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Democratic presidential hopeful former U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) talks with his children during a campaign rally on March 30, 2019 in El Paso, Texas. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Double standard

It’s time to start scrutinizing the parenting styles of male presidential candidates

April 16, 2019

Why are the parenting styles and strategies of the six women currently running for president being scrutinized? That’s the question raised by New York magazine writer-at-large Rebecca Traister.

The burden placed on women politicians to reassure voters that their political duties don’t interfere with their domestic ones is both unreasonable and unfair, writes Traister. But so long as we’re examining how female leaders parent, perhaps we should flip the script and examine how male politicians stack up as fathers.

We could start with Texas representative Beto O’Rourke, who, during the early days of his campaign, repeatedly joked that his wife, Amy, cares for their three children, “sometimes with my help.” After losing his race for Senate to Ted Cruz, he took a solo road trip during which he posted journal entries on Medium recalling being disappointed that his wife was “distracted” by the children and seeking out human connection in a bar instead. O’Rourke’s eight-year-old son has also been overhead saying that he would “cry all day” if his dad ran for president.

What woman candidate could possibly survive, Traister wonders, if her child publicly remonstrated her for abandoning her parental duties in favor of her political career? How would the story have played differently, she asks, if it were a woman who wrote about seeking company in a bar while her husband was at home looking after the kids?

In his book The Audacity of Hope, Barack Obama acknowledged that when he ran for Congress in 2000, Michelle Obama’s “anger at me seemed barely contained” after she was left to care for their two young children by herself. But Obama faced no criticism for leaving the parenting to his wife, even as he authored a book centered on his desire for connection with his own father. Bernie Sanders, too, has escaped scrutiny over his distant relationship with his son, Levi. And Donald Trump’s failings as a father have been similarly ignored. Women candidates, Traister concludes, don’t get that luxury.

Read the full story at New York.


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