On The Stump Trail: Sarah Palin on Women’s Issues

Correction/update as of 8:31pm PST*

CBS News reports on a speech Sarah Palin gave in Las Vegas today in which she talked about women’s oppression worldwide and equal pay here in the United States. It was a speech "dominated by women’s issues"  in a campaign season that has brought more silence than sensation when it comes to these issues.

The speech was perfectly timed to coincide with Senator McCain’s remark of yesterday calling Palin a "direct counterpart to the liberal, feminist agenda", though to make her point that a McCain/Palin administration is more, well, "feminist" than an Obama/Biden administration, Palin trotted out a group of five well-established members of the feminist movement to make her point.

As the Washington Post reports:

Palin surrounded herself onstage with two higher-profile defectors from Sen. Hillary Clinton’s camp — Lynn Rothschild, a member of the Democratic Platform Committee, and Elaine Lafferty, a former editor-in-chief of Ms. Magazine — along with Sherry Mandell, the president of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Organization for Women, Linda Klinge, the vice president of Oregon’s NOW chapter and Prameela Bartholomeusz, a small business owner and member of the Democratic National Platform Committee.

[Ed. note: *The quote from the Washington Post is incorrect however as it goes on to say that the Los Angeles chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) endorsed Palin. According to Kim Gandy, the President of National NOW,  the Los Angeles chapter of NOW has NOT endorsed Governor Palin or the McCain/Palin ticket.] 

Palin went out to claim her role as "advocate for women" if elected to Vice President of the U.S., even going so far as to offer gratitude to the feminists who came before her for the policies that she has benefited from over her lifetime (a decidedly different approach to feminism than apparently Senator McCain has taken):

While she credited feminists with the enactment of Title IX — saying, "We owed that opportunity to women, to feminists who came before us"

Still, Palin left room for the idea that just because the feminist movement has brought immeasurable benefit to many women in the United States and globally, fought for equal pay, equal opportunity and elevation of the status of women in this country, we should consider that there are "other" forms of feminism that may be just as effective:

— Palin quickly emphasized that Americans who embraced a different
ideology could also push for gender equality. "A belief in equal
opportunity is not just the cause of feminists. It’s the creed of our

(Someone needs to tell Palin that the ERA has never been ratified in this country). In addition, Palin used equal pay for women as an issue by which to attack Senator Obama claiming (falsely) that women who work for Obama are not paid on par with their male counterparts. Interestingly, she somehow made the claim that she and Senator McCain would be the ones fighting for women’s equality in the marketplace and noted:

"I know one senator who does pay women equal pay," she added, referring to McCain.

A comment that is especially noteworthy considering Senator McCain didn’t bother to show up to vote on the Lilly Ledbetter Act that would have legislated equal pay for women. Palin stood with McCain in support of the Supreme Court case that ruled there is a statute of limitations for bringing a suit against an employer for equal pay. It begs the question: why are women in the McCain campaign worthy of equal pay when the rest of American women are not? 

Palin in fact proposed what seem to be concrete policy ideas that included "flexibility in labor laws so women could engage in more telecommuting and would push for a tax code "that doesn’t penalize working families." She did not elaborate on how that relates to Senator McCain’s overall economic plan that provides relief in the form of the largest tax cuts for the highest income generating families. In addition, in fact, McCain’s plan allows for less tax relief for working families than does Senator Obama’s. 

Despite the uncertainty of how Governor Palin, as Vice President, would be, what she calls, "an advocate and defender" of women, it may be worth noting that the importance of the women’s vote is clearly undeniable this election season. Whether or not last minute stump speeches hold the power to rally the women that have so far not registered as supporters of McCain and Palin, we have yet to see. Overall, both married and unmarried women are supporting Senator Obama by an overwhelming margin. 

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  • http://www.nowpacs.org/obama invalid-0

    You repeat the WashingtonPost.com’s incorrect statement that the L.A. Chapter of NOW endorsed Sarah Palin. This is absolutely incorrect. NOW has endorsed Obama/Biden, and no local chapter has made a contrary endorsement.

    I was able to reach the WashingtonPost and they made an immediate correction, but I don’t see any way to reach RHRealityCheck or Amie in order to get this correction made on your site before this misinformation is spread.

    Thank you for correcting it promptly!

    Kim Gandy, President
    National Organization for Women

  • invalid-0


    Thank you for your diligence. I corrected the statement!




    Amie Newman

    Managing Editor, RH Reality Check

  • invalid-0

    Your first agenda appears to hate all Republicans and all they stand for. Palin never stood a chance with your angry rantings. It is very difficult to take your writings serious with such a mean spirited agenda. Could you try to find some common ground with other people? Palin reaches out to other women like yourself and you cut her head off. Your one sidedness is ugly and fanatical. At least Palin tries to understand YOUR issues with women. I like Palin as a women, mother, prolife feminist, govenor, mayor, sister, soon-to-be grandmother, leader, vice president/president and friend. God love her! She brings out all that is good and strong in women. How and why do you attack such beautiful attributes?

  • http://www.sonorika.eu invalid-0

    I think its a pretty good written article. There is no reason animadvert it this way.

  • sayna

    Can you cite just one example of how the author is being hateful or angry toward republicans or Governor Palin? Can you support or at least clarify your assertion that this article is an angry, fanatical rant?

    Many women, like myself are upset and unsatisfied with Governor Palin. I am absolutely disgusted by the fact that she opposes a woman’s right to choose–even in cases of rape or incest, and even the the common-sense things such as birth control and medically-accurate honest sex education–and calls herself a feminist. Forcing other women to give birth against their will is not feminist. Saying that you should have control over another woman’s body because “you know what’s best for her” is absolutely sexist and insulting. It treats women as though they are stupid, fickle, and incapable of making tough decisions in the same way that male misogynists do.

    There is a massive difference between a woman candidate and a woman’s candidate.

  • invalid-0

    Franz and Sayna,

    Thanks so much for commenting. I have to say that I’ve read and re-read this post and I’m still amazed that someone can read so much anger and hatred in it. In fact, I am likely in the minority among feminists and the movement in that I do see how Governor Palin’s presence on a national ticket is a positive step forward for women – despite the fact that the policies she supports (what little we’ve heard about them) stand in direct opposition to what we know provides and has provided the best, most successful approaches to a range of reproductive and sexual health issue; despite the fact that thus far in her career Palin has not supported policies that benefit working families, women (regardless of political party) or children. I will not go through the list every day but I have written very clearly about those policies and issues that exist because of the work of feminists and the feminist movement that all women – Governor Palin herself – have to thank for whatever level of equality and justice we now possess. 

    If pointing out how critical it is that women demand of their leaders active advocacy on behalf of a range of women’s issues sounds "angry" and "hateful", I apologize. The commenter has a right to her opinion as I have a right to mine. 


    Amie Newman

    Managing Editor, RH Reality Check

  • invalid-0

    Sarah Palin’s speech in las vegas said more about feminism and working mothers and title 9 and honor killings than any candidate in this election!!

  • invalid-0

    I really enjoyed your informative article very much, thanks for it!

    Just a point, though; when you say “I am likely in the minority among feminists and the movement in that I do see how Governor Palin’s presence on a national ticket is a positive step forward for women”, I feel a twinge of doubt at that statement, because I’m reading her presence as a statement that the only woman candidate is the anti-woman candidate. =/

  • http://homemortgagepal.com/home-mortgage/nevada/las-vegas/ invalid-0

    What a huckster