The Empty Cradle: The Othering of Childless Female Politicians

Research output: Other contributionpeer-review


The 17 to 23 July 2015 edition of the New Statesmen depicts a baby’s cot containing a ballot box, not a child, it is surrounded by the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, the then Home Secretary, Teresa May, Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon and the then Labour leadership contender, Liz Kendall. The image refers to an article in the magazine entitled ‘The Motherhood Trap’; it examines why female politicians have fewer children than their male counterparts. The cover reflects how the media vilifies childless female politicians as selfish. The paper will contend that childless female politicians are Othered by patriarchal forces, to disempower them. The paper will discuss how the representation of the childless female politician is an extension of the career woman stereotype and the childless woman as the monstrous feminine in art, literature and film. The paper will use abjection theory to discuss how the female politician with no children is a deviation from the traditional role of woman as wife and mother, and therefore, someone to be feared. The paper will concert that this representation of the childless female politician as a social deviant is a consequence of politics’ shift to the Right in recent years, as the utterance is socially given. This misrepresentation of the feminine is comparable to how Hollywood portrayed childless women as monstrous deviants during the right-wing years of the Reagan administration. A notable example is the character, Alex Forrest played by Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction.
Original languageEnglish
TypeJournal article about the representation of female politicians in the media.
Media of outputAcademic Journal
Publication statusIn preparation - 2020


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