I’ve gotten used to being scoffed at when it comes to my political bona fides. Because the word “mom” is in the name of my site, I’m often dismissed as someone who isn’t focused on current events, our political climate or electoral events. I’m a mother, so I must only be interested in what time soccer pick up is and how I can sneak more green vegetables into my 12-year-old’s diet.
It doesn’t matter that I have a degree in political science, as well as a law degree. It doesn’t matter that I follow women and politics online like a hawk. Use the word ‘mother’ or any derivative thereof, and you’re written off by the punditocracy.
Turns out you get written off by many campaigns and causes, as well — that is, until they need to show that they’re “mom friendly.”
I’ve been speaking for years on the topic of political motherhood. Heck, I even wrote a book about it! Yet the campaigns, the politicians, the causes and the vast majority of the political world still all believe they can win the votes of women who happen to be mothers by coming up with catch-phrases for us. In the last two decades we’ve been:
1. Soccer moms
2. Security moms
3. Walmart moms
4. Waitress moms
5. Suburban moms
6. Mama grizzlies
7. Max-ed out moms
8. Minivan moms
Apparently we’re tired, cranky, carpooling mothers worried about gas prices and terrorists. That is, until the phrases get used for an election cycle or two, and then get debunked. For example, there never was a “security mom” as Republicans and Karl Rove wanted us to believe, but to the extent any existed, they were actually Democrats who favored John Kerry over George W. Bush!
The phraseology created to put moms (and binders full of women) into a corner are created in order to promote particular agendas, rather than addressing an issue or truly finding an important sub-set of voters.
That continues to confuse me, since campaigns also always acknowledge that women are THE most important voters. We are because:
1. Women are the majority of voters in America
2. There are 10 million more women voters than men voters
3. Women vote in greater numbers than men
4. Women have outvoted men in every presidential election since 1980
5. And 80 percent of all women will be mothers by the time they are in their early 40s.
Mix all that data up in big old bowl, and it would seem pretty easy to figure out women voters are more than any stereotype.
Yet, in the three 2012 presidential debates little attention was paid to issues that women voters tune into more than men. Of course, every issue is a “woman’s issue,” but things like equal pay, reproductive rights, paid family leave and health insurance got short shrift. You want our votes, tell us what you’re going to do for us — other than leave some canned goods at the doorstep.
I know it’s hard for politicians and many in the media to get their heads around the fact that it is possible to embrace motherhood and all the rest of our lives, including being focused on the issues important to us and our families. But the fact of the matter is this — our interest in the world becomes super-charged when we have kids. All of a sudden the ante is upped because of our children, and we take our voting, campaigning and political giving responsibilities seriously.
Don’t call us soccer moms or mama grizzlies. Leave your Walmart mom label and your waitress mom put-downs at the door. You’ve got a couple of days to get it right, because there are plenty of moms left to persuade — if you know how to reach them.
Want a quick primer on why you should be concerned about the “mom vote?” You’re in luck, because my book, Mothers of Intention: How Women and Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America, is just out in Kindle form!