Tuesday, August 26, 2008

No kids, no respect

As adorable as Obama’s little girls are, last night’s speech - and the media climate in general - makes me wonder:

Would a candidate without children ever have a chance at the presidency?

On one hand, we’re not facing a huge population dearth as a planet. And many people are either not inclined to raise a new human being for the next 18 years or medically not able to conceive (or scared away from IVF from watching too many episodes of “Jon and Kate Plus Eight”). So, no problem, right?

On the other hand…

Think about how many times a celebrity profile has highlighted the fact someone’s “a good dad,” “lives for their kids” or “embraces the most important role of all: Mom.” (Because commitments to other family members, friends or philanthropic efforts just aren’t as valid.)

Think about how often campaign rhetoric reference “working families” or, that classic, “family values.” (Because you can’t work hard or have solid values as just an individual.)

Think about how often you hear the phrase “responsible family man” or “responsible parent.” (Because responsibility can’t possibly be demonstrated through other means, such as owning a business, earning a degree or being active in the community. And one NEVER hears of irresponsible behavior by parents.)

Think about how the “ability to achieve work-life balance” usually references parenting. (Because people without kids NEVER have any other obligations nor tasks to juggle – just oodles of spare time to plop on the couch with a pint of Haagen Daas.)

Now imagine the potential reactions evoked by a childless candidate:
• He/she’s not capable of reproducing (and therefore must have medical problems or physical weakness we should worry about)
• She’s (if female) is a hard career woman without maternal instincts
• He/she is selfish
• He/she is just plain weird
• He/she can’t possibly relate to the problems of regular people, not having a personal stake in the next generation.


At 7:30 AM, Anonymous katjjames said...

I am finally back!! Just look at Hillary. She has taken crap for years because she only had one child.

You have to wonder if children and spouses just become political tokens to "prove" success by today's standards.

To date we have not seen a single person or single parent.

At 9:01 AM, Blogger globalchameleon said...

Welcome back! Good point about single parents, folks who have proven that they can multitask, lead and get things done (on very little sleep) - traits one would find admirable, even necessary, in a president. And more and more people are becoming single parents - due to divorce, choice, lots of reasons. But single parents I've known have told me that still - even today in the 21st Century - they face a stigma and a fair amount of grief (imagine the "baby mamma" comments that would fly in this situation!) We're still pretty conservative in this respect, I suspect - MAYBE a clean-cut male widower with 2.5 kids and the picket fence could pull it off.


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