10 September 2008

That Pit Bull With Lipstick

When I heard Sarah Palin describe herself as a pit bull with lipstick, I cringed a little. I’m sensitive to the untrue stereotypes lodged against pit bulls. I’m also sensitive when such stereotypes are used in national media. Pit Bull owners and supporters are fighting long and hard against stereotypes and unfounded fears that lead to BSL. At the same time, I try to be reasonable about my response. Palin’s quote did not seem, to me, to be a blatant stereotyping of these dogs. I also don’t think it was a purposefully anti-pit bull statement. Of course, with that in mind, I was left to digest exactly what she meant by her statement. Was she tapping into stereotypes of Pit Bulls, or does she understand the real qualities of these dogs and she was invoking that image, or did she simply not know what she was saying?

First, lets take a look at the stereotypes of Pit Bulls. They’re vicious; it doesn’t matter their breeding or training they’re simply vicious. They have locking jaws; once they bite onto something they physically cannot let go. They turn on you; though they might have been a perfect family pet for years someday they will suddenly, without warning or provocation attack you or a family member. They’re just plain bad dogs and are not to be trusted.

Sarah Palin as a Pit Bull. She’s vicious, and it doesn’t matter how we treat her, she’s simply going to be vicious. It’s not a very good thing to say about yourself, but she might consider it an important quality in a vice president. She has “locking jaws.” Which might lead me to believe that once she makes a decision, or chooses a side in a debate, she will not be convinced to change her mind no matter what. It might also cause me to believe of her that she will not be good at, or even willing to, compromise. That doesn’t sound particularly bi-partisan to me. It doesn’t sound intelligent. It certainly isn’t a quality I would want in any of my representatives. She will turn on us. I wonder how well her handlers will be able to control her. Can I assume that at first she will seem well-behaved, a compliant party member, a vice president more than happy to take her lead from her president. Can I also assume that at some point, without warning or provocation she will turn on them all in a vicious attack. More importantly, if she does turn, will she turn in such a way that she suddenly supports my ideas, or will it simply be an inexplicable attack. Are these the ideas Sarah Palin really meant to suggest with her comment?

Now, lets look at the truths about Pit Bulls. They’re very loyal to their owners and families. They’re persistent and do not give up easily. They’re loving and affectionate and perfectly happy to be lap dogs. They’re also goofy and playful. As far as viciousness goes, they’re no better or worse than any other dog.

Sarah Palin as a Pit Bull. She’s very loyal. This is a good quality, definitely. My only question is to whom will she be loyal? To her state (as she seemed to suggest at one point) to her party, to her president, to her country? In a campaign running with a slogan of Country First, I’d like to think her highest loyalty would be to her country. She’s persistent. Again, this isn’t necessarily a bad quality. However, it requires tempering because at some point it is necessary to compromise or back off. She’s loving and affectionate. I certainly hope she shows these qualities to her family and friends, I don’t however need a hug from her. I’d be happy to settle with genuine concern, sympathy, and caring. She’s goofy and playful. While I don’t think goofy and playful is what we need in a vice president, as a mother I hope she knows how to be both. She’s no better or worse than any other vice presidential candidate. I can’t say as I believe that. If I disagree with her policy choices, then she’s worse than other candidates and vice versa. But, that’s not, in and of itself, a bad thing. It we were all the same, politics would be boring. Are these the ideas Sarah Palin intended to suggest by her comment?

Or, did she simply not know what she was saying? Is she unfamiliar with the stereotypes of Pit Bulls in today’s world? If so, then I am very worried about how well informed she is. Was she not thinking about what such a simile means? If so, then I wonder how strong her thinking skills are.

All in all, Sarah Palin’s reference to herself as a Pit Bull did nothing to endear her to me. Quite the opposite, in fact. It is one more thing that causes me to question her ability to be the vice president.

And just to put to bed one more myth about Pit Bulls. They don’t like lipstick, they prefer chapstick.

Lipstick is preferred

check out the 2nd picture

03 September 2008

Just One Question

Since the story came out that Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s 17-year old daughter is pregnant, I’ve been wondering how the girl ended up pregnant. Did her birth control method fail? Or did she fail to use birth control? To me, that is the important question. I’m not entirely sure what Palin’s views on birth control are. Supposedly, as a member of Feminists for Life she supports birth control while being anti-abortion.

There are lots of blogs being written stating that Palin is actually against birth control, that she only supports use of birth control by adults, that she only supports birth control for married adults, that she only supports abstinence-only education, that she doesn’t support sex ed in schools, that she doesn’t support the distribution of condoms to teens and etc. Many of these blogs refer to comments Palin made during her run for Governor of Alaska, most of the blogs don’t refer to any supporting information. Unfortunately, I can’t find first hand evidence of any of those comments. Palin’s website for her Governor race now directs me to McCain’s website.

I’m worried that these are Palin’s beliefs. I’m worried about what it means to have a VP candidate who is so much against education that can protect teens. I’m worried about what policies will receive her support.

Ironically, though, I found some valuable quotes regarding some of Palin’s other views of important educational topics. Supposedly originally quoted by the Anchorage Daily News, Palin had the following to say:

"Teach both. You know, don't be afraid of information. Healthy debate is so important, and it's so valuable in our schools. I am a proponent of teaching both."

"I don't think there should be a prohibition against debate if it comes up in class. It doesn't have to be part of the curriculum," she said.

"It's OK to let kids know that there are theories out there. They gain information just by being in a discussion."

Were these quotes regarding the teaching of abstinence and birth control use in sex ed classes, I would be perfectly happy with her ideas. Unfortunately, these quotes aren’t regarding sex ed; they’re regarding the teaching of Creationism alongside evolution in science classes. *sigh*

Apparently, Palin’s views on education include teaching information that is incorrect and unsupported, failing to teach information that could generate important debates and help students make important life decisions, and pretty much basing a child’s education on the tenets of a faith that not everyone shares. I’m worried if this woman becomes the VP.