The days of women being excluded from public life may legally and theoretically be over, but apparently thatâÄôs not enough to convince the GOP presidential hopefuls that women have any sort of identity outside the home. That was made clear at a recent GOP debate where candidates were asked why their wives would make good first ladies.
While it was once the case that politics was statutorily reserved for men, thereâÄôs no reason other than pure, misogynistic dissuasion for the continuance of such segregation. Women make up just over half of this countryâÄôs population, and it would only make sense that this would translate to equal representation in government.
But it doesnâÄôt âÄî we continue to see an abysmally low number of women in elected office and, as the candidates showed during the debate in Florida last Thursday, women are still viewed primarily as homemakers and caretakers. When the candidates were asked why their wives would make good first ladies, how did they answer? Ding, ding! By pointing out what wonderful mothers and wives they are.
I by no means want to diminish the patience, kindness and work that raising children takes. Being a parent is a big job, but itâÄôs not the only thing that defines a woman. After all, these women were working and living lives before their husbands or children were in the picture. IâÄôm sure many of them have careers, philanthropic experiences and qualifying credentials.
But what did I learn from the debate? I learned that Mitt RomneyâÄôs wife has struggled with health issues and that Newt GingrichâÄôs current wife enjoys the fine arts. Oh, and that they are great homemakers, know how to maintain a marriage (unlike Gingrich himself) and can change a diaper.
If this is what presidential candidates emphasize about women, is it any wonder there isnâÄôt more representation in office? These men are in the public eye. They are setting an example. In this case, the example is to relegate women to the home.