Katz on Sexism and Motherhood in Politics

Comptroller candidate Melinda Katz, the only woman running for a citywide office this year, debuted on Huffington Post yesterday (Mother’s Day) to write about running for office as a woman and single mother.

The piece addresses criticism she's received and preempts questions she's likely to get as the campaign proceeds. It doesn't make many points that haven't been made, but it's probably a decent window into how she will approach inquiries into her personal life.

If I have to bring Carter with me — to an event, to City Hall for an emergency session — do I have to think twice about being accused of using him as a political prop, or do I decide to take whatever comes because I need to do what's best for my kid? Do I heed the advice of political consultants who tell me I should mention being a mother as much as possible? Having conceived through in vitro fertilization, do I answer personal questions from reporters who ask about Carter's parentage? Regardless of whether I answer or choose not to, I run the risk of having my answer become politicized.

I have no illusions about the double-standard women face when they run for elected office, and I chose my career — and, more recently, to run for the position of NYC Comptroller — in spite of that. Male politicians, after all, never get asked if their familial commitments take away from their ability to do their job. And they rarely get scrutinized for using photos of their family on their website. I, however, face this all the time. And as much as I harbor hope that my son grows up in a world where that bias melts away, I'm a pragmatist and I'm well aware of the advantages that being a woman can bring.

Katz on Sexism and Motherhood in Politics