything was great!

I know what it is to have a mother who insisted that those images were maintained. And who withheld -approval, money, affection - if you did not meet standards.

I know what it is like to be raising younger siblings when you are 15, 16 and 17 years old. Having to be home right after school ( and on weekends and nights) to pick up your baby sister and younger brother because your Mom works and you were the child care provider. You start to think "Shit - I'm doing all this work and this isn't even my baby!"

Makes you feel grown up before you should.

When I see that family stand before me, I see all the secrets that are desperately trying to be kept in service to a Woman who sees her chance for power and has decided to go for it. I see an almost adult daughter looking for any way out she can get, even if it means sacrificing her own childhood to get out from under the iron grip of her mother.

I see a woman who has no compassion for other mothers by her touting of "going back to work three days after she delivered a baby".

I see a woman who has no qualms about saying that women can't be trusted with decisions about their own bodies, and who denies the humanity of the gift of female sexuality.

I see a woman who has no qualms about forcing her pregnant 17 year old daughter to stand before a crazed convention of hard line Republicans, holding hands with the boyfriend to maintain her image as "Good Mother".

I recognize a master manipulator, because I grew up at the feet of a mother who was just like that - changing the story to show her mothering in the best light. Getting rid of people who don't agree with her, coercing silence and agreement within the circle, at best.

It's not lipstick which defines a Mom, Sarah. It's all the other stuff. The sacrifice we don't always talk about. The struggle for balance in our lives. The recognition of our fragility AND strength as women.

Not being pitbulls.

28 Baleful Regards:

Nicole said...

Sing it, Dawn.

And thank you for pointing out what I couldn't put a finger on with Palin. Yeah, her pro-life, polar bear shooting, ways bothered me (but I'm Canadian). But seeing her and her family on stage was just WEIRD.

And I think what you saying about the family secrets hit the nail on the head.

SUEB0B said...

Thanks for expressing it so well.

Debbie said...

thanks, Suebob, for reminding to read Dawn more often, and Dawn, for kicking this (non-gender-specific) bitch in the belly.

Anonymous said...

Here via Suebob. Eloquent post, Dawn. The family secrets thing is positively pulsating. There is something sad and dark going on there, and I'm almost too afraid to know. I hope that whatever happens, the family will be able to deal w/ it privately and w/ dignity. In the meantime, I don't want that ticket *anywhere* near the presidency.

Bri said...

I was telling a friend the other night that she just felt shady to me, though I couldn't put my finger on a specific reason. This was a very powerful post, thank you for putting into words what I couldn't say.

Anonymous said...

WOW. I couldn't put my finger on it either, but you just nailed it. She is my mother.

Cover it all in service of The Image. Sacrifice everything, including the welfare of your family, to prove a point.

Chills, indeed. Well said.

Lisa said...

Excellant. You verbalized so many of the things rolling around my head lately but much more eloquently!

jeanie said...

I am not a US Citizen so I am not going to comment on the politics of the situation (ever the diplomat) however - beautifully chilling portrait of a woman and power and the effect on those within the zone.

Raquita said...


Dawn said...

Thanks my dears - This was a stream of consciousness type post because I couldn't quite figure out WHY I was having such a strong reaction to her...beyond my difference in political views....and as I wrote, it clarified itself for me.

I recognize the control she has over her family...and not in a good way. I recognize because I could have easily - EASILY - become that woman.

MarciaAnn said...

Dawn .. as above, thank you. You know when you see someone and you know something's just not "right" but you can't pinpoint it, so you continue to try to ferret out what it is that has you feeling off. Gut reaction, I don't like her, McCain's pulled her in to try to gain sympathetic Dem women who feel jilted because Hilary didn't get the votes. It's like I'm watching some rehearsed but poorly choreographed HS play unfold and while there are some strong scenes, the Acts are not adding up to a whole that makes ANY sense.

I think you've defined some of my uncertainty. Thank you!

Ginnysicle said...

Sarah Palin creeps me out beyond measure. And I think you might be right, everything in her family is sacrificed to her desire to succeed. But I'm torn on whether your post is helpful or harmful as a feminist.

I'm a candidate for a local office, and a woman, and I'm tired of being told I can't do the job because I have two small children. I CAN, and I WILL, but why should I have to do it the same way that a man would? And my opponent is saying exactly that when she says that I won't have time because of my kids. I will do things differently because I have kids, but I can still DO them. And from your post, it seems like you get that, it really does.

On the other hand, it almost seems like you think women should wait and not try to be career driven AND good moms. From the rest of your posts, I don't think that's what you intended. (Oh yes, I'm a lurker, sorry. :)) Can you enlighten me? In your opinion, how are we as mothers supposed to achieve that balance?

Unknown said...

Well, thanks, Dawn. Those are exactly my thoughts, although verbalized way better than I could have done. She has been creeping me out since I first laid eyes on her. Scary!

