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Lauren founded this blog in 2001.
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66 Responses

  1. Rachel
    Rachel September 1, 2008 at 3:21 pm |

    oh, that poor child – what a lousy experience this has to be for her. I sort of want to send her the link for girlmom, like from an untraceable email address.

  2. Bruce/Crablaw
    Bruce/Crablaw September 1, 2008 at 3:34 pm |

    Not our business, even if Palin talks about it. Her minor daughter’s reproductive status is not our business. NOT our business. Even if a woman discloses her minor daughter’s business, it’s not how feminism works for anyone else to make hay out of it, to quote Melissa the Good.

  3. Marked Hoosier
    Marked Hoosier September 1, 2008 at 3:35 pm |

    Wow, what a turn of events since the close of the Dem convention.

    Congrats to the young mother, and best of luck.

  4. Soma
    Soma September 1, 2008 at 3:36 pm |

    Oh, and Sarah Palin is against sex ed in schools.

    Yeah, that was my first thought when this came out. I wonder how they’ll manage to spin it so that this doesn’t compromise her stance on sex ed.

  5. Luna
    Luna September 1, 2008 at 3:43 pm |

    Not our business? Seems to me that it’s a great example of how abstinence only education cannot and and does not work. Even the children of the top proponents of this bullshit aren’t exempt from its colossal failure.

    As much as I feel sorry for the 17 year old, I’m laughing my ass off.

  6. Misspelled
    Misspelled September 1, 2008 at 3:43 pm |

    This nomination seems to have put Bristol, and the rest of her family, in multiple really sucky positions. Being placed in the public eye, amid all this speculative bullshit, it pretty much the last thing that should happen to a pregnant seventeen-year-old, let alone one who’s about to get married and give birth. I hope McCain and his advisors at least have the grace to feel bad about that, and aren’t just regretting it as their own PR fuckup.

    Good luck to her, at any rate.

  7. Yolanda C.
    Yolanda C. September 1, 2008 at 3:44 pm |

    Bruce/Crablaw:

    Not our business, even if Palin talks about it. Her minor daughter’s reproductive status is not our business.

    And the sexual and reproductive lives of us and our children are none of Governor Palin’s business EITHER. Nor are our reproductive lives Senator McCain’s business, nor any business of the anti-choice, homophobic, transphobic, misogynist, racist, xenophobic, classist, ableist, and otherwise bigoted leaders of the GOP. Just like Palin and McCain get to make the choices that are right for themselves and their loved ones, so do we.

    We deserve the right to control our lives and bodies too. Understand?

  8. Lauren
    Lauren September 1, 2008 at 3:54 pm |

    As much as I feel sorry for the 17 year old, I’m laughing my ass off.

    Well then, help yourself to some humble pie. The more liberals “make hay” out of this, as Bruce says, the more liberals look like shallow douchebags and gin a lot of sympathy for the Republican ticket. Any woman who has faced an unwanted pregnancy, or knows someone who has, is going to recoil from THAT kind of commentary. Kind of like I am right now.

    Assuming it’s actually Bristol’s choice, it’s a legitimate choice that I have absolutely no problem with. Like I said above, she has support and resources. Where we should focus our attention is exactly what Yolanda is getting at — for those of us without extensive resources and options available to us, we NEED sex education, contraceptives, and the ability to receive non-judgmental care from qualified medical professionals. It’s none of my business what any of them do with their bodies, but neither is it their business what I do with mine.

  9. kara
    kara September 1, 2008 at 3:57 pm |

    The mean part of me wants to laugh myself sick. Proof that being from Republican families does nothing to stop teen pregnancy, that abstinence only education doesn’t work, and teen moms are not just poor white/black whores.

    I’ve watched my own single teen mother take so much crap on so many levels from people like Palin. Join us, now, Palin.

    And best of wishes to Bristol.

  10. Mary
    Mary September 1, 2008 at 4:04 pm |

    It’s not our business because of what it says about Sarah Palin, and it’s *certainly* not our business because of what it might say about Bristol Palin. I truly and sincerely wish their family all the luck and prosperity in dealing with this situation.

    But it is absolutely our business because of what it says about John McCain – that he did not vet his vice-presidential nominee, the person “most ready to step in at a moment’s notice,” before selecting her. That is absolute recklessness. It’s as if McCain took Obama’s challenge about “temperament and judgment” and decided to prove the worst speculators right on the very next day.

  11. Eva
    Eva September 1, 2008 at 4:23 pm |

    Their “full support” consisted of either pulling her out of school against her wishes, keeping her relatively sequestered for months so that her pregnancy wouldn’t “embarass” them, and covering it up with the excuse that she had mono or, letting her make the decision to leave school and drop out the public eye because she wanted privacy, then when the opportunity to run for VP presented itself, saying to heck with your privacy and taking her from her desired seclusion to the national campaign trail without regard for what it would do to her.

    I do not believe that this girl is being allowed to make her own decisions regarding marriage, privacy, and the like, and I believe that in either situation, her parents (both of em) have exbited crappy judgment and bad parenting to someone who needs real support now, not press releases that make her a political popr.

  12. M
    M September 1, 2008 at 4:30 pm |

    “Completely unfounded?” Sarah Palin’s labor story is either “completely” fabricated or represents one of the most reckless birthing stories ever told by a national figure. After her water broke more than a month premature, in a pregnancy already complicated by Down’s Syndrome (and all the corresponding problems it can bring, like heart defects), she continued through her day, gave a speech, took two flights, then drove 45 minutes, resulting in a water-breaking-to-hospital delay of over 14 hours? Again, that’s either an admission of recklessness or it’s completely fabricated.

