The War On Women, the War Over Us, and the War Among Us

“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.

12 thoughts on “The War On Women, the War Over Us, and the War Among Us

  1. “Single mothers who can conveniently hire people to raise their children for them”? Who are these? I highly doubt it’s “convenient” for most single mothers, it’s the ONLY (heartbreaking) option… because they’re single, and there’s nobody else to help.

    1. Whoops, that was not supposed to say “single mothers”… just mothers (upper class, who can afford it). Trying to say too many things at once. =P Thanks for the catch!

    1. *snort* Of course not. Men are still crying on both sides. Republican men are whining more than conservative women.

      She calmly apologized multiple times, stating she thought she was heard by Ann Romney the first time but if not here it is again.

      I was very happy with how tasteful she was throughout the whole thing, and how she stuck to the argument.

  2. Katherine

    Men ruin everything. Headlines EVERYWHERE about how attacks on conservative women are too common ALL written by MEN, and AS IF THE ROMNEYS ARE EVEN CONSERVATIVES!!

    1. Katherine

      And as if Limbaugh didn’t just call a liberal woman a whore, and like slutshaming hasn’t come from the right and everything else…. I love how you tried to summarize the war on women in a footnote and it took up an entire paragraph. And that’s not even with details.

  3. a Conservative woman

    Hi Nahida,

    The Romneys aren’t Conservative, but they’re representing us. So we have to protect our side. Look, I wish I could concentrate on the class issue too, and I even agree that what Hillary Rosen said is no where as bad as what Limbaugh said. But it’s also not as bad as what Maher said, and he’s one of yours. Maybe you’re right and the problem is men! LOL. Either way, it forces us to play.

    I disagree with you on a lot of stuff, obviously (won’t go into it now), but sometimes I really wish we could have conversations outside of everything else.

  4. Nahida:

    I absolute did not take offensive to what she stated as what she intended was that the woman (Romney’s wife) has never had to work to provide for her family. in other words, she has been given the “golden spoon/fork/knife.” Unless she has some sort of hidden past that shows that no one is aware of then she has had people waiting on her left and right. I tend to discount what she provides other than being a mother. Now I am not stating that being a mother isn’t hard work. However, it is whole holy different when you are a working stiff (man or female) having to provide for your children and forging your way. Now to me the whole matter was purposely taken out of context by the conservative party and the liberals went to defend this matter like idiots instead of coming back and stating. That you have taken it out of context and she is refering to working (in the work force) class women. I tend to think women have a habit of understanding that being a mother is both hard work and yet a joy (for the most part.) In other words, it is just the silent given point that this is what women are doing. Now with this statement, I don’t want you to think I under estimate the truly difficult task of what being a mother is and it is but I want to emphasize that women tend to just assume this as a given point.

    So to try to sum this up. To me it was very obvious what point she was trying to state right off the bat. It was the fact that his wife has never had to be part of the economic working class and she has been a privileged elitist as well. So therefore she felt that as such this woman could not speak for the majority of women who would never be in such a cushioned position in their lives.

    So as far as I am concerned this whole matter is just ridiculous on going after this woman in the first place and it just show to me how even women won’t back another woman. Instead you need to be backing her up and then stop allowing the crap to be taken out of context to meet the conservative needs. See my point.

    If women want to gain momentum on their issues; the first place they need to start with is by not tearing apart other women who are actually in their corner who may have a moment of not conveying a thought in the manner to which they initially wanted. In other words, lighten up.. give the woman a damn break….. keep it in perspective.

    Here is a question to you, why is it that women go after an injuried person(woman) who is actually trying to assist their cause? Why? Were is the support? If you want to get ahead and actually became a force for women you and other women need to stop this tactic and unite. There is a reason why the saying is true, “United we stand, Divided we Fall.” This is true today as it has been in the past. Women would be best to learn the motto then implement it.

    1. It was the fact that his wife has never had to be part of the economic working class and she has been a privileged elitist as well.

      Then she should have said so. Who’s attacking whom? Stating that a woman has “never actually worked a day in her life” in reference to economic issues depends on the assumption that housework is not work, AND on the assumption that Romney as a mother does not take care of her children. This is an age old attack tactic on women. If Rosen had said that Romney is an elitist, privileged and upper class, and can hire people to raise children for her–that would have been fine because it is UNDOUBTEDLY true. Instead she made a judgment, and a highly patriarchal one. There is a difference between being very deservedly harsh, and crossing the line. Who is she to judge or assume whether a woman–a mother–has ever worked a day in her life?

      It is VERY clear what Rosen meant however, and I’m annoyed that after she apologized and CLARIFIED multiple times that she was speaking of class there are still people bawling over her statement. What’s more infuriating is that Ann Romney believes she can speak for working class women when she has the luxury to choose to be a housewife, and thanks to the game of politics conservative women are barred from acknowledging this, by the Republican men who have seized the political opportunity to sob over it for them.

      1. In this we agree and I believe this situation to be a tactic of grasping at straws by the conservatives as they are still pushing female diminishing policies/laws on the populace. Particular in states that have conservatives in control of the legistlative and executive branches.. As pushing through laws of this nature only seem to be successful in this way. Remember even in one of the most conservatives states, Mississippi, the voters put down the personhood bill.

        Also many men just want the politicians to keep their policies off their wive/girlfriend’s body. In addition, most actual men know women such as their wives, daughters, mothers and sister’s are intelligent enough to make their own life choices and deal with the consequences of their choices whether good or bad just like men in an adult fashion.

        Just saying not all men fall into these groups and they actually do want what is best for their female counterpart which is to be the best people possible who are capable (meaning allowed) of living their own independent lives.

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