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The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Newby: Motherhood as means of momentum in political office

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Katin
Protesters gather during the Women’s March on January 20, 2018. Protesters gathered at the Ped Mall listen to speakers and march for female empowerment. (Katina Zentz/The Daily Iowan)

Women have made a historic impact on the last year and a half through platforms such as the #MeToo Movement, Time’s Up, and now — more than ever — in their persistence in running for office. There are record-breaking numbers of women running for office, stepping into position to pioneer a place in politics. And it is astounding.

Not only are more women running for office than ever in this midterm season, but those who are mothers are using their motherhood as a means of qualification rather than allowing voters to see it as an excuse for elimination. For far too long, mothers running for office have been seen as soft, timid, and even weak. But rather, their title as a mother merits them to be seen as even greater in power, patience, and poise as they take on bolder positions.

Since 1992, the acclaimed “Year of the Woman” — when more new women were elected to Congress than ever before — women have climbed and fought their way up the totem pole, and it shows.

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Having been more than a quarter century since the Year of the Woman, women still only make up 1 in 5 elected officials on Capitol Hill. But that by no means is discouraging for the fierce females who have signed up to run for the highest elected offices this election cycle.

As of March, at least 575 women had declared their intention to run for the Senate, the House, or governor, more than ever before. And while campaigning calling for attention, mothers have cradled their children with candor and courage in videos and advertisements.

Two Democratic women running for governor have released campaign videos in which they are filmed breastfeeding their babies — one of them being Kelda Roys, who is running in Wisconsin’s gubernatorial race. In her video, she simply lifts her sweater and lets her fussy 4-month-old nurse as she continues discussing a bill she helped pass in the Wisconsin Legislature. The bill banned BPA, an alleged carcinogen, from baby bottles.

In another, Krish Vignarajah breastfeeds her baby as she discusses her race against Maryland’s Republican governor, Larry Hogan. During the close of her campaign video, she calmly says, “Some say no man can beat Larry Hogan. Well, I’m not man. I’m a mom, I’m a woman, and I want to be your next governor.”

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Not only are women who are running for office embracing their motherhood, but Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., became the first senator to give birth while in office. She has been pressing to change a Senate prohibition that bars children from the floor, which, if the prohibition prevails, could prevent a breastfeeding mother’s vote.

The motivation for these mothers is partially credited to their position as a provider for their families, and they are able to use their motherhood as momentum and even explanation for certain stances they take on policies.

Regardless of political party or passion for policy change, women are embracing motherhood in industries they have been discouraged from doing so in. The strength, passion, and grit these women grip with such purposeful promise fuels the fire of persistence and change.

This midterm season, motherhood is not only momentum for movement in policy change and a seat at the political table, but motherhood is also deeply, overwhelmingly monumental in the wholeness of women’s history — and should continue being championed with encouragement and empowerment as women seek leadership roles.

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About the Contributor
Taylor Newby
Taylor Newby, Opinion Columnist
Email: [email protected]

Taylor Newby is an Opinions columnist at The Daily Iowan. She is a junior at the UI studying journalism with a certificate in critical cultural competence.