Tuesday, September 16, 2008


My classmates are mostly much younger than me, one of the hazards of attending college as a (I hate to admit it) forty-something.  They are much, much more liberal, as a group, than any people I have ever been around in my life, one of the hazards of learning to be a therapeutic counselor.  And it's the liberalism that I'm struggling with--some days I say to hell with it and say what I think.  More often, though, I just listen and bite my tongue.  It really isn't the wimpy way out, I hope.

Here's what happened today, though.  Palinsanity broke out in front of my eyes during our discussion of gender differences.  (Or maybe they were just Palindignant?) She was run down for not having the "right" views, and for having her baby at her acceptance speech, and for her daughter being pregnant at 17 while the governor advocates abstinence education.  And for trying to have it all when she should be home with the kids.  I kept quiet except to point out that Geraldine Ferrarro had given Palin full marks for running, even while she disagreed with Palin's politics.  But I want to talk about this here, lay out my thoughts and see how it sounds:

First, even Camille Paglia, a renowned feminist who I don't always agree with but who does have a history with feminism, thinks that Palin is great for women.  Expecting a woman to hold certain views merely because she's a woman--that is the opposite of what feminism should even be about!  I agree with Gov. Palin about lots of things, and it doesn't make me less of a woman. More important is the alignment of professed beliefs and actions.  I don't find the governor to be hypocritical at all, which is key for me.

As for Trig being at the speech, and Piper, too, for that matter:  Some days in the life of a family are bigger than bedtimes and an orderly schedule.  Some days need to be experienced together, even if everyone doesn't realize exactly what is going on.  Maybe this is an observation borne of having a bunch of kids myself, but "the team" needs to hang through things together.  When you have big good things happen, like this, you get to experience them together.  Then, when the hard times come, and they will, you can experience those things together, too.  I think it was important to Gov. Palin and her husband to see ALL their children and her parents there.  I even think it was terrific that "the boyfriend" was there.  He isn't "the boyfriend" at this point:  he's the Palins' future son-in-law, hopefully a member of the family from now own.  

The snickering, the schadenfreude that ran through the room when discussing Bristol's pregnancy...disgraceful.  I really believe the Palins handled this beautifully, issuing their statement that didn't endorse her actions but emphasized their love for their daughter, and their respect for her as an autonomous person and adult.  If I'm ever faced with such a situation in our home, I hope I can handle it with that kind of grace.

Finally, has anyone actually asked Gov. Palin if she thinks she has it "ALL?"  I'd be surprised if she answered "yes."  I don't think I know one woman who truly believes she has it all.  I have a really great life, but there are always things I'd like to change or have more of--time with the kids, more exercise, an actual job (shoe money!), more time to spend with friends or my DH, or a better prayer life.  I believe each one of us can have it all, just not all at once.  Until anyone asks the governor this question, I'm of the opinion that Gov. Palin and her husband have figured out how to make their family life and working lives work for them.

As I write this, though, the worst part of my day is realizing that the people in the room all want to be counselors, people committed to empathic, nonjudgmental listening and helping. What happened in that classroom was the furthest thing from empathic or nonjudgmental.  How in the world will they deal with people who have values so different from theirs?  For that matter, how will I?

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