Recently, the Motherlode blog of the New York Times online posted this article celebrating the fact that New Hampshire now has an all-female and all-mother Congressional delegation and Governor. I read the article and appreciated that the author noted how far we’ve evolved in terms of having it all. The author was also quick to celebrate that the fact that these women are also mothers was more of a footnote during their campaigns. Politician or beautician, she was celebrating the fact that working parents have similar experiences, and that we’re all in this together. At least that’s how I took the article. The comments highlighted a few other important perspectives.
While some took a celebratory tone, others were not as romanced by the all-mom election results . . . “Just being female and having children doesn’t mean that you’ll do anything to press a female-friendly or family-friendly political agenda.” Case in point: Sarah Palin.
And another person, whom I have no doubt is a feminist, said “. . . any implication that it is even better to have women who are mothers elected than to have women who choose not to have children doesn’t help the cause of gaining equal representation for all women.” Touché “Sue,” touché. A person’s value is in no way related to their desire to parent.
While I agree with “Sue,” I have to add my two cents. I added “Mom” to my resumé almost three years ago and I must say that it has given me insights into the intricacies of how families make decisions, how some legislation meddles with decisions that should only be made within my family unit, and how usual people will do unusual things to protect their children. That may not set me apart from people who are not parenting, so I can only speak for myself when I say that parenting has deepened my sense of empathy for others, and if I were a politician, my experience as a parent would most definitely influence my political decisions. I suppose you could say that is exactly what would make me a terrible politician, but then again, empathy, relatability, and a sense of humanness are exactly the kinds of traits (and many more) Americans are looking for in politicians. And while it may be sad that an all-female, all-mom Congressional delegation and Governor is still “news,” isn’t this, in part, what we’ve been fighting for? We can have it all, it does take a village, and damn it, we should celebrate how far we’ve come. But don’t spend all of your energy celebrating because you and I both know that there’s still so much more work in the equality arena left to do . . .