Have you heard about the We The People section on thewhitehouse.gov website? It’s a place where anyone can start a petition for anything and as long as it gets 100,000 signatures in a month the White House has to respond to it. Well a few months ago there was a petition for the United States to build a death star. At that time you only needed 25,000 signatures to elicit a response from the White House, and it got 34,435. You can check out the official response here.
The fact that goofy shit like this is taking up the time of the White House staff doesn’t really bother me at all. Sometimes it is nice to not always be focusing on how much our government sucks and take a minute to remember there are nerds everywhere, and 99% of the time they are pretty awesome. But then last week I stumbled upon a different kind of petition. Here is what it says:
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.”
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.
It is titled: Stop using the “wives, mothers, & daughters” rhetorical frame that defines women by their relationships to other people. And this petition only has 2,937 signatures (from my count in the evening on Monday) … in order to get a response from the White House it needs more than 97,000 signatures by March 15, 2013. It kills me that there are not more people signing this petition. It kills me that the death star petition made national news, etc etc and yet no one is talking about how the rhetoric on women needs to change. I hate the way I am discussed at political rallies, stump speeches, inaugurations, and state of the unions. From both sides, from any side, women are pandered to as stereotypes – either the strong single mom or the valiant wife or … whatever.
If you have ever felt ignored or like there is nothing for you to do to change the way the government talks about you, or frustrated that somehow your vagina has put you into a neat little pink box complete with an easy bake oven and a stiff upper lip – sign this petition. Share it on all social networks. Post it on message boards. The more people read this, the more conversation there can be about the problem with the rhetoric about women in this country. And maybe, just maybe the White House will have to respond to it.