I applaud Sarah Palin’s passion, her adroit sense of humor, and her you-go-girl! gumption. But the more I learn about Sarah Palin, the more I become perplexed by her over-heated gender-bending rhetoric.
I believe we can all agree that men and women should have equal opportunities. But let’s not confuse equal opportunities with identical outcomes. Just because a woman has the same right to an education and a decent job doesn’t mean she will pursue the identical career path, toil as long, or work as many years as a man.
Men and women have differing proclivities and interests — most Americans understand this fact. But then there is the small band of disaffected feminists who adamantly insist any and all social differences are the product of gender discrimination.
So where does the former vice-presidential candidate stand on all of this?
Let’s take the gender wage gap. Dozens of studies show that when the relevant factors are taken into account — training, experience, hours worked, and so forth — any salary difference is smaller than a twinkle in Nancy Pelosi’s eye.
But during the 2008 presidential campaign, Palin used the myth to skewer her Democratic opponent. Ignoring the fact that most of the top-level staffers in Obama’s former Senate office were male, she made this charge: “Out on the stump he talks a good game about equal pay for equal work, but according to the Senate payroll records, women on his own staff get just 83 cents for every dollar that the men get.”
Ratcheting up women’s sense of resentment, Palin then asked, “Does he think that the women aren’t working as hard? Does he think they are 17% less productive?”
Pretty harsh, Mrs. Palin.
Another feminist cause célèbre is the “glass ceiling,” the notion that bearded patriarchs are conspiring to keep working women in their place. But there is no more impressive story of our generation than the rapidity with which women have pierced through the ranks to reach the very top. As Alaska’s first female governor, Sarah Palin knows this triumph well.
But the identity politics-embracing Sarah Palin had this to say during her campaign: “In the long history of our country, 74 people have held the position of president or vice-president. And why have the major parties given Americans only two chances to even consider a woman for either office?”
No, Mrs. Palin, you’ve got it all wrong. Political parties don’t “give” a person the chance to run for office. The potential candidate must network, organize, and fundraise like the dickens. And once they get elected, they don’t resign halfway through their term of office.
Palin also presents herself as an advocate of a slimmed-down government. But when she speaks to a female audience, her message strikes a different note.
Regarding Title IX, the federal policy that imposes rigid gender quotas on college athletics, Palin has repeatedly come out in favor of this male-disadvantaging hold-over from the Clinton administration.
Palin has called for more childcare services, presumably at taxpayer expense, as well as “reforms in labor laws that allow greater flexibility in the workplace.” Of course this would mean more regulations from the Department of Labor.
But most eyeball-rolling is this Palinism: “The working women of this country, those who work inside the home and outside of the home, they’re overlooked by politicians in Washington.”
Women overlooked? PULLEEEEAAASE.
From the Sheppard-Townsend Act of 1921 that established a national network of maternal-child health programs, to the Social Security Act for threadbare widows, Medicare and Medicare, Title IX, the Violence Against Women Act, Women’s Educational Equity Act of 2001, five separate offices of women’s health at the Department of Health and Human Services — the list goes on.