Thursday, October 05, 2006

Okay, Time to Throw My Two Cents In

There's a bit of a blog kerfluffle going on about Iowa Ennui's post on the political Appel family. Key quotes:

You're not going to know my name, but I'm going to run the show

How many jobs and insider tracks into Iowa Democratic politics does this guy need?

. . . .

The State Judicial Nominating Commission on Tuesday announced its three finalists for an upcoming vacancy on the Iowa Supreme Court.
The finalists are: . . . Brent Appel, 54, of Ackworth.

Culver's most trusted advisers have come into his life in a variety of ways. . . Des Moines lawyer Brent Appel, a Culver adviser who ran Sen. Culver's 1980 campaign....

Staci Appel . . . . is running to represent Senate District 37 which consists of Madison County, Warren County and a portion of Dallas County. ...

. . . .

Brent and Staci Appel are like most young parents with four children – busy! Theodore Appel (Teddy to his family) is 7 and loves football and dinosaurs; Jacob is 6 and is also into football as well as cars; Isaac is 3 and can tell you what every tool in the garage is and what it is for; and Olivia, 2, likes Dora the Explorer and playing with her dolls.

It’s a good thing Olivia likes to play with dolls because she might not see her parents very often with this kind of political agenda.

NOTE: the middle sections were quotes from press releases in various news sources about the Appels.

Next, State 29 commented:
Iowa Ennui has a post about Brent and Staci Appel that speaks for itself by the end.

My god, they have four children aged 7 and under. And she's running for the Statehouse? She must really hate being around the kids.

Then, Simplicity (formerly Bob) reacted:
State29 is so irrelevant based on his hatred of all things female and non-white (did I mention poor?) that I don't read him. It's just upsetting to me that in this day and age, someone who purports his opinions to be valid could be looked at as legitimate. He's a caricature.

Enter Iowa Ennui. She's pretty smart. Even when I disagree with her, I think she's presented her case in a fairly respectful manner. Until today.

Why do I mention these two in the same post?

Today Iowa Ennui suggested that a woman (and her husband) care more about a political "agenda" than they do their own small children. Of course, State backed that up with a few hallelujahs, because we already KNOW it's a PROVEN FACT that women should not be elected to office. When women even step a foot outside their own kitchen, it is considered a cardinal sin, at least in the Bible of State. Lest they be called a "C". Of course, State not only gave her props, he posted his even more disrespectful post. Who would have guessed.
. . .
I am so surprised at the absolute misogyny of Ennui's post that I felt I had to try to rebut, as feeble of an attempt as it is. I wonder if the assumption that women are crappy moms when they attempt to run for public office can be equally applied to men. I wonder if that opinion is so ingrained in the minds of the right that they don't even realize how sexist it is.

State responds:
Apparently, you can't hold an opinion on the matter without being labelled as somebody who hates women.

From Bobagain's post:
I envy this woman. I think she's a better mom because of what she's doing.

No, she's not.

A better mom = not being around the kids?

A better mom means putting her political agenda or aspirations ahead of her children's earliest years?

A better mom means hiring nannies or warehousing them in daycare?

A better mom means a revolving door of young and underpaid hired help in the house?

A better mom means that the first time she sees her kids at the end of the day, it's after they've gone to sleep?

When a kid gets sick in the spring, is State Senator Mommy going to stay home and care for them? Or is lawyer daddy with all his billable hours and unflexible schedule going to stay home?

If you have the means, why wouldn't one of the parents stay home with the kids?

Can't it wait another 10 or 15 years when the kids are into high school or college? By then, they'd really be proud of mom achieving her goals and would appreciate it more. Wouldn't they? And wouldn't she?

And what's more important for kids? A parent being around, or a parent being gone?

Those of you with kids, why don't you try telling any child aged 7 or younger that mommy is going to be gone all day and probably most of the evening for several months of the year? Those kids will be pissed off. I guarantee it.

And it doesn't matter the political party involved here. I've bashed Jim Nussle repeatedly in the past for moving to DC, pulling a Newt Gingrich, and replacing Wife 1.0 with Wife 2.0. I think that's wrong, too.

The Political Madman comments:
She mischaracterizes the previous post a bit, saying "Today Iowa Ennui suggested that a woman (and her husband) care more about a political "agenda" than they do their own small children." I think that's a bit too much. She also suggests that the whole conversation is misogynistic.

I don't think it is. Don't get me wrong, I'm not accusing the Appels of neglecting their children. But when two parents are trying to balance nomination for a seat on the Iowa Supreme Court, a law practice, a campaign for state senate, and four children that have yet to reach the third grade, I think it's fair to ask "Is this really going to work?"

Am I a misogynist for thinking that?

Okay, so here's my opinion:

It is not inherently misogynistic to be concerned about the amount of time that a couple spends with their small children. Misogyny (in a loose sense, not meaning the hatred of women but the stereotyping thereof) enters into the picture when one automatically looks at the woman as the culprit and questions her ability to mother while working, because obviously the kids should come first. Inherent in this attitude is a concurrent presumption that the father's work is either more important or somehow more valuable than the time that he spends with said kiddies, and a conspicuous lack of questioning his ability to father.

In reviewing the postings to date, I don't find Iowa Ennui's piece to be misogynistic or sexist. She doesn't focus on the woman as the one who is neglectful, but the couple as a whole. State, however, does cross the line with his first post. She hates the kids? If that's the case, what's his busy schedule - just another way to say "I love you?" He pulls it back a bit with the second post. Yes, he still lists a bunch of things that are focused on her, but he does wrap it up by saying his concerns are about the two of them equally.

In case you're wondering, I am aware that there's a whole issue of money involved with any decision about who should spend time with the kids. I am also aware that it appears that his career is far more financially lucrative. But don't you think that's more a private economic matter for the two of them (and perhaps their financial counselor if they have one) to work out? I don't think it's any defense to claim "but that's why I presumed she was neglectful and not him - of course he can't stay home." Might I suggest that, with a little creative accounting, he should consider stepping aside for a while to give her a shot? Either way, it's not relevant to the greater issue.

So, to answer the Madman's question: no, you're not misogynistic, in my opinion. Neither is Bob out of line by pointing out the sexist assumptions that are inherent with pointing the finger at the wife. State skirts the line, as he's so fond of doing, but I think a close reading of his second post shows that while he's critical of her for seeking the office, he's not presuming she should necessarily be the one to give ground in her career.

Side note: am I right in finding the word "misogynist" has different connotations from "sexist"? One to me implies active hatred, while the other connotes simple prejudice or stereotyping.


'Course, then there's this post on Leo's Stuff:

Not that I'm one to cause trouble or anything . . .

No comments: