[Ed. – Making thermonuclear war on parody.]
Davis, a Democrat who rose to national prominence during a dramatic filibuster of a restrictive abortion bill in the Texas legislature last year, is now campaigning for her state’s highest office on a life story that has her rising from humble beginnings through “hard work and optimism,” as she told NBC, then pursuing higher education, as her campaign website says, with “the help of academic scholarships, student loans, and state and federal grants.” Now that she is in a high-profile and hotly partisan race, it has come out that she also benefited from the moral and financial support of her second (now ex) husband, Jeff Davis. In the process, though, behavior we would expect and hardly notice in a man is being portrayed as freakish and problematic in a woman.
The kerfuffle began last weekend, with the publication of a profile in the Dallas Morning News
that filled out gaps in her story, and continued all week as Davis was spun by her critics as a social climber, an ingrate, a neglectful mother. She has been chastised for starting out in her marriage as a dependent (golddigger!), and finishing it as a lawyer so financially successful that she was the one paying child support to her ex-husband (careerist harpy!). While this professional and relational arc is seen by some as deviant and unattractive, I’ll tell you what strikes me, reading her life story: how common it is. Countless women of Davis’s generation—she was born in 1963—grew up expecting one kind of marriage and then found themselves living another. Countless women started out in marriages where they were the junior partner, then at some point—to their own surprise as much as anybody’s—pulled ahead. In that way, Wendy Davis’s life is ordinary, but it’s something we haven’t come to terms with as a culture.
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