Who’s Zooming Who?Posted: April 15, 2012
I’m still brooding about the disingenuous way the political class has reignited the Mommy Wars. There are so many hypocrisies at play in this conversation that it’s easy to forget that what this is really about are narratives that reinforce stereotypes of women. It’s also about the ways politicians manipulate the insecurities of women–especially in their mother roles–to ensure that we are divided as they conquer. We’ve been told that all those laws passed and introduced in the last two years that severely restrict women’s access to abortion, health care, equal pay and protection and now birth control are not part of a concerted effort by one of the parties to remove our progress to achieve equal access to jobs, society, and autonomy. Now, we’re once again being regaled on that marble column with the label “Mom: Most Important Job Holder in the World”. However, in their world and their laws, it appears some mothers are more equal than others. There is no where this double standard is more true than how they bestow sainthood on stay-at-home wealthy women while they assign poor mothers of children the role of lazy slut who breeds to stay home, live off the government, and do nothing. After all, welfare allows one to live such a life of luxury that big screen tvs and bons bons automatically come with each public housing unit.
Yup, the same group of folks that fought the family leave act, that are defunding all education-related expenses except ones associated with religious indoctrination and really hate family planning and pre-natal care are all in for all sainted moms. I’ve had about all the faux outrage I can take about poor Sainted Stay-at-Home Mom, Ann Romney, who has that well-defended full time, most important job while her husband’s been out on the republican speaking circuit saying that welfare moms need the “dignity of work”. So, Mrs. Romney has the dignity of being a stay home mom that can spend all that time doing the hardest job on the planet, but welfare moms don’t have the dignity of work unless they have a job? What kind of hypocritical nonsense is this?
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, undercutting the sense of extreme umbrage he showed when Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen quipped last week that Ann Romney had not “worked a day in her life.”
The remark, made to a Manchester, N.H., audience, was unearthed by MSNBC’s “Up w/Chris Hayes,” and aired during the 8 a.m. hour of his show Sunday.
Ann Romney and her husband’s campaign fired back hard at Rosen following her remark. “I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work,” Romney said on Twitter.
On Sunday, Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg told The Huffington Post in an email, “Moving welfare recipients into work was one of the basic principles of the bipartisan welfare reform legislation that President Clinton signed into law. The sad fact is that under President Obama the poverty rate among women rose to 14.5 percent in 2011, the highest rate in 17 years. The Obama administration’s economic policies have been devastating to women and families.”
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.
Recalling his effort as governor to increase the amount of time women on welfare in Massachusetts were required to work, Romney noted that some had considered his proposal “heartless,” but he argued that the women would be better off having “the dignity of work” — a suggestion Ann Romney would likely take issue with.
So, who has dignity here and who doesn’t and what are the rules? It seems to me to put an awful lot of women in a no win situation.
The Romney campaign, hoping to make up its deficit among women voters, jumped on the comment. “I happen to believe that all moms are working moms,” said Romney.
It turns out he doesn’t. If you’re a poor mother in Massachusetts and you go to sign up for TANF, you’ll see you need to fulfill a “work requirement.” And you cannot fulfill it by being “a mom.” And that’s because of policy that Romney signed into law in Massachusetts, and Bill Clinton signed into law nationally.
That law has seen some real successes: The poverty rate for single mothers is lower now than before the legislation passed in 1996, and the labor-force participation rate is higher. Both parties brag about it routinely. But those numbers are only successes if you believe, as both parties do, that being a stay-at-home mother is not the same as working.
Over the past week, both parties decided to pander to stay-at-home mothers by forgetting this policy consensus and claiming they have always believed being a stay-at-home mother is “work.” But while they certainly believe parenting is toil, they don’t believe it is, in any real sense, work. And you can see that in the laws they’ve made.
After all, it’s not just TANF that doesn’t recognize parenting as “work.” Social Security doesn’t count parenting as “work.” The tax code doesn’t count parenting as “work.” The Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t count parenting as “work.”
Obviously, poor women don’t have the same routes to dignity that upper class women do. In other words, I small a hypocrite.