WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:

Stop using the “wives, mothers, & daughters” rhetorical frame that defines women by their relationships to other people.

In his 2013 State of the Union address, President Obama said: “We know our economy is stronger when our wives, mothers, and daughters can live their lives free from discrimination in the workplace and free from the fear of domestic violence.”

This “our wives, mothers, and daughters” phrase is one he routinely employs, but it is counterproductive to the women’s equality the President is ostensibly supporting.

Defining women by their relationships to other people is reductive, misogynist, and alienating to women who do not define ourselves exclusively by our relationships to others. Further, by referring to “our” wives et al, the President appears to be talking to The Men of America about Their Women, rather than talking to men AND women.

Please embrace inclusive language, Mr. President.

P.S. These are not “just words.” Words define the reality of human beings.

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27 comments on “WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:

      • Easiest thing I’ve done in all my life and it only took me one click to sign!

        I also think a lot of people were too busy watching the Dorner manhunt to even care that much about the State of the Union, at least if they lived out on the West Coast in a place like Southern California. I heard it was one of the largest manhunts in LAPD history.

      • I’m a little overwhelmed with work, so I have no idea if he has been caught yet. Has he?

        As for the State of the Union, there have been so many pretty speeches already, I can’t take another one.

      • There were many conflicting reports, but I believe that Dorner is now dead. His cabin caught on fire yesterday too.

  1. Clarissa, this is not the problem. At most, it’s an issue of bad English.

    When politicians talk about troops overseas, it’s “our sons and daughters.” When it’s healthcare, it’s “our elderly” or “our grandparents”. When it’s education, it’s “our children”.

    I suspect a bunch of studies have been done and they’ve decided that addressing the people actually involved in whatever the issue is means that everyone else tunes out, whereas if we make it about everyone – our sons, daughters, wives, grandparents, friends down the street – then more people feel a connection to whatever we’re talking about.

    It’s a trick, sure. It would probably benefit the discussion to call politicians out on it. But it’s not something that is deliberately anti-women, nor a rhetorical devised used specifically on/at/toward women.

    • ” But it’s not something that is deliberately anti-women”

      – Nobody said this was deliberate. The scariest kind of sexism (racism, anti-semitism, etc.) is the unconscious kind.

      “I suspect a bunch of studies have been done and they’ve decided that addressing the people actually involved in whatever the issue is means that everyone else tunes out, whereas if we make it about everyone – our sons, daughters, wives, grandparents, friends down the street – then more people feel a connection to whatever we’re talking about.”

      – Women are people. And we are the people who put this guy into office. He should be reminded of that and learn better speech patterns.

      • Yes, and my point is there’s nothing sexist going on here. Because he and every other one of them says the exact same thing with regard to men. Granted, they do it less – but that’s an issue of opportunity. There are no national issues that are solely male issues, so there is never a time to say “our husbands and our sons.” But there used to be, and the did it with gusto then as well. It’s dehumanizing in terms of treating the electorate as infantile, but it’s not sexist against women.

        In fact, I daresay this is actually sexist against men. He knows that the women are by and large going to support policies that purport to advance their power in society. So he’s using this to bring men into the fold. Us big, dumb, men have to be told that this affects us too – I’m not a woman, but golly! This is going to affect *my* wife, *my* sister, *my mother*! Where do I sign! It’s very offensive that us men are assumed to either 1) be too stupid to follow any political cause not directly affecting our own personal wellbeing or 2) too callous or sexist to do so.

        Men are people too! The president shouldn’t treat us this way.

  2. Have you read the Guardians’ article on the reading level of Obama’s State of the Union address compared to previous addresses?

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/interactive/2013/feb/12/state-of-the-union-reading-level

    He ranks 9.2 compared to FDR’s 12.4 or Lincoln’s 14.6. This dumbing down of speech leads to non inclusive language and other annoying habits. At the current rate of decline in eloquence, we’ll soon be at the “Yo Bro” level and this does define the “reality of human beings.”

  3. I think I have heard it all now. Women, realize you ARE someone’s daughter. And although you have achieved great things without being labeled daughter or being a wife or mother yourself…you should be secure enough in your own image and this should not be bothering you. You have NO right to change the speech of someone else, Get your kudos elsewhere, as imo you feel you are seriously lacking them, or else you would feel validated in who you are and what you stand for. You would not be as sensitive and squeaky as you have become. Time for an oiling! :)

    • Did your parents bring you up in a pig-sty? What kind of excrement thinks it is normal to address strangers with a string of “you shoulds”?

      Stick your stupid advice up your ass, you freak. An insect like you should not dare emit a sound in the presence of superior human beings like me. Go away, you piece of trash. Crawl back to your family of freaks with three heads and two tails.

      • Clarissa, may I ask, are you actually angry at this person or having fun this way? Or is he a convenient target for therapic cursing in general? I am honestly curious.

        And what does “time for an oiling” mean?

      • “Clarissa, may I ask, are you actually angry at this person or having fun this way? Or is he a convenient target for therapic cursing in general? I am honestly curious.”

        – All of the above. :-) I have to defend my boundaries or people will start taking liberties. I have seen many blogs where unhinged creatures have been given too much freedom and that does not look pretty.

      • That’s victim attitude. An aggressor needs to be hit hard to be taught a lesson.

        And the funniest thing is that the absolute majority of them later becomes faithful readers of the blog and writes me love emails. :-)

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