The other day I heard two Democrats agreeing that regardless of this year's election's outcome, barriers would be broken: America would either elect the first African-American president or the first female vice president. The statement did not sit well with me. Barack Obama is not the Democratic nominee because of his race. He is the nominee because he was the best candidate to serve the party. The choice of Sarah Palin, on the other hand, is an insult to women.
After watching the Republicans' tactics, I have no reason to believe they chose Palin as the best candidate for the job. I believe they chose her for a single qualification: the possession of 2 X chromosomes and the resulting anatomy. I take no pride or pleasure in watching my gender being used, nor do I enjoy the many cries of "sexism" now coming from the Republican party, a party that has worked against the advancement of women throughout my lifetime.
Take, for example, the appointment of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. When it was advantageous for the Republicans to trash Anita Hill, were they feminists? No. They called her a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty. They ridiculed her, and did so only for political gain. David Brock, a former conservative author, obtained proof that Anita Hill told the truth, but the man who harassed her now sits on the Supreme Court.
Yet now, any time the media dares to ask Palin a legitimate question about her past, the Republicans call "sexism." I believe it would be sexist for the media to treat her differently because she is a woman. If the media adhered to the Republicans' idea that you can't hit a girl, THAT would be sexist. But the Republicans find it politically expedient to avoid questioning by false charges of sexism towards their candidate. Observing their clever maneuvering to shield Palin from questioning makes me doubt Palin would have been the VP pick if she were a man.
Palin herself is not someone I see as pro-woman either. If I were raped and I became pregnant, a Barack Obama administration would allow me the right to choose to have an abortion. Sarah Palin, on the other hand, would do everything in her power to take that right from me. Forcing rape victims to carry their rapists' babies to term is one of the most anti-woman positions I can imagine.
But aside from abortion and a handful of other "women-only" issues, women's issues are largely human issues. When mothers mourn their children's deaths in Iraq, fathers mourn too. When a failed economy brings low wages and increased unemployment, women and men suffer together. When our government claims the right to wiretap its citizens without a warrant, all Americans - women and men - lose their fourth amendment rights. On each of these issues and many others, Democrats will bring reform and a McCain-Palin administration will deliver more of the same.
I don't think the election of Sarah Palin as America's first female vice president will represent a step forward for women and feminism at all. As a Republican more extreme than George W. Bush, she will continue to make America worse for women. And the choice of her as a VP candidate by the Republicans purely for their own political posturing is a slap in the face to American women.