Breaking News- Political Wives are not extensions of their husbands!
In our political culture, there is a longstanding tradition of treating political wives as an extension of their politician husbands. This tradition does not exist when a man is married to a female politician. Case in point, the Clintons. How many times has Hillary been targeted, named and shamed for the actions of her husband? Too many times to count. Whereas Bill is never targeted for things his wife does as a politician.
I studied women’s studies and could give you a long feminist analysis of why this tradition exists, but the simple short answer is sexism.
All too often, political wives are treated as nothing more than extensions of their husbands.
As a political wife, I have experienced this on a number of occasions. Here is a particularly cringe-worthy experience from today. I reached out to offer my services for a cause I support and was told that I wasn’t welcome to assist this group because the person heading it doesn’t like my husband.
Their reasoning was that if I helped collect donations for people in need, I would try to give all of the credit to my husband, which would inevitably result in him getting positive press and making him look good.
Apparently this chain of events would devalue the contribution that the group was trying to make to society.
At first I thought this seemingly progressive person from the group must have misunderstood me. This individual who prides themselves on equality and social justice wouldn’t simply view me as a mere extension of my husband—would they?!
So, I reiterated how I was just trying to help out with a cause that this person and I were both passionate about. My involvement would NOT need to be public (or political) and my husband would not be involved.
Or, to be more blunt, that I was my own autonomous human being just trying to do a good deed.
No luck. This person apparently views me as merely an extension of my husband.
When I pointed this out as sexist, they claimed it wasn’t – because they would feel the same way if the politician was female and the spouse was male.
Oh please, I beg to differ.
How is this problematic? Oh let me count the ways!
This person assumes that everything I do, I do for the glory and publicity for my husband. I love M, but I have my own hobbies and passions that have nothing to do with him.
I have been involved with quite a few charities and causes that aren’t public knowledge.
In case you didn’t notice, I don’t control my husband. Although I make my opinion known to him, I don’t have full control over his every decision or the policies of his party.
Newsflash: He doesn’t control me either.
So, here are some things to keep in mind to avoid coming across as a sexist jerk:
- Political wives are independent, separate entities from their husbands.
- Political wives are not responsible for the decisions, actions or choices their husbands make.
- It is not an acceptable excuse to say “this is what they signed up for” when targeting a politician’s family. No one signs up for that. Political spouses have just as much a right to privacy and personal space as anyone else.
Why? Because it’s 2015.