Opinion: Being a Mom Doesn't Qualify You for Office
Filed under: Opinions
Being a mom makes you a better politician.
That's what U.S. Congresswoman Mary Fallin of Oklahoma said during a gubernatorial debate recently. Fallin, a Republican, is running against current Oklahoma Lt. Governor and Democrat Jari Askins, 57. The winner will be the first female governor in that state's history.
"I think my experience is one of the things that sets me apart as a candidate for governor. First of all, being a mother, having children, raising a family," the 55-year-old Fallin said, according to ABC News.
That's the defining platform of her campaign? That she pushed out six kids? I'm sorry, but I want my political leaders to be a little more qualified than that. And here's the thing: Fallin does have qualifications beyond her ability to potty train six human beings.
According to her campaign website, she's a lawyer who has served not only as her state's lieutenant governor, but she's also been member of Congress since 2006. She has a record to stand on, which she can and should point to as a reason for voters to support her on election day.
So why did she play the mommy card? Well, for one thing, her opponent happens to be a childless woman who never married. And, it seems, the mean-girls syndrome doesn't end after high school graduation. Back in 2008, former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin took her lumps over her parenting when it came to light that her daughter, Bristol, was about to be a teen mom out of wedlock.
Hypocrite, the pundits cried. Bad mommy!
This kind of mud-slinging at and between women is nothing new. We ladies sometimes give in to the lesser angels of our nature when it comes to judging one another, but the game has much higher consequences when it's played in the political arena.
And, really, when was the last time you saw a male politician pointing to his parenthood as the No. 1 reason he should be elected to office?
That's right: Never.
The comment is even more disgraceful considering that this is only the third time in history that two women have battled it out for a state's top political job. Way to focus the debate on something totally irrelevant, Fallin.
Motherhood is not a qualification for political office, unless you're running for president of the PTA. Gender roles have no place in politics. End of story.
Using our maternity, or lack thereof, as a weapon against our opponents -- be it in the office, on the campaign trail or at the playground -- weakens women in the eyes of everyone, including our own.
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.