Back to the 50’s with Sarah Palin

It’s particularly depressing to contemplate Sarah Palin as a 21st-centruy avatar of 1950’s sexual ideology.

Already this year we’ve had the Mormon-Stepford wives in their identical 19th-century drag and creepy hairdos. Now we have a vice-presidential candidate who is using her own daughter—not to mention her Down-syndrome infant—to further her political career, and being praised for her family values! (Not to worry, she assured us during the convention, the baby is on the bus, being cared for by his big sister.)

The cognitive dissonance is mind-boggling.

In the ‘50’s, of course, a girl who got knocked up was automatically in disgrace. Either she was sent away to a home for unwed mothers to have the baby in secret, or a shotgun wedding was performed. In any case, no one mentioned it.

Today, our Republican vice-presidential nominee, for whom abstinence-indoctrination is the only sex ‘education’ allowed, proudly parades her pregnant 17-year-old before the TV cameras. The conservatives are thrilled—after all, the girl is marrying the father! 

It’s the same old ideology: it’s not OK to learn anything about sex or contraceptives because that might enable you to have sex without getting knocked up—which would drive you to god knows what kind of libertine behavior. And you should not be able to cover your tracks with an abortion. No sex without babies!

In the new 50’s, a girl who gets knocked up may still have a shotgun wedding at 17, only now she can boost her mother’s family-values rating at the same time. This is particularly useful if her mother is running for vice president.

Is this disconnect between ideology and behavior any different from the disconnect between Palin’s claims of rugged independence and the reality of Alaska’s dependence on federal handouts instead of income tax?

In her interview with Charles Gibson on ABC, Palin repeated her mantra on the “bridge to nowhere”—“We said thanks but no thanks, if we want a bridge we’ll build it ourselves”—even after Gibson pointed out that she’d been all for the bridge earmark until congress killed it, and then she’d taken the money! (That, she explained, was only her duty as governor.)

Alaska’s no different from our ‘lower-48’ Western states (of which, really, Alaska is a variant), whose ruggedly independent ranchers, miners and oilmen have long depended on cheap federal grazing and mineral rights, not to mention all kinds of subsidies.

But it’s not good form to mention that, any more than it is to mention that Sarah Palin’s daughter might have had another future had she learned how to avoid pregnancy—or even, heaven forbid, had an abortion. After all, what girl’s or woman’s life is worth as much as that of a fetus? 

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