Wednesday, October 04, 2006

What constitutes misogyny?

I've been watching (and to some extent participating) in an interesting conversation today and wanted to bring it to this stage as well.

If you're not familiar with the bios of Brent and Staci Appel (Brent is a lawyer, potential nominee for the Iowa Supreme Court and an adviser to Culver, Staci is a former financial consultant and candidate for State Senate), you can check out this post from Iowa Ennui that lays it out in more detail.

Here's where it gets interesting. On top of having the loads of responsibilities listed above, the Appels have four children, aged 2, 3, 6 and 7. Ennui raises an interesting question: With two rather heavy political agendas in the same family, where are they finding the time to raise four young children? (It's also worth noting that Brent will be 70 when his youngest graduates from high school, far beyond what I'd consider to be my "parenting years," but it's not related to the point.)

At this point, Stefanie enters the debate. She mischaracterizes the previous post a bit, saying "Today Iowa Ennui suggested that a woman (and her husband) care more about a political "agenda" than they do their own small children." I think that's a bit too much. She also suggests that the whole conversation is misogynistic.

I don't think it is. Don't get me wrong, I'm not accusing the Appels of neglecting their children. But when two parents are trying to balance nomination for a seat on the Iowa Supreme Court, a law practice, a campaign for state senate, and four children that have yet to reach the third grade, I think it's fair to ask "Is this really going to work?"

Am I a misogynist for thinking that?



mwd said...

Just some random musings on your post . . .

Misogyny? I wouldn't think so, since the term means a hatred, dislike, or suspicion of women.

I think the quality of parenting is not something that is easily quantifiable. Just because A spends 15 hours/day directly supervising his/her children does not necessarily imply "better" parenting or a "better" family environment than "B" spending 8 hours/day directly supervising.

We raised two kids, 22 months apart, in a 2 working-parent family, where mom was in law enforcement and I had a demanding managerial position. It worked. Is that necessarily less demanding than four kids and two careers? -- probably not that much.

Additionally, probably a more actual quantifiable measure would be family income . . . the stresses on a lower income family with 4 kids and two wage earners are probably much greater than that on a higher income family with 4 kids and two wage earners.

And neither of those quantifiable factors (time and income) probably matter nearly as much as parental personality and their relationship with one another.

Bob said...

But this is NEVER an issue for men running for office. EVER.
Why not?

From Right to Left said...

I am not sure if it makes you a mysogynist, but it is none of your business. Unless you have evidence of neglect, busy lives do not make people bad parents. In fact, busy parents, who still find time for their children, often make wonderful examples for them. They probably just spend less time with the TV, idle gossip, and random hobbies then you or others do.

The bottom line, is that it is none of your business and your prying is incredibly rude. This is the kind of thing one sees in trashy tabloids. Usually your blog is above this sort of unbecoming gossip.

KL Snow said...

In one regard you're right. This isn't a subject matter I would have brought up on my own. But once State, IE and Stef have brough it up, it's safe to assume most of my readers have already seen it. I don't intend to make this space into a gossip column.

Once the discussion was going on, though, I found the deeper concept intriguing and felt I should weigh in and invite others to do so.

My apologies if you were offended by my decision to do so.


mwd said...

Plus, according to the cited post, Ms. Appel is a full-time mother who is running for the State Senate. Is being a State Senator a full-time job?

Anyway, Bob has a point. Probably wouldn't have an "issue" if the roles were reversed.

Misogynist? Nah. But I could characterize it as chauvinistic. No offense intended.

Anonymous said...

It is the jobs the parents are working that somehow make the situation un-workable?

If they were both working at Wal-Mart and maybe on weekends delivering pizza and waiting on tables at a diner just to make ends meet would you question the parents work schedule along with them having four children?

Obviously it works for the Appels. Who else is it supposed to work for?

And no, I don't think your musing equates misogyny. You didn't call Staci a bad mother for wanting to look beyond being a stay at home mother. That would equate misogyny.

Anonymous said...

Being a state rep from Des Moines is a much different matter than being from Ft. Madison or Souix City.

You're home every night (though often late). You can make a couple hours of downtime during the week into some quality time. You can react to family emergencies. Your district is going to be smaller, so no hour-long drives to small town Rotary meetings...

Plus, my bet is that they're rich enough for "help."

Bob said...

Why are we posting this on your blog and not mine?
The reason I site misogyny is because of the tone of this quote from IE regarding Olivia stating that she likes to play with dolls:

"It’s a good thing Olivia likes to play with dolls because she might not see her parents very often with this kind of political agenda."

And then this from State:

"Iowa Ennui has a post about Brent and Staci Appel that speaks for itself by the end.

My god, they have four children aged 7 and under. And she's running for the Statehouse? She must really hate being around the kids."

KL Snow said...

Let's leave State out of this, because I'm not saying he's not misogynistic. He's that and worse.

We're posting on my blog now cause this is where I had the ability to cross-promote our discussion. :-)

Unless I'm mistaken, the biggest word you may have a problem with is "agenda." And I agree, it has a negative connotation. If we replaced it with "ambition," or "activity," would you still have a problem with it?

Bob said...

My answer here:

Anonymous said...

You could think of it this way, that by being in politics the parents are protecting their children and their future. No doubt they have a big support network of family and friends to help them. People who are committed to public life like this are often people who care about others. It looks like that family is committed to equality and would be unlikely to do something to harm their children. I doubt that the children are neglected or unhappy. mwd is right to say that parenting is not easily quantifiable.

Anonymous said...

She has four kids now and is also seven months pregnant.

Luckily she has full-time help. Soon she'll need a wet nurse.

From USA Today 10/10.

"“It's a lot of work,” says Appel, who campaigns seven days a week and adds that it would be even more difficult if she didn't have full-time help at home and a husband who pitches in. “I think that would be extremely hard for a number of women not in my same circumstances.”"

Anonymous said...

Women should be housewives and never leave home. They should cook, clean, have sex and raise the children.