U.S. News and World Report posted a poll (pic below) asking whom readers would prefer to run a daycare center for their kids. Choices include Nancy Pelosi, Michelle Obama, Sarah Palin, and Hillary Clinton.
Here’s the poll:
This isn’t outwardly offensive– what’s wrong with comparing four successful family-supporting career women? But the implication that motherhood is a qualification for being a popular, respected female politician plays into another trend that can be seen everywhere: women, in general, are judged by their families. John McCain says Sarah Palin’s husband is a “tough guy, too.” Michelle Obama is a stay-at-home mother now. Hillary Clinton is our secretary of state: you know you can trust her with nuclear weapons… but would you trust her with your children? (Evidently not).
It’s not enough to have to find the right balance between scary masculine pantsuits and wastefully extravagant designer garb– women also have to be good mothers. (Not surprising to anyone who’s familiar with George Lakoff’s model of American politics as a family structure: there is always a Strict Father figure, and often a motherly figure who enforces the Strict Father’s authority.)
Here, caretaking is presented as an inherently female qualification. What about the millions of responsible American fathers, and the effort they put in? What about Joe Biden and his worry-laden kitchen table? I say, if good parenting is a new requirement for holding office and retaining respect, let’s give men a chance to shine.
I dare U.S. News to run this poll: