The New Statesman magazine ran a particularly unenlightened front page last week, even by its standards.
An image of female politicians gathered around a ballot box inside a baby’s cot was headlined, “The motherhood trap.” The implication was that the women had replaced their “traditional” focus of babies with politics.
The article wasn’t all bad. It pointed out that women still tend to take more responsibility for childcare than men. It argued that this makes it harder for women to do certain jobs.
Unfortunately pundits and politicians use any focus on women as mothers to reinforce old stereotypes. And whether or not male politicians are fathers never comes up in the same way.
Labour MP Helen Goodman took the focus on motherhood to a new level. “I am a mum,” she said last week. “That’s why I’m backing Yvette Cooper to be the next leader of the Labour Party.”
Goodman claimed Cooper “understands the pressures on modern family life”.
The Tories’ welfare bill will pile more “pressures” onto working class people and force many into poverty. Yet Cooper refused to vote against these attacks.
MPs talk up the family when it suits them. They want us to believe they are just like us.
But wealthy politicians don’t face the same “pressures” as working class people. That’s why they can back cuts to make our lives harder.