Column

Please Spare Me Male Politicians Complaining About Parenting

As women are being forced out of the workforce, Andrew Yang needs to give credit where it’s due: to his wife

Andrew Yang appears to be just a tad out of touch. The former presidential candidate and current New York City mayoral hopeful really stepped in it on Monday when he expressed incredulity about parenting while stuck in a two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan. “Can you imagine trying to have two kids on virtual school in a two-bedroom apartment and then trying to do work yourself?” Yang said to the New York Times, Actually yes, Andrew, a lot of us can imagine it! We might even have been living it for the past year.

Yang, who has spent the better part of the past few months at his second home in upstate New York, drew well-deserved ire over his tone-deafness — as well as the fact that he’s running to take charge of a city he largely hasn’t lived in during its most difficult time.

But what struck me most about Yang’s complaint — how difficult it is to care for children during the pandemic — is how misleading it appears to be: Yang has praised his wife for her parenting work in the past and was criticized during his presidential campaign for repeatedly conflating childcare with women’s work and parental leave as something only mothers would want. In other words, it’s probably Yang’s wife, not Yang himself, doing the bulk of the childcare.

And here we have yet another male politician pontificating — or complaining! — about childcare when he appears to not be the one doing the work. It reminded me of when then-presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke made a crack about his wife, Amy, taking care of their children, “sometimes with my help”—a line, by the way, that would have ended the political aspirations of any female candidate: a woman who says she sometimes takes care of her children?

Yes, parenting during Covid-19 has been terrible. For women, in particular, who are losing their jobs at a much higher rate than men, it has been a career killer (largely because of husbands who won’t do their fair share). Childcare has never been a throwaway issue or something that male politicians should feel emboldened to make offhand comments about. But now, especially at a time when it looks like the face of women’s work has changed for decades to come, who is taking care of children and how has become an economic crisis.

So, please, Mr. Yang, before you whine again about how difficult it’s been trying to get work done these past few months, ask your wife how she’s holding up.

Feminist author & columnist. Native NYer, pasta enthusiast.

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