by Guest Contributor Maegan “La Mala” Ortiz, originally published at Mamita Mala
Last night, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin accepted the nomination to the vice-presidency at the Republican National Convention.
Originally the buzz about Palin, focused on her having a vagina. Her presence was analyzed as a calculated McCain strategy to lure disgruntled, hard core Hillary Clinton supporters.
Then the shift went internal, to her uterus, her identity as a mother to five, the youngest with some form of developmental delay, and a 17 year old daughter, unmarried and pregnant.
So what does this Palin parranda of information and analysis mean to mamis of color, Latina mamis like me? Not surprisingly, nada.
Sarah Palin wants to put herself out there as “every woman”. She wants to be seen as “just your average hockey mom”, and other mommies see themselves and their reality reflected through Palin, except, mamis of color, that is.
The talk returns to mommy wars, not mami wars, because the entire conversation excludes Latinas and other moms of color. We are not even soldiers. Even for so called progressive white feminist, the war is fought by them and maybe, if mamis like me are lucky, we’ll reap some benefit. When I was a pregnant teenager, in a Latin American country where abortion was and still is illegal (Chile), there was no opting out of pregnancy or working. Which is why the debate of how Palin could go back to work after having a baby with special needs or how a pregnant unmarried teenage daughter is being used, feels like a sideshow with little significance in reality. The politics of choice is being raised, with the emergence of a woman who is anti-choice, even in cases of rape or incest and with no talk of how for women of color, choice goes beyond an abortion and means the very right to have children (forget 5!) Imaginate if Michelle Obama had five children? Imaginate if one of the Obama children were older and pregnant? Imagine the hate and stereotypes that would be unleashed? Oh wait, I don’t have to imagine, as a single mami of color, I live it. Palin’s large brood isn’t seen as a strain on the system. They are a beautiful portrait of an “American” family making every other family, families like mine, ugly.
And let’s talk about the perceived double standard, that if a man had five children no one would be making a big deal of it, that men are held to a different standard, as stated in the video above. Claro if you take race out of the picture, it’s easy to follow along, pero if Obama was the father to five instead of two children, you don’t think the media and politicos would be making all sorts of references to black men and their hyper-sexuality? Or black men and responsibility? I hear no one telling Palin’s husband to put on a damn condom.
Just as many of women of color couldn’t get behind Clinton and her campaign because of racist attacks on Barack Obama, attacks that asked women of color to choose a candidate based not on a complex and painful history and reality, but rather because of perceived shared genitalia. Palin positions herself as continuing Clinton’s struggle, as continuing the struggle set forth by Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman to run as a vice-presidential candidate. Let’s not forget that Ferraro called Obama “lucky” for being black. Is Palin then lucky for having five children, like my abuela did before being forcibly sterilized? You wanna talk about Palin’s uterus or the uterus of her daughter? I want to talk about my abuela’s uterus, how it’s power was deemed dangerous because of it’s power to bear brown Spanish speaking babies, my uterus and it’s abortions, miscarriages, and pregnancies, violations upon it, the uterus of an immigrant woman being viewed as a weapon in a culture war and the need to put those immigrant women in chains as they push babies from them and the need the U.S. government has to separate mamis and babies and deport and dispose.
My uterus and my head is tired.