Mary Ellen Emmons, Mama Jane, and Sarah Palin: Does Palin Have a Problem with Women? In Other Words, Does She Side with Patriarchal Men Against Women—Rendering Women Invisible?

I’ve noticed a curious aspect to Sarah Palin’s career.

She seems to have, all of her life, sided with strongly patriarchal men—and patriarchal ideology—against women, rendering them invisible.

In a broad sense, this is most obvious with regard to abortion rights—as when Palin, in the 1990s, fought hard with her church to gain control of the hospital board in the Wasilla area, and when it was achieved, it temporarily drove women to go as far as Seattle to have procedures that were once available locally. (A court ultimately overturned the hospital board’s anti-abortion policy.)

But there are also two very particular women—with names that we know—who are in the orbit of Sarah Palin’s career—and who have either been trampled upon by her or by one of her male allies.

Those two women are Mary Ellen Emmons (a former Wasilla Public Library librarian) and Mama Jane (a woman accused of witchcraft and driven from her community by one of Palin’s pastoral supporters, the Rev. Thomas Muthee).

In both of these women’s cases, their lives were rendered invisible and roughly cast aside in the name of the fundamentalist, patriarchal missionary cause.

Let’s look at Mary Ellen Evans experience first:

Mary Ellen Emmons was the President of the Alaska Library Association.

She was also librarian at the Wasilla Public Library.

As mayor, Sarah Palin asked Ms. Emmons whether she would, upon ordered to do so, remove objectionable books from the library’s collection.

Ms. Emmons said NO.

Ms. Palin FIRED HER.

After a local public uproar, Ms. Emmons was reinstated, but two years later she quit because “it was just too hard to work for Sarah Palin.”

Here’s ABC News reporting on the whole ugly affair:

And here are the basic facts around Mama Jane:

Mama Jane lived in a community in Kenya where Thomas Muthee had started a church, and where he detected “a spirit of witchcraft.”

After a great deal of prayer, Muthee landed upon Mama Jane as the source for this “spirit of witchcraft” in the community.

He accused her of casting spells and causing car accidents in the community, and he publically warned her to convert or leave the community.

Her home was subsequently raided, her pet snake was shot and killed by a police officer (on the assumption that it was a demon, or demonically possessed), and Mama Jane was harassed out of her community.

Muthee claims that, on Mama Jane’s absence from the community, a great religious revival ensued, with new churches opening and local bars closing.

But where Mama Jane is now is unknown.

Chris Hedges, a former New York Times foreign correspondent, and a columnist at Truthdig, also has noticed the anti-woman, anti-gay, hyper-patriarchal world that Palin goes about in, and has a recent article that starts this way:

For Palin, It’s a (Christian) Man’s World

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Posted on Sep 14, 2008
AP photo / Al Grillo

The Wasilla Assembly of God church in Alaska. In June, Gov. Sarah Palin, now the vice presidential nominee on the Republican ticket, told ministry students at her former church that the U.S. had sent troops to fight in Iraq on a “task that is from God.”





By Chris Hedges

Sarah Palin may be a governor and a vice presidential candidate, but in the hyper-masculine world of the Christian right, she is subservient to a male hierarchy that claims to speak for God.

A cult of masculinity defines the Wasilla Assembly of God church and the Juneau Christian Centre where she worshipped. This cult propagates a vision of the world where believers are warriors. They are taught to ready themselves to engage in a final cataclysmic clash with the forces of Satan. This cosmic struggle, infused with the language of war, death and violence, leads inevitably to the slaughter by the righteous of all non-Christians. The photos of Palin hunched over dead animals she has shot are not simply images of a woman who is a member of the National Rifle Association. They are images of a woman who believes violence against nonbelievers is ultimately part of her religious life. this item
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And here’s Keith Olberman’s segment on Mama Jane:

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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3 Responses to Mary Ellen Emmons, Mama Jane, and Sarah Palin: Does Palin Have a Problem with Women? In Other Words, Does She Side with Patriarchal Men Against Women—Rendering Women Invisible?

  1. HumanRights101 says:

    Is every idea intended to benefit women a good idea, simple because it’s pro-woman?

    New Jersey’s domestic violence statute has recently been found unconstitutional. The New Jersey Attorney General is taking this case to the state’s Supreme Court.

    The New Jersey Law Journal reports that Judge Richard Russell of Ocean City made the following remarks on tape during a judicial training session regarding the issuance of restraining orders.


    “If I had one message to give you today, it is that your job is not to weigh the parties’ rights as you might be inclined to do as having been private practitioners. Your job is not to become concerned about all the constitutional rights of the man that you’re violating as you grant a restraining order. Throw him out on the street, give him the clothes on his back and tell him, ‘See ya’ around.’ “

    A new municipal judge attending the training session stated “The statute says we should apply just cause in issuing the order.” “You seem to be saying to grant every order.” Russell quickly replied, “Yeah, that’s what I seem to be saying.”

    The article is full of comments from Russell and his colleagues that are equally inflammatory.

    Perhaps you think Russell should have been disbarred for instructing judges to ignore the constitution. In doing so, he violated his greatest responsibility as a judge in the most blatant way possible. Perhaps you think he should have gone to prison.

    Russell now serves on the New Jersey Supreme Court’s State Domestic Violence Working Group, the Executive Committee of the State Bar’s Family Law Section, and the New Jersey Supreme Court’s Family Practice Committee. He currently is the chair of the court’s Child Support Subcommittee.

    Given a recent ruling declaring New Jersey’s domestic violence statute unconstitutional and given the imminent Supreme Court challenge, the truth regarding the real practices that are being used to separate men from their children and their homes must be heard.

    The notion that anything is justifiable if it’s done to benefit women is coming to an end. Are you going to face the problems or sweep them under the rug? Are you going to be part of the solution or will you dig your heels in to uphold the power of injustice?

  2. Anonymous says:

    wtf are you talking about? do you really expect people to treat your cause with anything but disdain when you randomly post completely irrelevant messages to blogs?

  3. Anonymous says:

    n.b. in case that wasn’t obvious, the message was directed to humanrights101

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