    Moreover, Palin has deliberately thrust her children’s reproductive choices into the spotlight by taking the extreme position that NO woman should have control over her reproduction. The statement that Bristol chose “on her own” to keep the baby may be one of the most offensive comments in modern American politics, considering her mother’s express position is that such “choice” should not be available to anyone at any time.

    I haven’t heard of anyone harassing Bristol, and if they did, that’s wrong. She shouldn’t be in the spotlight. As for Sarah Palin, she’s running for the second most powerful position in the country, on the most intrusive reproductive platform since Roe v. Wade was decided. Everything about her family planning decisions is fair game.

  13. Red Stapler
    Red Stapler September 1, 2008 at 4:32 pm |

    I wish Bristol Palin all the good in the world. I hope her child is healthy and hale, and that the relationship she has with the father lasts and is a good, solid, happy one. I also hope the media leaves her and her new family the hell alone.

    That said…

    I still think it’s possible Trig is her kid. I still think this is a media circus. I still think that by picking Sarah Palin, McCain reached for straws, and not only grabbed the short one, but one laced with poison, besides.

    It’s going to be one interesting November.

  14. Yolanda C.
    Yolanda C. September 1, 2008 at 4:33 pm |

    It’s not our business because of what it says about Sarah Palin, and it’s *certainly* not our business because of what it might say about Bristol Palin.

    But Mary, the fact that Palin is on record about denying reproductive health choices to other Alaskans is relevant. She is an anti-choice politician who is against basic rights for LBGT people. She supports “abstinence-only” sex education, which has been revealed in study after study to promote false gender stereotypes and medically inaccurate information. As far as I know, she is against universal health care, which millions of people in the US need and deserve.

    Palin’s bigoted policies are no excuse for intrusive attacks on her daughter and grandchild, of course not. The only thing this queer woman wants is for Palin and the rest of the “pro-life” crowd to extend the same respect and dignity that they want for themselves to the rest of us. Period, end of story.

  15. Margalis
    Margalis September 1, 2008 at 4:33 pm |

    I assume many are going to fall back on many of the stereotypes about teen pregnancy to characterize Palin’s family, particularly Bristol. They’re hicks. She’s irresponsible, she gets what she deserves. And so on and so forth.

    These are stereotypes that Republicans have been flogging for ages.

    This is like a perfect storm of hypocrisy and stupid. We’ve been hearing about family values contrasted with “liberal Hollywood”, conservatives bashing people like the Spears family, pushing abstinence education, calling Michelle Obama a “baby mama”, wailing about those lousy blacks who have kids early and often — if Palin lived in South Central and was named Latifah conservatives would be using her as a poster child for what is wrong with this country.

  16. DRD1812
    DRD1812 September 1, 2008 at 4:37 pm |

    Like others, I really feel for this poor girl. Sure, should she have been more careful, used at least condoms (if this wasn’t because one broke), etc. etc. etc? Of course. But then, in such a small town… I’ve lived in a small town. Any purchase of contraceptives would have had everybody knowing…

    If I were Palin, I would have turned down the VP spot. With a newborn with Trisomy 21, and a teenage daughter trying to finish high school while carrying an unexpected pregnancy (and who must feel abortion isn’t an option, even if she wanted one, since her mother runs on a pro-life platform)… HRC’s child is an adult. Obama’s children are both school-aged, with no scandals about to break about them.

    Add in the controversy surrounding Palin’s time as governor, and really, poor, poor VP pick.

  17. Peter
    Peter September 1, 2008 at 4:55 pm |

    Of course no one should be trashing or judging a teenage girl.

    The only thing of relevance that comes to my mind, is that Sarah Palin promotes “abstinence only” sex education.

    And even though she evidently preaches “abstinence only” to other people, I hope in her private life she educated her daughters about the whole spectrum of sexuality – from abstinence, to contraception, to sexual responsibility.

  18. Cara
    Cara September 1, 2008 at 5:00 pm |

    I’m glad that Obama is on this and speaking up. Good.

    The campaign has released a statement with the following sentence: “We ask the media, respect our daughter and Levi’s privacy as has always been the tradition of children of candidates.” Now, of course I agree with the statement. But I do find it ironic that it’s being made by a woman who is running on a ticket with a man who is on record as calling a 13-year-old Chelsea Clinton “ugly.” That of course shouldn’t change how we treat Bristol. It was wrong then, and it’s wrong now. But it’s still ironic.

    In any case, I do think that it’s wrong to take pleasure in what is obviously a very difficult and unfairly public time for this young woman. Laughing about it doesn’t help anyone. And if you only have an interest in helping the left politically, anyway, it makes us look like assholes, so even strategically rather than ethically speaking it’s a bad idea.

  19. feministjen
    feministjen September 1, 2008 at 5:40 pm |

    thank you for firmly shutting down baseless rumormongering.

    feminist love,
    jen

  20. n5p7q
    n5p7q September 1, 2008 at 5:50 pm |

    RE: Mary’s comment #10 about John McCain’s recklessness.

    Exactly. This throws into question McCain’s judgment and his entire character, since he knowingly took part in putting a pregnant teenager under the national spotlight. The same can be said about Sarah Palin’s judgment and character.

    Bristol Palin and her reproductive status are indeed none of our business.

    But Sarah Palin’s treatment of her very vulnerable daughter opens a window in the potential VP’s judgment and character, so that makes “what it says about Sarah Palin” part of “our business.”

    Sarah Palin is probably finished as a candidate. John McCain should be as well.

  21. Jessica
    Jessica September 1, 2008 at 5:54 pm |

    Good lord, I feel bad for Bristol. I hope that she is alright, I can’t imagine what she is going through right now.

    However, this is definitely an example of how abstinence-only education DOESN’T work. I definitely don’t want Sarah Palin (or any other politician for that matter) telling me what I can and cannot do with my body!

    If you haven’t read “The Girls Who Went Away”, I highly recommend it. It definitely puts this whole situation into perspective.

  22. n5p7q
    n5p7q September 1, 2008 at 5:55 pm |

    RE: Correction to my initial comment (#19?) in response to Mary’s comment #10.

    Third paragraph, second line: “window IN … judgment … ” should read “window INTO … judgment …”.

    Sorry for the error.

  23. Rhonda
    Rhonda September 1, 2008 at 6:05 pm |

    Of course it’s our business! This woman wants to make everything about our personal lives HER business but we are supposed to step aside and reserve judgment? Huh? She’s evangelical. She’s part of a group that has been pointing an accusational finger at the left for destroying family values for years!!! So if a conservative, evangelical, politician has a 17-year old, unwed, pregnant daughter, then I say it’s fair game. Please explain how Chelsea’s ‘privacy’ would have been respected had she become pregnant at 17? And would Hillary not have been forced to take the blame as she chose her career over staying at home with little Chelsea? The hypocrisy is deafening! I’m sorry but the girl is still a minor. She’s still very much the responsibility of Sarah Palin! Someone needs to admit that there was a breakdown in communication, a parental failure and take some ownership beyond “it’s a beautiful “pro-life” moment!” What a crock! Maybe Sarah Palin should have spent more time discussing sex and birth control and less time shooting animals with her daughters!

  24. ol cranky
    ol cranky September 1, 2008 at 6:17 pm |
    I assume many are going to fall back on many of the stereotypes about teen pregnancy to characterize Palin’s family, particularly Bristol. They’re hicks. She’s irresponsible, she gets what she deserves. And so on and so forth.

    These are stereotypes that Republicans have been flogging for ages.

    Sad but true. The Reps also bandy about the accusation that working mothers are selfish as Rick Santorum stated on p95 of It takes a Family [emphasis added]:

    Many women have told me, and surveys have shown, that they find it easier, more ‘professionally’ gratifying, and certainly more socially affirming, to work outside the home than to give up their careers to take care of their children. Think about that for a moment…Here, we can thank the influence of radical feminism, one of the core philosophies of the village elders.”

    My guess is that he was polling Sarah Palin to support his assertion. I can’t imagine what Bristol Palin is going through with all the media scrutiny; more importantly, I really can’t understand why her parents chose to put her through this so publicly and why her mother was in such a rush to move into the national political arena.

    Maybe I’m wrong but I always thought that family values took the family into consideration.

  25. Adrasteia
    Adrasteia September 1, 2008 at 6:31 pm |

    Bristol Palin’s pregnancy is none of our business, just as John Edwards affair was none of our business and Bill Clinton’s dalliance was none of our business.

    What is our business is that this shows that abstinence only education does not work, even in the most religious and conservative of homes.

  26. Faith at F.N.
    Faith at F.N. September 1, 2008 at 6:39 pm |

    “Not our business, even if Palin talks about it. Her minor daughter’s reproductive status is not our business. NOT our business. Even if a woman discloses her minor daughter’s business, it’s not how feminism works for anyone else to make hay out of it, to quote Melissa the Good.”

    I’m sorry, but even as a feminist I simply can’t agree that this isn’t our business. Sarah Palin is a candidate for one of the highest offices in the nation. We as the voters absolutely have every right and reason to know who this woman is and who her family is. Is it sad that Bristol is caught up in the middle of this? Absolutely. Does Bristol deserve to be protected from personal attacks? Absolutely. But Sarah Palin, as an adult and as a candidate for V.P., does not have the right to have her personal, family life absent from the spotlight. We as voters have the right to know who we are voting for and whether or not their personal lives match up to their public face.

  27. prefer not to say
    prefer not to say September 1, 2008 at 6:50 pm |

    When I was 17, my parents’ tremendously conservative views on sex did not stop me from having enough autonomy to choose to depart from those views.

    When my best friend was 17, her parents’ very liberal ideas about sex did not propel her into early sexual activity.

    Let’s start a long healthy conversation about Palin’s stance on sexual and family issues. That’s very necessary. Let’s not participate in the fantasy that somehow her daughter’s condition illustrates how wrong her position is — or how right it is, as plenty of the religious right are already doing in celebrating the wonderfully adult, pro-life stance of the younger Palin.

    And I have to say I feel like throwing up when I read comments on feministe like “Hey, she has a baby with Down’s syndrome and a pregnant daughter at home. She needs to stay at home with them and stop thinking about being VP!”

  28. Renee
    Renee September 1, 2008 at 7:07 pm |

    Everyone is assuming that Bristol did not want to get pregnant. Everyone is assuming that she was either unaware of safe sex practices or felt unable to obtain birth control. As strange as this may seem did anyone ever consider that motherhood was an active choice for her? What if she purposefully became pregnant?
    We are all so busy making assumptions about Bristol but in thruth no one really knows what was in her mind but her. The fact that we are even discussing this in the manner that we are shows how little society values motherhood. That someone could turn child rearing into some sort of social stain to be used as a weapon against another proves what I have been saying for a longtime, motherhood is only acceptable when controlled by certain sectors of our society. We buy mothers day cards, get mom tattos, hey we even right songs about mothers but unless you fall into a specific category motherhood will not bring you glory only shame.

  29. Terra
    Terra September 1, 2008 at 7:11 pm |

    The personal details of the daughter aren’t our business, but the state of the candidate’s families definitely is.

    Family life has a large impact on the ability to do ones job. A poor family life makes is harder. A great example is troopergate. And everyone probably knows someone who self destructed at work because of poor family life.

    So while you shouldn’t go after the daughter it is a perfectly valid question to ask her if she is going to need more time with her family to deal with family issues.

  30. Roy
    Roy September 1, 2008 at 7:14 pm |

    Not our business? Seems to me that it’s a great example of how abstinence only education cannot and and does not work. Even the children of the top proponents of this bullshit aren’t exempt from its colossal failure.

    It’s still not our business. Abstinence Only Education sucks, but the fact that Bristol is pregnant doesn’t disprove it. She’s one person, and her pregnancy is an anecdote, not data. Her pregnancy no more disproves the effectiveness of AOE than the pregnancy of a girl I went to school with disproves the effectiveness of more comprehensive sex education.

    I object to the way that the right use family business to smear candidates. It’s not our business if Bristol had sex before marriage. It’s not.

    But it is absolutely our business because of what it says about John McCain – that he did not vet his vice-presidential nominee, the person “most ready to step in at a moment’s notice,” before selecting her.

    He says he was aware of the pregnancy. And, again, since it’s not actually anybody’s business but Bristol’s, it shouldn’t matter whether he knew. Bristol being pregnant doesn’t prevent Palin from being a good veep (I’d argue that her political positions do that).

    These are stereotypes that Republicans have been flogging for ages.

    And they’re wrong for it.

  31. DRD1812
    DRD1812 September 1, 2008 at 7:15 pm |

    [quote]And I have to say I feel like throwing up when I read comments on feministe like “Hey, she has a baby with Down’s syndrome and a pregnant daughter at home. She needs to stay at home with them and stop thinking about being VP!”[/quote]

    Saying that she should have turned down the VP spot, which is exposing her daughter to some very nasty national and international spotlights (when her daughter was in seclusion to presumably shield her from the Alaskan press!), is much different than saying she should stay home. Please remember that if she were not running for VP, she would still be the governor of a state. Not ‘staying at home with them’.

    Of course, I’m also speaking from a place of having been brought up in the same church denomination. I very much doubt Bristol thinks she has any real choice in keeping the baby and marrying the father. Now she’s being put on the spot and has to tow the party line, on top of that. *sigh* I feel for that teenager.

  32. Amanda Marcotte
    Amanda Marcotte September 1, 2008 at 7:20 pm |

    It’s inconsistent for the Palin camp to applaud their daughter’s choice while arguing that no other woman in America should have a choice.

  33. Elaine Vigneault
    Elaine Vigneault September 1, 2008 at 7:31 pm |

    Renee is right. I was about to comment that I thought it was inappropriate to call this an “unwanted pregnancy” when it’s more likely merely unplanned. And we don’t even know that – maybe she meant to get preggers. It’s not as though there aren’t teens who intentionally procreate.

    I like Lauren’s analysis that
    “Bristol is going to benefit from her mother’s fundamentalist base [...] because she will have support from her family and community.”
    I think she’s right about that. But you don’t need a “fundamentalist base” to have support from family and friends. I’ve noticed in many rural communities, there’s a bit more acceptance and support for teen mothers regardless of religion – teen pregnancy is just more socially acceptable.

    “I am a little troubled that marrying the father is part of the equation.”
    Me too. The emphasis is on little.
    I just hope Bristol is fully consenting to all of this. I hope this is what she wants. And I hope the boy wants this too.

    I’ve never been pregnant – wanted or unwanted, intentional or not. I don’t know what it’s like. I do know that I’ll support any woman regardless of her choice. I’ve had friends in both situations and every decision was the right one. The ones who kept the babies were glad they did and the ones who aborted were glad they did.

    Oh and I’ll still only vote for pro-choicers.

  34. ol cranky
    ol cranky September 1, 2008 at 8:05 pm |

    And I have to say I feel like throwing up when I read comments on feministe like “Hey, she has a baby with Down’s syndrome and a pregnant daughter at home. She needs to stay at home with them and stop thinking about being VP!”

    As someone who has raised the issue, I disagree. I’ve not said (nor have I read it) that people said she should not ever consider expanding her political horizons, I merely questioned the timing and the judiciousness of her decision to seek the office now. This is a woman who runs on a ticket for which the core constituency is against most women making career and reproductive decisions for ourselves and as such I question whether Mrs Palin can put what is best for this country ahead of her personal beliefs and goals when she doesn’t appear to have considered the impact of her most recent decision on her own family. Under the same circumstances, I’d question the commitment of any father who made the same decision to accept McCain’s offer. Call me cynical but this just makes me think they are willing to use any pawn or prop to further their agenda – something that seems par for the course for a party that uses lies and fear-mongering (what is the current level of the terror alert?) to manipulate.

    As Amanda says, the inherent inconsistency of Mrs Palin’s platform and her actions is a legitimate matter of concern.

  35. skippy
    skippy September 1, 2008 at 8:37 pm |

    tho (i’m proud to say) skippy’s blog did not indulge in any speculation vis-a-vis the youngest baby w/downs and his true parent, i can see why other blogs would see this as a legitimate question.

    it’s not like blogtopia and yes, i coined that phrase, invented this rumor. it was a rumor in alaska that just made it onto the innertubes when gov. palin accepted the vp slot on the gop ticket.

    and it’s not like it’s the left that insists unmarried sex is a sin, and abstinence is the only thing a child must be taught. quite the reverse. the fundie right, sarah palin especially (because she’s the veep choice) are the ones promoting this stand. so such a result (grandma fronting as the mom for teen age mom, not unheard of) would show up the hypocrisy, or at least the futility, of such a political position.

    in other words, there is an argument to be made that investigation into this rumor is not just for smarmy scheudenfreude reasons; there are legititmate political reasons to be addressed.

