Friday, September 12, 2008

There have been a lot of "narratives" going on this political season. Telling a story can be a an extremely effective way to make a point. Why else would we have fables, parables, and cautionary tales (stay away from the big bad wolf)?

People just usually find stories more interesting and compelling than, say, analysis of issues or statements of policy.

Part of the power of a story is that it can communicate far more than the details of the surface narrative. If well told, it conveys a whole range of underlying assumptions that are passed on to the listener without ever being specifically named. And in fact, these unspoken assumptions can be the most potent elements in the story's effectiveness.

One story this season ascribes a unique, almost heroic virtue to a woman's decision to raise a child with Down Syndrome. Aside from the fact that this decision is very far from unique (many families have done the same), I have some problems with the unspoken assumptions being communicated in the way that this particular story is being told.

The first assumption is that having a child with Down Syndrome is "a bad thing". (If it weren't a bad thing, there would be no special virtue in "choosing" to raise that child.) I find this assumption disturbing. I don't see children with Down Syndrome as "bad things." Once upon a time they were, indeed, treated as special difficulties, even somehow shameful to the family. But I had thought, perhaps naively, that we were long past that point.

A second assumption in the way this particular narrative has been told is that only a women who opposes legalized abortion would make such a choice. The implication (and I sincerely believe that this is the actual intention behind the telling of the story), the implication is that upon discovering that she was carrying a Down Syndrome child, any woman who does not fight to overturn Roe v Wade would immediately run to have an abortion. I find this deeply, personally offensive. This woman (or more likely her political handlers) is implying that if I knew I was carrying a child with a disability, I would terminate that pregnancy. How dare she? How dare she say such a thing about me?

8 comments:

Elizabeth said...

This whole election is already getting on my nerves. I can't wait until it's over and only hope we can be free of the Bush-cronies for a while.

magnusmog said...

Is it just me or do I get the feeling that Sarah P is failing to win over the female voters!

I'm so glad that women are keeping their political senses sharp and not supporting her simply because she us a woman. The Brits did this a while ago and the result was many many years of Mrs Thatcher and that was a VERY BAD THING.

CatBookMom said...

It doesn't seem that Ms Palin represents the opinions of most women in the US, and apparently her press agents are trying to overcome that. Thanks for the excellent post.

Kitty Mommy said...

Amen.

Would it be too incredibly snarky of me to say that it is unfortunate that folks that make stupid assumptions like that are reproducing in the first place? Or, more to the point, that their parents reproduced? Yeah, okay, I'll put my snark away...

MollyBeees said...

Tell it Sister! I can't stand that woman or her running mate.

Linda L. said...

As a political moderate who leans more towards the conservative side, I am so disappointed in this gimmick choice for VP. I feel like my widower father just told me he's going to marry Paris Hilton.

This is going to be the most difficult vote I've ever cast, and I don't thank either political party for that. I think I'm going to take a break and read Tom Clancy's Executive Orders again, if only to escape this popularity-contest of an election.

Leslie said...

She dares say that about you because she is a bitch, a self-serving, self-righteous, self-aggrandizing bitch.

I can only pray that the people of this country will wake up and NOT vote for her pretty little legs, ass and boobs and that stupid boob who is her partner in crime. He chose her because she's "perky" and will appeal to the good ole' boys and the "good christian wimmen", not because she's smart or well prepared to take over as president when he dies in office.

Amy said...

Bravo. I am totally pro-choice--but I don't know that I could ever have an abortion, no matter the circumstance. But it's *my* choice and *my* circumstances.