Oklahoma Governor’s Race Part II: Is Motherhood a Qualification?

Laura Carroll, childfree

More on the governor’s race in Oklahoma with Republican candidate Mary Fallin and Democratic candidate Jari Askins.  Fallin has claimed motherhood is what makes her more qualified, and she’s received push back on this.

Good Morning America took up the issue this week. Askins and Fallin were invited to be interviewed, and Fallin respectfully declined.  Askins articulately speaks to why political mommy wars is irrelevant and off focus.  My favorite comment by Askins–

..the gist being that to this point all of Oklahoma’s governors have been men, “none have been mothers” and have served the state quite well–!

The GMA piece asks Oklahomans and there are varying views from it does not matter whether a woman is a mother or not, to the view that if she is, she’ll be “more responsible.”

The women on The View went at  the political mommy wars as well. On a recent show, interestingly, the newest edition to the group on this show is Republican Elisabeth Hasselback, and she ardently argues that motherhood should not be used “for or against” a candidate.

Joy Behar makes the point that out of 100 Senators, 17 are women. The remaining male Senators were and are never asked whether they were “nurturing fathers in their career.” Amidst interruptive discussion, Sherri Shepard seems to way in that motherhood should be taken into account.

From talk shows, to people on the street…

…to other women politicians weighing in on this, there seems to be varying views.  While I am pleased to learn that many people get it, the GMA piece and The View’s discussion remind me that the reality is we still have a ways to go on this one.  It amazes me how powerful the role of mother continues to be in our society.  And at the root of that, is how pervasive pronatalism reveals itself in so many crevices of society.

But the more mother hood as political qualification is out there and talked about, the better. As more people really think about it, my hope is that more people will see the reality, especially as we watch childfree leaders. And like Hollywood celebs, the more childfree women in political leadership talk about it, the better. Take Condoleezza Rice’s recent interview in Ladies Home Journal, where she talks about how her life has been fulfilled without kids.

What do you think of how media handle childfree women leaders and candidates?

2 thoughts on “Oklahoma Governor’s Race Part II: Is Motherhood a Qualification?

  1. As posted before, Julia Gillard, the Australian Prime Minister, is childfree. It was never really an issue in our politics, more who is the best person for the job. I see anyone who uses their parenting status to get a leg up is just plain narrow minded and therefore not worthy of any position of leadership.

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