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Mike O’Brien of Seattle City Council on Gender, Part 2 of 2: Dialogue and a Call to Action

SeattleMartha BurwellComment

What do you do when someone says you made a mistake?

The easy thing to do is to get defensive.  To shut down, ignore it, to say “it’s not my fault!”  It’s tougher to take it as an opportunity to learn.  To say “help me understand what you mean.”

Shortly after I posted a blog last month critiquing Seattle City Council Member Mike O’Brien’s comments on gender and childcare, I received a message on Twitter: “I’d love to chat about your recent post.  Maybe we could talk on the phone?”

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.