This has been yet another week of listening to the latest brouhaha from the polarized political factions on the value of a woman, specifically, stay-at-home moms. The bomb went off when Liberal pundit Hilary Rosen stated in an interview that Ann Romney, wife of presumptive GOP Presidential nominee Willard Romney, had “never worked a day in her life”. After the fake outrage of every Republican that held this comment up as proof that the “so-called” War on Women is only “so-called” when Conservatives make sexist comments, but it’s very, very real when spoken by a Liberal, Ms. Rosen issued a public apology to Ann Romney – and she should have. The apology was appropriate for the poor choice of words, but was certainly not appropriate for what Ms. Rosen was actually saying – and what she was actually saying was Ann Romney’s work experience as a stay-at-home-mom is vastly different from the average mother in the American experience of child rearing.
Not too many people in my neighborhood, or any neighborhood
for that matter, had the luxury of “raising 5 children” with six domestic servants or the even further luxury of shipping them off to boarding school, yet that was the “work” of Ann Romney. If she actually drove any of her children to school, I would imagine the hardest decision she had to make was which of her several Cadillacs to drive. And what was it that had Ann Romney sleeplessly pacing the floors at night? Affordable childcare? No. Being able to provide adequate shelter? Um, given their real estate holdings, that couldn’t be it. Wondering if she would have to make the choice between sending a sick child to school or staying home and risk losing her job? Given that she’s never held a job outside the home, surely not. While those are precisely the choices the average American woman struggles with daily, I suspect what kept Ann Romney up at night was that age-old decision of whether to pack imported or domestic caviar in the boys’ lunches. How ever did she manage?
I don’t begrudge the wealth of people who create things. I do begrudge the wealth of people who gained their vast holdings by eliminating jobs via the corporate raiders like Bain Capital. The Romney’s income was somewhere around $21 million dollars last year and not one job was created. Now, I don’t begrudge the wealth of people like Bill and Melinda Gates, who have given the world the Microsoft empire and who give away vast sums of money to education via their Foundation. Bill Gates has never lost touch with the people who gave him his vast wealth. Gates didn’t come up poor, either. He too was born into privilege, though nothing like Willard Romney. And while the Right likes to tout the huge charitable donations of the Romney family, it should be noted that the vast majority of those charitable donations went to his beloved Mormon Church. It should also be noted that the vast majority of the money the Mormon Church takes in goes to sending their faithful out into the world to convert others to Mormonism. That’s not exactly charity, in my view. And I’d like to point out that the Romney’s effective tax rate was exactly one HALF of what I paid to the Federal government. I think that’s good for a pout.
So what is the real American experience of being a mother? I don’t know that there is a typical American experience of being a mother, but I’m pretty sure the average American woman would not say the “Ann Romney stay-at-home mom” experience resembled theirs. Few families in this country have the luxury of even having a stay-at-home mom because it’s not financially feasible. Permit me to cite some statistics about American women, culled from the National Alliance for Caregiving:
Estimated number of mothers of all ages in the United States: 80.5 million
Percentage of women 40 to 44 years old who are mothers: 81%
Approximate number of women who give birth each year in the United States: 4 million. Of this number, about 415,000 are age 15 to 19, and more than 100,000 new moms are age 40 or older.
Average age of women when they give birth for the first time: 25.2 (a record high)
Average number of children that U.S. women today can expect to have in their lifetime: 2.0
Number of stay-at-home moms, in 2004: 5.6 million
Number of stay-at-home dads: 143,000
Among mothers of infants, percentage in the labor force: 55%
The percentage of women who gave birth to their 1st child & returned to work within four months: 51%
Percentage of mothers, ages 15 to 44, whose oldest child is age 3-5, in the labor force: 67%
Percentage of mothers, with children age 5 and under, employed full-time, year round: 33%
Percentage of mothers, ages 15 to 44, whose youngest child is 12 or older, in the labor force: 80%
Number of single mothers living with children under 18: 10 million
Then, of course, I read a wonderful blog that you can read here about calculating the value of a woman based on the unpaid labor they perform. The article took only the top three jobs as housekeeper, baby food provider and chauffeur – and the figures were staggering. Women do most of the unpaid work and since money is tied to power, it’s no wonder there’s such a gender gap. Throughout the world, paid and unpaid, women do 66 percent of the work, produce 50 percent of the food, receive 10 percent of the income and own 1 percent of the property. Chew on those facts for a while. If hard work is so “rewarding”, as Willard so loves to tout, why don’t women get rewarded for it?
I know so many women who work outside the home, perform virtually all the child rearing, cook, clean, and provide for the every need of the family. Aside from the financial contribution, the men, the husbands, the father of these children are nothing more than visitors in the home. Home is where they sit down to a prepared meal, sleep in a bed made for them by their mates and pick up their clean laundry. Period. These same women are valued only as much as the men with whom they reside.
Now, relax. I’m not saying all relationships are like this, but it will take little thought for such a couple of your acquaintance to come to mind. A very informal poll of my friends proved that many of them, too many of them, need look no further than the mirror to know such a person and it made me sad to have asked the question in the first place.
But back to Ann Davies Romney, who grew up a socialite and who married a very wealthy man – your experience as a mother resembles almost no one’s, so you and Willard can stop telling me and everyone else how deeply you relate to the average American. You’re not average and you never have been. Again, I’m glad you could enjoy your wealth and how you chose to raise your children is entirely between you and your husband. But in all fairness, 6 maids and an exclusive boarding school for your children isn’t exactly what the folks in my neighborhood ever get a taste of. Ann, stop whining about how you’ve been maligned as a stay-at-home mom… you look like an idiot. Oh, and President Obama, you can stop pandering too with your “there’s no harder job in the world than being a mother” speech. I’m pretty sure the national economic crisis, joblessness, homelessness, and the tracking down of international terrorists on a day to day basis makes your job a little harder. Your wife Michelle has the second hardest job in being a mother and the wife of the first African American President. She always manages to do her job with a great deal of elegance and style. You should pay more attention to how she manages to pull that off.
The Opinionated Bitch Darwin Award of the Week
On the other idiot topic of the week, speaking of degrading women, The Opinionated Bitch Darwin Award has to go to the Arizona Legislature and to Governor Jan Brewer. Together, they have enacted a law outlawing abortion at 18 weeks, 2 weeks earlier than any other state in the union. Why? Because according to these lawmakers, women could possibly be pregnant two weeks prior to their ever having had sex. If you’re having a WTF moment on that one, join the club. In Arizona, life does not begin at conception. Hell, it doesn’t even begin at erection. Apparently, life begins with a single impure thought – because clearly women are too stupid to know they’re even pregnant. I’m pretty pissed at my Sex Ed teacher, Mrs. Shirley Johnson. All that stuff about sperm meeting egg was clearly bullshit. It does leave me to wonder, how DO these mouth-breathers manage to get out of bed and tie their own shoes every day?
On a parting note… Ladies, I value everything you do. If you value the unpaid work of women, I strongly recommend you run, not walk from the GOP candidates on voting day.
Carol Baker is a political writer, satirist, and co-host with Vicki Childs of our Here Women Talk weekly internet talk radio show called BROADSIDED. You can hear their show every Thursday at 11 am Eastern/10 Central/8 Pacific.