Yesterday on Today, Sarah Palin weakly co-hosted a segment with veteran Today show host Anne Curry on “Navigating the Challenges of Raising Teenage Girls.” Something Anne generously said Sarah “knows a lot about.”
(I guess navigating the challenges of hiding the serial pregnancies of your teenaged girl is something like raising one.)
Two women were guests in the segment; Dr. Janet Taylor, a clinical psychiatrist at Columbia University (mother of four girls) and Haley Kilpatrick the author of “The Drama Years,” a book about helping girls navigate through the challenges of the teen years. Ms. Kilpatrick’s book came about as a result of a program of study conducted with thousands of girls.
During the four minute clip, watch Sarah’s body language as compared to the other women. In the beginning, Anne reads the intro remarks (which you know, under contract, the producers provided to Sarah in advance) and the women guests lean slightly forward, look at Anne the entire time, and nod occasionally. This is typical of women’s communication - we signal we are listening (eye contact and head nods, sometimes a smile) in a way men typically do not. When men nod, it's in agreement. Women do that too, but they also nod while listening, whether agreeing or not. (Trust me, I studied communication. If you'd rather check it out for yourself, I'd encourage that.)
Reality TV is the first “problem” put on the table in this discussion. Sarah’s co-host begins by saying that a Chicago-area teacher recently said “Too much focus on reality star type celebrities” is harmful to girls’ self-esteem.
As soon as Anne Curry begins to read from her notes, Sarah tunes out. She lowers her head and looks at the notes in her own lap. I think I could read her thoughts:
Oh man! On the very day Bristol’s reality show was scheduled to debut on TLC and then got delayed because of that horrible woman putting out that awful book telling on Todd… Flippin’ unbelievable! This is a gotcha topic.
Ms. Curry comments after reading the quote, and Sarah looks off into the distance, in stark contrast to the other two women who continue to focus on the speaker. For eight full seconds, Sarah does not give the other co-host any visual support, or any signal that she is listening. Then she turns and looks at Anne, not with the intense interest of the other women, not leaning into the group at all, and not even the slightest nod. Sarah looks physically detached; to me, her gaze suggests tolerance.
Three seconds later, Anne Curry says something that makes Sarah’s lips tighten and her tongue slip out.
There’s too much focus on reality star type celebrities. What are we not doing enough as mothers to help our daughters have more confidence?
The question is directed at Dr. Janet Taylor, and Sarah stiffly turns and looks at her. Sarah has not yet, not once, nodded her head to show she is engaging with anything that’s been said.
Dr. Taylor, says the “Most mothers, we want [our daughters] confident, successful. So when we hear them talking and making comments about reality stars we need to focus them back on their own strengths their own values. We have to look at ourselves as mothers in terms of what we teach them. So often it is from a deficit model, you know, my thighs are too big,…my hair is not straight enough…I’m not brown enough, even. We have to refocus them back to what's good about them. Teach them how to look in the mirror every day and say something good about themselves.
Wow, wish the camera had been on Sarah. Young black girls not thinking they are "brown enough”? Remember when she said the Tea Party didn't care if President Obama was "half white or half black" telling Sean Hannity the First Lady and the President should "refudiate" the NAACP?
And doesn't this get right into Sarah's business? She has a high school aged daughter who intends to go to "hair school" and her older daughter made major permanent surgical changes to her own body before she was old enough to legally drink wine coolers.
The professor from Columbia finishes. Sarah jumps into the conversation. Here’s what’s been on Sarah Palin’s mind since the first “hello”:
You know what would be nice, though, is if the marketplace would demand, though, that maybe some reality shows would start portraying some very healthy, independent , young women who are striving for strong work ethic examples and doing those things that are kind of the antithesis of so many of the things that we are seeing what’s being portrayed in reality shows.
Anne nods and nods and nods throughout Sarah’s thinly veiled self-serving defense of Bristol and this opportunistic plug for “Bristol Palin: Life’s A Tripp” reality show. How convenient, that Momma Grizzly Palin is suggesting people create “marketplace demand” for a show with an independent young woman with a strong work ethic the very day the first episode of Bristol's show was supposed be on the TLC network but mysteriously didn't air.
This is all so familiar. There are no new tools in the Palin toolbox. The old ones work just fine. Just like the " Dance Bristol, Dance " campaign worked to get a lazy and untalented Bristol into the finals of Dancing With the Stars, we should expect to see a “grassroots” movement coming out of C4P demanding this “antithesis” of reality shows get on the air.
Back to Today, yesterday. It’s the other guest’s turn and she ignores Sarah's "contribution" and says she "agree[s] with Dr. Taylor. “We need to as adults model great behavior at home, in the classroom, and extracurricular activities.”
Dr. Janet interjects “Fathers play an important role in how girls our feel about themselves in terms of being interested in what they are doing. Being interested in schools…
Hold on a minute. Wasilla Middle School was where Todd Palin met Shailey Tripp for the first time. If I made that connection, Sarah must have. You betcha. Awesome.
…Our kids, our girls learn the most about what they hear at home and what they see us doing. We…place too much emphasis on the power of reality TV and not enough on our own power at home.”
Sarah whines, coming in at 2:23 “You know when we talk about, too, the father’s role in all this, and when you talk about the mother’s relationship with their daughter, there is a fine line between wanting to be your child's friend, wanting to the cool mom or dad, the fun one, and being their parent and I think that today perhaps you see this in your studies, too, too often a parent wanting to be their child’s friend and kind of skipping that parenting..”
Ms. Kilpatrick added to that, telling the famous Momma Grisly who took on David Letterman over a joke about Bristol and unnecessarily drew sexually-based attention to then-14 year old Willow:
“Absolutely, it is not your job to prevent your daughter from feeling disappointment or pain. You don’t want to interject yourself into anything that happens in your daughter’s life. You don’t want her to think that you are going to jump in and save her from any bad thing that is going to happen in her life And too, you don’t want her to think that she can’t handle it, that she can’t handle it on her own.
Encourage and teach boundaries and draw the line and let our kids know consequences of what happens when they either fail or succeed."
Wait just a flippin’ minute here. Sarah’s email show she thought it was funny when Piper suggested pulling someone’s hair. She was proud when Willow mouthed off to the security guard in the State Office Building. She ignores or encourages bad behavior. We have never seen her reprimand one of those spoiled brats. I dare any troll to site a single example. Where are the boundaries, where are the consequences?
Piper was such a pisser on that bus trip last summer it made news. And as for being a cool mom – Bristol made the point in her book that all their friends think her parents are cool. This is a theme the Resident Troll repeats, too. Sarah is so cool. The kid’s friends just love her.
Yeah, Bristol, it’s cool that your mom let you stay over at Levi’s house all night. It’s cool that Levi got to live with teenaged you. It’s cool that your book opens with the scene of you going camping with guys and other girls and your mother hardly looks up from what she’s doing at the table. So cool.
At the end, Sarah tries to impress everyone with mid-twentieth century Dr. Spock-type knowledge that our grandmothers understood without pretending they read a study on it “… and kids inherently want those boundaries, and not only do they need them, but they want them.”
Dr. Taylor squeezes in this truism right at the end, “That comes from family time…”