Sunday, April 18, 2010

Moms, politics and the NYT (by Suzie)

Click on the NYT today, and what you may notice first is the photo of Sarah Palin and Michele Bachman. Author Liesl Schillinger starts by making fun of what they were wearing in a joint appearance. Even if you dislike them, remember that focusing on their appearance hurts other women, too.

Schillinger notes that they have something in common with Nancy Pelosi: All have given birth to five children.
What does it say about this country at this moment that, of the small handful of women who have achieved highly visible political roles, three are matriarchs of such very large families? Could it be that the skills of managing sprawling households translate well into holding office? Or that such a remarkable glut of mom cred makes a woman’s bid for external power more palatable to voters? Or are they just related to more voters, which translates into a mysterious edge at the polls?

Whatever forces may be at play, taking a look at present dynamics, any American woman with long-range political ambitions might do well to also look to her nursery.
At what income do people have "nurseries"? By saying that no men need apply to this "clique," Schillinger equates giving birth to raising children. She doesn't ask if male politicians benefit from having a lot of kids. She doesn't look at the norm for female politicians, or question whether attitudes about moms-in-office have changed. She assumes that Palin, Bachmann and Pelosi ran their own households, without asking how much their husbands and other family members helped, or whether they had paid help.

Some of you may say: Lighten up! This is just a fun story. And I would say: Yeah, I figured that out when I saw that it ran in the print edition's Fashion & Style, the section where women make light of issues affecting other women.