President Obama delivered the State of the Union address last night, and it was a pretty standard Obama speech—well-delivered, easy to listen to, moving in parts, infuriating in others. (Video and audio available here. Transcript available here.) A highlight for me was his talking about science and innovation (3-D PRINTERS!), which upon consideration is a little depressing, because that really shouldn't be a highlight. It's indicative of how low the bar has been set by rightwing anti-intellectualism that hearing the President speak about funding science is exciting.
Obama did not mention bi-national same-sex couples in his piece on immigration reform, but he did explicitly mention gay families in regard to military benefits.
And I realize I'm the brokest of all the records, but once again the President has failed to give even passing mention to reproductive rights. A comprehensive war on agency that seeks to undermine the autonomous humanity of half the population warrants mention in the State of the Union address. We are part of the union, dammit.
Though, once more, I will also note that the President's favorite rhetorical device does not seem to indicate he understands that: "We know our economy is stronger when our wives, mothers, and daughters can live their lives free from discrimination in the workplace, and free from the fear of domestic violence."
That framing is garbage. It is reductive, it is misogynist, it is alienating, it defines women by their relationships to other people, it suggests that Obama is speaking to The Men of America about their "wives, mothers, and daughters" and not speaking to those wives, mothers, daughters, and any women who are none of those things and/or do not define themselves that way.
It is infuriating to continually hear my President use that framing.
To that end, I have started a petition at the White House's We the People website, petitioning the Obama administration to stop using the "wives, mothers, & daughters" rhetorical frame that defines women by their relationships to other people.
In his 2013 State of the Union address, President Obama said: "We know our economy is stronger when our wives, mothers, and daughters can live their lives free from discrimination in the workplace and free from the fear of domestic violence."We now have 30 days to get 100,000 signatures in order for the petition to be reviewed by the White House. Sign the petition. Pass it on. Share it on social media. Email it to feminist friends. WORK THOSE TEASPOONS.
This "our wives, mothers, and daughters" phrase is one he routinely employs, but it is counterproductive to the women's equality the President is ostensibly supporting.
Defining women by their relationships to other people is reductive, misogynist, and alienating to women who do not define ourselves exclusively by our relationships to others. Further, by referring to "our" wives et al, the President appears to be talking to The Men of America about Their Women, rather than talking to men AND women.
Please embrace inclusive language, Mr. President.