Hey, all of you unmarried, child-free women: it’s not your imagination that you’re getting dumped on by everyone who leaves the office by 3:30 every afternoon to chauffeur their children in the the after-school soccer/ballet/piano lessons dash across town. Governor of Pennsylvania Ed Rendell suggested before a live mike this week that Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano is perfect for the job of Homeland Security Secretary because she has “no life” because she has “no family” and “can devote, literally, nineteen, twenty hours a day” to her new job! What a lucky duckie.
Aside: one of my best friends is a critical care physician who is the only unmarried, child-free person on her service. Guess who’s always, always scheduled to work for every holiday? Guess who gets pleading phone calls asking her to pick up a night of call, although her colleagues never reciprocate?
I first found this at The Clutter Museum, whose author has thoughtfully posted the video of Campbell Brown’s takedown of the Guvnah, in which she points out that both Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff have wives and families, and they were never asked how they would balance their families against the job as Homeland Security Secretary. Here’s a fuller explanation of Rendell’s oopsie, and an excerpt from Brown’s commentary:
1. If a man had been Obama’s choice for the job, would having a family or not having a family ever even have been an issue? Would it have ever prompted a comment? Probably not. We all know the assumption tends to be that with a man, there is almost always a wife in the wings managing those family concerns.
3. If you are a childless, single woman with suspicions that you get stuck working holidays, weekends and the more burdensome shifts more often than your colleagues with families, are those suspicions well-founded? Probably so. Is there an assumption that if you’re family-free then you have no life? By some, yes.
2. As a woman, hearing this, it is hard not to wonder if we are counted out for certain jobs, certain opportunities, because we do have a family or because we are in our child-bearing years. Are we? It is a fair question.
I also appreciated the comment Brown made about Napolitano having other qualifications for the job aside from not being married and not having children. Funny how actual skills and experience don’t come up as often as marital status and children do when evaluating women politicians, either favorably or unfavorably.