A reader writes:
I think you do have one problem with your "open book" argument and here it is:
In 2008, in mid-September, we are not even allowed to ask questions about Palin's real and actual life as a mother-as-governor? That notion is as absurd as the Palin candidacy itself, in my judgment.
I think it is fair for any politician to be asked almost any question, including how would they balance work and family life, etc. However, parenting questions, specifically, are never asked of a man in quite the same way: with an implied judgment that it must be impossible to balance work and family so you better give us a good answer about how exactly you'll be able to do your job well while raising your kids. So by definition it is sexist to ask her this type of question, even though it is---technically---a perfectly legitimate question to ask.
Actually Charles Gibson brought this very question up:
GIBSON: Is it sexist for people to ask how can somebody manage a family of seven and the vice presidency? Is that a sexist question to ask?
PALIN: I don't know.
I'm lucky to have been brought up in a family where gender has never been an issue. I'm a product of Title 9, also, where we had equality in schools that was just being ushered in with sports and with equal opportunity for education, all of my life.
I'm part of that generation, where that question is kind of irrelevant, because it's accepted. Of course you can be the vice president and you can raise a family.
I'm the governor and I'm raising a family. I've been a mayor and have raised a family. I've owned a business and we've raised a family.
What people have asked me when I was -- when I learned I was pregnant, "Gosh, how are you going to be the governor and have a baby in office, too," and I replied back then, as I would today, "I'll do it the same way the other governors have done it when they've either had baby in office or raised a family." Granted, they're men, but do it the same way that they do it.
GIBSON: When we posted this question on the Internet, we had 15,000 replies within 48 hours and every woman with young children struggles with this question, should I, how can I, will I be able to. And I'm curious to hear you talk just about how you've internalized that.
PALIN: Sure. And I understand what that struggle is, what those internal questions are. I've gone through the same thing over these 19 years from having my first born to today having a newborn. In these 19 years, a lot of circumstances have changed. I stayed home with my son until he was seven years old, had just worked part-time, until I got into full-time employment again when he was seven. I had that choice then and I've had choices, of course, along the way.
I don't believe that raising questions about the way she brought up her children if those questions would not be asked a male candidate is legitimate. I do think factual questions about dates, times, and factual details about simple events in the family's public life are fine. But I do think the challenges of rearing a child with Down Syndrome are legit. I mean: she appealed to other parents of children with special needs in her acceptance speech. Asking questions about that process - and how she has handled and is handling it - has to be fine.
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