Notwithstanding Amy’s plea, I have a question about one criticism of Palin that I’m not sure sits well with me. So we’ve documented many of the problems with Palin’s candidacy, but one in particular comes loaded with all sorts of women’s right/gender role questions. It boils down to this: Do her five children matter? The refrain is often something like this “how can she raise her five children if she is going to be Vice-President?” The question has two concerns- the first is that her children will suffer as a result of her “ambition” (or dedication to the job), the second is that the country will suffer as a result of her devotion to her children. Now, some may argue that being Vice President and raising five children are not mutually exclusive goals. If that is the case, then the question is moot. What I am concerned about, however, is whether this question is in itself legitimate. Can the question be similarly asked of Barack? Now, traditional gender roles say that the question applies to Sarah more than Barack. But recent developments, especially in the face of ambitious young (or old) mothers, speak to an increased role of fathers in the development of children. So, is it a legitimate question?

My only thought is that it is an empirical question- is Sarah Palin (or Barack Obama) the dominant parent? If so, then perhaps it is a legitimate question since we have reason to fear her (his) involvement in child-rearing. But it is one that applies to all candidates, not just her. Anyway, what do you think?

2 responses to “Question:

  1. For all the Palin-hating that I think is legitimate, this is actually one question that really irritates me. I’ve never heard anyone ask that about any other presidential candidates. It is only being asked because she’s a “Mom” and, a mom of five, at that. Though we’ve never had a “first man,” one would have to assume that the parenting duties of the busy presidential spouse would default to the, shall we say, unemployed spouse. Not to mention, once parents are in the White House it’s safe to say they have enough money and connections to employ someone else to care for their children (as so many wealthy New Yorkers do). Whether or not you agree with it personally, its still not a fair concern to involve a children question in [vice] presidential candidacy debates.

  2. polisciafterparty

    Yeah, I just think it is a question of whether the candidate is deeply involved in the child-rearing. The reason the question isn’t asked of male candidates, at least historically, is that men in their position typically aren’t that involved in child rearing. As an empirical matter, men are less involved- “proper” gender roles or not, a woman is more likely to be the primary care giver in a marriage than a man. Chance are, they’ll hire somebody to raise them anyway so she can prepare herself for McCain’s 27% chance of demise.

    Now, I just hope we don’t have to face this question at all. In November, Palin can go back into her Podunk obscurity and John McCain can discover that being a POW is simply not enough to be Prez.

    – Legal Eagle

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