Just Wondering

Why do we never hear things like

Barack Obama, father of two, was elected President of the US in 2008

or

Lech Wałęsa, father of seven, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983

but we do hear things like

Tawakul Karman, Yemen mother of 3, among winners of Nobel Peace Prize

Did she receive the Nobel for motherhood, or something? Mind you, the article I linked to is written by a supposedly progressive journalist. I guess even progressives can’t control their machismo enough to stop talking about female politicians in ways they would have never applied to men. All that’s missing is a gushing “And she’s pretty, too!” at the end of the article. Well, I guess we have achieved some progress in the ways we discuss female activists.

 

10 thoughts on “Just Wondering

  1. Its because Lech Wałęsa and Obama, as men, are expected to give up family for career therefore their family lives aren’t brought up that much whereas Tawakul Karman, as a woman, is supposed to give up career for family there its supposedly a major accomplishment.

    If anything that line about Karman is meant to be interpreted as, “Tawakul Karman, despite being a mother of 3, is among winners of Nobel Peace Prize. How did she manage to fit in the work that earned her that prize while working on raising 3 children?”

    It all goes back to how its “surprising” for a woman to climb the corporate ladder and/or for a man to be an efficient father.

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    1. Yes, but there is an implicit judgment here about the fatherhood of Lech Walesa, for example, and the motherhood of Karman. His is trivial and hers is significant. And that bothers me. Maybe he is a lot better father than she is a mother, who knows?

      None of us can possibly know, which is why I think all these discussions about parental qualities of political figures should not be happening.

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      1. Yes, but there is an implicit judgment here about the fatherhood of Lech Walesa, for example, and the motherhood of Karman. His is trivial and hers is significant. And that bothers me. Maybe he is a lot better father than she is a mother, who knows?
        Yeah it is bothersome if for no other reason than as you say Walesa may have been a huge part in the raising of his seven children in some other capacity than “the provider” while Karman may have not been the primary care giver that she is assumed to be.

        Pretty damn unfair all around I say.

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        1. And then people start saying how men easily abandon their children and aren’t as involved in their care as mothers are. Because apparently it’s “biologically defined” that men just don’t care about children as much.

          Feminism has no future without the recognition that parenthood should be equally valued and celebrated irrespective of the parent’s gender.

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  2. I think, to be a mother of 3, and accomplish some other important feat, is remarkable. Maybe the fact that, while describing male Nobel recipients, the number of children they have had isn’t mentioned because most people know that the day in, day out responsibilities required to raise children are usually performed by the female marriage partner (wife and mother). Why be so suspicious and sensitive about these things? You talk as if there really is no difference between men and women, when you know very well there is…

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    1. The only real difference between men and women lies in their reproductive apparatus.

      All the other differences are socially constructed and, as a feminist, I work towards their eventual destruction.

      As somebody whose primary caregivers in childhood were an amazing great-grandfather, a brilliant grandfather and an adoring father, I can’t dismiss the defining role fatherhood and male father figures can play in a child’s life.

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  3. I don’t know how many times I was asked: who took care of Nazca Junior while you spent all that time abroad? The last time was three days ago from a young male freshman. My husband never gets asked that question.

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