When Did They Ever Ask a Man…?

This is going to be another long-winded one. I apologize. The problem is that I sat in my office at work for 7 hours today and only had 15 minutes of work to do. After writing the two papers I had to do for my classes on Monday, I had a lot of time to think and this is what I thought about (part of the time, anyway). Hopefully this will be my last “political” blog, because I would like to prove that I am more interested in other things.

I am annoyed by the way many have reacted to Sarah Palin’s VP nomination. And I am especially frustrated that so many of these objections have come from the those who pride themselvess on being pro-woman.

I thought women’s rights meant that a woman can do whatever she wants. If she wants a career, she has every right to pursue any career she desires. This does not guarantee that she will achieve every goal she sets for herself, but men don’t have that promise either. But, like men, women are allowed to become whatever they want to be.

Therefore, it should follow that if a woman chooses to devote her life to raising a family instaed of entering the workforce, her choice is also valid. This is the choice I hope I am able to make one day. While I enjoy my grad program, I sincerely hope that I do not have to work as a school counselor for the next 45 or 50 years. I’m hoping for no more than five. Unfortunately this choice is often seen as a lesser one. The message I think I hear is, “You’ve been given a choice but you’ll only be respected if you choose the option we think is acceptable.”

However, it seems to me that proponents of women’s rights (NOW, et. al.) should at least acknowledge Gov. Palin’s achievements as something to be admired. I don’t expect them to endorse the Republican ticket – Palin has a far more conservative view on virtually every social issue – but they shouldn’t attack her as they have. Instead of choosing career over family or family over career, Sarah Palin chose to have both a family and a career. I believe this option is more or less the norm. More than 75% of the employees at the school board office are female, and the vast majority of them have children at home.

So what is all the fuss about? The way I see it, Sarah is a great example of the typical American woman. I believe American women find it much easier to identify with her than with Hillary Clinton. Yes, Senator Clinton has a daught, but raising one is quite a bit different from raising five, and, by the time she entered political sphere as an elected official, Chelsea was an adult. And, frankly, Sarah comes across as a person whereas Hillary seems more like a machine. She would never be mistaken for a hockey mom…

I think another reason for my frustration relates to what Rudy Guiliani said in his speech at the Convention: “How dare they question whether Sarah Palin has enough time to spend with her children and be vice president. How dare they do that. When do they ever ask a man that question?”

When DID they ever ask a man is juggling the pressure of a career in Washington and the responsbility of caring for children? I’ll tell you when they didn’t. When a young man in Delaware was elected as US Senator in 1972. When his wife and daughter were killed in a car accident a few weeks after the election, he found himself raising two boys (ages 2 and 3) on his own. He seriously considered resigning before ever beginning the job. If there were ever a time to ask a man that question, this was it. He apparently had doubts in his own ability to do it. But his colleagues in the Senate had no reservations. They convinced him he could do both, and do both well, and so Senator Joe Biden was sworn in at his son’s bedside.

I have nothing but respect and admiration for what Joe Biden did during what I am sure was a difficult time. (Side Note: my mom met him as a kid and she said he’s a very nice man.) Biden took the train from Wilmington to Washington every morning and returned in time to put his boys to bed every night. Nobody ever suggested that he was failing as a father and should resign to properly care for his boys.

As a sociology major I learned a lot about the impact of family life on the development of the individual. I can’t recall specific statistics anymore but I do remember this: children with an absent father are a lot worse off than those whose mother isn’t around. It can be argued that the father’s role in his children’s lives is a more powerful indicator of their future success than the mother’s. So maybe…just maybe…it would be a fair question to ask.

And on September 11, I just want to say that I am thankful to live in a country where we are even able to have this discussion. As a woman, I am thrilled that what I do with my life is up to me, and if that means, being the vice president of the United States, I might not even be the first one.

God Bless America.

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