Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Thank You, Michelle: Childless People Have No Stake In The Future



I just finished watching the very moving, very passionate and very emotional DNC speech of Michelle Obama - a mother's plea to vote for the right candidate for the sakes of the children of America. I think the speech was poised to make a double impact - a woman AND a mother making the speech. The metaphor of children that runs through her speech appeals to the deepest emotion in us and only the hard hearted can ignore the strong emotions it evoked. 

She learnt well from the exposure to her husband's speeches in the last 8 years and delivered hers with perfection. She put a great speaker's toolbox to the best use with the right intonation, pauses at the right places, powerful adjectives and an end that can galvanise an entire nation to action! 

Although the applause after her speech hasn't yet died down, I think she put the last nail in the coffin for people with no children. I am not even getting into the recent furore about women who have no children. And the collective voices across the world to support Sania Mirza or Jennifer Aniston's decision of not choosing motherhood...yet! While we stand up against bullying Jennifer, we also shame Theresa May, a senior politician with proven track record, for not having children. She too was reminded that she had no stake in the future and hence wasn't capable of running her country. She was forced to speak about a very private and emotional matter of her maternal status. She was compelled to justify why she cannot be defined by, in Jennifer's words, "(her) maternal status"

But Michelle's appeal to parents at large and reference to herself and Hillary as mothers has yet again proven that childless people continue to be excluded. People who aren't contributing to the future of the country and clearly, have no stake in the future. While her image of a bright future for the children is a great rhetorical device, I strongly believe she just added fuel to the whole parenthood debate. That speech is from one mother appealing to vote for another mother. And I refuse to have anything to do with it since I am not a mother - it doesn’t talk to me. She has just reinforced that only being a parent is worth any while and nothing else is as important. 

She seemed to say - actually pretty much said it - that the future belongs to parents who have the divine duty of nurturing the next generation. I feel like the time of childless people on this planet is over. No matter how much the world erupts in support of people’s rights to decide their parenthood status, there will be these reminders to people with no kids by being left out, of not being the majority (apparently) And when something like this goes down the annals of history from the First Lady of the United States of America, we are far, far away from a time where people can be just people. Not 'parents' and 'not parents'. 

I might be over-reacting. But these are some of the thoughts that I strongly feel after watching the speech. And this post is my way of reaching catharsis and making sense of a melee of emotions - indignation, sadness, sense of injustice - that I've been through watching it. You may choose to agree of disagree but I am hoping, you'll respect my right to express what I feel. 

10 comments:

  1. Very well put Suman, though I haven't heard the speech in details. And I believe that its high time we start doing away with binaries of man/woman, married /unmarried, with child/ childless. Its an individual's choice, decision, compulsion or whatever and not the arena for collective social judgement. Glorifying role of women as mothers and nurturers is I feel just another form of coercive patriarchy.

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    1. Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Nabanita! I was wondering if this was a knee-jerk reaction but I just had to put it out there.

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  2. A very well written post Suman! You nailed it. The hypocrisy is for all to see! Shame on all of them..

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  3. Thanks for touching upon this Suman. Nicely written. I deny the fact that only being a parent doesnt qualify anything . Everyone has rights to vote and decide the future

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    1. Thank you for your support for my sentiments :)

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  4. Very well written suman... I agree with u completely..
    Such words coming from such a powerful woman like Michelle Obama...I'm surprised!

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  5. I have not heard her speech but I can tell you this. In popular fiction and media, motherhood is highly highly over rated! As a mother, I love my child a lot and yes, I would do whatever possible to ensure her happiness and well being. But being a parent is part of my identity and does not define me. Not all decisions one makes can be influenced by one's maternal status.... do your own thing woman...

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    1. I've shared the video of her speech here. Thanks so much for your supporting words, babe! :)

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