Wendy Davis' Daughters: Our Mom Did a Great Job 

What Women Really Think
Jan. 28 2014 3:34 PM

Wendy Davis' Daughters: Our Mom Did a Great Job 

Wendy Davis' daughters reject the claim that their mother was a bad mother.

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

With the increase in female faces on the campaign trail, it was probably inevitable: The "mommy wars" have come to politics. After Wayne Slater of the Dallas Morning News published a provocative piece intimating that Democratic candidate for Texas governor Wendy Davis was a gold-digger, self-selected expert on good mommyhood Bristol Palin took the bait. Working herself into full-blown sanctimommy mode on Friday, Palin accused fellow teen mother Wendy Davis of being a terrible mother because her ex-husband, Jeff Davis, appears to have contributed more to child care than is standard for American fathers. Palin wrote:

Is everyone paying attention? This woman is the hero of the Left? A woman whose ambition and ego were so big she couldn’t have both a career and kids at the same time.

Did Wendy Davis take her two daughters and drown them in a lake so she could have a highfalutin career as a lady politician, as Palin's phrasing might suggest? No. The basis for the accusation that Wendy Davis rejected motherhood is the discovery that while Davis did spend the majority of their youth living with her daughters full-time—and took care of the older one by herself until the girl was five—the girls did, horrors, stay behind in Texas for a few years while their mom went to law school (and visited reguarly). And after the Davises divorced, Jeff Davis got primary custody of the one teenage daughter still living at home. Next we'll find out that they occasionally hired babysitters, those horrible neglectful monsters. 

Gosh, children are sooo inconvenient, huh? I’m glad my mother didn’t put motherhood on the shelf when she was elected to City Council, then became our mayor, then Governor. Oh sorry – I mentioned my mother. … Have you liberals gone into a tail spin of hate already? Did I lose you?

While this sort of nonsense is better housed on Facebook than injected into the supposedly serious world of politics, the "bad mommy" narrative has gotten to the point where Davis' daughters have entered into the conversation. In an open letter mailed to journalists, Dru and Amber Davis assured the public that while their family may have been slightly untraditional, they were not harmed by having a human male pack their school lunches and tuck them into bed. "She never missed a school performance or a parent-teacher conference," Dru wrote, adding that her mother was her Brownie troop leader. Amber directly defended the choice to have the girls live with their father instead of their mother during the Harvard years: "Dru and I lived with her the first semester but our parents soon realized that it would be better if we stayed in our childhood home in Texas, be around extended family and attend our regular schools."  

The Davis daughters appear to be unharmed by having their father as a primary caregiver for some years, but sadly that fact will likely not quell the carping about Wendy Davis's personal choices. The mommy wars aren't about children. Children are mere props used to advance the real purpose of the mommy wars: enforcing traditional gender roles and posturing about who is the champion at being a woman. Meanwhile, it continues to be impossible to imagine a single male politician ever being castigated because he spent some time away from family to advance his career. 

Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based writer and DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, AlterNet, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter.


Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.


Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.