As A Mother, I Run For President

It’s election time, and in the feminist world, that means…time to get mad at all the attention the media puts on the personal lives of female candidates.

I first noticed this while watching last week’s Republican Candidate Debate at Reagan National Library. My roomate and I were watching together, and the first thing she said when the camera turned to Michelle Bachmann was, “Ew. Who did her hair?? I can’t believe they let her on to T.V. like that!!” Now, my roommate is no ditz. She has some very strong, very well thought out political opinions, and she’s not afraid to share them with anyone who asks–or for that matter, doesn’t ask but says something that could possibly, maybe, slightly be construed as a political statement. She is highly intelligent and well educated. And yet, her first comment about Michelle Bachman was about her hair.

I noticed it today in tonight’s Tea Party Republican Candidate Debate. The moderators, while focusing mainly on Mitt Romney and Rick Perry (The media’s selection of “front runners” before most states primaries is another awful part of our media-centric election system, but I digress), asked Ms. Bachmann about her stance on government mandated HPV vaccine for young girls. This question they asked almost all the candidates, but to Bachmann, they introduced the question by saying, “Michelle Bachmann, you’re a mother, as a mother, how do you feel about the government requiring our young girls to get this vaccine?” (I may be paraphrasing the wording, but that was the essence of it.) Ms. Bachman took the bait and responded, “Yes. I am a mother. I have three young girls, and I don’t believe the federal government should be requiring them to inject anything into their bodies that they don’t want to”.

Why, why, WHY must female candidates be viewed in light of their roles as mothers? WHY did none of the other candidates, all of whom are parents, get asked about their perspectives “as a father”? And why must female candidates feel compelled to play into these assigned roles? Why couldn’t Ms. Bachmann have responded, “Yes, I am a mother, but my view of government mandated vaccinations goes beyond my own personal household. I don’t believe that the federal government should require my daughters or any one else’s daughters to inject…” This would have concisely pointed out to the public that she viewed herself as more than just a mother.

In fact, I feel that this is where Sarah Palin started going down hill last presidential election. When she presented herself as a “loving mother of 5” and the all american “hockey mom”, she lost credibility as a politician. People felt that if the only thing she had to boast about was her family (including a pregnant-out-of-wedlock daughter and a down-syndrome baby that was being cared for more by her daughter than herself), then she really must not have all that much to bring to the table. Then of course came the Katie Couric interview and the Tina Fey parodies, and the woman never had a chance.

This is not about me endorsing or rejecting either of the two women above. I actually feel that both of them are way too conservative for me. I refuse to vote for anyone who is pro-choice. But that’s not the point here. These women are not being treated as politicians, they’re being treated as women. America likes to think that it is this wonderfully progressive society (certainly those on the extreme right would say so), but we are ages and ages behind where we should be. I mean seriously, is it really that hard for the elections to be about the issues? Is that REALLY too much to ask?

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Judging Sexuality

This morning, I may or may not have left a vibrating toy in the shower, which my uber conservative, religious roomate may or may not have seen when she showered after me.

By may or may not, I mean definitely happened.

I’m sitting here, holed up in my room, trying to avoid the room mate for a few days and see if she forgets about it.

But why do I feel the need to do that? Why is there any shame in sexuality? Having a vibrator doesn’t necessarily mean I am sexually active, and even if it did…why should she care? I’m clearly not bringing home random guys to our apartment? This has no effect on her whatsoever…except that she had to stare at a bright blue male organ the whole time she was in the shower.

When I realized what had happened, my body tensed up and got incredibly nervous. I couldn’t move, couldn’t think, couldn’t do anything but lie on my bed and worry about what she would think of me?

And what WOULD she think of me? Would this mean I’m slutty? Would the fact that I have a vibrator mean that I know the pleasure of sexual orgasm, which would in turn mean that I have experienced it with a partner before? Which in turn would mean I’m not as religious as she is, which in turn would mean that she now has reason to doubt how kosher the food that I cook is?

Are those fair assumptions to make? No, but people make them anyway. Do I know for sure that she will make them? No, not at all.

But I have clearly made assumptions about her. I assumed she would judge me for owning a vibrator. And this puts me at just as much fault as I am putting her at.