Wendy Davis is running for governor of Texas as a Democrat. Wendy Davis vaulted to fame for filibustering anti-abortion bills. Right-wing partisans call Wendy Davis "Abortion Barbie" and intimate that she's a gold-digger. Wendy Davis also has two daughters, and they say you can shut the fuck up now, please.
After months of verbal abuse so base that even Fox News' Greta Van Susteren decried its purveyors as sexist "creeps who take cheap shots," the Davis-hate rose to a crescendo last week when her detractors seized on a Dallas Morning News report combing the details of her personal narrative. There were little inconsistencies and omissions, the News found. "The basic elements of the narrative are true, but the full story of Davis' life is more complicated, as often happens when public figures aim to define themselves," News reporter Wayne Slater wrote.
The right wing hateosphere went ballistic, painting the profile as the portrait of a serially dishonest, abusive harpy. She was a neglectful, careerist mom who stepped on some men with money on her way to glory.
The daughters have a different view. In an open letter—included in its entirety below—Dru and Amber Davis push back on accusations that their mother was neglectful or ambitious to their detriment. Much of the letter's language conforms to traditional political family tropes—love, support, sacrifice, love, dedication, commitment, love—and is familiar to anyone who followed the attacks against Sarah Palin in 2008, albeit with a few more complex sentences and vocabulary words.
But then, what do you expect happy children of a mud-slung high-profile candidate for office to say? Here's how this story has gone so far:
- Davis tells a simple story of her rise to prominence.
- A reporter complicates that simple story.
- Davis' opponents, led by human Oscar Mayer Wienermobile Erick Erickson, use the complicated narrative to tell a simplistic, sexist tale of Davis as a dumb, mean broad.
- Davis' daughters respond with a simple story of their own, albeit one that adds some nuance and human interest to the political shitshow.
- What comes next? More simple narratives from both sides.
Texans are electing a major executive official, which is the closest thing we have in these American states to a democratically selected priesthood. Of course aspirants fall back on simple narratives. But that doesn't mean both sides in any given election are equally simplistic or morally scummy. Behind every cry of "Abortion Barbie" is a Douchebag Ken.
January 28, 2014
Open Letter from Dru Davis
My name is Dru Davis and I am Wendy Davis's daughter. I hate that I feel the need to write this, but I have been reading and hearing so many untrue things about my mom and I want to set the record straight. And sadly I feel the need to be crystal clear on the malicious and false charge of abandonment as nothing could be further from the truth. My mom has always shared equally in the care and custody of my sister and me.
My mom had my sister at 19 and although she was technically married for a short period of time, she was handling almost everything on her own. She was working 2 jobs regularly and going to school. She met my dad when Amber was still very young. They had an amazing love that I witnessed for many years. Unfortunately, it didn't last, like so many love stories don't.
I can tell you that my mom was a remarkable mother and continues to be so to this
day. She was there on my first day of school and my last, and so many days in
between. She never missed a school performance or a parent-teacher
conference. Even if that meant she had to miss something else important. My sister and I were always her first priority. She was there when I needed her and even when I thought I didn't. My mom was my Brownie Troop leader. I still remember camping out in the backyard with my troop after our trip was cancelled because of bad weather. She was also my field hockey team mom during my senior year of high school, not to mention that she went with me to every single field hockey camp, tryout, program that I ever had. She helped me sort through college possibilities, helped me with my applications and visited colleges with me.
I will never forget our drive to Colorado when she was dropping me off as a freshman at Colorado College. I cried the entire way. I am surprised she made it through that one. And after we got there, she stayed for days making sure every detail of my room was perfect until I finally had to tell her to leave.
My mom has been my sounding board for everything in my life, from resumes and papers to helping me with relationships. She was and is an amazing mother and has been the greatest role model I could imagine. Whatever happened, whatever difficult things she and my dad went through, she was always there. And I knew I was loved by her, regardless.
Yes, she went to law school after my sister and I were born. We lived with her the
first semester, but I had severe asthma and the weather there wasn't good for
me. My parents made a decision for my sister and me to stay in Texas while my mom kept going to school. But that doesn't mean she wasn't there for us. She traveled back and forth all the time, missing so many classes so that she could be with us. Her friends were such a big help. Especially her third year, when she would
only go to school two weeks out of the month and her friends would share class notes so she could try to keep up while she was home with us in Fort Worth.
I love that my mom went to law school and was dedicated to both her work and
us. Watching her work so hard to achieve something great has been one of the most important lessons in my life. To this day, I watch my mom greeted and hugged by people who love her and are thankful for things she has done for them. I am proud of her for that. Both of my parents made sacrifices to make education happen for all of us, my sister and me included. And both of them have been great role models for what it means to care about people in the world.
Open Letter from Amber Davis
My name is Amber Davis and I am Wendy Davis' oldest daughter. I have spent the past few days reading the ludicrous comments that people have shared on social media about my mother and our family. It is a shame that those who don't know us feel the need to comment on the details of our lives as if they've lived them. I have a hard time understanding how such hate and negativity can result from one person's false accusations.
My mother had me when she was very young, a kid herself. And although she was married for a short period of time, parenthood was her sole responsibility. Yes, we lived in a trailer. Does it matter how long? Not to me. Even though some people have tried to question my own memories; I do remember the trailer, as well as the apartments that we lived in during the years that followed. I know that I was my mother's first priority and that she wanted a better life for me than the one she was living. She worked 2 jobs and went to community college at night. She refused to repeat the life her family struggled in growing up.
When I was a toddler, she met my step-dad, Jeff. They shared an immediate connection and I started to realize what it was like to have a real family. They married shortly before I turned five. Not long after they married they had my sister, Dru, the biggest baby I have ever seen. My parents had an amazing marriage for many years. They challenged each other and pushed each other to want more out of life.
After graduating at the top of her class at TCU, she went on to Harvard law school. Dru and I lived with her the first semester but our parents soon realized that it would be better if we stayed in our childhood home in Texas, be around extended family and attend our regular schools. This was a decision made by both parents. I have recently heard the phrase "abandoned" quite often in the past week. That our mother "left us to be raised by our father" while she went on to pursue her education. Not only is this ridiculously unfair; it's completely untrue. Dru and I have always been her number one priority. Always. And every decision our parents made was with our best interests at heart. We had an amazing support system while she was at Harvard and she was constantly traveling back and forth from school to be
with us. I'm proud that my parents were able to make this arrangement work. People should be less concerned about who paid for what and pay more attention to the fact that she was accepted to Harvard law school, a dream she believed was unachievable.
People have come to know Wendy Davis the politician. But I want people to relate to Wendy Davis, my mother. I have a bond with my mother that is unlike any other. Even as a 31 year old adult, I will forever be referred to as her "Punky Brewster." She is my best friend - the one I can confide in without judgment. I look up to her and rely on her for guidance and support, even to this very day. She is my rock and has always been a role model in my life.
My mother has achieved so much despite the odds. Her strength and desire to further her career is an inspiration and a quality I admire most about her. She has always had my full support and I am so proud of her accomplishments. She is a remarkable mother. I don't think she gives herself enough credit sometimes.
Our family has gone through difficult times just like many others. That's not news. That's life. I'm sure many people can agree that divorce is certainly not an easy thing to experience. At that time, I was a young adult in college and Dru was in high school and to be clear, no one "lost or gave up custody" of either one of us. But no matter how difficult it was, both of our parents were there for us. And no matter what happened within our family, our mother always made it known that we were and remain the most important thing in her life.
[Photo credit: AP]