Palin as Supermom: Conservative Ideology, Motherhood and Running for Elective Office

26 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2011 Last revised: 15 Apr 2011

Date Written: April 12, 2011


This paper broadens our understanding of politically active conservative women by analyzing how Republican women elected officials and professional activists negotiate the tension between traditional views of motherhood and their desire to engage politically. This tension was exposed nationally when Sarah Palin, a mother of five, was nominated by Republican presidential candidate John McCain to be his running mate. Palin’s vice presidential bid generated significant controversy and national debate. Shaping many of these conversations was one important fact – that Palin is the mother of young children. References to her gender and maternal status influenced the campaign and generated public discussions about whether or not mothers of young children should seek elective office. Leaving aside the specific case of Palin, I consider her candidacy as a canvas upon which deliberations about motherhood and politics can be considered. I examine public statements from national conservative women’s organizations about Palin’s bid for office and find that these leaders have transformed conservative rhetoric about motherhood to construct a new conservative supermom.

Suggested Citation

Schreiber, Ronnee, Palin as Supermom: Conservative Ideology, Motherhood and Running for Elective Office (April 12, 2011). Available at SSRN: or

Ronnee Schreiber (Contact Author)

San Diego State University ( email )

San Diego, CA 92182-0763
United States


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