The mayor of Amsterdam and a mother. Would the news about her son be interpreted differently if she was a man?

Published on 16 August 2019 at 11:08

The mayor of Amsterdam Femke Halsema receives criticism because her 15-year-old son was arrested for burglary last July. In an article on they asked me whether this news would be received differently if she was a man.


My answer was yes. Irrespective of my personal opinion of the mayor or what her son did, the internet is full of messages that question her capacities as a mother. They boil down to the fact that because her son acted out, she has failed to combine her responsibilities as mayor with being a mother. I wonder if this would be the case if she was a man?


Traditional gender roles about women being caregivers and homemakers and men being breadwinners are deeply rooted in our society, even in the progressive Netherlands. I doubt that - when something similar would happen to a male mayor– society would doubt his capacity as a father as much as they do now with Femke? Probably not as it is much more accepted that men have such busy occupations. It fits their male gender role. It might definitely take a while before we do not interpret news gender role free. 


The whole article can be read here (in Dutch).  

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