In Oklahoma, the Republican candidate for governor is telling the people of that state that they should vote for her instead of her opponent because she is a wife and mother. Seriously.
The Democrat, Jari Askins, has quite an array of job-relevant experiences. As the Associated Press noted, “she’s been a judge, a legislator, the head of a state agency, and a corporate attorney.” She has always been single and has no children.
Mary Fallin, the 55-year old Republican, is on her second marriage. She has two kids from her previous marriage and her current husband has four from his. She has been a manager of a hotel chain and a lieutenant governor, and is now a congresswoman.
In a debate, Fallin was asked the predictable question of why voters should choose her over her opponent. She said,
“First of all, being a mother, having children, raising family.”
According to the AP, she has been making similar claims on the campaign trail, pointing to her husband and kids as qualifications.
This is another show of singlism in politics. We’ve seen it before, and recently – as, for example, when the Washington Post treated us to the headline, “The Supreme Court needs more moms,” after Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan were named to the Big Nine. (The Post writer did not mean any moms, she meant married ones.)
The singlism is the bad news. Now here’s the good: When Fallin said in the debate that motherhood made her the better candidate, the audience groaned. In conservative Oklahoma, people in a public forum made their displeasure heard.
Then the Associated Press got on the story. The Huffington Post featured that article a few days ago and it has already been retweeted more than 750 times and attracted more than 3,550 comments.
In the year 2010, you can declare yourself superior because you are married with children, but you can no longer count on getting away with it. (Check out my recent Living Single post for more examples.)
Consistent with results of research I described previously, Fallin doesn’t recognize her singlist prejudices. Asked to account for her statements, she said she didn’t see anything wrong with them.
When Askins (who is 57) was asked what she thought of Fallin’s comments, she said she had always thought she would marry and have kids,
“But none of that ever happened. Rather than sit back and worry about it, I devoted my life to trying to serve all of the children of Oklahoma.”
I wish I could vote in Oklahoma.
[Thanks to Gena for the heads-up about the AP story.]