    also, it’s not like there wasn’t a myriad of circumstantial evidence. sarah palin’s own staff didn’t realize she was pregnant w/the downs syndrome baby. it has been documented that the teenage daughter was pulled from school for 5 months, obstensively w/a case of mono (which usally has a 6 week run in a human, ask me, i’ve had it) before the downs baby was born. the teenage daughter was invovled in a fender bender during those five months when she suppposedly had mono, directly outside of a health clinic back in the town they lived.

    circumstantial, to be sure. but i would submit, such facts evoke reasonable doubt.

    personally, i wish the girl the best. and i wish the little baby the best also. i am an uncle to a woman who was a special needs child and is now a special needs adult (not downs, but severely handicapped, so badly that as a child she was diagnosed as retarded…it actually was only that her toungue was paralyzed and she couldn’t be understood), i know how difficult such an existance is for such a person and the family that supports them.

    bottom line, i don’t think we can set ourselves up as better than either the palins and their handling of this new pregnancy or the bloggers who investigated the parentage of the downs baby.

  36. everstar
    everstar September 1, 2008 at 10:44 pm |

    Red Stapler said:

    I still think it’s possible Trig is her kid.

    If Bristol is five months pregnant, and Governor Palin’s youngest was born in April, there is no possible way for Trig to be Bristol’s son.

  37. JenLovesPonies
    JenLovesPonies September 1, 2008 at 11:50 pm |

    Amidst some nasty rumors that Bristol is actually the mother of Palin’s infant — rumors that are completely unfounded but don’t stop the Daily Kos kids from running them into the ground — they chose to disclose this information to lay to rest any other potential rumors surrounding their kids’ parentage.

    Wait, has the rumor actually been proven false? The DK presentation struck me as well-researched. Has anyone actually produced photos of Palin that look pregnant? Has someone explained why she got on a plane while her water broke?

  38. roses
    roses September 2, 2008 at 12:07 am |

    I still think it’s possible Trig is her kid.

    Do we have to bring that disgusting rumour mongering here?

    Has anyone actually produced photos of Palin that look pregnant?

    http://dailykos.com/story/2008/8/31/234157/516/1017/581734

    Has someone explained why she got on a plane while her water broke?

    Her water hadn’t broken. She was leaking amniotic fluid… she talked to her doctor about it and he said it was okay. Not that it’s any of our damn business anyway.

  39. roses
    roses September 2, 2008 at 12:10 am |

    It seems to me that it’s a great example of how abstinence only education cannot and and does not work.

    First, do we even know Bristol had abstinence only education? Maybe she had comprehensive sex ed. Maybe she was using contraceptives, and they failed. If so, could the right turn around and say: “This is a great example of how comprehensive sex ed and contraceptives don’t work”? Of course not, because one example shows nothing. Just because a method failed one young women doesn’t mean it doesn’t and can’t work.

    Of course, the numbers show comprehensive sex ed and contraceptive use is much more effective at preventing teenage pregnancy than abstinence. So why don’t we stick to the numbers rather than dredging up examples that could be spun either way and dragging a 16 year old girl into this?

  40. S.H.
    S.H. September 2, 2008 at 12:36 am |

    “It’s inconsistent for the Palin camp to applaud their daughter’s choice while arguing that no other woman in America should have a choice.”

    Amanda, I understand where you’re going with that but I don’t expect consistency from someone with a worldview like Palin’s. Where I need and expect it is from those advocating for every woman to make her own decisions in her life. And there’s a very easy way to remain the good guys and be consistent: stay away from judging this woman’s choices in her private life. One simply can’t go down the path of calling her a hypocrite without becoming one in the process also, because of the issues involved. God I’m so sick of defending this woman, and there’s so much to nail her on without losing our own credibility. For instance, she just lawyered up today in the “troopergate” scandal, but it totally got lost in the “her kid’s knocked up!!!!!!” frenzy.

  41. evil fizz
    evil fizz September 2, 2008 at 12:42 am |

    Stupid question: why in response to the accusations that Trig wasn’t her child didn’t Palin just provide a copy of Trig’s birth certificate or some non-specific information about her hospital admission? Why choose to rebut this with the news that her daughter is pregnant on a timeline that just makes it a biological impossibility?

  42. shah8
    shah8 September 2, 2008 at 12:50 am |

    I think I disagree with with Lauren and Hilzoy‘s attitude with respect to the news events of today.

    First, I think there needs to be an emphasis in that liberal blogs were NOT the people who perpetrated the rumors. That honor goes to the Alaskan Republican Party members. To have such a tinge of blame on the left under the circumstances is a degree paternalistic (and as I’ve been following all dem dang hurricanes on weather blogs, the paternalism already ingested is making me intolerant of more) and it encourages circular firing squad behavior. Which I think is the point of the Rovian smear tactic of claiming that liberal blogs did it.

    Second, I believe that the daughter *IS* our business.

    There has never been a brightline between family business and outside affairs. Dept of Child Services will take your child away if you are deemed abusive, for example. In practice, nongovernmental agencies all have insisted on having some awareness of what your family is like–if your brother is a terrorist or that your sister is a drug addict prostitute, that has an impact on your professional life no matter that it isn’t really any of their business. It is a rather…blinker’ed response that acts against our natural impulses, and I think one has to have good reasons to do so because it can easily be taken as rather smarmy or “weak”.

    As far as the actual reason I think the daughter is our business, well, I simply do not know how much agency said daughter actually has, and, well, it is my fucking business to know if a Vice Presidential canidate engages in forced shot-gun marriages and the like. It could very well be that the only active choice that girl had to make was the ability to get pregnant and all the rest was dictated by her parents. I have no reason to believe otherwise, Sarah Palin has a record a mile-wide of being a petty authortarian, and her early membership in the Alaskan Secessionist Party is a large tip-off for narcism.

    Al Gore Jr being arrested for drugs or drunk driving is about Al Gore Jr, and not about his father. That is because it is clear that he was responsible for his actions from beginning to end. I don’t know in this case.

  43. shah8
    shah8 September 2, 2008 at 1:19 am |

    We need to make a distinction between what *happens* to the daughter, and what the daughter *did*. The first is our business, since how authority is handled is a pertinent question for a VP. The second isn’t.

    I was too busy being a hurricane maniac and tracking Gustav to pay too much mind to the pregnacy, other than have a mean-spirited snicker and a c’est la vie! When I did get around to reading political blogs after landfall, well, there are a few issues that makes me uncomfortable from a policy standpoint. This is someone who is highly likely to have imput on the wimmin’s work part of the federal government, and the attitudes that I think Palin is presenting is making me quite a bit uncomfortable. There *ARE* rational and humane evangelicals, who probably would make excellent, if unusual vice-presidents around. The acts, though, do not speak to any moral, intellectual, or practical acumen, rather the opposite.

  44. Tina
    Tina September 2, 2008 at 2:28 am |

    Not planning on vote for McCain/Palin, but I think the innuendo surrounding Governor Palin is wrong. I actually think her position concerning her daughter’s pregnancy is consistent with her “pro-life” worldview. From what I’ve read, she believes abortion is wrong in all cases–why would she want her daughter to have an abortion? What makes anyone think the daughter doesn’t want the child? Choice means choice-to have or to not have a child. Whether that’s the choice you might make is irrelevant. Her views on sex education are certainly something we should debate, but I strongly feel that trying to link that discussion with attacks on her daughter is wrong, since I think it’s really low and cheapens the conversation we need to have about where this country is going. This is the politics of personal destruction up close and personal.

  45. n5p7q
    n5p7q September 2, 2008 at 2:33 am |

    RE: Roy’s comment #28 on McCain’s awareness of the pregnancy when vetting his VP choice, “… it shouldn’t matter whether he knew.”

    But it does matter that he knew, because it reveals his characteristic impulsiveness and recklessness when making a crucial decision — much like George W. Bush. This country can’t take more of that.

    In the same comment #28, Roy also said: “Bristol being pregnant doesn’t prevent Palin from being a good veep …”.

    But how Palin disregarded her daughter’s current condition when deciding to put Bristol under the stress of a national campaign is revealing about Sarah Palin’s character as an accountable caregiver and about her decisionmaking skills.

    This isn’t about Bristol’s pregnancy. It’s about how Sarah Palin and John McCain responded to that pregnancy by knowingly using a vulnerable pregnant teenager as a deceptive stage prop, under grueling conditions, regardless of its impact on her health and the health of the fetus.

    What it reveals about McCain’s and Sarah Palin’s judgment and character should be enough to finish off both their candidacies.

  46. William
    William September 2, 2008 at 4:21 am |

    I’m glad that Obama is on this and speaking up. Good.

    I’m not so sure he is as pure of motive as you think, Cara. The bottom line is that Obama is an intelligent, savvy, experienced politician who has surrounded himself with people of similar ability, who came to power in one of the roughest political environs in this country, and who faced an unusually ugly national primary. He could have said “Thats neither my business nor yours, and you ought to be ashamed of yourselves” when he was asked about Bristol. Instead, he talked about it. He did it in a way that underscored his strengths, his values, and his personal story, but by merely discussing it and mirroring it he added to the fire. He knows that by saying a word on the record, by offering a sound bite, he gives the story another day or two of life. He knows that by talking about himself he’s making a pitch. He knows that now that he’s on the record he’ll get his half dozen seconds of good exposure every single time someone brings Bristol up from here to November. He knows that when McCain gets ugly he can point to how restrained he was and invoke the story all over again. If this is none of anyone’s business than he should have left it at that. Instead he decided to try for a double.

    Or maybe its true that the 18 month presidential race really does make voters more cynical…

  47. Natalia
    Natalia September 2, 2008 at 4:59 am |

    Renee has a great piece on Bristol Palin’s pregnancy, and I agree with a lot of what she’s saying there.

    Whether Bristol Palin wanted this or not, she’s going through an extremely difficult time. Pregnancy at such a young age is stressful enough without the press breathing down your back.

    And yes, it is quite interesting how the Palin family would celebrate their daughter’s choice while denying a choice to the rest of us. It seems, in fact, that the meaning of the very word “choice” is alien to the pro-forced pregnancy camp.

    At the end of the day, it’s still a family matter, though. We will never know the answers to most of our questions. Inventing anything in the place of those answers is using one young woman’s life and experiences as political capital. Just because the Republican party would do it doesn’t mean that we should.

  48. Princemarko
    Princemarko September 2, 2008 at 7:41 am |

    Palin pregnancy is a personal matter. These smear tactics are borderline criminal.

  49. Faith at F.N.
    Faith at F.N. September 2, 2008 at 8:29 am |

    “Not planning on vote for McCain/Palin, but I think the innuendo surrounding Governor Palin is wrong. I actually think her position concerning her daughter’s pregnancy is consistent with her “pro-life” worldview.”

    Yes, it’s consistent with her pro-life world view. Having an unwed pregnant teen daughter, however, is not consistent with her staunch abstinent-only world view.

    “I strongly feel that trying to link that discussion with attacks on her daughter is wrong, since I think it’s really low and cheapens the conversation we need to have about where this country is going. This is the politics of personal destruction up close and personal.”

