Will Motherhood Help Hillary Clinton Win the Presidency?
“It really does take a village to raise a child. And to build a stronger future for us all.I learned this a long time ago from the biggest influence in my life, my mother.” –Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton will likely be the first woman president–and a woman who happens to be a mother. She both evoked motherhood and focused on “mother” (female) issues all throughout her campaign. Will she have to continue this rhetoric into her presidency? Or will she be able to rest easy on her laurels and continue to inspire future generations of women (mothers or not) to come?
The rhetoric of motherhood has long been a theme in public discourse and in American politics begging the question:
What is it like for mothers on the campaign trail?
Politicized motherhood and the role that motherhood plays impacts women in politics and presents challenges for women pursuing political leadership positions. Although it does motivate women to run for office and can serve to frame female candidacies beneficially (through focus on women’s needs and issues for example)– it also reinforces gender stereotypes which in turn ends up threatening women’s success as female candidates and sabotaging their ability to see themselves as political leaders.
How has politicized motherhood impacted and challenged Hillary’s career in the public arena — from her deciding to run, to designing her campaign structure, and in getting voter support?
Three stages aggravated by politicized motherhood.
When Hillary becomes president will her politicized motherhood ultimately transcend these challenges both for her and for future women in politics?
Clinton continues to evoke motherhood to win voter support. This hilarious recent SNL skit of the Town Hall Debate satirically mocked her constant referencing both motherhood AND grandmotherhood when her character, played by the brilliant Kate McKinnon, says: “I strive to be a positive role model for all children…for children like my daughter Chelsea and my granddaughter….Chelsea Jr.”
Will the real Hillary Clinton continue to evoke motherhood and grandmotherhood once elected?
Csandy54 raises a poignant question regarding the dual nature of politicized motherhood asking “…do you mean bringing up their role of motherhood and how it’s changed or affected their agenda or do you mean spending on behalf of mothers and trying to help them specifically?”
Through politicized motherhood we must look at both how the role of motherhood influences their political agenda as well as their inherent role of being able to speak on behalf of mothers/women to support issues related to womanhood, motherhood, and family like healthcare and education. Csandy54 rightfully points out the unfortunateness of these issues continually having to be considered through the lens of gender – which somehow demeans the “lady issues” altogether.
Along those lines, Hweinberg707 poses an alternate question:
“How could Hillary possibly utilize motherhood on behalf of her political agenda?”
An obvious answer would be in order to increase support from female voters — mothers especially. Yet in doing this somehow it feels like her accomplishments as a politician are undermined.
“Why do female politicians feel the need to bring their family and children into their campaigns or positions?”…she continues– to which I would add the question:
And why more so than male politicians?
When president, will Hillary be able to move away from her role as mother–after all her daughter is a grown woman and a mother herself– and be defined solely as presidential in an office historically patriarchal now turned matriarchal?
One of the most prolific matriarchs of our time weighs in…
AND NOW…FROM QUEEN MOTHER TO GREEN MOTHER…
Dr. Jill Stein, Green Party nominee or presidency recently tweeted:
To which Alexandra Brodsky was quick to jump in on and respond in her diatribe posted on feministing.com :
Arguing that motherhood has no place in political rhetoric because of the many “awesome women” leaders who aren’t mothers which such a statement then ostracizes, she asserts that women–politicians or not–should not be scrutinized for not having a family with children.
Scrutinized or not, Clinton has had to consistently position herself as a daughter, a mother, and a grandmother, arguably as much as she has touted herself as former first lady, a former US Senator, and Secretary of State.
Which leaves one question unanswered…
“When was the last time you heard anyone wonder if a male politician was a good enough Dad?”
Images via Google Images.