News & Politics

Arizona Democrat Kyrsten Sinema Calls Stay-at-Home Moms 'Leeches'

Aug. 28, 2018, file photo, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, file)

Arizona Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, who is currently running for the Senate, came under fire this week for comments she made in 2006. In an interview with Scottsdale Nightlife Magazine 944, Sinema reportedly called stay-at-home moms leeches. “These women who act like staying at home, leeching off their husbands or boyfriends, and just cashing the checks is some sort of feminism because they’re choosing to live that life,” she said. “That’s bullshit. I mean, what the f*** are we really talking about here?”

Since then, Sinema has said she values all types of motherhood and tried to claim that her comments in 2006 were a joke. But Sinema has a history of verbal “gaffes.” She has called conservatives “Neanderthals,” referred to her home state of Arizona as the “meth-lab of democracy,” and blamed Arizona’s problems on “crazy” Republicans. So we can assume there was at least a little bit of sincerity in Sinema’s comments about motherhood.

Whether or not Sinema was joking, there are plenty of modern feminists who hold this view of stay-at-home moms. Stay-at-home mom Laurel Niedospial wrote an article earlier this year saying her choice of how to parent makes her feel like a “bad feminist.” In her book, Get to Work, Linda Hirshman argues that mothers must work or risk “perpetuating a mostly male ruling class.” And Sarrah Le Marquand from The Daily Telegraph audaciously suggests that “we should make it a legal requirement that all parents of children of school-age or older are gainfully employed.” Somehow the movement that wanted women to be free to choose whatever life path they wanted has morphed, for many feminists, into a movement that only accepts one life path: having a career.

Obviously, mothers who want to work outside the home should have the opportunity to do so. But the idea that, because women didn’t have the opportunity to work outside the home in the past, now all women must work outside the home is illogical and, frankly, offensive to the many women who choose to engage in the important work of caring for their homes and families. It’s also illogical to fight for women to be able to escape the “drudgery” and hard work of being stay-at-home moms and then accuse women of being “leeches” for choosing to do those tasks. Which is it: a walk in the park, or a lot of hard work?

Stay-at-home moms took to Twitter to express their outrage over Sinema’s comments. “I do more work with my three boys under the age of nine then I ever have when I was at work!” wrote Courtney. Laura Mehaffey said, “So easy to spot people who didn’t have stay-at-home moms and were jealous of their friends who did.” Daisygirl pointed out: “A leech is generally one who sustains itself by taking, not giving.  A stay at home mom is one of the hardest working people in the world, and gives so much of herself to her home and family…not the definition of a leech.”

For people who agree with Sinema, the ability to be like men has become the epitome of feminism. But surely we are more equal, more powerful, more free if we get to choose the kind of life we want to live. And for some of us, that life centers around our family — supporting our husbands, caring for our children, and tending to our home. If we choose that life freely — if we disregard the Sinemas of the world who try to guilt us into thinking we’re letting down the cause — then we reap the rewards of a life lived on our own terms. And really, isn’t that what feminism ought to be about?