Wednesday, April 27, 2011

On birtherism, misogyny, and… math

Okay, so I'm not sure where it comes from. A few things, probably: a little blowback from all of the attention to Obama's birthplace (note: It's Hawaii. Let it go), a desire to discredit Sarah Palin any way possible, a love for absolutely anything salacious and conspiratorial. But the idea that Trig Palin is not Sarah's son but her grandson is for some reason picking up volume that seems impervious to logic.

An overview: Trig Palin (the one Sarah allegedly made) was born, as far as available evidence shows, on April 18. Tripp Palin (the one Bristol allegedly made) was born December 27 of that same year. Unless Bristol celebrated pushing out a six-pound baby by immediately getting' down and getting pregnant on the first try, and then promptly delivered a 36-week baby who weighed in at more than seven pounds, Trig can't be her kid. Math + biology. If you want evidence even solider than Obama's certificate of live birth, math + biology should do it.

There are two things that bug me about this controversy. One is the aforementioned math + biology issue. I love biology, and I particularly love math--if you want to discard math to support some wacky conspiracy theory, I'll be bugged. And the other is that I'm now forced to defend Sarah Palin. Do you know what that's like for me? Don't you like me? Why would you want me to do that?

Using Palin's pregnancy against her is misogynistic. It's climbing up inside her uterus in a way that I wouldn't defend for any liberal woman and can't defend for her. Photos show her not looking pregnant? A fit, athletic woman in a bulky coat and a scarf? Show me a flat-stomached Sarah in a tailored suit and we'll talk. She got on a plane and flew to Alaska after her water had broken? She had a little bit of experience being pregnant (four kids' worth) and was under the care of an obstetrician. Show me a report from her obstetrician--and not just an obstetrician, but the obstetrician who knew the details of her particular situation--and we'll talk.

Either we're calling her a devastatingly huge liar, or we're questioning her medical choices and dictate her life as a pregnant woman. Pushing either of those theories without good, solid evidence is dirty, irresponsible, and even slanderous.

There are so many reasons to slam Sarah Palin. Her campaign largely centered around being a female candidate, counting on the unconsidered vote of women just because she's a woman too. She hunted wolves from a helicopter. She's willfully ignorant about world affairs and not inclined to resolve that. She seems to think that being cute makes up for all of her other failings. Whether she's Trig's biological mother or not, she dragged that kid around like a Cabbage Patch doll to bolster her maternal image. She considers her minor (and somewhat blemished) experience as small-town mayor and half-term governor as a qualifier for the vice presidency. She calls herself a feminist while opposing reproductive rights and comprehensive sex ed. She campaigns on meaningless catchphrases like "drill, baby, drill!" and "don't retreat, reload!" She questions the existence of global warming, supports drilling in the ANWR, opposes the endangered species list, and has pushed against measures that would help preserve wildlife and clean water and clean air. She bailed on Alaska two years into her term as governor because she had more interesting things to do. Listening to her trying to compose a coherent sentence makes me tired.

Pushing a baseless conspiracy theory about Palin's son takes energy and focus away from all of the other defensible reasons she's politically and professionally deplorable. The misogyny and the cracked theories are unfair, unfounded, antifeminist, and societally harmful. There are plenty of reasons to disagree with Sarah Palin, oppose her potential presidential candidacy, and boycott her TV show without venturing into her uterus.

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