"A grandmother as president? Come on! Seriously?"
It was bound to happen sooner or later. Someone mentioned that Hillary Rodham Clinton was going to become a grandmother this year and the detrimental remarks were being made. I was at a black-tie affair with my husband and unfortunately, had to overhear the above remarks from a man in his 30s who obviously thought being a grandparent meant that a person's personal and professional lives were over.
Disregarding my husband's "don't-say-anything-let's-just-walk-away" look, I turned around to Mr. Mouth and asked him what being a mother, wife, or grandmother had to do with being president? He was surprised at my question.
"Well, she'd be more interested in the baby than running the country, right? I mean that's what women do. They pretty much give up everything else when they become grandmothers. It's a female hormonal thing."
Right, sure. Female hormonal gets us every time and makes us suspect in the eyes of the "experts" on what we can and can't do.
Truthfully, the experts don't have to be male. Some women have also taken the misguided stance that grandmotherhood will make Hillary less capable of running a country. Linda Feldmann, staff reporter for The Christian Monitor wrote this in her piece on the announcement of the impending grandmotherhood: "If we had to guess, we'd say that Hillary Clinton will be a tad less interested in running for president now that she's about to be a grandmother."
Excuse me, but am I missing something here? Why should her becoming a grandmother change her political goal? Certainly, no one would think to play the grandparent card adversely with a male candidate. If anything is mentioned at all about a man running for office who is a grandfather, it is always mentioned in positive political statements. "A strong man, a man of courage and conviction, a loving husband, father, and grandfather." No mention being made that perhaps he will be a "tad less" interested in running for president now that he's a grandfather.
The Washington Monthly, in an article titled, "Nana for President" written by Haley Sweetland Edwards, made this statement: "She will also likely provoke a national water cooler debate, as no male candidate would, over whether she is too involved in her grandchild's life, or, more likely, not involved enough" and posed this question that people may ask, "How can she have time to be a good grandmother when she's out running for president?"
I seriously doubt that anyone would ask this question concerning a male candidate. Mitt Romney was surrounded by grandkids during his presidential run and no one ever ventured the question, let alone the thought, that he might not be a good grandfather or was not involved enough in their lives.
Is it Hillary's age combined with the term "grandmother" that may make some pundits speak incorrectly? Being 66 is not old and being a grandparent at that age is normal. However, that age-number seems to define each gender differently. A man may be considered seasoned and still young at that age and the idea that he is a a grandparent seems to afford him a solid trusted image.
But 66, for a woman in the political arena (and other arenas as well), is a different story. Unlike a man, a woman's "shelf-life" seems to be limited when she is described, even in her 60s, as a grandmother. And unfortunately, Americans seem to favor the word "grandma" over grandmother. No matter how many fond memories you may have of your grandmother, the word grandma is a synonym for old lady.
Look at news stories. Whenever a woman of a certain age with grandchildren is headline news, the headline invariably will refer to her as "Grandma." You can win the Nobel Prize for Peace and the headline will read, "Grandma Gets Peace Prize!" Fight off a mugger and even if you are the CEO of a national company, the headline will read, "Grandma Fights Off Attacker." I'm playing this for laughs, but there is a solid grain of truth here.
The idea that being a grandmother somehow must limit a woman's goals in life is unfair and unjust. Especially in 2014, when more older women are healthier, are presidents of companies, lawyers, doctors, etc. To discount their expertise in any area is wrong.
I certainly hope Hillary runs in 2016. It would be good to have a woman with her intelligence and political savvy as the first woman president of the U.S.. Being a grandmother is only one title women have in life and it is a title not a detriment to a personal and professional goal.
© 2014 copyright Kristen Houghton
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