    But it is possible to discuss the fact that this woman advocates complete abstinence before marriage yet her own unwed daughter is pregnant without resorting to attacks on the daughter. I understand the hesitancy to comment out of fear of sounding like hypocrites…but as long as the conversation is directed towards Sarah and her politics, and the fact that her own family does not mirror her politics…there is no reason such a conversation is out of bounds.

  50. Ms. Fakename
    Ms. Fakename September 2, 2008 at 8:32 am |

    Are we really this stupid? We have the best candidate I’ve seen in my life time, eight years of Bush to run against, the standard bearer of the other party is an old guy that nobody (not Dems, not Rethugs–nobody!) likes, we’ve got a tidal wave in both houses of congress, and we’re really going to risk it all for this shit? So the Kos kids and Andrew Sullivan can get off on slut-shaming a teenager?

    And it’s not that it makes you look like an asshole, it’s that people who laugh at a teenager going through this actually are assholes.

  51. roses
    roses September 2, 2008 at 11:21 am |

    Having an unwed pregnant teen daughter, however, is not consistent with her staunch abstinent-only world view.

    How so? If Sarah Palin was having extra-marital sex, she would be behaving in a way that is inconsistent with her own worldview. But her daughter is a separate person from her. A sixteen year old girl makes her own decisions about sex and sexuality. She should not be used as a tool to attack her mother.

  52. Eva
    Eva September 2, 2008 at 11:42 am |

    I think everybody claiming the only appropriate feminist response is to ignore this needs to take a brief wander over the conservative blogs. They’re spinning in circles talking about how different this girl is than the “typical” teenage mother, because she’s doing the right thing. Feminists need to enter into this conversation and not let them once again control the discourse, and use this to reinforce the shaming of teenage mothers that they initiated.

    I am by no means saying to “go after” this girl for getting pregnant. Getting pregnant as a teenager is obviously no reflection on a girl’s intelligence or character. But they are explicitly invoking the tropes of the unwed welfare mother, and saying this girl is “different” and from a “good family” and doing “the right thing” and , most importantly “marrying the baby’s father.”

    And we’re supposed to say never mind that by “different” and “good” they mean “white” and “christian” and “not living in poverty?” Never mind that “the right thing,” closes out the conversation of choice, and shames teenage girls who decide differently. Never mind that for a lot of pregnant teenage girls, the smartest long term option is not to further financially and emotionally tie themselves to a boy they slept with in high school, let’s let them tell everyone that marriage is the only way. Never mind that in this case, the girl is white and conventionally beautiful and her mother is a governor who knows how to use a shotgun, and thus she’s seen as more “marriageable” than a lot of girls in the same position. never mind that by stressing her engagement as what makes her different, conservatives are shaming both girls who choose not to marry because they know it’s not the right idea, and girls for whom marriage is less of an option. Never mind that for these girls, holding this girl up as a paragon of virtue and talking about how “different” her case is involves tearing them and their choices down.

    It needs to be said that she is not different or special. Not that she is bad, not that anyone wishes her any harm, but that she is not different. it needs to be said in defense of all the other girls getting implicitly or explicitly dragged into or denigrated by the conversation surrounding her. They are defending this girl from their own shame system by attacking other groups of women, the same ones who always bear the brunt of attack in this conversation and then get told to shut up in the interest of feminism, or decorum, or whatever else.

  53. Tina
    Tina September 2, 2008 at 2:04 pm |

    Faith,

    I respectfully disagree. That fact that Governor Palin preaches abstinence doesn’t mean her offspring are going to do everything she advocates. My 13-year-old certainly doesn’t obey me all the time. How, exactly would a parent enforce abstinence? Should they lock their children up or monitor them 24/7? I think Bristol Palin is acting like the kid she is. That has nothing to do with her mother’s worldview, which I do think is fair game for discussion.

  54. Tina
    Tina September 2, 2008 at 2:04 pm |

    Faith,

    I respectfully disagree. That fact that Governor Palin preaches abstinence doesn’t mean her offspring are going to do everything she advocates. My 13-year-old certainly doesn’t obey me all the time. How, exactly would a parent enforce abstinence? Should they lock their children up or monitor them 24/7? I think Bristol Palin is acting like the kid she is. That has nothing to do with her mother’s worldview, which I do think is fair game for discussion.

  55. Natmusk
    Natmusk September 2, 2008 at 2:11 pm |

    Yeah…I think Eva just hit the nail on the head on the direction that this conversation needs to be taking.

  56. Elena Perez
    Elena Perez September 2, 2008 at 3:42 pm |

    Where I do think this becomes relevant is Sarah Palin’s opposition to comprehensive sex ed. We’re talking about it at the CA NOW blog: http://www.canow.org/canoworg/2008/09/sarah-palin-and.html

  57. jayelle
    jayelle September 2, 2008 at 4:27 pm |

    While I consider this a personal thing Palin and her family are dealing with, I can’t help but want to have a question I’d like answered:

    Is her daughter pregnant because of a pact made with other High School girls to get pregnant together, or was it just a pact she made only with her mother? The media should investigate….

    ;)

  58. ol cranky
    ol cranky September 2, 2008 at 5:09 pm |

    Her water hadn’t broken. She was leaking amniotic fluid… she talked to her doctor about it and he said it was okay. Not that it’s any of our damn business anyway.