Mitzi Green said...

how many of us now have read this and smacked our foreheads and exclaimed "THAT'S IT!"

(raises hand)

god help us all if they win.

Amanda said...

yes, "that's it!" great post. thanks for putting into words what I couldn't exactly ]put my finger on.

Anonymous said...

So I wasn't going to vote for McCain anyway and I very much hope he loses by a large why would I care to give Palin any consideration. When there is a woman who is running for office who has ideas that I can agree with then I'll discuss whether she is an honest person and respects her family. Until then, please ignore Palin if you don't agree with her political positions. If we ignore Palin can she just go away? Ok, so the only real use of discussing Palin is the fact that it's another reason not to vote for McCain.

Anonymous said...

If you want to get beyond the family questions...from, here are some facts about Palin:

Palin recently said that the war in Iraq is "God's task." She's even admitted she hasn't thought about the war much—just last year she was quoted saying, "I've been so focused on state government, I haven't really focused much on the war in Iraq." 1, 2
Palin has actively sought the support of the fringe Alaska Independence Party. Six months ago, Palin told members of the group—who advocate for a vote on secession from the union—to "keep up the good work" and "wished the party luck on what she called its 'inspiring convention.'" 3
Palin wants to teach creationism in public schools. She hasn't made clear whether she thinks evolution is a fact.4
Palin doesn't believe that humans contribute to global warming. Speaking about climate change, she said, "I'm not one though who would attribute it to being manmade." 5
Palin has close ties to Big Oil. Her inauguration was even sponsored by BP. 6
Palin is extremely anti-choice. She doesn't even support abortion in the case of rape or incest. 7
Palin opposes comprehensive sex-ed in public schools. She's said she will only support abstinence-only approaches. 8
As mayor, Palin tried to ban books from the library. Palin asked the library how she might go about banning books because some had inappropriate language in them—shocking the librarian, Mary Ellen Baker. According to Time, "news reports from the time show that Palin had threatened to fire Baker for not giving "full support" to the mayor." 9
She DID support the Bridge to Nowhere (before she opposed it). Palin claimed that she said "thanks, but no thanks" to the infamous Bridge to Nowhere. But in 2006, Palin supported the project repeatedly, saying that Alaska should take advantage of earmarks "while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist." 10
The plain fact of the matter is that Sarah Palin did a bang-up job delivering a Karl Rove-style political attack speech last night. That makes her a skilled politician but it doesn't make her views any more palatable for voters. Americans don't really want another far-right, anti-science ideologue in the White House.

Please help get the word out about where Sarah Palin really stands on the issues.
Thanks for all you do.

–Nita, Ilyse, Wes, Karin and the rest of the team

P.S. If you haven't seen it, check out the Daily Show clip on Palin. It's worth a watch

1. "Palin: Iraq war 'a task that is from God'," Associated Press, September 3, 2008

2. "Palin wasn't 'really focused much' on the Iraq war," ThinkProgress, August 30, 2008

3. "The Sarah Palin Digest," ThinkProgress, September 4, 2008

4. "McCain and Palin differ on issues," Associated Press, September 3, 2008

5. Ibid

6. The Sarah Palin Digest," ThinkProgress, September 4, 2008

7. Ibid

8. Ibid.

9. "Mayor Palin: A Rough Record," Time, September 2, 2008

10. The Sarah Palin Digest," ThinkProgress, September 4, 2008

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tricia said...

Well put, Dawn,

You put in words what I've been trying to sort out in my head, that vague uncomfortable feeling whenever I hear her speak.

Feral Mom said...

Excellent post, dude. And wonderful, as always, to hear your fierce, honest, and compassionate voice.

Gina said...

Awesome post. Like a lot of others, I don't like her politics, but in addition to that, there is something that just bothers me about her. I think you are dead-on.

Monie said...

Agreed 1000%.

I think you are spot on.

Anonymous said...

You all sound like sheep- usually I think Dawns opinion rocks but I dont see how any of you can know bull about any of the cadidates home culture.

C said...

Oh, dear Anonymous. I thought you only hung out at my blog.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the post. You put the nail in the coffin for me. I could not decide what it was about her that bothered me. I lived that family life. It's not family values. At least not what I am looking for.

Ruth Dynamite said...

I don't know who Sarah Palin is supposed to represent, but it's certainly not me or any other woman I know or have ever met.

She's what you call a willing pawn.

Thanks for your honest expression.

monicac2 said...


Excellent post! Thank you for writing it!

MarciaAnn said...

Hey there in case anyone else is checking back for other's opnions to Dawn's great post ... I stumbled upon this link to NY Times article. Very interesting read about her touting that she's breaking up the Good Ol Boy's network, but funny how she's established her own Good Ol Palin network in the process:

Unknown said...

hi dawn,

i've read a few of your posts, first time commenting. i think you are fabulous, funny, sharp and a woman to be admired, a woman with whom i am proud to share my gender.

thank you for writing as you do. i am sure i will continue to read and comment.


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