There. I said it.
In the latest faux outrage that has recently swept the nation, a simple and true statement was used by the Conservatives to further stoke the Mommy Wars and throw yet another woman under the bus. For the many times that Repubs piss and moan about liberal selective hearing, I find it highly amusing that they did the same thing here. It stopped being amusing when everyone bought it. Let’s take a deeper look at the context and what is really meant, shall we?
First off, the cherry picked sentence was in response to Mittens Romney saying that he likes to listen to his wife when it comes to women and the economy. Hillary Rosen was bang on when she said that Ann Romney has never worked a day in her life. Ann Romney does not know what it’s like to be the breadwinner. Ann Romney does not understand the work/life struggle. Ann Romney does not get HAVING to work because of the economy or other circumstances. Ann Romney has no fucking clue and that is just plain TRUTH. When we say she has never worked a day in her life, we are specifically using the context that she has never worked for pay. Not only that, but she’s married to a millionare, gets to enjoy the benefits of hired help, and seems to have the money for horses. To say that she does not get it would be an understatement. She gets the struggle of the working class about as well as an MRA activists gets rape culture (hi guys!).
Second, no one is saying that parenting is not hard work. It’s a teeth pulling experience that is full of highs and lows, and because you’re emotionally invested it’s fucking exhausting. I have taken a couple of years off work after my kids and yes, I get it. Hell, you don’t even get to really see your work pay off until your kids are well into adulthood, because you never know when they’ll turn into little assholes or if they’ll be cool people. You’re in control of these little people, you have to turn them info functioning members of society, and EVERYONE gets to judge you on it all the time. People can be cruel to mothers especially if their kids are not spotless paragons of virtue because god forbid your children ruin their dinner just by being present (that’s a post for another day). It’s thankless and I don’t blame any woman who feels slighted at being written off just because she’s raising her kids. It can also be intensely rewarding when the cool moments do happen. Seeing your kid walk for the first time, their first articulate sentence, that last diaper, having them show their manners and turning out to be good little people are all worthy of a hearty “fuck yeah”. Kids don’t raise themselves, so feel free to be proud of your work. It IS work in terms of the banal definition of “work”, and it doesn’t make a parent any less valuable, smart, or capable if they are staying home with the kids. It’s not something that is worthy of derision.
HOWEVER…..however…..this issue wasn’t even about stay at home parents. Republican men especially do not give a shit about women and their roles and have never given a shit about making motherhood easier on women. Mat leave is almost non-existant, they want to make it hard to manage fertility, they’ll cut the shit out of programs for women and children and sacrifice it all on the altar of corporate tax breaks. Motherhood doesn’t make them rich. They used the common outrage felt by degraded mothers to score some points and yet again throw a woman under the bus. They used one phrase out of a particular discussion to divide women. Knowing full well that these people don’t truly respect women’s choices, they basically used that to rally women against women. Oh man, ladies, they want our votes so bad that they will feed us our own. Someone hurt the precious fee-fees of a privileged rich woman? LET’S TAKE IT AND RUN! Instant outrage, now in a new “let’s stoke the mommy war fire” formula!
Third, let’s not pretend that this outrage would extend to stay at home women of colour, women who are in the “poor” class, trans women, immigrants, or any combination of those. They’ve been pretty clear that those women are “abominations” and “welfare queens”. Pretty white cis women only, please and thanks! My husband will also probably not get any outrage on his behalf because as a disabled male, well….he’s just “not a real man”, AMIRITE??
Fourth, to those who felt slighted by the comment…..why the fuck did you fall for it? Ann Romney does not even represent the average stay at home parent. I’m sure it’s just sooooooo hard to live with the mansions, the horses, and the ability to obtain help without a care of the cost. Oh yeah, the lady in the ivory tower can TOTALLY speak for us, never mind that most parents who stay at home are not the white, upper middle class ladies that Repubs care about. She’s been privileged enough that her husband can afford for her to stay at home while he furthers his career….with the added hilarity that his policies are NOT women or family friendly! Oh, but she can speak for you still! Staying at home or working is not even a choice a lot of the time, how on earth could she possibly relate to that? But here I am, falling into the trap that it truly is about stay at home moms to begin with. IT WASN’T.
That’s why I just don’t get it and stand by the fact that Ann Romney has no clue what she’s talking about. When she actively campaign on her husband’s behalf under the guise of “getting women” that she could barely relate to on a cellular level, she is opening herself up to these very valid criticisms. She has zero authority when it comes to what women are facing economically. She will in all likelihood never know what it’s like to put in a 12 day just so that your overtime pay (if you even get overtime pay) will pay for school clothes. She will never have to leapfrog her bills because she doesn’t make enough to cover the cost of living and make sure the kids have what they need. She doesn’t have to do the shift juggle so that child care isn’t more than she can afford. She will probably never cry herself to sleep at night because her job is unstable, or can barely afford necessities, or is worried about the life she set up for her children. She. Does. Not. Get. It. She and the Republicans do not get it to the point that they felt the need to use stay at home moms to divide across party lines….AND IT FUCKING WORKED.
Ann Romney has never worked a day in her life, and no amount of a privileged woman’s tears and fake moral outrage will ever make that statement false.