Friday, 19 September 2008

The Naughty Monkey Coming to Stepford

Last week while ordering my super-cute, chocolate-brown “Obama ’08” football tee that I’m planning to wear to every Stepford soccer game from now until election day, I instant messaged a friend of mine who has not yet realized she is a Democrat. I offered to purchase her a tee shirt, to which I received an overly polite “No, thank you.” I was feeling particularly mischievous that day, so I continued offering everything on the Obama ’08 Web site until she “hung up” on our chat session.

Well, today I paid the price for that little bit of fun. If you read my “Oh No You Didn’t” Stepford Story, you know I’m constantly forced to interact with Republicans who could care less they are offending me. Well, this morning the attack came from my friend, who knew exactly what she was doing. I’m not sure what got her Stepford thong in a knot, but she took it out on me. What follows in this article is my actual instant message conversation, only edited for spelling, punctuation, and the removal of her name for her own protection.

Her: “Okay, I know you’re not a Sarah Palin fan, but there was a spread on the whole McCain/Palin thing in People a couple of weeks ago and Sarah had on these ROCKIN’ shoes. Unfortunately I threw away the magazine and can’t find the picture on the People Web site. Any suggestions?”

(“McCain/Palin thing”? It’s a “thing?? Yeah, I have some suggestions.)

Me, taking a deep breath: “I have absolutely no problem with her shoes. I actually really like the way she dresses ... those shoes were on the front page of the Wall Street Journal—red patent leather peep toe pumps. Don’t remember where they came from, but I am SURE with all the media coverage on her Japanese glasses that if you Googled ‘Sarah Palin’s shoes,’ they would pop up.”

(Two short minutes later.)

Her: “I LOVE Google!!!!!”

Me, with an eye roll: “Me too.”

Her: “BUMMER!!!! Zappos is not offering my size.”

Me, exasperated that so many women have apparently ordered these shoes they are in short supply: “And why do you think that is? There is a two-month wait on her glasses.”

(Three blessed minutes of silence ...)

Her: “I’m on the phone with the boutique in Alaska where she bought them and am putting in my ‘hold’ for their next shipment. The brand of shoes is ‘The Naughty Monkey.’ I told her she needed to open another boutique in Stepford.”

(Father in Heaven, I’m not sure what I’ve done to deserve this, but I assure you I am very, very, VERY, sorry ...)

Me: “I may not be able to talk to you until November 3rd.”

Her: “You HAVE to look up this shoe line. It’s incredible.”

Me: “I’m about to unfriend you.”

Her: “I seriously need ALL of these shoes ...”

Me: “You seriously need someone to throw some cold water on you.”

Her: “Did you SEE the Web site?”

Me: “Noooooo. Out of principle I’m unable to click the link.”

Her: “You’re seriously missing out.”

(Umkay ... I’m done … I can’t take it anymore.)

Me: “How could I possibly wear the exact pair of shoes that she wears without that making me a hypocrite? I’ve only dissed her and her sanctimonious pumps under my real name on a national Web site.”

Her: “You dissed her shoes?!”

(OMG! It’s seriously okay if I dis the VP candidate on the Republican ticket for which she is voting, but NOT her shoes?)

Me: “Well, I’ve referred to her pumps on several occasions and how if her updo gets any taller, it will be an actual bee hive.”

Her: “Okay, I agree the hair needs some attention, but HOW could you dis her SHOES?!”

(Umkay ... it really is the dissing of the shoes that is offending her. I’m so sorry, but I have to say this.)


Her: “It’s not the shoes’ fault that you don’t like her.”

(How, how in the Hell can I make this stop?)

Me: “True, but it doesn’t mean I want to wear the ‘signature’ shoes of someone I so publicly and fundamentally disagree with and could possibly—God help us all—be President.”

Her: “I’ll let you swoon over mine when I get them.”

(WHERE is that letter opener?! If I don’t find something to poke my own eyes out with soon, I’m going to scream.)

Me: “And I’ll allow you to silently enjoy the improvement in the well-being of our Nation when we ship her and her Naughty Monkeys back to BFA.”

Her: “Or I’ll buy you a pair when she moves into the VP house in Washington.”

(Is it even worth mentioning the Vice President lives at Number One Observatory Circle and they don’t call it the “VP house”?)

Me: “Make sure you buy me your own size, ’cause I won’t be wearing them.”

Her: “You’re going to be jealous!”

Me: “Very doubtful.”

(Okay, enough! It’s time for a threat.)

Me: “I’m about to cut and paste our conversation for my next Stepford Story.”

Her: “You can use my real name.”

Me: “You shouldn’t say things you don’t mean.”

Her: “As long as you’re not dissing ME ...”

(OH LORD ... by definition, if you get a Stepford Story written about you—you’re being dissed.)

