Sarah, get your gun!
By Sandy Froman | September 17, 2008
This week’s treatment of Sarah Palin has been an appalling display of sexism and elitism. But the hatchet-men are in for a rude awakening.
The attacks over the past few days come down to two things:
First, Sarah Palin is supposedly out of her depth. She’s only been in high office for two years, age 44, and has no foreign policy or national security experience. They say she’s not ready for the big game.
Second, they imply she’s a bad mother. She has a Down Syndrome baby, and her seventeen-year-old daughter soon will have a baby as well. Some are saying that a fit mother wouldn’t take on a job like this under these circumstances.
This is rank sexism, and dripping with condescension.
Would anyone dare ask these questions if the candidate were a man? Evidently not because they haven’t with Barack Obama. The freshman senator has only four years in office and half that campaigning for president, so really only two years foreign policy experience and has never handled national security. He has young children, but no one’s suggesting he’d be a bad father.
The comparison is worse when you consider their experience and their jobs. She runs a state several hundred times bigger than Joe Biden’s Delaware and has roughly as many constituents as Biden. And while Obama and Biden talk for a living, Governor Palin daily makes dozens of decisions and is commander-in-chief of the fiercely-independent Alaska National Guard.
In addition, Palin’s an NRA member and hunter. Barack Obama has never hunted wild game or field-dressed an animal. Frankly, Barack Obama should not welcome a comparison with Sarah Palin as to who is more rugged.
Conveniently lost in this male condescension of an “uppity” woman who refuses to know her place is that she’s a candidate for vice president, not president. The president is the commander-in-chief, sets the government budget and makes appointments. The vice president breaks tie votes in the Senate and advises the president. That being the case, I want to ask all these men who have trouble with Governor Palin one question:
Explain to me how Barack Obama can be qualified for president if someone with at least as much, if not more, experience is unqualified for vice president?
Their answer, I suspect, is that Barack is a man, Sarah is a woman. Therefore with equal or less experience, he can be president while she can’t even be vice president. Any woman who claims to support equality for women, but doesn’t fume in rage at this, is a hypocrite.
I know something about unspoken sexism. When I graduated from law school in 1974 there weren’t many woman lawyers and it was still considered a man’s job. I was the first partner in the, then, 50-year history of the major California law firm where I worked. When I joined the NRA, some expressed surprise because it was thought of as a man’s organization. When I was elected to the NRA board of directors, it happened again. And when I was elected president of the NRA some male jaws dropped while women nodded in knowing approval.
During my tenure as NRA president, there were a few male advisors who tried to coax me into ridiculous speeches in settings that underutilized me because even then, they didn’t consider me up to certain tasks. Never mind that I was a graduate of Harvard Law School and an honors graduate of Stanford, or that I had a resume a mile long. I was a woman, and so a man would be better suited to be where the hottest battles were being fought.
I went ahead and did those things anyway. I never fumbled the ball, I never faltered, and when I concluded my term of office, I left on a high note.
I look to Governor Sarah Palin as someone who can do that on a much higher level on the national stage. This tough Western woman refuses to take a back seat. This woman who knows how to look down the barrel of a gun and gut an animal in the wilderness is not afraid that she’ll break her nail when she punches some deserving opponent right between the eyes in a political brawl. She’s demonstrated that grit and determination in pummeling the former Republican governor out of office, felling the former Alaska attorney general, and dispatching the former Alaska GOP chairman. Do you think those men rolled over? Do you think they graciously conceded? No, they fought her tooth and nail, and she beat them into the ground.
The sexist commentators denigrating her right now are destined for the same fate. Watch out, boys. This girl’s gonna get ya!