Isn’t this absolutely stunning. This lovely little poll is currently featured by US. News & World Reports. No matter the accomplishments that these individual women have had, we are still determined to tie them to their biology and enforce gender performativity. There are many men across different professions who manage to work and yet somehow they never have their role as fathers connected to their job performance. This is patriarchy in action folks.
We are meant to view biological determinism as natural after all, these women are mothers, but the fact remains that because there is no equivalent male example presented in this little poll, it is highly gendered and sexist. Can you even imagine if they had done this bobble head nonsense with Barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel, Joe Biden and Robert Gates? Naaah men are for hunting and gathering, they do serious work; it certainly would not be relevant to tie them to their biological capabilities. Had this little display involved men it would have been considered emasculating.
If we truly valued the work that women do in child care and nurturing perhaps this gendered insult would not carry such a sting however, despite the demands, stress, and patience, that working in the child care field involves, it is extremely devalued. It is devalued world wide because we do not count womens work as labour. It is expected to be freely given because we believe that biology is destiny. To normalize biological determinism we fail continually to endow families with the tools that they need to balance the responsibilities between the public and the private sphere.
When women break down from the inevitable double day they are told that they are fools for trying to flout nature. It is not natural that we have divided labour in such a way that the male always receives privilege. Our work is forever considered a labour of love and biology; whereas men supposedly perform necessary functions for the maintenance of society. Until we reach a point where we can socially decide that children are the responsibility of both parents, women will continue to function at a disadvantage in any career that they choose to embark upon.
Working with children can be fulfilling for some, but it is not a profession that lends itself to every single personality. Even if one is a mother, caring for other children is still not something that may be enjoyable. I know that I love my sons but his little rude friends, not so much. Having given birth twice does not mean that the entire focus of my life is my children. I value my boys, they are a significant part of my world and yet I know that I have so much more to offer. Women don’t fall behind because of a lack of ambition but because of a lack of opportunities. We are forced into the impossible situation of continually having to choose between our families and our careers, while no such pressure is applied to men. Bill Clinton was a working father and yet there was no supposition that he would be unable to perform as the president and raise his daughter, yet when Sarah Palin ran for office, the media constantly questioned whether she would be able to work as vice president and raise her family.
We have been told that differences between men and women are naturally occurring yet we continually discipline and shape social discourse to reify difference. Every time we buy a little girl a doll with a kitchen set and forget to give her microscope, a doctors kit, or a truck, we are telling her that her main role in life is to reproduce? When young girls consume media and continually see their potential role models denigrated for being women, what does it teach them but that their second class status is natural?
If we can construct a society that unfairly promotes men and masculinity, we can create one in which all bodies truly matter. Though we have been told that we live in a post feminist world, our promotion of biological determinism clearly proves that women are still an exploited other. We cannot be post anything as long as real barriers still exist to accessing and wielding power.