Tuesday, September 02, 2008

on privacy: a comment I made elsewhere.

[Elsewhere being Alas, specifically. I'd wondered about making a post about the whole Palin circus, leaned towards 'no' simply because I believe that Bristol Palin, though she is breathing for two, is not a valid recipient of media oxygen other than when the McCain campaign decides to start lighting matches, which I am sure it will. But then Mandolin posted that roundup about privacy and its connection (or lack thereof) to reproductive rights, and I found it a good topic for some thinking out loud.]

One thing I’d say is that Bristol Palin’s privacy is not a reproductive rights issue; she deserves privacy because she’s a young woman who has never asked for the world’s media to be on her doorstep. She deserves privacy for the exact same reason all the other candidates’ children deserve privacy. We do not need to interrogate Bristol Palin, ever. Whenever the McCain campaign makes propaganda use of her, talks about what a wonderful choice she made, we need to interrogate the McCain campaign and slam them for their hypocrisy and their inhuman anti-choice values.

It is interesting to see who gets the privacy and who does not, though. The Obama daughters have been regularly paraded on stage because so many people in the media, and allegedly in the US at large, had a nervy, perverse fascination with the idea of a black first family, and the Obama campaign felt forced to respond to that. Because America is a racially unequal society those young black girls don’t get the right to privacy.

And now there’s a young mother-to-be in the spotlight; I don’t know about you, but I haven’t heard the name of her fiancĂ©, nor read anything related to him. I also don’t know the names of any male children of anyone involved in this election. That Obama and Clinton don’t have any skews that, I’m sure - but I don’t even know if McCain, or Edwards, or most of the VP-possibles have children at all. The only people whose children have been talked about are Obama, Palin, and (to a much lesser extent) single father Biden (and there’s Chelsea Clinton, who was known to us from her father’s time in office. Quick, Britons, what’s the fastest rail route between Bristol and Chelsea?). I haven’t heard the names of Biden’s children. I don’t know anything about McCain’s children, not even how many he has, other than that he has at least one adopted child.

In other words, if you’re a white guy, your family gets more privacy. (Barring extremely odd circumstances like Biden’s - and if I may make an aside, I feel that the single father family I grew up in got too much privacy rather than too little; as Amanda wrote, privacy can be a shield for abuse, and also just for plain poor parenting. Single father families are far interrogated far less than single mother families, even given that they outnumber us by 10 to 1).


Anonymous said...

The father of Bristol Palin's child is called Levi Johnston and has been generating his own portion of controversy; see http://www.radaronline.com/exclusives/2008/09/palin-daughters-babydaddy-some-dude-named-levi-reports-enqui.php for info and links.

Palin's elder son Track has hardly been discussed, and her younger son Trig has only been discussed in negative ways:

* Initial suspicion that he was also Bristol's child - somewhat nixed because of the pregnancy news

* Palin was still working after her waters had broken and was back at work three days later.

The latter point has been harped upon by columnists who should have known better because the baby has Down's and said columnists are treating that as a special reason for Palin not to have dashed straight back to work. So if he hadn't had Down's, it would have been OK for her to take just two days off with him?

This kind of illustrates how the whole business is falling into a chasm of inoperability, particularly surrounding the mummy issues. Palin is a great mother to support her pregnant daughter; Palin is a dreadful mother for not personally nurturing her son. Nothing about policies. Nothing about Palin as a politician as opposed to Palin as a female (even one of the ostensibly political scandals is held to have happened because of a family issue); everything is about Palin as a faceless female monolith, as opposed to the two male presidential candidates and the male Democrat VP candidate, whose individuality is permitted to be expressed. Palin is an appalling legislator for supporting the sex ed system that was statistically most likely to leave her with a pregnant daughter; that fits better.

Daisy said...

Bold post, my love...

My Feministe post on Palin was similar to yours, GMTA. :)