An edited version of this post has been guest-posted at Shakesville. There’s a rather lively discussion going on, if you’d like to check it out.
If I heard that someone’s teenage son was going away to war, I don’t know how I’d react. A respectful hush, a sharing of the worry, offers of support. A feeling of my stomach dropping out of my body. Private tears, perhaps, especially if we were close.
How wouldn’t I react? Cheering. Grinning. Congratulations. Triumphant applause. Chanting of my country’s name, as a fratboy at a football game. Fists pumping in the air. None of these things spring to mind as appropriate responses to someone’s personal involvement in the horrible tragedy of war.
Increasingly, these sorts of moments seem to me like something out of a dystopian movie.
But there’s something else about Palin’s P nomination acceptance speech in Dayton that struck me. Here’s a small clip.
Palin spends one minute and 50 seconds introducing her five children. Five of these seconds she spends introducing three girls, firstname only, to audience silence. The other 105 seconds are spent introducing two boys. That’s 95.2% of the time spent introducing 40% of the children.
Not so much.
Here’s another stump speech in Washington. (The whole thing is here.)
Seven seconds on the girls. Seventy-four on the boys. That’s 91.3% for the XY brigade.
This appears to be her standard speech. This is how Sarah Palin, who could be the US President one day, talks about the children in her life. Boys are prized and applauded and lovingly described, though whether as political symbols or valued human beings it is difficult to tell.
Girls are irrelevant in Palin’s speeches, except inasmuch as they might be caring for a boy baby at the time.
“Along the way, Todd and I have shared many blessings. And four out of five of them are here with us today.
Our oldest son, Track, though, he’ll be following the Presidential campaign from afar. On September 11th of last year, our son enlisted in the United States Army.
[wild applause and flag-waving] [Palin grins and nods, waits for the applause to die down]
Track now serves in an infantry brigade, and on September 11th, Track will deploy to Iraq in the service of his country and Todd and I are so proud [applause starts amping up again] of him and of all the fine men and women serving this country in uniform!
[Crowd goes wild, Palin claps, flags wave rapidly, fists pump in the air, crowd chants “U!S!A! U!S!A! U!S!A! U!S!A! ” in deep booming voices.McCain grins.] Thankyou. Thankyou.
Next to Todd is our daughter Bristol, another daughter Willow, our youngest daughter Piper, [audience remains silent] and over in their arms is our son Trig, a beautiful baby boy [applause and cheering starts again]. He was born just in April [Palin can barely be heard over the applause. McCain is fiddling with his wedding ring.]
His name is Trig Paxson Van Palin.”
Transcript 2: [courtesy of eeminy]
“ Along the way we have shared many blessings, and three of the five of them are here with us today.
“First my son, the oldest, Track. He’s going to be following the presidential campaign from afar. On September 11 of last year our son enlisted in the United States Army [applause]. Track now serves in an infantry brigade, and on September 11 of this year Track will be deployed to Iraq in the service of his country. Todd and I are so proud of him, as we are of all of our men and women serving this country in uniform, thank you! [applause]
Then we have our daughter Bristol, she’s on the bus with the newborn, and then we have our daughter Willow, who is here, and our youngest daughter Piper [applause stifled]. On that bus we have our son Trig, who is a beautiful baby boy we welcomed into the world just in April. It’s his naptime, so he is with his big sister on the bus. But we thank them for being here. [applause]
And speaking of Trig, and other things, some of life’s greatest opportunities come unexpectedly. And this is certainly the case today. I never really set out to be involved in public affairs, much less to run for this office.”
Note: Please read tigtog’s post before commenting: “Families, politicians and stupid rumours“.
What this post of mine is NOT about:
* Palin’s reproductive choices, private life, or sexual behaviour;
* The reproductive choices, private life, or sexual behaviour of anyone in her family.
Thankyou for keeping this in mind. I will moderate comments as heavily as they need to be.
Update 4 September 2008: I’ve taken a look at Palin’s speech at the Republican National Convention with this in mind: “Sarah Palin feminism watch #3: the RNC and the “girls in between””.