Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Soccer moms, in United States social, cultural and political discourse, refers broadly to a demographic and psychographic group of women with school-age children. A soccer mom is typically imagined as upper middle class, probably college-educated, most often suburban or exurban, and typically white.
Defining the soccer mom
The term is thought to have been coined by a woman running for city council in a Denver, Colorado. When asked for her credentials, she replied: "soccer mom." It came into widespread use in the 1990s, notably during the 1992 and 1996 presidential campaigns and since.
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 popular 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, 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 minivan or SUV use. 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 honor student at their school.
Soccer moms were considered an important constituency in Bill Clinton's two presidential wins. Starting, perhaps, with Republican victories in the 1994 Congressional elections, and into the 2000s with the presidential victories of George W. Bush, they have been identified increasingly with the Republican party. However, this correlates more with other demographic characteristics, such as their place in the red state-blue state divide, than with their identification as soccer moms.
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.
Political and social conservatism
Since the late 1990s and into the 2000s, the soccer mom has been increasingly associated with political conservatism, with evangelical or fundamentalist Christianity, and with socially conservative concerns such as opposition to obscenities in rock and hip hop music and sex and violence in film and television.
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.
Usage in Canada is broadly similar to usage in the United States, but it is taken closer to literally, having much to do with active, busy parenting and generally having less to do with race, little if anything to do with religion, little to do with political affiliation except for a tendency to moderation, and with very little correlation to social conservatism. Middle class status, a skew towards minivan or SUV ownership, and to a lesser extent university or college education and suburban or exurban residence are associated with the term. Much of the meaning underlying "soccer mom" has also transferred to the term "hockey mom".
- "Soccer Mom Nonsense:The making of this year's election myth" (By Jacob Weisberg, Slate, October 12, 1996)
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