Or, once again I must waste my day defending Mike Pence even though I don’t even like him.
It’s been recently reported by the ever-so-honest-and-ethical Rolling Stone magazine that Vice President Mike Pence has possibly, publicly, affectionately called his wife “Mother”. Like a nickname or term of endearment, I guess. This has been deemed by the guardians of the gates of culture to be “creepy as f—“. Implication being, this in some way disqualifies the man for the presidency. Perpetual bottom feeder Slate has issued a call for anyone who has this hideous offense on tape to come forward.
Is it, though? Is it creepy? Is it frightening, or sinister, or is it just…different?
A quick Google search (the kind that journos never seem to bother doing) reveals that it used to be very common for spouses to call each other Mother and Father or Mommy and Daddy. It was considered a term of respect and endearment. But whatever, it’s not like 1885 any more, losers!
I know of at least 3 other couples where the husband occasionally called the wife “Mother” or “Mommy”. 2 of them were my grandparents. Like Mike Pence, my grandparents were also from Indiana. I don’t mean to say this is an Indiana thing, or that everyone from Indiana does this, but just that that was my experience. In my lifetime, I have witnessed firsthand two actual couples from Indiana doing the “mother” thing. It wasn’t sinister, just something they said now and then. They also used to say “that scared the liver out of me” and “shit fire to save matches” too. I found it colloquial and quaint.
The other couple was Ronald and Nancy Reagan. I recall this being somewhat of a joke during his administration. “Reagan calls his wife MOMMYsnortchortleguffaw!!!” Another quick Google (try it, reporters, it’s easy and fun!) search brought up a rather charming little tale told by Nancy, where she described the origin and evolution of the term. They had had their first child and called her “Patti Poo” as a nickname, and this turned into “Mommy Poo” and “Daddy Poo” and over the course of a long time marriage, cutesy pootsy nicknames just sort of stick around and make themselves at home. And Reagan, most would concede, was a decent enough president, even those who disagree with his politics. His calling his wife “mommy” did not render him unfit for office.
Fact: The Pences have 3 children. They’ve been married for over 30 years. Nicknames have a way of hanging around over the course of time. Other people have used the same nickname in the past, even presidents. People who have children often refer to each other in “mom” and “dad” terms in front of the kids to this very day (I think it would be quite a challenge to find ANY parents who have not done this occasionally).
Opinion: This is creepy as f—.
My husband and I call each other “Dear”. It started off completely sarcastically on both of our parts, snarky, an inside joke whereby we demonstrated our extreme Gen-Xer coolness by using an outdated form of interpersonal address. Over time, it became part of the way we talked to each other. I sometimes hear it come out of my mouth and I’m surprised. I’m not a “dear” person, not at all; honeys and sweeties generally do not emanate from my vocal chords. Dear is not an intentional tender expression I carefully and lovingly selected that carries a massive amount of meaning for me. It’s an accident of habit. If the meaning of the word dear changed, if it took on some sort of sinister and taboo implication in the minds of everyone, I’m not totally sure I’d be able to break the habit. I don’t even think about it. Dear happens.
I once knew a couple where the wife called the husband “Homer.” They got together before the Simpsons was on the air, and called each other “Homeboy” and “Homegirl” before they were married. Awww. Over time he dropped the nickname, she didn’t, and it turned into “Homer”. The habit was hard to break and even though years later everyone would laugh and joke around about the nickname and say ‘D’Oh” when she said it, it stuck anyway. The meaning of Homer changed. But she couldn’t help it. Homer happens.
To anyone with an ounce of charity in their body, Mike Pence calling his wife “Mother” is a harmless endearment. Quirky, old-fashioned, unusual maybe, but not creepy as f—. Unfortunately, charity seems in short supply these days.
Something that I find creepy as f— is how people have sexualized EVERYTHING. There is nothing that is off limits. Bert and Ernie are gay for each other. Piglet and Pooh are gay for each other. Frodo and Sam are gay for each other. Woody and Buzz are gay for each other. Sherlock and Watson are gay for each other. Putin and Trump are gay for each other. Santa is a child molester. Snow White is doing the Seven Dwarfs. Mike Pence likes to wear diapers and suck a binky and call his wife “Mother”. Everything is sex, everything is a kink. We’re all perverts, isn’t it fabulous? The idea that a person can have any type of existence that isn’t completely governed by the mercurial whims of their insatiable nethers is apparently a foreign concept. Everything is reduced to bumping genitals.
But not everything is about that. Not even most things are about that. Just because a gutterminded Rolling Stone reporter can envision a dirty roleplay with a stern mother and a naughty naughty boy doesn’t mean that is really what Mike Pence had in mind when he called his wife “Mother” in front of a room full of people. In fact, I’d say that’s kind of proof that it ISN’T a sexual thing for him. After all, Reagan’s “mommy” usage certainly did not devolve into a situation where he was so ruled by his animal instincts that he started having sex in the Oval Office or anything crazy like that.
There are a lot of things that I find super creepy. I find people sending their political opponents used tampons in the mail creepy. I find singing songs of tribute to presidents on comedy shows creepy. I find referring to pedophilia as a “viable lifestyle choice” creepy. I find overseas assassinations using drones creepy. I find burquas creepy. I find Vajazzling creepy. I find using the IRS to target political foes creepy. I find the Podestas’ art collection creepy. I find “shouting ur abortion” creepy. I find Joe Biden’s touchyfeeliness creepy. I find furries creepy. I find presidential campaigns run by omniscient computer programs creepy. I find wearing giant vaginas and splattering oneself with fake menstrual blood creepy. I find taking ones’ children to a parade where people are wearing giant vaginas and are splattered with fake menstrual blood creepy. I find the NSA spying on American citizens creepy. I find the media colluding with presidential candidates creepy. I find spirit dinners creepy. I find sexualizing cartoon characters creepy. But NO ONE CARES what I find creepy, and no one should care what Mike Pence calls his wife.
Not everything is about sex, guys. I know some of you respectable journalism types are trying to dress this “ew icky” story in a purty costume and say it’s about women’s rights or respect or some such but c’mon. You like this story, it attracts you like flies to horse apples, solely because you think it makes your political opponent sound like a perv. Otherwise you and your readers wouldn’t be saying it’s “creepy as f—” FIRST and then bringing up your more noble reasoning second. In fact I suspect you love the noble reasoning angle because it lets ya sneak in a wink, wink, nudge, nudge over the juicy implications. I’m sorry your lives are that empty. I’m sorry that all you have to define yourselves by, is sexuality. I think that sounds like a pretty sad way to live.
Some of us can see through the smoke and mirrors and understand that a guy saying something nice to his wife is not a bad thing. Even if it’s something we don’t personally say, even if it’s a guy whose politics we abhor, it’s not a big deal and certainly not news.
Now quit making me defend Mike Pence, would ya?