The Political Consequences of Motherhood
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: University of Michigan Press
Introduction, About the Author, Title Page, Series Page, Copyright Page, Dedication
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Like many first books, this project began as a dissertation. As a result, I
owe a great many people a debt of gratitude. This seems like a very good place
to thank them.
I am grateful to my teachers and mentors who inspired and challenged me during my undergraduate years at the University of Michigan and during graduate school at the University of California, Berkeley. Don Kinder, Judy...
Chapter 1. Motherhood and Politics
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On May 14, 2010, a primarily female audience gathered in Washington, DC, to listen to former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, speak about the 2010 midterm elections. The group was the Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List), an organization devoted to electing pro-life women to public office. With several female pro-life Republican candidates running in high-profile races that year, the organization’s...
Chapter 2. The Hand that Rocks the Cradle: 1920–1976
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This chapter and the next document a paradox in American political history. Despite shifting gender roles, the onset and end of the second-wave women’s movement, and the increasingly diverse functions that women play in political life since female suffrage in 1920, motherhood has remained a primary way in which presidential candidates frame their appeals to female voters. As women’s modes of political participation and social roles expanded...
Chapter 3. Soccer Moms, Hockey Moms, and Waitress Moms:1980–2008
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The paradox that began to unfold in chapter 2 is further documented in this chapter. In the prior chapter, we saw that despite changes in American culture and institutions that allowed women to adopt numerous roles, motherhood remained a primary way in which women were connected to political discourse; though there was significant variation in the frequency with which campaigns used it. In fact, the arrival of the women’s movement...
Chapter 4. Distinctions: Political Perspectives of Mothers and Nonmothers
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Chapters 2 and 3 demonstrated that throughout the past nine decades, candidates frequently used motherhood as a way to frame political appeals to voters—primarily female voters. While candidates spoke of the virtues of mothers and their needs and fears, some also spoke in more concrete terms about policies believed to be important to mothers. From concerns over war to demands for child care, presidential candidates spoke to women about...
Chapter 5. The “Transformative” Effect of Motherhood
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Presidential candidates used motherhood as a way of connecting with female voters over time. Sometimes their appeals overlapped with issues on which mothers are distinct from nonmothers; at times, their appeals were off-target. Chapter 4 showed that when there are differences among women, mothers take more liberal stances on issues connected to social welfare and more conservative stances on political matters connected to morality than...
Chapter 6. Talking about Motherhood: Common Shifts in Political Thinking
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Political attitudes can change in many ways. They can move directionally, as was seen in chapter 5. They can change in centrality, such that an individual holds the same position on an issue, but that issue becomes much more important. Or, political attitudes may be altered because the arguments or rationales that buttress those beliefs change. This chapter and the subsequent chapter move outside the confines of survey data by using qualitative data (in-person, in-depth interviews with 46 women) to explore other...
Chapter 7. Reasons for Change: How Motherhood Alters Political Attitudes
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In the previous chapter women identified six ways in which motherhood shaped their political views. Changes included increased levels of political awareness and interest, new policy priorities, a displacement of prior political concerns, a new focus on the future, seeing policy issues in concrete terms rather than as abstract ideals, and increased empathy for others. While these shared transformations give us important new insights into the nature of motherhood’s effect on women’s political views, they do not tell us...
Chapter 8. Consequences
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This book began with a story about Sarah Palin. In a speech to conservative women, Palin implied that acting as mothers gave women permission to make political demands and engage in the rough and tumble world of politics. She was not alone in making that assertion. Female activists, political leaders, and presidential candidates have long urged women to engage in political action to protect their own children and the children of the nation. Most recently, as...
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Illustrations: 18 tables
Publication Year: 2014
Series Title: CAWP Series in Gender and Politics