Friday, February 15, 2013

On Framing Women as "Our Wives, Mothers, and Daughters"

Related to my post earlier this week ("The Inventor and 'His Wife'"), Melissa McEwan at Shakesville has started a petition requesting President Obama to stop rhetorically framing women only by their relationships to other people.

For those whom this framing is not self-evidently problematic, Melissa writes:
"Though, once more, I will also note that the President's favorite rhetorical device does not seem to indicate he understands that [women are autonomous human beings]: '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.'

That framing is garbage. It is reductive, it is misogynist, it is alienating, it defines women by their relationships to other people, it suggests that Obama is speaking to The Men of America about their 'wives, mothers, and daughters' and not speaking to those wives, mothers, daughters, and any women who are none of those things and/or do not define themselves that way.

It is infuriating to continually hear my President use that framing.

To that end, I have started a petition at the White House's We the People website, petitioning the Obama administration to stop using the "wives, mothers, & daughters" rhetorical frame that defines women by their relationships to other people."
See also Ana Mardoll, "My Father, My Brother, My Husband, My Son."

In the context of a speech that is presumably addressed to all Americans, it is profoundly alienating for a President to talk about women, rather than to us.

Sign on here.

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