Friday, April 13, 2012

Ignore The Media Frenzy

As a stay at home mom, of course, I have thoughts about the current kerfuffle.

First things first. A liberal pundit and lobbyist, Hilary Rosen, said the following
What you have is Mitt Romney running around the country saying, "Well, you know, my wife tells me that what women really care about are economic issues, and, When I listen to my wife, that's what I'm hearing."

Guess what? His wife has actually never worked a day in her life. She's never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing in terms of, how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school, and how do we -- why we worry about their future.
Oh the horror. Or if you are a Republican Party strategist desperate to get everyone to stop noticing how misogynistic your policies are, "Thank you, Hilary Rosen. Unleash the hounds!"

The Romney campaign said that the "choice" to stay home is as valid as the "choice" to work. Ann Romney created a Twitter account so she could respond and go on about how she chose to stay home and raise her children. As someone who "chose" to stay home, I am so irritated that they are turning this into a discussion of "choice" because, for so many women, the decision to continue working after having children is not a choice, it is a financial necessity and for so many women who choose not to work, it is more of a response to financial realities than a desire to stay at home. But by making it about "choice, they get to frame the mommy wars in the stereotypical way sure to inflame the hearts of red state voters: the woman who realizes that she doesn't need a fancy career in order to be fulfilled, she has her kids vs. the feminist who is neglecting her children because she cares more about her career.

Unfortunately, some of my online friends have started to talk about how hard it is to work and raise a family and how much easier stay at home moms have it or have said that, ugh, staying home to raise kids is hard work in a different way, and by engaging in these conversations at all, we are missing the point. It isn't about who works harder or who has it worse. It isn't about whether Ann Romney's lack of work experience influences her ability to understand the issues important to American women. When we start to engage in discussions about whether working mothers or stays at home mothers have it worse or who works harder or whose opinion has more validity, we fall into the trap the Republicans want us to because it is inevitable that people will end up discussing "choice" and slamming someone else's. And we allow the Romney campaign to get us to avoid discussing his proposals and how they will effect women (all women-the ones who work and the ones who don't, the ones with kids and the ones without).

Some people have said that the real issue is that Ann Romney, like her husband, is out of touch with most Americans. While it is tempting to simply dismiss the Romneys as being the Mormon versions of the girl Jarvis Cocker sang about in Common People, we really should avoid the urge. The complete lack of awareness about how the vast majority of people live is not simply a function of Mitt having been born into wealth or Ann having never had a job, and I think it is dangerous to suggest it is. Because we all know wealthy people who were able to step outside the bubble their privilege afforded them and understand the plight of people with far less and did so for reasons other than wanting to get those people's votes. Some women who stay home to raise families volunteer at women's shelters and soup kitchens and tutor low income schoolchildren or spend a lot of their free time reading about injustice and trying to find ways to battle it (cough cough). So let's be honest here, the reason the Romneys don't understand what most of the voters in this country are feeling is because they are not interested in understanding except in so far as it might get us to vote for Mitt in November. In this respect, they are even more annoying and awful than the girl who came from Greece and had a thirst for knowledge.

So as a stay at home mom by choice, I want to know how Mitt Romney's policies help women. I want to know what choices women will have if they are not paid the same as men (and are denied the right to sue employers when this is the case-because that is what not supporting the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act means), have no access to contraception (that is the reality of personhood amendments and allowing employers to have "religious freedom" in what health services they will cover), have no access to affordable health care if they do not receive it through their employers and/or have pre-existing conditions (though he once thought the Massachusetts law should be a model for the rest of the country, that was in another time and place. Mitt Romney says he will repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act), and merely must hope that jobs and prosperity trickle down from the small number of people benefiting from the Bush Era tax breaks and the extremely low tax rate on capital gains? It just seems to me that in Mitt Romney's America, the "choice" to stay home may be one more American women will be forced to make, not because they want to, but because there won't be any others for them to make.

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