Today’s involuntary guest post is brought to you by Jill, over on Feministe. I agree with her googolplex, plus one.
A brief addition to yesterday’s post, where I speculated that for all their blustering about how Ann Romney made a choice to stay home and raise her five boys and that’s a wonderful choice because motherhood is THE MOST IMPORTANT JOB IN THE WORLD and Democrats hate stay-at-home moms, Mitt Romney (and Republicans generally) only think you’re a stay-at-home mom if you’re white and wealthy and heterosexual: Well look at that.
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.
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.
“I wanted to increase the work requirement,” said Romney. “I said, for instance, that even if you have a child 2 years of age, you need to go to work. And people said, ‘Well that’s heartless.’ And I said, ‘No, no, I’m willing to spend more giving day care to allow those parents to go back to work. It’ll cost the state more providing that daycare, but I want the individuals to have the dignity of work.’”
Either Romney doesn’t view stay-at-home parenting as “work,” or he thinks that the only dignified work happens outside the home. Which speaks volumes about the importance he places on his wife’s work.
What Hilary Rosen said was sloppy, but let’s focus on the people with the real power here: Folks like Mitt Romney, who talk a big game about motherhood being THE MOST IMPORTANT JOB IN THE WORLD and how his wife’s job was so much more important than his, but don’t consider raising children to be real work, and who certainly don’t want to make full-time child-rearing a realistic option for people who are not very wealthy (and, notably, don’t want to make it a true choice for people who are not wealthy and who make the rational financial decision to stay home, given the cost of childcare vs. their own wages).
The crux of the issue is that Mitt Romney’s definition of “stay-at-home mom,” like his definition of “good mom,” is limited to women in his racial group and economic class. I would wager a lot of money that when Romney made those comments in January, he wasn’t even thinking of the term “stay-at-home mom” — because a low-income mother who relies on state aid is not a stay-at-home mom. She’s a welfare cheat, or lazy, or a drain on society. She’s undignified.
But sure, let’s keep talking about two stupid sentences uttered by Hilary Rosen were offensive. Nothing else to see here!