Me: “Publishing this conversation would be read as dissing you. So, because I love you, in spite of your misguided shoe fetish, I won’t.”

Her: “Now, see, you’re assuming that people wouldn’t see MY side?”

(AAHHH … I’m going to hyperventilate at any moment.)

Me: “Okie dokie, that’s fair enough. I’m going to publish it, not using your name just in case I’m right and you’re not and we’ll see how it comes out, deal?”

Her: “Deal.”

And there you go—just another day in the lovely, “unsuperficial,” high-minded city of Stepford.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Oh, No You Didn't - Only in Stepford

I may harm myself before the election gets here. Truly the only thing worse than being a working mother in Stepford is being a Democrat in Stepford. So needless to say, since I am both, sharp objects seem to be calling my name. I was doing pretty well this election cycle … right up until the Republican Party nominated a Stepford Wife for Vice President. Sitting at my desk reading the announcement, all I could think was “Uh oh. Here we go.” So, the last two weeks having pretty much been a living Hell. I’m trying to get my groove back, so I’ve decided to share the eight most ridiculous things said to my face by people I know regarding politics this year:

1) From my mother: “I think we can at least agree that Cindy McCain has the most beautiful clothes.”

I responded, “Yes, mom, billionaires tend to dress well.”

2) From my husband who apparently never wants sex from me again: “That’s John McCain’s wife? She’s hot.”

Umkay … and you are attracted to me because … ?

3) Again, from my mother, the most ironic sentence ever uttered in the history of mankind: “Kristi, Obama is such a racist and if I have to look at Michelle’s lips for four years I’ll vomit in the trash can.”

Upside? I’m living proof racism is not a genetic disorder.

4) From my husband: “Kristi, I think you’re overlooking why Sarah Palin might be appealing to some people.”

WTF? I only live in a community where every woman thinks they are her. The remainder of this conversation did not go well.

5) From my mother: “Let me tell you one thing, my little Sarah came out a swingin’!”

Your little Sarah? What followed, I will admit, was nothing short of a screaming throw down over Palin.

6) From a friend’s mother over Easter Brunch: “I think its pretty clear Barack Obama is the Anti-Christ.”

After receiving my blank stare, which is my standard “OMG that is so ridiculous I can’t find words” response, she followed up with “Oprah has started her own religion.”

Good to know.

7) From a coworker: “Did you see Hannity and Combs last night?”

I followed that question with the obligatory blank stare and “Uhhh, no. What channel is that? Oh, Fox. No, I missed it.” I then proceeded to the restroom and talked myself out of jumping from my tenth floor office window.

8) From a friend’s child: “My daddy says Obama is a thief and he is going to steal all our money.”

This is child abuse.

Here is how I’m keeping myself sane until Halloween. I’ve ordered a hot pink “I AM Sarah Palin” tee shirt off the web and am planning to wear it with a bee hive hairdo, pumps, a pig nose, glasses, and red lipstick while handing out candy to my neighbor’s children on Halloween. I doubt anyone will notice. Of course, there is also the possibility that I will get no trick-or-treaters at all due to the Obama 2008 sign in the front yard.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Pigs, Pit Bulls, and Palin

We don’t wear no mini skirts,
We just wear our soccer shirts.
We don’t play with Barbie dolls,
We just play with Soccer balls.

And so begins my eight-year-old daughter’s soccer team chant. It’s a little different from the “Firecracker, Firecracker, Boom, Boom, Boom” hip-shaking cheer I was doing at her age and that’s just fine with me. Another difference between my daughter and me is the fact that I never heard the term “sexism” as a child. However, two days ago she asked me what it was and I did my best to explain it to her. She, of course, heard this term on the news this week. I had actually expected the question to come from my eleven-year-old son since he is now at the age where even the slightest inference of sex makes his ears perk up. Alas, it was my daughter and I felt prepared and qualified enough to discuss the topic with her. After all, I’m college educated and a professional working woman. What I felt utterly unprepared for was explaining to her exactly how sexism applies to Sarah Palin. She hasn’t asked about Sarah Palin yet, so I left that part of the discussion for another day. The conversation did get me thinking and whenever that happens, writing usually follows.

So, lots of accusations about Sarah Palin being the victim of sexism have been tossed out for us, the American voters, to chew on this week. I’ve paused more than once to really think about this. I admit, I’ve had more than a little difficulty wrapping my mind around what exactly it is that is going on here. After careful and thoughtful analysis, I’ve determined that the reason I’m having a hard time with this is that I don’t have a word in my vocabulary that describes what I’m observing. It’s definitely not sexism. The American Heritage Dictionary defines sexism as “The belief that one sex (usually the male) is naturally superior to the other and should dominate most important areas of political, economic, and social life.” Nope, she’s definitely not suffering from sexism. Actually, it seems to me that she is suffering (Read: benefiting) from a perverted twisting of sexism that I don’t have a name for.

