Women are the ones candidates want. More precisely, mothers are the swing voters that presidential candidates try to woo every four years. Political wonks always come up with a clever new name for us each election cycle — we’ve been soccer moms, security moms, minivan moms, and Wal-mart moms. For 2012, the favored monikers have been suburban moms and waitress moms.
Some day, politicians and campaigns will get wise and realize that mothers, especially those online, are way too savvy to fall for their tricks of pandering every few years and trying to put us into those now infamous binders!
This is a topic I explored in my book, Mothers of Intention: How Women and Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America. It’s an Amazon best-seller and is just out in E-book form in time for a nice, quick read before Election Day.
Interested? Here’s an excerpt to get you started!
Mothers are political. If you don’t think that’s true, think again.
When children become part of our lives, we’re committed to making the world a better place for them as they grow up. But we live in a culture where mothers are often undervalued and overlooked. So many people assume that once we have children, thoughts of anything unrelated to the care and feeding of kids flees our minds, our political thoughts and goals dismissed. As a result, it’s often difficult for women with children to be considered serious political actors. In the age of the “mommy wars,” mothers’ opinions frequently are viewed as somehow less worthy of consideration than those so-called experts, or even of women who don’t self-identify as mothers.
The good news for mothers is this — the advent of the online world of the blogosphere and social media is changing that forever.
A commonly shared story among women is that when we become mothers, people stop listening to us at cocktail parties. Even if we were the neighborhood’s most interesting girls in our pre-motherhood days, with lives full of personal and professional accomplishments who made the best small talk in town, many of us discovered that when we brought up the topic of our children, we’d get tuned out by those who assumed we’d chat about nothing bu potty training, pre-school and playgrounds. Often people make the assumption that with the birth or adoption of a child, interesting things get sucked from women’s brains, replaced only by the mundane. I didn’t believe it until I lived it and clearly remember my thought bubble the first time it happened — “You really think I’m less smart or interesting now that I’m a mother?!”
When there is an interest in the voices of women and mothers in the political world, it has largely been when politicians or special interest groups see a particular version of motherhood as a way to frame their own perspectives, rather than engaging in actual discussion or exploring the unique view that mothers bring to the spectrum of political issues.
Politicians wonder — What do the soccer moms want? What are those security moms focused on? In the 2010 mid-term elections, we were talked in terms of being Wal-mart moms and “weary working women.” Elected officials, pollsters, and campaign representatives continue to present neatly packaged talking points aimed at the latest stereotype of motherhood and serve them up as their way to win our votes (and our dollars). But our male-heavy political and media worlds remain, for the most part, distinctly indifferent to actually hearing what women in general, and mothers in particular, have to say about the world they want and how they want to shape it.
Ready to read more? Head on over to get the e-book, or drop me a note if you’d like to purchase a signed copy of Mothers of Intention (I have a few hanging around here somewhere!)