Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Hill Gets Steeper

Much has been said in the blog world and the media about the current Democratic presidential primaries, and yet, I still feel this nagging need to comment.

At this point Barack Obama appears to have the momentum to carry him through to his party's nomination. While much has been made about the fact that the candidate from the donkey side of the aisle will make history for being the first African-American or woman to run on a major ticket, I am fascinated by the fact that it appears more likely that we will have an African-American in the White House before we will have a woman. Don't get me wrong, I am not upset by this fact, I am all for progress; I just hear a little bit of my (and probably many other) little girl dreams shattering.

Looking back at history, I should have been more prepared for this reality. The 15th Amendment, codifying the right of citizens to vote regardless of "race, color, or previous condition of servitude" was passed in 1870; the 19th Amendment, allowing women to vote, was passed 50 years later, in 1920.

Not that it was an easy road for African-Americans in the 50 years leading up to the passing of women's suffrage, and many were still denied the right to vote regardless of its constitutionality right up through the 1960s. However, it does appear that Congress, or whomever, was more prepared to see African-Americans actively participate in the political process than women.

This is further demonstrated by the fact that the first African-American in Congress was Joseph Rainey from South Carolina in 1870. In 1916 Jeannette Rankin, Republican from Montana, was the first woman elected to serve in Congress.

I am sure I already lost a lot of readers with the history lesson and I haven't even gotten to my thoughts about why Hillary Clinton is facing such an uphill battle.

Sadly, I think the Working Mom (WM) vs. Stay at Home Mom (SAHM) debate has been ratcheted up a few notches and played out on a national scale. The decades-long arguments between women who choose these two different, but equally noble, challenging and reasonable courses is both heart-breaking and sickening. Women continue to be vilified for working and "leaving someone else to raise their children" and those that stay home are derided as anti-feminist and "pushing back the feminist movement 100 years." (Check out Mommy Wars for attribution on these and similar sentiments).

As much as women want to have it all, in reality, it is impossible. Hillary Clinton and her spouse made choices and sacrifices in raising their daughter, just as the Hoos and I have had to - and will continue to - in raising LP. Similarly, Michelle Obama and her husband had to make decisions that were appropriate for them and their girls. Much has been made about Michelle Obama and her decisions regarding motherhood and how they contrast with Senator Clinton. Michelle Obama is not the candidate, Barack Obama is. Clearly, this is not a fair comparison.

Being a mother is a wonderful, wacky, back-breaking job. And it has made me a better employee, a better wife, and a more qualified global citizen. No one can multi-task like a mom. Few can juggle so many balls while carrying a dozen others the way a mom can. Motherhood is not a yoke we have to bear or destroy. Motherhood is a badge we should be able to wear proudly - and flaunt as qualification. I am not sure that the men or women of the United States see it this way.


DaisyJo_Mom said...

I have to admit you did lose me with the history lesson, but grabbed with your comments about motherhood. I totally agree with you and we should be very proud of who we are and the choices we make.

KiKi said...

I was actually fascinated by the history lesson, and even more interested in the mommy wars. How disheartening that despite all the progress women have made, we still can't have it all.

I saw a show on Oprah a few years back, about cultural differences between American moms and other nationalities - American moms were more isolated, had more pressure, and higher expectations from society. You had to be supermom or you were a failure.

Whereas in other countries, family members surrounded new moms and helped with childcare and gave financial support and household help - and this was normal and expected, not anything amazing. Postpartum depression was almost unheard of.

A's Mom said...

I completely agree with you (and don't worry - you didn't lose me with the history lesson - I got your point). I could not have said it better!