I’m told, as a housewife and stay-at-home mom, the contribution I make to our family is invaluable and irreplaceable.
I’m told, as a housewife and stay-at-home mom, the market value of my in-home services (accountant, chauffeur, tutor, housekeeper, nurse, personal shopper, general maintenance, etc.) is incalculable.
Recently, I’ve also been told, as a housewife and stay-at-home mom, I shouldn’t speak on politics and should just post photos of my cute babies on Facebook instead.
Suffragette cartoons capture the predicament of many housewives and stay-at-home moms today.How can a woman be so overwhelmingly qualified to manage a household and form the hearts of our next generation, and yet, simultaneously, disqualified from holding an informed political opinion?
Why am I uniquely entrusted to manage my children’s diverse and complicated healthcare needs, and yet silenced, when I talk about how our country could improve healthcare affordability and accessibility?
Why am I empowered to be the primary parent in my children’s education, and yet also informed that these issues, on a national scale, are more complicated than I could possibly begin to understand?
If intelligence, capability, and experience are not the source for why a housewife should avoid politics, perhaps it’s a concern of etiquette.
Political speak just doesn’t look good on a woman. (Mudslinging, and such, could stain your tunic.)
Thankfully, Pope Saint John Paul II did not limit a woman’s role in politics to silent observer. Moreover, he taught that political advocacy is an important role for all people.
St. JPII’s apostolic exhortation, “Christifideles Laici,” explores “the growing need for participation regarding women… not only in areas of family and academic life, but also in cultural, economic, social and political areas.”
Should women only speak on political issues of a family nature? What does that even mean? How is every issue not a family issue? Why would a person’s ability to articulate an informed political opinion on any topic be limited by gender? (To that point, it certainly has not excluded men from speaking on women’s healthcare – arguably, nor should it.)
No matter the issue – education, healthcare, criminal justice, taxes, equality, international relations – these are not men’s or women’s issues. These are people issues, and it only makes sense to involve all people.
Some might call women to focus single-mindedly on nursing babies and making dinner, on the needs of her family. But political dialogue is not a distraction from the roles and responsibility of a wife or mother; it is an integral part of our calling as laity, men and women alike:
"The lay faithful are never to relinquish their participation in public life, that is, in the many different economic, social, legislative, administrative and cultural areas, which are intended to promote organically and institutionally the common good." – Christifideles Laici
If you’re ready to participate in politics, as part of our lay calling in the Church, but are unsure where to begin, Pope Saint John Paul II included a specific exhortation in “Christifideles Laici,” asking us advocate for fundamental life issues as defined by the Second Vatican Council:
“All offences against life itself, such as every kind of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia and willful suicide; all violations of the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, physical and mental torture, undue psychological pressures; all offences against human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children, degrading working conditions where men are treated as mere tools for profit rather than free and responsible persons; all these and the like are certainly criminal: they poison human society; and they do more harm to those who practice them than those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are a supreme dishonor to the Creator.”
Whatever our state in laity, men or women, single or married, we are called to political action toward a culture of life ensuring justice for all.
This political involvement might be participation in a march or rally, emails and calls to your representatives, teaching our children about justice and politics, sharing personal research, social media dialogue, passing out flyers, joining a political organization, financial support for a politician or lobbying organization, or chatting with other parents at the bus stop. (Nota bene: political action does not replace the equal necessity of personal action in working toward a just society.)
To housewives and mothers, specifically: the same voice that calms our babies, instructs our children, and defends our families has an irreplaceable role in civic dialogue at every level, speaking not just for the good of our families, but the good of all. Our world needs your voice.