Politicized Motherhood: Sarah Palin’s Caged Grizzly Bear


  • Molly Shields


In 2008, Senator John McCain elevated Sarah Palin’s status as a politician to the national level when he named her as his vice-presidential nominee for the Republican Party. Sarah Palin built her campaign on the foundation of her role as a mother. She drew attention to the numerous responsibilities mothers face as family caretakers and called on her fellow mothers to join her in the fight to build a safer America for their children. Palin made strides as the first GOP woman nominated for the vice-presidential role, but her own party was unconducive to women occupying leadership positions. Even so, she remained a loyal advocate of her party’s ideologyand messaging. Palin’s subscription to her party’s agenda, coupled with her propagation of conservative feminism which called on women to preserve traditional gender roles, set a narrow definition for what a high-level woman politician could look like. Palin curbed the potential gains her nomination in a male-dominated field could have made for American women because her own rhetoric prevented women politicians and constituents from gaining political autonomy outside of the constraints of the role of motherhood.


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