Can White Men Have It All? Or Does ‘Leaning In’ Mean Toppling Over?

Antony Blinken, President-elect Joe Biden's nominee for secretary of state, has two toddlers. It's apparently groundbreaking.

[PHOTO: Antony Blinken speaking in front of the Office of President-Elect podium]
President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Antony Blinken as secretary of state. Under the Obama administration, Blinken was the deputy national security adviser before becoming the deputy secretary of state. Mark Makela/Getty Images

UPDATE, January 26, 2021: Antony Blinken was confirmed and sworn in as secretary of state.

News of Antony Blinken’s nomination for secretary of state has led us here at Rewire News Group to ask: Can men really have it all? They may already have it all when it comes to government (see: patriarchy), but will we see Blinken breastfeeding his toddlers on the floor of the Senate? Or will Evan Ryan end up swaddling the children behind-the-scenes while Blinken and other men receive continued praise for depositing genetic material?

Either way, we figured it wouldn’t hurt to compile some advice given to female politicians and public servants who tried to have it all: whether “all” was children and a career, small moments of public joy about their career, or hobbies outside of their career. After all, it can be hard to lean in without falling over!

For example, Elizabeth Warren was deemed “unlikeable” for her too smart and prepared handling of her presidential bid—even by her home state. Her one-woman anti-Trump Twitter efforts have made her a polarizing figure, especially to misogynists who view her as a surrogate mother within the social media landscape.

Antony Blinken’s Twitter presence is a bit more like the subtly cool, self-effacing uncle, but he could take a turn into off-putting dad jokes at any moment. And we know how polarizing that can be.

Our advice: Stop tweeting. Just hand over your Twitter account to your PR team and let them post photos of cute bats like the account @BatEveryHour. Actually, don’t. Bats have become polarizing, too. Poll the people and see what animal is the least controversial. It seems dogs have fallen out of favor, but cats are always a safe bet. Do you have a cat? Maybe you should get a cat.

According to CNN, when Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth rallied to have the rules of the Senate floor changed to accommodate care for her newborn, “questions from other senators varied, from asking whether diapers will be changed on the Senate floor to questions if there should be a dress code for the baby on the floor.”

Our advice: Invest in some formal dresswear for your young children, Mr. Blinken. And budget for dry-cleaning bills!

Meanwhile, in late 2018, footage of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez dancing during her college career at Boston University surfaced and caused a raucous uproar within the GOP. But ire didn’t just come from the Republican side of the aisle. The departing Democratic senator from Missouri, Claire McCaskill, referred to Ocasio-Cortez as “a bright shiny new object,” instead of acknowledging her as the elected representative she was and is.

It seems any musical hobbies or moments of unbridled joy are not only frowned upon but actively denounced in the political sphere. This proves especially foreboding for the incoming secretary of state, considering the creative output of Ablinken, the longtime Biden aide’s band that boasts Steely Dan-esque sensibilities and later-era-solo-Clapton songwriting tendencies.

If Ocasio-Cortez’s dancing from her college years sent people into a spiral, wait until everyone realizes Ablinken released music this year.

Our advice: Remember this little ditty—hobbies and an interest in music are fine, as long as politicians work hard to keep them a shameful secret.

Of course, Blinken will have some help from his wife of 18 years, Evan Ryan. Nine years his junior, Ryan and her vitality will no doubt offer a reprieve to Blinken’s toddler troubles, but how much should the people really expect her to sacrifice her career in the name of child-rearing?

A public servant herself (and an adviser to Biden’s transition team), Ryan met Blinken in 1995 when she worked as a scheduler for first lady Hillary Clinton. Ryan continued to work for Clinton during her Senate campaign and then moved on to become an assistant for intergovernmental affairs to Vice President Biden during the Obama administration. In addition to all of this, Ryan served as assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs from 2013 to 2017.

We can’t help but wonder, what would the situation be if Ryan were nominated to be secretary of state and Blinken found himself in the supporting role? Perhaps the headlines and news stories would read like what we’ve seen in the past, rather than praises for a dad simply being a dad.