Mitt Romney has a problem with women, an outlier poll at TheHill.com, notwithstanding, as does the GOP itself. Most recent polls show President Obama leading Romney among women with anywhere from a 4% lead to a 14% lead. PBO does especially well with all the single ladies, leading 64% to Romney’s 28%. We single ladies love us some PBO, amirite? I know I love the right to get paid the same wage as a man for doing the same damn job, access to affordable contraception, and the right not to get beaten up by a person who claims s/he loves me. All of these rights, by the way, are rights the GOP don’t consider important at all – just a FYI for all the ladies out there.
But I digress, as is my wont. I was speaking of Romney’s problem with the single ladies and his craven attempts to shore up the female vote. I wasn’t? Well, now I am.
As most of you know, the Mommy Wars have been reignited. Ann Romney was a stay-at-home mother, and the Republicans did not take kindly to Hillary Rosen pointing out – correctly – that Ann Romney couldn’t understand the pressures facing a woman who had to work outside the home. Hell, even some Democrats were up in arms about what they thought Rosen had said, and once again, we were debating which women were valuable and which were not. Romney flipped and flopped to his utmost ability – which is considerable, I must admit. Stay-at-home mothers are valuable! Yes! Except, the ones who are poor. They need to work in order to have value. Romney can’t seem to get it right when it comes to women – not that he gets it right when it comes to much of anything, mind you.
To shore up Romney’s creds with the female gender, his wife, Ann, has been speaking out on his behalf. I am a believer in not going after the family of candidates, but I am a firmer believer that if a family member of a candidate says stupid shit, s/he should get called on it. Ann Romney is saying stupid shit on behalf of her husband, and so, I’m going to call her out on her latest example.
In talking about how hard is it to be a stay-at-home mom (and I’m going to defer to my colleague, Emily, in accepting that it has been hard for Ann, regardless of how much help she has – and I will even accept Ann at her word that she didn’t have help at first), Ann Romney makes a very odd statement about women who have had to work outside the home. She says:
I love the fact that there are women out there who don’t have a choice and they must go to work and they still have to raise the kids. Thank goodness that we value those people too. And sometimes life isn’t easy for any of us.
Now, I could be charitable and say that she was trying to empathize with women who work outside the home, but I’m not feeling very charitable right now, and there is something very much ‘let them eat cake’* about her statement. ”Oh, isn’t it great that some people have to do that hard work that I don’t have to do? That’s just so swell!” Let’s put aside the fact that ‘we’ as a society don’t value women who have to work outside the home** and tackle the last sentence that I quoted. Yes, Ann, life isn’t easy for any of us, but it’s a hell of a lot easier when you know you can pay the mortgage every month, aren’t going to be homeless, and have top-notch health insurance that covers ailments such as MS. It only adds insult to injury that her husband is part of the party that wants to ensure that life remains fucking hard for most Americans.
To me, the thing that galls me the most about statements such as this one is how removed from most people’s realities someone like Ann Romney has to be in order to say something like this. If she had ever had to work outside the home as well as inside it, there is no way in hell she would ‘love’ it that she was in that position. It’s all abstract for her, and it’s insulting to all the women who do it on a daily basis. Ann Romney wants respect for her decision to be a stay-at-home mom, but she seems to have forgotten that respect is a two-way street. How about showing some real respect for women who work outside the home, Ann, and getting your husband to do the same?
*Yes, I know Marie Antoinette never said that, but I’m using it to illustrate my point, damn it. You knew what I was trying to say, right? That’s all that matters.
**We would pay them equal wages, give them generous maternity leave, and make it easier to have flex hours – that’s all I’m saying.
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