You’ve come a long way, baby. The old advertising motto that targeted women who thought of themselves as liberated in the 1970s came with no small measure of irony, since the point of the ad was to get women hooked on Virginia Slims cigarettes. Jessica Gavora sees a similar kind of irony in the Barack Obama campaign’s rollout of “Julia,” their composite woman who lives her 67-year life under the beneficence of the Obama presidency. Gavora argues that Obama wants to create not just a nanny state but a Hubby State, in which women marry the federal government — a far from liberating existence:
“The Life of Julia,” the Obama campaign’s new interactive Web ad, follows a cartoon everywoman, Julia, through the milestones of a middle-class American life: education, work, motherhood, retirement. One milestone is pointedly missing: marriage.
But, then again, why should Julia get married? She doesn’t need to. Like a growing number of single women with children, Julia is married to the state.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in this rather creepy slide from the Life of Julia presentation:
Note that there is no mention of a husband, or even a father, biological or involved. In the entire slide series, Julia never gets married, and indeed except for one single reference to having sex, is never shown as being with a man at all. Her son shows up in just one slide, and is never mentioned again after the slide shows Julia handing Zachary off to the Nanny State:
Zachary then disappears from Julia’s life. Meanwhile, Julia continues her lifelong reliance on the Hubby State, through to her 67th year, at which the Life of Julia comes to an abrupt end.
Gavora warns that women are selling themselves into bondage, and this time on the cheap:
Julia is just the latest makeover. She is the Democrats’ answer to Romney’s family Christmas card. A nation of women on their own, after all, doesn’t relate very well to fecund portraits of smiling white moms and dads with kids and golden retrievers underfoot. With her spare, faceless affect, Julia is meant to evoke a more modern, independent sensibility — with the exception of her life of endless government dependency, that is.
Julia is Mary Tyler Moore on the government’s dime. You’re gonna make it after all, Julia! Just remember who’s responsible on Election Day.
The problem is, like so much of our political rhetoric, Julia is not a composite; she’s a myth. Some of the nation’s single moms may be successful Web designers, but many are poor — fully half have incomes of less than $30,000 a year, compared with just 15 percent of married women. It’s not Pell grants and SBA loans these women rely on but Medicaid and food stamps. And it’s not comfortable retirements in community gardens they contemplate but bleak old age.
Whereas government benefits were once the state’s compassionate response to women who had lost their husbands, in Julia’s world they are the unquestionable entitlement of women who never married. The decline of marriage and Democratic political opportunism have combined to transform what used to be a situation to be avoided — single motherhood — into a new and proud American demographic, citizens of Obama’s Hubby State.
Gone is any acknowledgment that remaining single is a less than ideal situation for women — or for men, for that matter — or that raising children outside of marriage is anything less than these women’s inalienable personal choice.
The bleak, lonely existence of Julia is a warning to voters. This is the Brave New World that Obama envisions for all of us — dependent on government instead of real families, children who all but become wards of the state and are nothing more than optional accessories that are easily discarded when appropriate. This could be the bleakest political vision ever deliberately constructed as an argument to vote for someone.