“What you have is, is Mitt Romney running around the country saying ‘Well, my wife tells me what women really care about is economic issues, and when I listen to my wife, that’s what I’m hearing.’ Guess what? His wife has never actually worked a day in her life. She’s—she’s never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that the 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 worry about their future.” –Hilary Rosen
Very quickly, I have emerged (if temporarily) to comment on the statement made by Hilary Rosen regarding the range of Ann Romney’s experience in knowing what women care about—which, according to Romney, is only economic issues. Rosen pointed out that this was coming from someone who had never worked a day in her life, which would have been fine, if she hadn’t unwittingly actually used those exact words.
This is a Godsend to the Republican party.
Rosen’s comments annoyed me immensely and immediately. What she meant of course is that Romney had never earned wages (though phrasing it that way would have been equally devastating; those words have an underlying tone of disparagement evident precisely because she is talking to a woman). What she should have said is that Romney has not had to simultaneously raise children and work for wages. I understood Rosen’s intention, but nonetheless can not explain how furious I was with her, and how deeply offended.
Rosen explained herself immediately following the comment, unprompted, as you can see from the quote above, but the damage was done. Including for me. The first time I listened, I missed the reality of what followed that statement. It’s hard to absorb the rest when you have rage pounding at your ears because a woman has just privileged the patriarchal definition of “work” and validated centuries of oppression and injustice.
Naturally this dispute was immediately exploited to expand into the realm of partisan sexism when Rosen was in fact making a class argument. This is because there are men in the world, and men like to distort shit they don’t even care about to conveniently push their political agenda via ramming themselves in places they don’t belong. As if I weren’t pissed off enough already, I was annoyed a second time with the response of Democratic men who apologized for Rosen at once, even stating that she should not have attacked Mitt Romney’s family because “family is off limits.” Let me remind you that sexist bigot Mitt Romney is the one parading his wife all around the country to convince women that he doesn’t hate us (because apparently we’re stupid enough to take her word for it just because she’s a woman), and if a woman wants to make a comment about another woman’s political point and other women decide this is specifically concerning her sex, men need to STFU. We don’t care. Seriously. Shut up. The way Democratic men trip over themselves to apologize is pathetic, entitled, and very telling as to how insecure they are about their own stance on women’s rights. They don’t care about women any more than Republican men—they all care about politics.
Here is what I want to happen: I want Rosen to apologize to Romney—and thus to all mothers who may or may not be paid, and subsequently to me, because who knows what’ll happen in the future—for saying something so horrendous. Language is important. Check it. It creates and contributes to a culture of thought backed by historical bigotry. While this was a forgivable slip, especially considering Rosen herself has raised children, it was so unspeakably insulting given the context of our history and the hard, unrecognized work of housewives. That is WORK. Raising children should qualify as work experience. (Do you know how much women would MAKE if they were paid for half the crap they do?) Additionally, a woman who does not receive wages herself but whose spouse receives wages still has EVERY REASON to worry about the economy precisely because she has children she needs to clothe and feed.
While Rosen apologizes, I want all men—Democratic and Republican—to shut the fuck up and stop making it about whose party is the most sexist. (Really, Democrats? You legislatively won this.* Calm the hell down.)
Then I want Republican women to acknowledge she was referring to class—to mothers who raise children AND work (both in actually raising the children themselves and through paying jobs) and to women without children who are employed—not to women who can conveniently hire people to raise their children for them while they act indignant about attacks on hardworking housewives. Because that is the real issue. And I am interested in getting shit done.
*All GOP presidential candidates have signed the Personhood Pledge vowing to eliminate Planned Parenthood clinics. They introduced bills to redefine rape. Rush Limbaugh has called all women who use birth control whores. When asked why he believes insurance should not over contraceptives but should cover Viagra, Sean Hannity replied, “That’s a MEDICAL problem.” Republicans in the senate voted against Violence Against Women Act; they filibustered the Paycheck Fairness Act. States run by Republicans have introduced legislation to force women to undergo trans-vaginal probes against their will (rape) before receiving abortion and have cut budgets in health care, Social Security, and education that would disproportionately impact women. Republicans did not allow women to testify at the House contraception hearing. Scott Walker has repealed Wisconsin’s Equal Pay Law. Since January 2010 over 400 bills have have been introduced in the House attacking our reproductive rights. ALL Republicans, except for three Republican congressmen and two Republican senators, voted against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Republican Lisa Murkowski herself has stated she does not understand why her party is making these attacks.
Update: Rosen handled this perfectly.
Hilarious that Republicans are pretending to suddenly care about stay-at-home moms via Huffington Post: “Poor women who stay at home to raise their children should be given federal assistance for child care so that they can enter the job market and ‘have the dignity of work,’ Mitt Romney said in January.”
What? Wait, I thought they WERE working!
Most important job in the world unless you’re poor.
Mitt Romney, however, judging by his January remark, views stay-at-home moms who are supported by federal assistance much differently than those backed by hundreds of millions in private equity income. Poor women, he said, shouldn’t be given a choice, but instead should be required to work outside the home to receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits. “[E]ven if you have a child 2 years of age, you need to go to work,” Romney said of moms on TANF.