Here are my observations and questions related to this:

1) Is it actually sexism to choose a woman for a job just because she’s a woman? If the answer to this is yes, then I have to conclude that Tim Pawlenty is actually the one who has been the victim of sexism and not Sarah Palin. Palin it seems has been the beneficiary rather than the victim.

2) When Palin went on national television and described herself as a hockey mom and then further went on to say the only difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull is lipstick, is that sexism? I mean certainly no one would ever say the only difference between a hockey dad and a pit bull is lipstick.

3) Is using the phrase “lipstick on a pig” sexism? If the answer is yes, is it the “pig” part or the “lipstick” part that is sexism? If it is the “pig” part, I’m going to have to stop using the phrase “happy as a pig in the sunshine.” If it is the “lipstick” part, Palin needs to stop telling her pit bull joke. Oh wait, maybe it is the combination of pigs and lipstick that makes this remark sexist? If the answer to that is yes, what on God’s green earth does any of that have to do with the economy, health care, the war, or taxes?

Here’s the point. Sarah Palin can’t have it both ways. She can’t put on the “Mantle of Motherhood” in her national political debut and then expect no one to ask questions about how she mothers and governs at the same time. She can’t be the “Pit bull” of the Republican Party and expect no criticism to come back her way. She can’t disclose the name, rank, unit, and deployment date of her son, as admirable as that may be, and expect no one to ask about her pregnant daughter. She can’t just say she’s qualified to be Vice President. She must open herself up to the media like McCain, Obama, and Biden have done. And come to think about it, like Cindy McCain and Michelle Obama have also done. And if the media asks her tough questions, here’s a news flash: they are doing their jobs, not attacking her because she is a woman or a conservative. Sarah, if you can’t run with the big dogs, you need to get back on the porch with the Barbies, I mean, puppies. Surely the pit bull hockey mom, rifle shooting, moose-stew eating Sarah Palin isn’t going to turn out to be whiner. After all, as she should know by now, there is no place for whining in hockey, motherhood, or politics.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Oh Sarah, No

So, as expected, the Stepford Wives have gone wild. No doubt while watching Sarah Palin’s acceptance speech last week they all saw themselves ... and felt so good about it. Here was a woman, in her forties, looking great after five kids, hair in an updo, high heels on, giving the crowd and the nation a finely crafted speech. She spoke about family values, a successful twenty-year marriage, and lots and lots of personal accomplishments, which all began in that staple of American Moms—the PTA.

The Stepford Wives LOVE her, their husbands love her, and they are all convinced that this one woman is going to save them from Barack Obama, who plans to take all their husbands’ hard earned money. I expected this; really I did. I mean, I see the similarities between Sarah Palin and the Stepford Wives. Substitute soccer for hockey and maybe four kids for five and on the surface, which is as far as any self-respecting Stepford Wife will ever scratch, Sarah Palin’s acceptance speech must have been like looking in a mirror for them.

Except for that one little fact about her that they are all missing—she works. She works a lot. She is the Governor of Alaska and now is running for Vice President of the United States. She went back to work three days after giving birth this last spring. Have they missed this? What happened to their blanket judgments about working moms? What happened to “I feel so sorry for her because she has to work,” or “Can you believe she put that baby in daycare when he was six weeks old?” I’ll tell you. The Stepford Wives and the right wing of the Republican Party are willing to overlook this one slight “unconservative” fact about Sarah Palin because she is the chosen one to save them.

Okay, now here’s my beef. I don’t give a Texas hoot if Sarah Palin works, how many kids she has, or who is raising them. I’m a working mom, I choose to work, and I juggle it all pretty damn well. I’m no Governor, but I reign over my little piece of Stepford pretty well. I care about working moms, women shattering the glass ceiling, women having options so they can work and raise a family at the same time. I care about women getting equal pay for equal work. All that stuff. However, I also would never want an opportunity given to me solely because I am a woman. I would want to earn it, be qualified for it, and ready to take it on.

When I look at Sarah Palin, this is what I see: I see a women who, if she had been a man, would not be on the Republican ticket right now. This type of pandering to women bothers as much as if a woman had NOT been chosen strictly because of the fact that she was female. This type of pandering doesn’t help women—working or not working. I believe it actually hurts us. Let’s shatter the glass ceiling, sure. But let’s do it with a woman who is qualified and wasn’t chosen to just get our votes. We’re smarter than this. I pray we know it. I pray we show it. Yes, John McCain, I’ll stand up and fight. I’ll stand up and fight for Barack Obama and real change for real women.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

I'll See Your Black Man and Raise You a Palin

Last Friday morning I received a rare instant message from my husband.

