Suzanne Fields

The notabilities of the mainstream media are suffering acute PMS. That's Palin Motherhood Syndrome.

Instead of appreciating Sarah Palin as mother, experienced executive and smart politician, they're venting their rage at the multitasking mom. How could she hide her pregnancy for so many months? How dare she return to work as governor of Alaska three days after giving birth? How could she deprive her teenage daughter of effective sex education? And how could she have deprived both herself and the daughter of an abortion when that would have solved everything so neatly?

National Public Radio interviews women about what they think of the way Sarah Palin fuels the "Mommy Wars." Unlike the pollsters, NPR finds mostly women who describe the governor as "selfish" and "overambitious," whose heart simply isn't in the right place. The working mothers who juggle work and children say that juggling five children is wrong, but don't say exactly what the perfect number would be. Four? Three? Six? Some of these women were liberal feminists who only yesterday applauded women who combine children and careers. Not now. Not with Sarah Palin. The times, they must be a-changing back.

Modern feminism pushed careers for mothers with such success that by 1980 more than half (54 percent) of married women with children under 18 worked outside the home. Newsweek magazine that year identified "the Superwoman Squeeze," cataloging the pressures exerted on the 18-hour mom. By 1998, more than 60 percent of children under 6 had working mothers. Stories abound of women leaving the workplace to enjoy the domestic tranquility of mothering, but Pew researchers find that over 10 years of polling Americans disapprove of working mothers by a margin of two to one.

Pollsters, of course, ask only general questions about attitudes, and Americans are now asked to judge one specific working mother, as Sarah shakes up the findings in a very different way. As the Republican candidate for vice president of the United States, she identifies several new subsets of voters who are likely to vote for her:

-- Mothers (and fathers) accused of bad parenting because a teenage daughter gets pregnant or a teenage son gets a girl pregnant. (It still takes two.) The parents of these children may have given personal, sensitive, correct messages about birth control or abstinence, their children may have had the best sex education courses that public and private schools offer, but "life happens," and not always for the best in a pop culture saturated with sex.


Suzanne Fields

Suzanne Fields is currently working on a book that will revisit John Milton's 'Paradise Lost.'

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