Playing the “Family Card”

Playing the “Family Card”

Rachel CohenTuesday,3 May 2016

If you didn’t know, it’s 2016. Hard to tell sometimes, I feel you, but here we are, nonetheless.

Now, they have let me out of my unmarried thirty-something woman cage for a bit, so I can share with you YET ANOTHER REASON this election seriously blows, and reeks of something out of the 1950s.

What’s the deal with all of this family BS?

Let’s start with Trump’s “woman card” claim. Terrible, outdated, and also 100% something I would expect him to say on any given day. Hillary did a pretty good job of fighting back – until she went off script and made her own un-PC snafu (“off the reservation” – seriously?!)

BUT, the whole scenario made me think about the “cards” politicians play – because they all do, all of the time. And unfortunately, many of these “cards” play right into those gender stereotypes that keep us women in our place.

In particular, I’ve come to be disgusted by the role of the family in the lives of the people we are currently calling politicians. I performed a small study on Twitter last night as I laugh-cried my way through Obama’s most recent stop on his retirement tour, to see just how much this “family card” is being played. Looking at Twitter bios of our current candidates (and BO for fun), I got sad.

Join me, will you.

Obama (@potus): “Dad, husband, and 44th President of the United States”

Verdict: Not cool, Obama

Hillary (@hillaryclinton): “Wife, mom, grandma, women+kids advocate, FLOTUS, Senator, SecState, hair icon, paintsuit aficionado, 2016 presidential candidate”

Vedict: Trying way too hard, but more importantly, subverts the things that made Hillary such an admirable woman for the gender-specific roles that, let’s be serious, we know aren’t how she defines herself. Wife? Come on now.

Ted (@tedcruz): “Father of two, @heidicruz’s husband, US senator, fighter for liberty, candidate for President with @CarlyFiorina for VP to bring back Jobs, Freedom & Security”

Verdict: Cruz’s staff loves Weird capitalization And Not the oxford Comma which alone should Disqualify him. Beyond that, starting out with his role as father of two girls who clearly hate or do not know this man is a major fail.

Carly (@carlyfiorina): “Businesswoman, wife, mother, & grandmother. A conservative who believes in unlocking human potential & holding govt accountable.”

Verdict: Businesswoman? BUSINESSWOMAN? Probably not what you want to remind everyone of Carly. But, I like the addition of her HR head’s favorite statement “unlocking human potential,” because get it, she’s a businesswoman, and HR is part of business. Get it?

Bernie (@SenSanders): “Sen. Bernie Sanders is the longest serving independent in congressional history”

Verdict: Well, that’s true.

Donald (@realDonaldTrump): “#MakeAmericaGreatAgain #Trump2016”

Verdict: Goddamn. Simple, searchable, goddamn.

John (@johnkasich): “Husband, Dad, and Gov. of Ohio”

Verdict: Who?

Think about it like the ingredients in your food. The first listed item is the most important, right? Then who are all of these people kidding by trying to look as though their family is the most important thing in their lives, as though they are defined by these roles.

I HATE saying it, but props to Trump, and I LOVE saying it, props to Bernie, both of whom avoided playing the family card on their bios. It’s a weird and outdated thing to expect when marriage rates in the US are at record lows, and we’re coming off of a period of all-time lowest birth rates.

It’s time to remove the family requirement from politics, not just because it precludes millions of unwed or childless Americans from the job, but also because it perpetuates gender stereotypes and anti-woman rhetoric that lead to stupid comments like the “woman” card. Unwed women seeking abortions are sluts, wed women seeking abortions are traitorous sluts. If our political candidates would instead focus on what makes them right for the job – rather than using their children or spouses as content fodder – maybe we could move past this.

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Image Credit: Gage Skidmore on Flickr

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