I signed this petition (actually, I was one of the first) because it raises a point that is very important:
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.
And that this choice to address men over women is particularly problematic for many reasons—not the least being that for a number of the women in this country who both support Obama and choose to identify as the wives-mothers-and-daughters of men, not all of those men support Obama and his policies in the first place. Which means that for these women, Obama is talking over his supporters in order to address people who do not support him now and never have…
But one of the many problems with this is that this attempt at a bi-partisan reach across the aisle to opponents doesn’t work. No matter how much Obama tries to link his policies with a better life for daughter-wife-mother-sister Ana Mardoll, my father and my husband and my step-son and my brother are not going to support Obama. They’re not going to write their congresspersons and senators to ask them to support the Violence Against Women Act based on a sudden realization that violence against women affects all women, including their dear daughter-wife-mother-sister Ana….
President Obama doesn’t seem to understand or care that when he ignores and invisibles me in an attempt to appeal to my father, my brother, my husband, and my step-son to support his policies on the grounds that those policies benefit their beloved Ana, they aren’t listening to him. They don’t accept his framing that those policies help me and people like me; they instead assume that his attempt to link his policies to the actual woman in their actual life is merely manipulative, an attempt to redirect their feelings about me towards his politics and policies. Obama doesn’t seem to understand or care that talking over his supporters—women like me—in order to address the unsympathetic men in their lives actively alienates women without earning him a single new supporter.
In effect, he’s ignoring me in order to address men who ignore him in turn.
One of the dumbest things Obama has done throughout his term is shit all over his supporters in a foolish attempt to reconcile people who have severe disagreements (his equating polluters with environmentalists still pisses me off).
Once in a while, you should dance with the dame that brung ya.
So to speak.
Please sign the petition.