The Pulse on Gender Equity in Seattle & Beyond


Mike O’Brien of Seattle City Council on Gender, Part 1 of 2: Words are Powerful

SeattleMartha BurwellComment

Words are powerful.  And sometimes they can have serious, unintended effects.

In a blog post in June, I discussed recent comments made by Seattle City Council Member Mike O’Brien when he was addressing the issue of unaffordable childcare.  He had said on a recent panel:

“It was within our generation that we switched the way we lived as human beings for eons, where one parent worked […] to support a family, to now it’s just expected that you have two workers and you have to have childcare.  You know, that is a choice we make as a society, and if we don’t think that’s working for us, we can choose something else.” *

This well-meaning phrase, with a little bit of context, takes on a different feel, because looking back over the past century, the father is the parent that traditionally has worked in a heterosexual relationship.  And said with a tone of nostalgia, this statement hints that we should “go back” to a time when only men were breadwinners.