Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bristol Palin and The Political Jabbering of Her Elders

Bristol Palin has been discovering how tough it is to avoid the game of political football which many - including her mom - want to force her to play as a member of Team Teen Motherhood.

Her mother's would-be political ambitions hauled Bristol's unwed teen pregnancy onto the national political football field like it was just some mascot, and really seemed to ignore the costs. It was simply an image, an idea to wrap about the McCain-Palin ticket ... more the Palin For President Project than anything else.

But I watched Bristol speak rather plainly to FOX News about her situation and was sad to see how even her earnest effort to speak the truth was tackled by her mom and her interviewer, attempting to wrestle her own words away from her.

Rebecca Traister at Salon wrote about the interview and how Bristol's plain talk was hustled off the field:

It doesn't matter what my mom's views are on it. It was my decision. And I wish people would realize that, too," [said Bristol]

No matter how you might like to spin that line, Bristol is talking about one thing: choice. She has that right, she made her choice. The same thing any other woman has the right to do. The Salon article continues ...

"I don't know if it's what I expected," Bristol said of young motherhood. "But it's just a lot different. It's not just the baby that's hard. It's like I'm not living for myself anymore. It's for another person." Later in the interview, she again repeated this line -- a heartbreaking point if ever there was one, and one we don't talk about much because we feel obligated to acknowledge that of course motherhood is a sacrifice, of course there are consequences, of course for many women and men, choosing to have children and become less self-obsessed is a pleasure. But so much of what pro-life advocacy is about -- whether it denies people sex education or contraception or access to abortion -- is in valuing the cells that make up a fetus (or baby) more than the woman in whose body those cells have grown.


"Gov. Palin opened by claiming to be "proud of [Bristol] wanting to take on an advocacy role and just let other girls know that it's not the most ideal situation but certainly you make the most of it." It was like the elder Palin had put her daughter's words through a meat grinder: What Bristol had said was that she wanted to let other girls know that they should wait 10 years, that their lives would shift beneath their feet.

"Bristol is a strong and bold young woman," Palin said, as Bristol sat quietly -- after her mother entered, she barely spoke further -- "and she is an amazing mom, and this little baby is very lucky to have her as a momma. He's gonna be just fine. We're very proud of Bristol." Palin was missing the point, or part of it, or perhaps making it even louder: Bristol's self-professed desire to prevent teen pregnancy is not just about whether this little baby is going to be just fine, it is about whether his momma is.

But that just wasn't of much concern to Sarah Palin."


And how poignant that the untrained and unrehearsed and inelegant message of the young woman who actually had the baby, the one who said, "I think everyone should just wait 10 years," made far more sense than the politicized jabbering of her elders.

Read the whole story here.

1 comment:

  1. It somewhat broke my heart when I read the Bristol quote: "telling my parents was harder than labour", or something similar thereof...

    Ok, maybe Bristol was doped up to allow birth to seem painless, but to associate telling the truth to (as has been described to me) the worst pain any average human has to endure in their life tells me more that her upbringing in a controlling, right wing environment of the brisk Alaskan air has led to fear, embarrassment and shame. If a mother like Palin were to ever encapsulate an entire country in her grasp, I'll be booking my flight outta this island... then again, even I don't think Palin can make enough koolaid over the next 3 years...