Sarah Palin: Whose family values?

Sarah Palin's Letterman incident, especially the conservative world's reaction to it, proves that feminism has won. Conservatives have suddenly and vocally embraced values at radical variance from traditional family values.

These days, it is quite acceptable for a seventeen-year-old girl to parade her out-of- wedlock pregnancy, and to have her mother's (and family's) full support. About fifty years ago, such young girls would have been sent to a secret location, given birth, and offered their babies for adoption.

This wasn't just a prudish precaution. Almost every culture in the world abhors out-of-wedlock births. Whole families and societies are at risk of instability if illegitimate children are nonchalantly and openly accepted in their midst. This is nothing against illegitimate children; they are hardly at fault, but against the environment which could allow illegitimate children to become the norm.

All successful cultures depend on stable families. Fostering strong families is a long, ritualized process, which begins with the marriage of two people, and continues with their giving birth to their children within the confines of that marriage. Each step of the family-building process has its own ritual, from the marriage of the parents, the birth of their children, their baptism and spiritual initiations, their upbringing and education, all culminating with the marriage of these same children so that they can continue with the long and intricate saga of life.

When Sarah Palin took her young pregnant daughter Bristol and her boyfriend Levi Johnston to the Republican National Convention, she broke with the traditional ritual. And the conservative world consented. No conservative media reported on the non-conservative nature of the situation. Instead, they reacted to the relentless attacks by liberals on Sarah Palin's unorthodox family life by inadvertently embracing it themselves. A group of conservative women even participated in a video called "I am Sarah Palin," supporting her working mother role. One cannot help but wonder if this video title was alluding to an earlier militant feminist phrase, "I am woman (hear me roar)."

The Huffington Post described the reaction to David Letterman's acerbic jokes on her daughter and the consequent fallout, as a "new wave of feminism." I believe this new wave started when Palin went on the RNC stage as a conservative candidate, bringing the pregnant Bristol and her boyfriend, and an infant child along with her. She presented herself as the epitome of the working mom, balancing a family of children, including a special needs child, with a demanding career. She was the poster for the modern woman who is not content to stay at home and take care of her family, but who thinks she can do it all.

Following the Letterman incident, Palin went on a media blitz doing her rounds with the morning and evening shows, calling for Letterman's apology. Letterman's "rape" jokes are nothing but harmful to the self-esteem of young girls, she stressed. Letterman insists that the jokes weren't aimed at the underage, fourteen-year-old Willow accompanying her mother in New York at the time, but at the eighteen-year-old Bristol. But the damage had already been done.

And women around America supported her. There was no longer the Democratic and Republican divide that was still strong when Hillary, the First Potential Woman President was running for the presidency. The self-esteem of young girls eroded by sexist and lecherous old men trumped all that. Here was a movement that was a continuation of the "I am Sarah Palin" pioneer group.

Letterman apologized. In fact he apologized twice. And CBS, his network, reportedly still continues to receive threats of sponsorship withdrawals after The Olive Garden and the Embassy Suites Hotels already removed their ads from the CBS website.

In the normal world a few decades ago, the sharp tongue of a comedian would have revealed the truth of a situation, forcing the targeted individual to reassess his circumstances and either make things better, or just leave town.

I fear that Sarah was unable to reassess the situation that she had created with her headlong immersion into her political career, which inevitably removed her from family during a critical time for Bristol. Levi Johnston gave a glimpse of this in his own round of talk shows a few months earlier. He revealed that he was coerced into attending the RNC with Bristol, at variance with the happy family image we watched. He also said that he was allowed to stay overnight at the Palin house, in Bristol's bedroom. Bristol must have been out of control for Palin to concede to such arrangement.  

In the end, rather than face up to the costs of her career, Palin unfortunately assumed the victim's role, and entered the world of new wave feminism. She took no responsibility for her daughter's condition, a situation that only a few decades ago would have brought shame to such a family, and especially the mother.

Fifty years ago, it wouldn't have just been a popular comedian who would have made those disparaging jokes. The whole attitude of the community and the neighborhood would have made it very clear to Palin that she had erred.

The restructuring of family life around women's full participation in all levels of society has taken a toll on family life. We all have sympathy for the Palin family with all its travails. Living with a hostile media and powerful enemies is no picnic, and will stress every member of the household.

