So Sarah Palin just wasn't prepared for how backwards and sexist we all are down here on the mainland because she presides over Alaska: Utopian Land of Gender Equality. Got it. There's just one tiny problem. Here's what the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence has to say about this magical place where, under her fine leadership as governor, all men recognize the strength and ability of women and everyone treats each other with respect. [Link via Huffington Post.]
Speaking as she returned to her native Alaska, Mrs Palin claimed to be baffled by what she claims was sexism on the national stage. "Here in Alaska that double standard isn't applied because these guys know that Alaskan women are pretty tough, on a par with the men in terms of being outdoors, working hard," she said.
"They're commercial fishermen, they're pilots, they're working up on the North slope in the oil fields. You see equality in Alaska. I think that was a bit of a surprise on the national level."
- Alaska's rape rate is 2.5 times the national average.
- Alaska has the highest rate per capita of men murdering women.
- Almost 75% of Alaskans have experienced or know someone who has experienced domestic violence or sexual assault.
- Almost 90% of Alaskans would vote to increase funding for victim service programs, and over 90% would support increased penalties for domestic violence and sexual assault perpetrators.
- Child sexual assault in Alaska is almost six times the national average.
- Almost 30% of Alaskans were not able to access victim services or encourage others to do so because there were no services available in their area at the time.
In 2007, Women's Summit attendees delivered an open letter to Governor Palin asking to work together on five issues of concern for women and children in Alaska. Although we disagree with her anti-choice position and support of abstinence only education and teaching creationism in public schools, we hoped that she would understand that there are issues we could work together on to find solutions.This is the place that Sarah Palin looks at and sees a state of equality that is free from double standards. The huge disconnect between "you see equality in Alaska" and the reality about what life is like for Alaskan women gets right to the heart of why so many women across the country opposed her so vehemently - it is not because she's dumb, but because she's willfully and selfishly blind and deaf.
Governor Palin did not deliver and did not take a leadership role on any of these issues. In fact, this year when there was a 7 billion dollar state surplus she did not step up to the plate for the women and children of Alaska to help increase the income guidelines for health insurance for low income women in Alaska. We were truly disappointed with her lack of action on this critical public health issue.
Our letter asked for her support and leadership to:
Increase funding for Denali Kid Care (Alaska's SCHIP Program, Alaska is one of a minority of states that fails to fund health insurance for families at 200% of the federal poverty level.)
Decrease the incidence of domestic violence and sexual assault in Alaska (Alaska’s rape rate is 2.5 times the national average, Alaska is #1 in the nation for women murdered by men)
Provide state support for shelters that accept women with children (Many shelters are at capacity and many can not accept women with children.)
Support working mothers by enacting laws that allow for breastfeeding in the workplace (There were bills in the legislature each year that would have required breaks for women.)
Provide medically accurate sex education in public schools (In Alaska, we lead the country in the rates of Chlamydia and Gonorrhea and have high rates of teen pregnancy.)