Emily Bazelton and Dahlia Lithwick explain the complicated business of judging Sarah Palin (which “like it or not, in whispers and sometimes shouts…is what women do when they talk to each other”):
We don’t begrudge Sarah Palin her decision to run for vice president, or her decision to have a baby with Down syndrome, or even the act of doing both at the same time. Under most circumstances, that kind of ceiling-cracking would have us burning our nursing bras in solidarity. But oh how we wish we didn’t have to hear about her pulling off all these feats without household help—and without, or so she’s determined to make it appear, breaking a sweat or gaining a pound. Most of us mommies wish we could tote our kids to the office and work uninterrupted as they macramé quietly in their Pack-‘n’-Plays. It never worked for us, though. Does this woman sleep? Do conservative feminists really have to be the kind of larger-than-life working mothers who make every pro-family policy or job-based concession the rest of us require, and have finally demanded, seem like self-indulgence?
Think of the family-friendly policies Palin’s example would seem to brush aside. No need for child care subsidies or universal preschool if a mother of five can run the state without a babysitter. Who really needs family leave laws that protect women’s jobs if a governor can go back to work a few days after giving birth? And no need, it would seem, for employers to make any kind of concession to the complications that working parents bring with them to the workplace. Feminism, to the GOP, appears to mean never having to say you’re exhausted.