    Roses: I have to respectfully disagree. This is a woman who thinks her bible and beliefs should dictate my medical decisions vis-a-vis pregnancy. She runs against abortion for any reason indicating that the health and well-being of a zygote must come first. When I heard she chose to get on a plane to spend 8 hours getting home and then driving an additional 45 minutes to deliver her child (passing other hospitals in Texas and Alaska) knowing full well she was delivering a child with special needs and was about 4 weeks early, I was shocked that she decided to put the safety and well being of her unborn child at risk. Sadly, my first thought (legitimate or not) was to wonder if she was intentionally putting the child at risk (it just reminded me way too much of rabidly pro-life women who intentionally have their malformed fetuses induced early so they can not survive but go around using their sad misfortune and superior morals as a banner to wave when what they really did was find a back-door to make their abortion socially acceptable). I’d like to think my heinous thought is way off the mark but her very political platform demands she receive the same scrutiny of her reproductive medical decisions that she advocates for every one else.

  59. Ico
    Ico September 2, 2008 at 5:21 pm |

    Seconding the remark that Eva’s analysis is spot-on. Elle, PhD has a similar analysis at her blog that focuses on the differences in the way Bristol Palin’s white teenage pregnancy is received as compared to, say, when the case concerns young women of color. Take a look if you have time — very insightful analysis.

    http://elleabd.blogspot.com/2008/09/hmmm.html

  60. roses
    roses September 2, 2008 at 9:29 pm |

    but her very political platform demands she receive the same scrutiny of her reproductive medical decisions that she advocates for every one else.

    It doesn’t demand we scrutinize it. As a feminist, I believe all women have the right to privacy and autonomy regarding their reproductive decisions. Period. Just because she has different beliefs doesn’t mean mine no longer apply.

  61. Charity
    Charity September 2, 2008 at 10:31 pm |

    I agree with you, roses, for what it’s worth. I don’t have any problem with criticism of her policy positions, they are damn well worth criticizing, but it plain feels wrong to use her daughter as a platform for those criticisms, or to use Palin’s *own choices* during her pregnancy. I can’t believe I’m seeing comments disparaging her choice of transportation while pregnant and speculations about her “leaking amniotic fluid”…on a feminist blog. I’m not particularly swayed by “but the Right would be all OVER this if it were [democratic politician]‘s kid”, either. It’s reprehensible when they do it and equally so if we do it; it is not justifiable because she’s a woman we don’t *like* or even if she’s a hypocrite. We are capable of critiquing her policy positions on their own “merits” without making an example of an underage girl.

  62. Ledasmom
    Ledasmom September 2, 2008 at 11:12 pm |

    “When I heard she chose to get on a plane to spend 8 hours getting home and then driving an additional 45 minutes to deliver her child (passing other hospitals in Texas and Alaska) knowing full well she was delivering a child with special needs and was about 4 weeks early, I was shocked that she decided to put the safety and well being of her unborn child at risk”

    Oh, come on. Where’s the evidence that there was any significant risk at all (even assuming it’s anyone else’s business, which it really isn’t)? She had some leakage of fluid – not unusual – and was not then, apparently, in frank labor. Cripes! Isn’t there enough perfectly valid stuff to criticize Palin on?
    I’ve gotten enough comments about delivering my second child at home that I’m not particularly interested in hearing about anyone’s “shock” at another woman’s birthing choices, thankyouverymuch.

  63. Teresa
    Teresa September 3, 2008 at 12:33 am |

    What I would say to Bristol if I met her face to face: “Damn kid, sorry your personal life is being played out all over the media. Being a married teenaged mom is hard – I know this, my mother was 17 when I was born. I hope you and Levi beat all the odds. I’m sorry your mom is using you as a weapon against people who have different views than your family.”

    What I would say to Sarah Palin:”You *did* realize that your daughter’s pregnancy would come up as a major media storm, right? Kinda comes with the territory – whether that’s right or wrong. I’m glad YOU had the choice to carry your son to term, and I’m glad YOUR daughter has the choice to carry her child to term. But what about MY daughter and MY nieces? You would take away their choices, even if one of them was raped and left for dead. What happens in your house is your business, and I’ll defend that. But see, by taking away comprehensive sex ed and access to birth control and abortion – you’re bringing your values into MY house. Sorry honey, but you don’t dictate what goes on in MY house – stop using your kid as a weapon. And I hope you wake up soon and see just how much John McCain and his campaign are using *you*”

  64. Faith at F.N.
    Faith at F.N. September 3, 2008 at 8:21 am |

    “That fact that Governor Palin preaches abstinence doesn’t mean her offspring are going to do everything she advocates. My 13-year-old certainly doesn’t obey me all the time. How, exactly would a parent enforce abstinence? Should they lock their children up or monitor them 24/7? I think Bristol Palin is acting like the kid she is. That has nothing to do with her mother’s worldview, which I do think is fair game for discussi”

    Tina,

    Bristol is acting exactly as a teenage would. That’s the point. This woman (sarah palin) preaches abstinence. Abstinence as a policy has been consistently shown to NOT work. The fact that Sarah Palin has a pregnant daughter while preaching abstinence-only education is completely relevant and absolutely fair game for discussion.

  65. Faith at F.N.
    Faith at F.N. September 3, 2008 at 8:28 am |

    “How so? If Sarah Palin was having extra-marital sex, she would be behaving in a way that is inconsistent with her own worldview. But her daughter is a separate person from her. A sixteen year old girl makes her own decisions about sex and sexuality. She should not be used as a tool to attack her mother.”

    Roses,

    This is not about using her daughter as a tool to attack her mother. It’s about showing that this woman – who is a candidate for vice presidency – is preaching a doctrine that overall does not work. It’s not about shaming Bristol. I have no problem with Bristol having sex or being pregnant. I have a problem with her mother advocating a policy that has been shown to increase the rate of teen pregnancy and the transmission of STDs…a policy that didn’t even work in her own home.

  66. the fshk blog » so you’ve chosen a vice presidential candidate without properly vetting her first…

    [...] One of the best posts on this topic was by Lauren at Feministe. [...]

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