But I have to wonder if conservatives, in their rush to defend their heroine under vicious attack, haven't conceded more than they intended.
Sarah Palin's Letterman incident, especially the conservative world's reaction to it, proves that feminism has won. Conservatives have suddenly and vocally embraced values at radical variance from traditional family values.

These days, it is quite acceptable for a seventeen-year-old girl to parade her out-of- wedlock pregnancy, and to have her mother's (and family's) full support. About fifty years ago, such young girls would have been sent to a secret location, given birth, and offered their babies for adoption.

This wasn't just a prudish precaution. Almost every culture in the world abhors out-of-wedlock births. Whole families and societies are at risk of instability if illegitimate children are nonchalantly and openly accepted in their midst. This is nothing against illegitimate children; they are hardly at fault, but against the environment which could allow illegitimate children to become the norm.

All successful cultures depend on stable families. Fostering strong families is a long, ritualized process, which begins with the marriage of two people, and continues with their giving birth to their children within the confines of that marriage. Each step of the family-building process has its own ritual, from the marriage of the parents, the birth of their children, their baptism and spiritual initiations, their upbringing and education, all culminating with the marriage of these same children so that they can continue with the long and intricate saga of life.

When Sarah Palin took her young pregnant daughter Bristol and her boyfriend Levi Johnston to the Republican National Convention, she broke with the traditional ritual. And the conservative world consented. No conservative media reported on the non-conservative nature of the situation. Instead, they reacted to the relentless attacks by liberals on Sarah Palin's unorthodox family life by inadvertently embracing it themselves. A group of conservative women even participated in a video called "I am Sarah Palin," supporting her working mother role. One cannot help but wonder if this video title was alluding to an earlier militant feminist phrase, "I am woman (hear me roar)."

The Huffington Post described the reaction to David Letterman's acerbic jokes on her daughter and the consequent fallout, as a "new wave of feminism." I believe this new wave started when Palin went on the RNC stage as a conservative candidate, bringing the pregnant Bristol and her boyfriend, and an infant child along with her. She presented herself as the epitome of the working mom, balancing a family of children, including a special needs child, with a demanding career. She was the poster for the modern woman who is not content to stay at home and take care of her family, but who thinks she can do it all.

Following the Letterman incident, Palin went on a media blitz doing her rounds with the morning and evening shows, calling for Letterman's apology. Letterman's "rape" jokes are nothing but harmful to the self-esteem of young girls, she stressed. Letterman insists that the jokes weren't aimed at the underage, fourteen-year-old Willow accompanying her mother in New York at the time, but at the eighteen-year-old Bristol. But the damage had already been done.

And women around America supported her. There was no longer the Democratic and Republican divide that was still strong when Hillary, the First Potential Woman President was running for the presidency. The self-esteem of young girls eroded by sexist and lecherous old men trumped all that. Here was a movement that was a continuation of the "I am Sarah Palin" pioneer group.

Letterman apologized. In fact he apologized twice. And CBS, his network, reportedly still continues to receive threats of sponsorship withdrawals after The Olive Garden and the Embassy Suites Hotels already removed their ads from the CBS website.

In the normal world a few decades ago, the sharp tongue of a comedian would have revealed the truth of a situation, forcing the targeted individual to reassess his circumstances and either make things better, or just leave town.

I fear that Sarah was unable to reassess the situation that she had created with her headlong immersion into her political career, which inevitably removed her from family during a critical time for Bristol. Levi Johnston gave a glimpse of this in his own round of talk shows a few months earlier. He revealed that he was coerced into attending the RNC with Bristol, at variance with the happy family image we watched. He also said that he was allowed to stay overnight at the Palin house, in Bristol's bedroom. Bristol must have been out of control for Palin to concede to such arrangement.  

In the end, rather than face up to the costs of her career, Palin unfortunately assumed the victim's role, and entered the world of new wave feminism. She took no responsibility for her daughter's condition, a situation that only a few decades ago would have brought shame to such a family, and especially the mother.

Fifty years ago, it wouldn't have just been a popular comedian who would have made those disparaging jokes. The whole attitude of the community and the neighborhood would have made it very clear to Palin that she had erred.

The restructuring of family life around women's full participation in all levels of society has taken a toll on family life. We all have sympathy for the Palin family with all its travails. Living with a hostile media and powerful enemies is no picnic, and will stress every member of the household.

But I have to wonder if conservatives, in their rush to defend their heroine under vicious attack, haven't conceded more than they intended.