As the mother of a daughter, there are things I want for my eight-year-old especially when she becomes a woman -- things that I was lucky to have, but that generations before me didn't. Interestingly, John McCain, as the father of daughters, doesn't seem to want those same things.
Since we are both parents of daughters, I'm a bit confounded, Senator McCain, about your lack of interest in things that would benefit your girls directly. I know you probably won't pay much attention, but here is the list of the things I want for my third-grader:
1. Equal pay for equal work. I know you seem to think that that's all about more education and working harder, but that's just nonsense and you know it, you just don't have the spine to stand up to your GOP colleagues and vote for something that should be every daughter's right in this country. Ask your daughters Meghan and Bridget -- I'm betting they'd agree. Your oldest daughter Sidney, who's an executive in the music industry, might also have some really enlightening things to chat about when it comes to women in the workplace. You might want to sit down with her about that... soon.
2. To be a feminist. I know you think that "feminist" is a dirty word. I can tell by the Dr. Evil smirk on your face in this clip with Fox News:
The funny thing is that the definition of a feminist is someone who advocates for the rights of women to be equal to the rights of men in all ways, including the social and political worlds.
Hmmm. That doesn't sound too liberal to me, especially since, Senator, you must, by definition, be a feminist. After all, you apparently believe that Sarah Palin is as competent as you to be President. Otherwise, you would never have chosen her to be your running mate, right? Again, I'm thinking your daughters might have a few interesting thoughts on whether they think having equal rights is so horribly liberal.
3. Adequate paid maternity leave. You might be familiar with my reason for wanting this, because when my husband and I adopted our daughter from China, I was a federal employee -- just like you! As a result, I did not get any paid leave, and it wasn't because we adopted to form our family.
No federal employees get paid maternity leave, not even the parents who have their children the "old fashioned" way. I know when you and Cindy adopted Bridget, whether you got to take paid leave wasn't an issue -- Senators don't get docked pay for taking time off and, of course, even if you had, Cindy is financially loaded, so it wouldn't have been a problem for you. For me? It sure would have been helpful to have even part of my paycheck for those six to eight weeks.
Since she's only in third grade, my daughter doesn't have to make a decision yet about whether she wants to become a mother, but I know she wants to work at something, so it would be lovely if mothers in the future actually got some paid leave, like, say, the rest of the civilized world, so she won't have to worry.
4. Access to safe and affordable birth control. I was lucky. I came of age at just the right time in terms of having access to birth control. I'm particularly happy about that because without it, there's a big chance that my life would be a lot different today. You see, John, (may I call you John?), I made a pretty reckless decision and got married when I was a very young 19. The marriage didn't last long because it turned out that my now ex-husband was pretty abusive in a lot of ways. I am thankful every day that we did not have any children that either would have tied me to him in some way for the rest of my life or would have exposed a child to an abusive father. Without access to birth control, I shudder to think how things might have turned out differently.
The Bush administration you are so cozy with is still in its waning days doing everything it can to take that right away. Now, in light of my recent birthday, that's not something I have to worry about anymore. But don't you and your conservative cronies dare take away from my daughter what she may want and need when she's a young woman. Again, maybe you've neglected to chat with your daughters about birth control and how they feel about this?
Senator McCain, those are just a few of the things I want for my daughter that don't have anything to do with being a conservative or a liberal, no matter how you try to paint it. What I would like, though, is for you to wipe that "I'm-so-far-behind-in-the-polls" smirk off your face when you hold Sarah Palin up as the shining example of anti-feminist, conservative motherhood.
'Cause, you know, without feminism, Palin couldn't even be your running mate, right?
Joanne Bamberger is a writer and a political analyst and commentator who blogs about the intersection of motherhood and politics at PunditMom. Her commentary has appeared this political season on CNN, Fox News, ABC.com, XM Radio POTUS '08, and others.