Palin 'Extremely Negative' on 'Women's Issues,' Feminist Leader Says
September 16, 2008 - 7:08 PMRepublican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has been "extremely negative" on women's issues, Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, said yesterday.
That’s largely why the foundation opposes the McCain-Palin ticket, said Smeal, and supports the Democratic ticket of Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
“One thing I’ll say about role models is that women have true equality when conservative women, liberal women, progressive women, and women from all stripes have a chance at the top,” Smeal said.
“And so we are not against a woman being on a ticket for president. We wish it was a ticket that stood for women and women’s rights. Since it doesn’t, we’re opposing that ticket,” she said.
“And her personal positions on women’s issues have also been extremely negative, especially reproductive rights, and there are other issues now emerging,” Smeal added.
Smeal, along with representatives of other feminist groups, spoke at the press conference to endorse Obama and Biden. The bulk of the questions from reporters focused on Palin.
Although Palin, the governor of Alaska, has apparently balanced motherhood with a political career, Smeal told CNSNews.com that Palin was not a role model for feminists.
Deborah Frett, CEO of Business and Professional Women (BPW), said that Palin is in an elite group of working women and that other working women should have the resources necessary to be caregivers and “employees without penalty.”
“We want to see all women have that opportunity,” Frett said. “Not just one woman, but all women.”
Another reporter asked whether Palin had been the victim of sexism in the media’s coverage of the campaign after she joined the McCain ticket.
“As far as sexism, as you all know, women’s groups have protested the sexist handling of this presidential election,” Smeal said. “But we think it’s time to get off issues, such as lipstick, and honor the issues really that are challenging this nation, especially issues of pay, all of the issues we’ve talked about – the war and the economy.”
Another reporter’s question about Obama allegedly being sexist toward women on the campaign trail was met with a response from Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women (NOW).
“We’re glad to see there’s an anti-Obama representative here,” Gandy said.
Gandy also said that the McCain-Palin lead in recent polls would likely change as the presidential race goes forward.
“The polls, I think, also will shift the more women learn what Sarah Palin stands for,” Gandy said. “She opposes abortion even in the case of a child who has been raped or is a victim of incest. Her positions are so completely out of touch with the majority of American women that I think those polls ... will be slipping back very quickly.”
Smeal called the election “historic” for breaking barriers of race, gender, and age.
“This is a historic ticket with an African-American young man running. That’s very, very exciting, and inspiring African-Americans all over the country,” Smeal said. “We have a woman on the ticket, and now we have an elderly gentleman. We’re cracking the age barrier too.”
Gandy defended Obama for picking as his running mate Sen. Joe Biden, who is seven years younger than McCain.
“We’ve worked with him for literally decades. We know he’s passionate. We know he’s a supporter,” Gandy said. “Both people on this ticket stand up for women, support women, and we know they are going to keep their commitments when they’re elected.”
In addition to NOW, the Feminist Majority, and BPW, also endorsing Obama at the event held at the National Press Club were Faye Williams, national chairwoman of the National Congress of Black Women, and the National Association of Social Workers.