Him: “Palin.”

Me: “Yes. I heard.”

Him, never having heard of her before that morning (he doesn’t listen to NPR): “Thoughts?”

Hmmm … So much to say via an instant message. I need some time to really mull this over.

Me: “Their base will go wild. I’m disturbed by the implications.”

Okay … after twenty years of marriage he knows to leave it alone if I’m “disturbed” by anything the Republicans do. Over the last eight years, he has learned this lesson all too well.

Him, ducking for cover: “Bye.”

And so began my examination of Sarah Palin and my complicated feelings about her being chosen for the number two spot on the Republican ticket. First, I looked at our similarities. Sarah is a Hockey Mom and I’m a Soccer Mom. Sarah is forty-four and I’m forty-one. Sarah holds a bachelor’s degree in communications while I hold one in business management. Sarah married her high school sweetheart and I married my college sweetheart. Both husbands, in their forties, have goatees. Sarah is the mother of five children and I am the mother of three children. Sarah and I are working mothers. I should love her, right? Hold, please.

Now, let’s examine our differences. Sarah is a Pro-Life Evangelical Christian whose current occupation is Governor of Alaska. I’m a Pro-Choice United Methodist who readily confesses I have more questions than answers regarding everything from the existence of a personified devil to how exactly God got Jesus into Mary’s virgin womb.

I’m currently employed as a legal assistant and although I’m no Governor, I do follow politics very closely. Sarah is a Republican and I’m a Democrat. When Sarah became pregnant for the fifth time, she was made aware through prenatal testing that her son would have Down Syndrome. She gave birth in April at the age of forty-four. I became pregnant for the first time at twenty-seven years of age and through prenatal testing became aware that my son would have Down Syndrome. I chose not to deliver my son. Actually, that’s not quite accurate. I chose to deliver him at twenty-one weeks and he was stillborn. Sarah will now raise a child with Down Syndrome along with her four other healthy children. I’m now raising two healthy children against the backdrop of the choice I made for my first son thirteen years ago.

John McCain apparently believes Sarah is qualified to be the Commander-In-Chief should he die while in office. John McCain has never heard of Kristi Stevens. Sarah says she can mother and be second in command to the most powerful man on the planet. I’m just hoping I can make it to soccer practice by six, pick up milk on the way home, and get both kids in bed by 8:30 p.m. so that I can watch Sarah’s nationally televised speech.

So now you know the lens through which I view Sarah Palin. Admittedly, it is a skeptical one. I have many more questions about her than I have answers. I have no idea why John McCain chose her other than what I believe to be obvious: she is extremely conservative which appeals to the Republican base, she is a Washington outsider apparently untainted by the current President, and she is a woman which McCain must think balances out the diversity of the Democratic ticket.

I have no idea how she dealt with the news that her fifth child would have Down Syndrome. Did she, like me, grieve for the life that might have been? Did she weep for the struggles that she knew would come? Did she wrestle with knowing she was choosing to bring a child into the world with a disability? I have to believe that she did... that any mother would. I have to believe that the process she went through upon hearing the news was much like my own. She came to a different conclusion for her family and for her son than I. And for that, you will never hear any judgment from me. I’ve walked those shoes. For four agonizing days I read, absorbed, was counseled, and I prayed. I looked and re-looked at a level two-sonogram tape of my son’s heart, stomach, and kidneys. Then I made my choice for my family and for my son. And I’ve lived every single day for the last thirteen years with that choice coloring my life. I would not change it and I’m at peace with it. It is not the road I would have chosen, but one that I awoke to find myself walking. And one step at time I’ve walked it ever since. Would I receive judgment from Sarah Palin if she knew my story? I don’t know the answer to that yet. I do believe I am about to find out.

I’ll be voting for Barack Obama and Joe Biden in November. I’ll be doing so because I believe in a middle class that isn’t overly burdened by taxes and has a fair shot at getting a job that pays a living wage. I’ll be voting for the right to health care for all our citizens. I’ll be voting for a woman’s right to choose. I’ll be voting in the hope that the country I love will soon not be at war. I will be voting in the hope that neither of my children will ever see war firsthand.

Between now and then I will watch the campaign closely. I will watch Sarah Palin very closely. If she becomes our next Vice President, my prayer for her is that she will learn well the tough lessons, which she is now being taught. I pray she will be able to mother and govern. I pray her youngest will do well and thrive. I pray her oldest daughter delivers a healthy baby and has a long, happy marriage. I pray her oldest son comes home safely from Iraq. And I will particularly pray that Sarah Palin will understand that her religious beliefs are not necessarily those of the people she governs … that freedom of religion also means freedom from religion.