People watching New York City’s Democratic candidates for mayor finally have something to talk about other than Anthony Weiner’s exploits as Carlos Danger. Unfortunately, the new hot topic is just Same Sh–, Different Day for many political NotMoms.
Here’s the New York Post’s headline:
“De Blasio’s Wife Questions How Childless Quinn Can Reate to Child-Care Issues“
Big sigh, right?
Sonia Ossorio, president of the city’s National Organization for Women, which has endorsed Ms. Quinn, responded, “I don’t remember anyone saying the candidates can’t be effective advocates for the poor just because they themselves aren’t making minimum wage. Or fighters for the elderly if they aren’t old.”
But, that headline doesn’t tell the whole story. Or does it?
The comments in question are attributed to Chirlane McCray, wife of the front-runner (as of 8/26/13), Bill de Blasio. Her husband’s main rival, Christine Quinn, is a married lesbian without kids. In an interview with New York Times’ columnist (and NotMom) Maureen Dowd, Ms. McCray reportedly said that Ms. Quinn is ” not the kind of person I feel I can go up to and talk to about issues like taking care of children at a young age.”
EXCEPT…the remark as printed in the 8/25/13 newspaper was taken way out of context, and Ms. McCray was quick to prove it. The Times corrected the column online, and Ms. Dowd admitted that she “screwed up.” Now Ms. Dowd’s careless journalism joins the small firestorm already starting to burn.
Here’s the full text of what Ms. McCray said about Ms. Quinn. It’s certainly a broader context, implying that perhaps Ms. Quinn just isn’t doesn’t care about Mom issues, not that she can’t.
“Well, I’m a woman, and she’s not speaking to the issues that I care about, and I think a lot of women feel the same way. I don’t see her speaking to the concerns of women who have to take care of children at a young age or send them to school and after school, paid sick days, issues in the workplace — she’s not speaking to any of those issues. What can I say?
And she’s not accessible, she’s not the kind of person that I feel that I can go up and talk to and have a conversation with about those things, and I suspect that other women feel the same thing that I’m feeling.”
So, does that clear it all up for you, or are you still getting that “she’s not one of us” vibe? If you’re now thinking that headline is somewhat misleading, it’s bad news for the De Blasio campaign because it’s headlines that score the most eyeballs.
It was only a few years ago that Australia elected its first female prime minister, Julia Gillard, who is unmarried, childless and atheist. Her personal life choices stayed in the news throughout her tenure (2010-2013), including an opponent who described her as “deliberately barren”. Another Aussie politico expanded on the theme, saying, “I’ve also had some experience where around small children she was wooden. And I think the two go together.”
Anyone running for an office higher than Student Council President runs the risk of nasty, personal attacks against themselves, their families or their friends and partners. Sadly, political women generally endure an attack on their uterus, one way or another.
Candidates’ Image Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images