Letters to the Editor – 09/18/2008

Re: The Palin Debate
I enjoyed reading the two opinions on Sarah Palin in Tuesday’s Oracle. I would like to respond to Damara (Rodriguez)’s perceived sexism in media responses to Palin and her various positions on family that supposedly define her as a “good female politician.”

The reason people are calling Bristol Palin’s pregnancy into question is not, as you would suggest, the mere fact that Sarah Palin is her mother. The main motive for criticism surrounding Bristol’s teen “out-of-wedlock” pregnancy is the fact that Sarah Palin is a strong advocate for abstinence-only sex education, as opposed to a comprehensive sex education that actually admits that the teen population will probably have sex before marriage. According to a U.S. News & World Report article, 75 percent of teens surveyed admitted to having sex by age 19. The point of that criticism is to note that Palin’s religion-driven policy of keeping it in your own pants didn’t even work in her family. Is it really sexist to critique someone’s policy choice if it fails in a practical application?

Is it really sexist to criticize someone for flying while in labor? Health concerns should outweigh any political concerns whether the politician is male-bodied or female-bodied. If John McCain had a pacemaker and I criticized him for riding SheiKra at Busch Gardens I wouldn’t be ageist — I would be noting the practical, health-driven advice that most MDs would also dispense. Suggesting that stressful, low-oxygen flights can harm a pregnant woman in her third trimester is not sexist — it is smart and medically founded, at least according to the Mayo Clinic’s Web site.

It is not sexist to see Palin as a woman ­— it is sexist to see her as nothing more than that. True sexist conditions exist in her media portrayal, but not for the reasons you suggest. The only criticisms that the McCain/Palin campaign will respond to deal with Palin as a woman, not Palin as a politician. Where is the discussion of her legislative experience?

When you cannot actually remark on Palin’s political contributions (or, rather, the lack thereof) because you are too focused on her body, you fall into the very trap you are protesting. View Palin on an equal plane with her male counterparts and dare to analyze her experience and policies instead of her wardrobe. Last time I checked, Palin was wearing a skirt and she was still receiving criticism for her policies, not her parts.

Anna McDaniel is a junior majoring in English literature and women’s studies.