The Democratic National Convention Committee announced today that actress Eva Longoria, a co-chair of President Obama’s re-election campaign, will be just one women on a significant list of female speakers at the Democratic National Convention next month. Others include activist Sandra Fluke, equal pay pioneer Lilly Ledbetter, and Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards. Sounds like a red-letter day for progressive women! The Democratic party is making women’s issues and advocates a major part of this marquee event, which officially kicks off the presidential campaign season. Enter Gloria Steinem and some local chapters of the National Organization for Women, who are outraged. Sigh. OK, go ahead, tell us why.
Apparently, organizers are requiring that children at the convention have credentials in order to be allowed on the floor with their parents. Also, the DNC is not providing childcare. “Moms with young children 6 years of age and under who cannot be left at home, some of whom are breastfeeding, are relegated to second-class status within the Democratic Convention, unable to participate as a delegate due to antiquated policies and inadequate accommodations that were apparently in place before Women’s suffrage,” delegate Susie Shannon tells Politico.
“The DNC requires children and babies to have a credential to enter the Convention, and then denies these credential requests from moms,” the president of the Hollywood chapter of NOW, Lindsey Horvath, adds. “The DNC credentialing process is being used as a tool to prevent mothers from participating at the Convention and is nothing short of discriminatory.”
Cut to Barack Obama in his secret lair, stroking a white cat and cackling, “Finally, my plan to banish all mothers from the convention is in place! The entire world has been fooled by my consistent effort to make progress on women’s issues, starting with the fact that just about my first act in office was to sign the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, then making workplace breastfeeding accommodations required by law, and continuing right through to making all of these issues a central part of the convention next month! Little do they know that my REAL goal was to make sure not a single mother attends the convention! MUA HA HA!”
Well, either that or, as DNCC spokeswoman Joanne Peters tells Politico: “Democratic conventions have historically required credentials for all individuals to access the convention hall to ensure the safety and security of all attending.” Oh, and by the way, the convention rules require each state delegation to include 50% women. Also, all convention venues will offer lactation centers for nursing mothers.
What Peters didn’t say, but I will: Is there a reason anyone would need to take a child who has finished nursing onto the convention floor with them? Does literally every single space in American life need to provide free childcare? Assuming that attending the convention at all requires a certain amount of resources — plane ticket, hotel rooms, free time — is it really so much to ask that parents also arrange for their kids to be cared for? And if you care about the progressive slate of women’s issues, is the DNC really your problem?