Beto O & Rourke, the former senator of the Texas candidate who announced his presidency on Thursday, has three children. Sometimes he even takes care of them.
The issue of his family came forward Thursday when R & Rourke told a crowd that his wife, Amy Sanders R & R, raised their children "sometimes with my help."
Beto tells a café audience that he has just spoken with his wife Amy. "She's raising, sometimes with my help," their three children. Then he says he will be president for his children and theirs.
– Matt Viser (@mviser) March 14, 2019
The reaction, some said, was intended as self-mockery and recognition of the hard work that Amy R & Rourke did for their family. But despite his intentions, Beto O & Rourke revealed a fundamental inequality of American life: while men throughout history could rely on their wives to provide childcare while fulfilling their political ambitions, women were rarely able to rely on partners count to do the same. And if New York Magazine writer Rebecca Traister pointed out, a woman who joked about being a part-time parent during the campaign track, would be harshly criticized – and would probably see her political career come to an end before it began.
A & # 39; sometimes & # 39; Being older is a luxury that many female candidates do not have
The O & # 39; Rourkes have three children: Henry, 8, Molly, 10 and Ulysses, 12. Their childcare arrangements are not entirely clear (Beto O & # 39; Rourke has not yet responded to Vox & # 39; s request for comment), but R & Rourke has undoubtedly not recently spent his time with his family as he traveled the country to decide whether to run to the president.
"Jack Kerouac style, he roams around, unemployed (doesn't he need a job?) To find himself and find out if he wants to lead the free world," wrote Nia-Malika Henderson on CNN in January, during what she called Beto O & # 39; Rourke & # 39; s "excellent adventure." "This is a luxury that no woman or even minority in politics could ever have."
A reason for a Jack Kerouac-style trip would be difficult for many women: mothers, on average, still spend more time on childcare than fathers. And mothers still face the widespread expectation that they will be the primary caretakers for their children.
A father who jokes that he is a & # 39; sometimes & # 39; is older, may get some criticism on Twitter, but he will also get the laugh of people who are used to seeing mothers as those in charge of children. A mother who makes the same joke – well, she's just a bad mother!
In a recent profile of Joe Hagan's Vanity Fair, Amy O & Rourke objected to Henderson's CNN piece: "I was a bit offended because it implied that I could not support our family." (She is the director of an educational non-profit organization.) The profile contained a number of photos, taken by the famous photographer Annie Leibovitz, from Beto O & Rourke who played music, made pancakes and otherwise hung around with his children. It is also worth noting that Amy R & Rourke comes from a wealthy family, and that she and her husband are able to assist childcare during campaigns.
But the story of Hagan also contained this anecdote of a recent plane trip made by the O & # 39; Rourkes:
Amy was reading To become, by Michelle Obama, the report from the former First Lady absorbing her life processes through a toxic presidential race with her husband. By the time the R & Rs arrived at El Paso International Airport, Amy & # 39; s stomach was in trouble. "She was a little angry with me when we got home," recalls O & # 39; Rourke. "Almost like & # 39; You bastard. & # 39;"
She knew he was running.
Whether it is Michelle Obama or, now, Amy O & Rourke, women have long had to manage the home front while their husbands are campaigning – and those men have been able to focus their energy on politics, knowing that the children are being taken care of.
It is a freedom that many female politicians do not have. Take Liuba Grechen Shirley, a democrat who ran to Congress in New York in 2018 (she did not abandon Republican Pete King, a 25-year-old incumbent). Shirley and her husband, who work full-time, have two young children and Shirley has received approval from the Federal Election Commission to use campaign money to pay for childcare and become the first woman to do this.
"For the first six months of our campaign, I had my kids with me every day until 3:30," she told Vox in November. "I would literally call, I would be at meetings with a baby tied to my chest."
In January she launched Vote Mama, the first political action committee for financing mothers of young children who go to the office.
Meanwhile, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) universal childcare made part of its campaign platform for 2020. R & Rourke has not yet announced its position on childcare.
Childcare responsibility can influence whether women go to the office – the political scientists Jennifer Lawless and Richard Fox have found that women's domestic duties are declining, that their interest in running is increasing (the same is not true of men). It is a relatively minor effect, but as Lawless and Fox point out, household chores can also influence how women run when they decide to do so – they quote Georgia Duerst-Lahti, a scientist in the field of gender politics, who says: " Women can now consider going to the office, but they are probably thinking about it while they make the bed. & # 39;
For many mothers, & # 39; sometimes & # 39; parenting not an option. And although Beto O & Rourke's comment drew attention to everything his wife does to support his campaign, it also recalled the privileges that many male candidates have that women do not have – especially the privilege of a partner who take the lead in caring for your children, and a society that accepts that as normal.