During the first week of his presidential campaign, former El Paso Congressman Beto O’Rourke repeatedly joked that his wife Amy has raised the couple’s three kids “sometimes with my help.” The comments, made at multiple campaign events in Iowa, were met with opprobrium, and he apologized for them on Friday night at a podcast taping in Cedar Rapids.
“Not only will I not say that again, but I will be much more thoughtful in the ways that I talk about my marriage,” he said.
Rebecca Traister, a book author and writer at New York magazine who often tackles issues of gender in her work, distilled why O’Rourke, who won 52 percent of women voters in his unsuccessful campaign to unseat Senator Ted Cruz last year, should not have said what he did.
Not only space…CREDIT, for being a good guy who recognizes unjust gender dynamics. But no that recognition comes as he’s benefitting from those unjust gender dynamics (& getting credit for acknowledging them!)
— Rebecca Traister (@rtraister) March 14, 2019
The problem Traister and others have with O’Rourke has less to do with the division of labor in his marriage and more to do with how flippantly his privilege allowed him to discuss the issue.
In his apology, O’Rourke called his comments a “ham-handed attempt to try to highlight the fact that Amy has the lion’s share of the burden in our family — that she actually works but is the primary parent in our family, especially when I served in Congress, especially when I was on the campaign trail — should have also been a moment for me to acknowledge that that is far too often the case, not just in politics, but just in life in general. I hope as I have been in some instances part of the problem, I can also be part of the solution.”
With his website still bereft of issue statements or a platform, it’s unknown exactly what kinds of solutions O’Rourke is going to propose.