Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Feminists for Stay-Home Moms

Here's Duncan Black on Ruth Marcus' commentary on Michelle Obama's decision to be "Mother-in-Chief":

It's pretty much impossible for a First Spouse to maintain a normal life - continue her career smoothly - and trying to create a tiny bit of normalcy for her young kids is going to require heroic effort. It really doesn't mean anything beyond that.
Well, actually, it does mean something more than that.

Charli Carpenter, who is an Assistant Professor at University of Massachusetts-Amherst:

To those for whom breaking the gendered glass ceiling would have felt as or more transformative than seeing a US President of color, this "Mother-in-Chief" approach could seem like a regressive subordination of women's political equality to racial equality. By this standard, Palin, with all her flaws, would have been a better feminist role model - to say nothing of Hillary Clinton, who would have combined a gender-egalitarian agenda with her trail-blazing role as the first female Commander-in-Chief. By comparison, Michelle Obama may seem at first glance to be defining her role no differently than Laura Bush, a help-meet rather than political partner. Perhaps this is a throwback to an earlier age. Perhaps feminism has been traded for racial equality in this election.

Think again. The fact that people have assumed that Michelle would take on a formal political role as first lady only underscores how normative women's political participation is today. Her unwillingness to prioritize that over her duties to her children is not a step backward but a step forward for the feminist movement: what Michelle is modeling is not indifference to politics, but policy attention to work-life balance, the missing element in the first feminist revolution [source].
Exit Question: Would liberals give a new conservative First Lady as much deference on the decision to stay home with the kids, or would she be demonized as a religious right "fem bot" hell-bent on consigning women to hard labor in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant?


George Bruce said...

Your exit question is entirely rhetorical.

shoprat said...

Palin would have been treated exactly like the leftists treated Thatcher in the 80s. She would have been seen as an evil usurper who robbed the left of their right to put the first woman in power.

Law and Order Teacher said...

Hypocrisy knows no bounds. The Dems/Libs are sure to excuse this which I agree is their decision, along with their decision to send their kids to private school, which I agree with by the way, and Clinton's feminist stance towards relationships with the opposite sex, which I don't condone and they excused. Kind of a swerving path, eh?

KMacGinn said...

If you're a Liberal politician and choose to stay home, women secretly despise you but publicly support your 'decision.' If you're a Conservative politician who chooses to stay home OR continue working, you're openly reviled regardless.

Michelle as a "political partner?" I'm sorry: we vote for one person to be the President. I do not vote for the spouse, as well. (It still makes me gag back when Clinton got elected, and a lib colleague of mine gushed that 'we also get Hillary, too!')

No matter what choice a President's wife makes, she will be under the public's and MSM's microscope every step of the way. I'm sure, though, Michelle will be given a pass for just about everything like her husband.