LINGUISTICS & CULTURE
|Data:||17/NOV/2005 9:15 PM|
Defining the soccer mom
Literally, soccer moms drive their children to play soccer. Soccer is considered a safer and more genteel competitive sport than American football, which is more prominent than soccer in mainstream American culture. At once, the soccer mom is associated with encouraging, if perhaps overscheduling, their children with activities, and with making personal sacrifices for their children's benefit (taking them to play), while perhaps remaining somewhat overprotective (by taking them to play soccer rather than, say, American football).
The term has found a life as shorthand for a stereotype, or set of stereotypes, far beyond its literal meaning.
Most widely, perhaps, they are associated with driving Volvos, minivans, or SUVs. Active pride in their children may be displayed, for instance, with membership in a Parent-Teacher Association, or with a bumper sticker boasting that her child is an honors student at their school.
The term was used as the basis for the song "Volvo-Driving Soccer Mom" by the band Everclear. Though the song departs from the sterotype in that the "soccer mom" in the song has something of a checkered past and this is not necessarily part of the stereotype.
In fact, inasmuch as both parties seek to appeal to her, the model soccer mom in political discourse is a moderate, hopefully persuadable swing voter. She's assumed to be especially concerned with education policy, health care and tax levels, especially as they impact her own family. Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, homeland security has emerged as a concern to the extent that a new term, "security mom," has come into use.
These attributions, however, are in no way universal. A political campaign targetting soccer moms in a liberal environment like Boston or San Francisco is probably talking about a much more secular, socially and politically moderate-to-liberal audience.
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