In the aftermath of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's announcement earlier this month that she plans to resign from office, pundits have been scrambling for an explanation.
Heather Robinson and Jennifer Ginsberg: Personally, the whole matter has left me feeling a little like I did at the end of seventh grade, after a year spent passively watching bullies ostracize and pick on one of the only black girls in the school: sick, and embarrassed for us all. As women and mothers, we should be particularly ashamed of ourselves. Women who have participated in this smear-fest have reinforced every nasty stereotype of female bitchiness and cattiness at its worst. Whatever your passionate opinions, whatever your disagreements with her views, this woman and her family were savaged in a manner that went beyond any reasonable standard. She is a public figure, but her husband and children are not.
We got ridiculing of Mrs. Palin's appearance, of her decades-old participation in a beauty pageant, and even of her children, which was especially cruel. Self-proclaimed "feminists" made a blood sport of hating and dehumanizing her. Any moms who jumped on the "bashing Sarah bandwagon" need to take pause and ask themselves how they would feel if they were in her shoes. Can you imagine being publicly ostracized for the way you look, for your opinions, or for your parenting choices? Can anyone say junior high school?
Personally, I do not agree with all of Governor Palin's views, such as her absolutist pro-life position. But such vicious hatred on the part of self-described feminists was an embarrassment. Especially from self-proclaimed liberals whose entire platform is based on the premise of decency and kindness. I suppose tolerance is only offered to people whose opinions match theirs exactly!
Then there is the matter of how the media treated Mrs. Palin's family, especially her children. How sad that normal people may no longer wish to run for or hold public office due to this horrific sort of exposure, including abuse of their children.
Again, I am asking all mothers to honestly ask themselves this question: Is this the sort of behavior you wish to model for your children? How much of our own anxiety as women is derived from the feeling that we are being judged by other moms, and we are somehow messing up at the monumental task of motherhood? Whether we breastfeed too long or not long enough, whether our child sleeps through the night or is a nocturnal beast, it seems like we can't get it right from the very start. When we are met with challenges, we feel scared, confused, and uncertain, and what we need in those moments is kindness, not criticism. Mrs. Palin had a particularly difficult set of circumstances and was faced with choices none of us would wish for. I am certain we can all relate to her on some level, whether or not we can admit it.
Am I alone in feeling that ridicule of a disabled infant, and rape threats, represent a new low? How intensely cruel and hypocritical this behavior was, coming from "feminists" and "progressives" who probably don't realize how many conservatives they are helping to create, as anyone with a moral compass is likely to figure that, if that's how liberals argue, maybe I'll consider conservative ideas, thanks. No matter how strongly you disagree with Mrs. Palin, this type of behavior is simply inexcusable.
I shudder to think that the women who participated in these attacks are actually raising children.
|Heather Robinson is an independent journalist who specializes in writing about the Middle East, profiling offbeat characters and humanitarians (not always mutually exclusive), and helping readers happily navigate life. A committed vegetarian, she aspires to live close to the land one day, but for now enjoys living in the heart of New York City. Check out her more of her work at heatherrobinson.net|
|Jennifer Ginsberg is a Los Angeles writer and mother to three, surprisingly angst-free children. As a former actress/waitress, turned clinical social worker specializing in addiction, turned full-time mother/part-time psychotherapist/writer, Jennifer is particularly well-versed on the topic of angst.|
Find out more about her life at angstmom.com