There are few things sadder than girls being mean to girls. Boys seem to be able to slough off slights and events, pick up the ball and play again. Girls tend to hold grudges longer, become more self-conscious and end up creating divisions between each other.
This developmental phase is expected to occur at times in elementary school. During middle school and high school, the expectation is that girls will begin to become more self assured, more supportive and less judgmental. But unfortunately, not all girls grow up.
Emily’s List, a national political action committee "dedicated to electing pro-choice Democratic women to office," according to the group’s website, launched a campaign this week against Sarah Palin titled, "Sarah doesn’t speak for me." It’s a response to Palin’s SarahPAC "Mama Grizzly" video in which she talks about the emergence of "common-sense conservative women."
SarahPAC, also a political action committee, is "dedicated to building America’s future, supporting fresh ideas and candidates who share our vision for reform and innovation," according to its website. The SarahPAC video combines footage of Palin speaking, shaking hands and greeting people as she talks about the 2010 elections.
"This year will be remembered as the year when common-sense conservative women get things done for our country," says Palin. "These policies coming out of D.C. right now, this fundamental transformation of America, well, a lot of women who are very concerned about their kids’ future say, ‘We don’t like this fundamental transformation, and we’re going to do something about it.’"
Palin continues, noting that the emergence of politically active women is due to their disappointment with Washington. "This isn’t right for our kids, and for our grandkids, and we’re going to do something about this," she says. "We going to turn this thing around, we’re going to get our country back on the right track, no matter what it takes, to respect the will of the people."
Palin’s focus is on the will of the people. Her visuals are positive and uplifting.
The Emily’s List video lasts slightly more than a minute and features five women. Each is dressed in a brown, furry grizzly costume, a fake bear nose strapped across her face. The noses and the accompanying dark makeup make it hard to visualize the women behind the costumes.
The video begins with each woman introducing herself by occupation:
"I’m a therapist."
"I’m an elementary school teacher."
"I’m a nurse."
"I’m an administrative assistant."
"I’m an entertainment lawyer, but I’m also a mama grizzly."
The point of the video is then revealed: "Sarah Palin recently released a video speaking on behalf of mama grizzlies."
"Well, Sarah Palin, you don’t speak for us."
Their message: I want to protect my cubs, but my idea of protection is: "Yeah, I attack when my cubs are threatened, ahhh... but want to know what threatens me? My daughter not having the right to choose."
"The fact is that if you were in charge of this country, my little cubs wouldn’t have health care.
"When the salmon stopped coming down the stream and I didn’t work for three months, guess how we survived? Unemployment benefits, which is something that you and your gang of candidates want to do away with."
Then you see women in the video, dressed in grizzly suits, growling — roaring.
The close of the Emily’s List pitch, "You might think we are on the wrong track because we want to protect federal funding for our schools.
"Protect our right to hibernate with whoever we choose.
"But believe me, there are plenty of mama grizzlies out there who would disagree with you.
"So, you’re right."
"You don’t want to mess with mama grizzlies."
"Don’t mess with us."
The Emily’s List video’s unidentified growling women in grizzly suits come off more like mean girls than mama grizzlies. The juxtaposition between Palin smiling and hugging people, and the Emily’s List growlers is almost too good to be true — for Palin.
In America, where one of our greatest strengths is our freedom of speech and the ability to disagree openly, we certainly understand that no one person can speak for another. But we should be able to disagree without attempting to belittle or threaten.
Let’s not be mean and growl or roar at one another. After all, shouldn’t mama grizzlies be good role models for their cubs?
Jackie Gingrich Cushman founded and is chairman of the board of the Learning Makes a Difference Foundation.