Women as World Leaders What Are We Learning from the Sarah Palin Phenomenon? Written by: Kathy Caprino

Dear Friends:

Lately I’ve had some very charged and stimulating discussions with my female friends about Sarah Palin’s national launch. We’ve been exploring what the media frenzy around Ms. Palin has uncovered in us–about ourselves, our views about women vs. men, and our biases when it comes to supporting women as world leaders.

Several of my colleagues whom I admire and consider brilliant have spoken to me about their conflicted feelings and beliefs about Palin and her fit for high political office. It’s challenged many of us (even we feminists) to scrutinize our feelings about women vs. men, priorities, values, putting the country first over the health of your family/baby, etc.

My friend and I were recently discussing our views about a pregnant Palin’s waiting 20 hours after her water broke so that she could make her political speech then fly home. We were asking ourselves, “Do we want women to put the country first, even over the life of their newborns?” “Do we desire the advancement of women so deeply that we’ll vote for a woman, even when we radically disagree with her views?” And finally, “While many of us are ready individually, are we as a country ready to embrace what it means to have a woman as a top leader? If not, will this move us forward? These are very challenging questions that defy easy or black-and-white answers.

I’d love to hear your views. Do you believe that women in high political office should put the country first, over their own family and children? If you answer “Yes,” will you be accepting of it, and comfortable watching it happen? And finally, do you believe that it’s sexist or appropriate to ask a woman who is running for office a different set of questions (about her family as priority, how will she handle raising the children, etc.) than we would ask a male candidate?

In my work and new book, Breakdown, Breakthrough, I’m urging women to choose for themselves what feels right, to find values that they can honor openly, to determine for themselves what life approaches and directions to take. I’m also suggesting that we get out of the way of others and not judge them for the choices they make. Ultimately, is that asking too much for where we are today? (You can guess how I’d answer that, I’m sure!).

Thank you for sharing your views here. Your openness helps others examine their beliefs, and move forward.

Wishing you many happy breakthroughs,


One thought on “What Are We Learning from the Sarah Palin Phenomenon?”

  1. Thanks so much for your comments and insights! I appreciate hearing from you.

    The positive news about what’s been happening these last months is that I believe many of us have opened our minds to evaluating in new ways how we feel about these very complex issues.

    Personally, my opinions of Ms. Palin create for me new internal challenges…challenges that I’m surprised to be facing in this day and age. I’m embracing all of it as a lesson in expanding myself, and becoming clearer about what I believe in, what I’ll fight for, and what I wish to teach my children about living and growing.

    Who knew that this election would bring so much into question, and be the catalyst for so much re-evaluation! A positive step for our country, I feel.

    Thanks again for writing, and all best wishes,

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