Thursday, September 03, 2009

Can You Spot The Invisible Elephant?

Gail Collins has written a fascinating column on Levi Johnston's article in Vanity Fair. Johnston, you may recall, is the father of Sarah Palin's grandchild. Johnston tells us what a rotten mother Sarah Palin is. He also comes across as a bratty teenager, but never mind.

Collins makes several good points in her piece. Sadly, I want to discuss the one that isn't so very good:

Besides selling a fantasy about how easily a semi-delinquent, unemployed father-to-be could be turned into Prince Charming, Palin also spent her campaign trying to give the impression that running for vice president and taking care of five children, the youngest a baby with special needs, was as easy as falling off a snowbank. Politicians who don't want the federal government to address child care issues like to imagine that's true. It absolves them from dealing with the question of who takes care of the kids when women make up almost half the work force.

A good point, you mutter? And isn't she really a horrible mother? And can mothers indeed have jobs and children without failing in both or at least one of those endeavors? Let's start discussing what a Bad Mother is.

Now for the invisible elephant. I think it's called Todd, a stay-at-home dad whose parenting skills are not much discussed. You remember? The guy married to Sarah Palin. I'm not sure what his role in that family is supposed to be if Sarah Palin is the one expected to mind the children and do politics, too.

Just do a reversal on that. Pick any male politician with a stay-at-home wife. Then ask how he manages to both work and care for the children. Make him the responsible party in anything the children do wrong. Try that and see the humongous waves of discussion you develop, even among feminists. It's probably because we prefer the elephant invisible.

Collins' point about the need for childcare arrangements stands, of course. But I really am tired of that fat invisible elephant on the living-room couch.