Women Candidates as “Mommies” and “Cleaners”?

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The title of this NYT article had promise, “Women Wage Key Campaigns for Democrats” but it was downhill from the very first sentence:

“If the Democrats have their way, the 2006 Congressional elections will be the revenge of the mommy party.”

Later in the piece the author parenthetically explains: “Republicans profess to be unworried about the new wave of female candidates for what is often described, sometimes disparagingly, as the “mommy party.” (Supposedly, in the shorthand of political positioning, Democrats are more concerned with nurturing, caring and domestic policy, while the Republicans care more about security.)”

Supposedly? According to whom? Could NYT columnists like Maureen Dowd have had anything to do with this “shorthand”? What exactly does it mean? Why is nurturing and caring the opposite of “security”?

If being essentialized as “mommies” by the NYT isn’t enough for female political candidates to endure, they have the added burden of being othered and outsidered as the “clean” gender by Democratic leadership, to wit:

“In an environment where people are disgusted with politics in general, who represents clean and change?” asks Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “Women.”

and

“Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster working for three female House candidates this year, said, “If you want to communicate change, honesty, cleaning up Washington, not the same old good old boys in Washington, women are very good at communicating that.””

Nice to know the Democratic Party is finding women useful.

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