Sarah Palin: Rogue, not Rouge.

by Meredith O'Brien


As a girl, she was a self-described nerd of a bookworm who played the flute and basketball. After graduating from college, she married her high school sweetheart and started working two jobs, one at a customer service desk and another at the local TV station part-time. A year later, she had the first of five children — with two miscarriages in between — then went on to work as a part-time proofreader for the local newspaper and pen sports columns. In between her work and her kids’ activities, the PTA member was recruited by a local pol to run for city council, a post for which she campaigned by bringing her children along with her as she knocked on doors, pulling her kids in a sled.


She became the embodiment of the modern working mother in City Hall, bringing her baby with her to council meetings, even breastfeeding during a radio interview so the baby wouldn’t cry. When she decided to run for mayor, she was told there were three reasons she’d never win: Her gender, her age (32 at the time) and her three children (even though the incumbent mayor, a man, had four children). She became pregnant with baby number four during her tenure as mayor and brought her newborn to City Hall with her the day after she gave birth just to check in on the city’s business.


Time and again, she was told she didn’t have what it takes to make it in politics. During her re-election bid for mayor, the man who she’d already bested ran against her again, deriding the former hoop player as a “cheerleader” and a “Spice Girl.” After beating that guy again, she later ran for lieutenant governor and lost, though she used it as a learning experience, forging ahead and having a fifth child after she got herself elected as her state’s first female governor, months before being tapped to be her political party’s first female vice presidential candidate. She was the one who had to change her baby’s diaper just before going on live TV to make a speech to the GOP nominating convention.


Sarah Palin — whose life story she related in her new memoir — makes people a wee bit crazy. On one end of the political spectrum, she’s adored by her fans as an effervescent conservative spokeswoman, a spit-fire who doesn’t shy away from a fight. On the other end, she’s chastised as a dimwitted gaffe machine whose politics people despise. And then there are others who believe that the only reason she’s now a household name is because she’s a fortysomething, attractive, charismatic female with young children . . . very similar to the reasons an old male pol told her she’d never become mayor of her hometown.


Thank you for such an unbiased, thought-provoking post. As much as I'd like to see fair and equal treatment for women in politics and otherwise, it is nearly impossible for me to imagine a world where personal choices are actually honored. The very same women who will fight at the top of their lungs for the right to abortion won't hesitate to degrade a woman who chooses to stay home with her kids. Those women who stay home with their kids will stomp all over the moms who leave the house every day. Organizations who spend many pages of written word degrading moms who work outside the home championed Palin, a decidedly working mom, as the answer to all the country's problems. While I certainly have my own opinions about politics, raising children, and the like, I cannot tolerate the double-standard promoted by women themselves. I admire women like Clinton and Palin who attempt to forge through the jungle that is American society, but the "no-matter-what-you-do-it's-wrong" treatment they've received makes me swear I'd never try to follow in their footsteps.


Amen, Meredith. Thank you for such a well thought out post. During the presidential primaries, I thought Hilary Clinton was horribly mistreated by the media in particular. I thought the bias against her had everything to do with her sex. Then, enter Palin -- same thing, only this time I thought there were more women jumping on to the pile up. I walked away thinking that who needs sexist men, when you have lots of women looking to throw other women under the bus. Clearly we are treated as second class citizens in spite of all the progress that has been made, and unfortunately women do not stand united on this. No, it became a political issue -- as to whether or not Clinton or Palin's politics were agreeable. Women should demand fair and equal treatment for all women regardless of party, politics or beliefs. To do otherwise reduces us to the catty "b" word, as men like to call us.