Mitt Romney and the dignity of work

Sunday, April 15th, 2012 · 40 Comments »

I wasn’t planning to return to the Hilary Rosen thing, but the unbridled hypocrisy from the Romney camp is too choice to ignore. Mitt Romney: Mothers Should Be Required To Work Outside Home Or Lose Benefits:

WASHINGTON — 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.”

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.

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.

“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.’”

This man is such a joke. I’m busy doing my taxes today, so I’m going to outsource most of the commentary on this to Jill at Feministe, who I think captures it perfectly:

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!

Acutally, there is one thing I will add: Mitt Romney was clearly using the term “work” to refer to paid employment outside the home. You can argue that this is inappropriate or offensive, but it’s the norm in colloquial speech. If Hilary Rosen was also using the term “work” in the same way, how do their remarks compare?

  • Hilary Rosen said that a wealthy woman who has never engaged in paid employment outside the home is not an appropriate spokesperson for the women of America, most of whom hold down moderate or low-income outside jobs while simultaneously struggling to raise children and keep house.
  • Mitt Romney said that poor mothers (note that his reference to mothers was explicit) who don’t engage in paid employment outside the home should be forced to seek such employment in order to have the “dignity of work” and to be deserving of temporary welfare assistance.

I know which opinion I think is more offensive.

UPDATE: I just came across Ezra Klein’s take on this, and it’s so good I want to quote it:

Read that again: “I want the individuals to have the dignity of work.” And by “individuals,” Romney means “mothers.”

To understand this comment, you need to understand that there’s no such program as “welfare.” There’s only “TANF”: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. And the key word there is “families.” Welfare is not now, and never was, a program for poor people. It’s a program for poor mothers.

So what Mitt Romney was saying, in other words, was that he believes poor mothers should go out and get jobs rather than to stay home with their children. He believes that going out and getting a job gives mothers — and everyone else — “the dignity of work.” And so, finally, he believes that staying home and taking care of children is not “work,” and does not fulfill a “work requirement,” and does not give poor mothers “the dignity of work.” And he believes all of this strongly enough that, as governor of Massachusetts, he signed those beliefs into law.

On its own, there’s nothing particularly interesting about this admission. It’s more or less a position that both parties have shared since the 1996 welfare reform bill. But this week, Washington was gripped by an inane microscandal over a tweet by CNN contributor and Democratic consultant Hilary Rosen, who said Ann Romney had never worked “a day in her life.” 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.”

Those statutory distinctions don’t matter to wealthier parents like Ann Romney. She’s not looking for government benefits. Politicians can pander to her by merely recognizing the labor she puts in. But to poorer mothers, those benefits mean quite a lot. Politicians, however, don’t pander to poorer mothers. They put them to work.

Filed under: Various and Sundry · Tags:

40 Responses to “Mitt Romney and the dignity of work”

  1. RKMK says:

    Prezactly. And it leads more credence to the “Mommy Wars exist to divide us when we’re consolidating power” theorem. Republicans ain’t the friend of any mother who isn’t already privileged and well-off.

  2. Carmonn says:

    He’s channeling Newt, isn’t that cribbed directly from the Contract On America? Next week he’ll be moving back through the mists of time to advocate confiscating the children of single mothers and warehousing them in orphanages.

  3. Violet Socks says:

    Crap, I just realized I messed up the second link. It went to ThinkProgress instead of Feministe. That’s what I get for posting and doing taxes at the same time. I’ve fixed it now.

  4. Susan says:

    Mitts should start wearing a neck brace to protect against whiplash. Constantly talking out of both sides of your mouth is dangerous.

  5. Violet Socks says:

    By the way, folks, the spam filter is still acting very strange. It seems to be having a kind of paranoid panic attack, assuming everyone is a potential threat. If your comment get sucked into the ether, it doesn’t mean I’ve banned you (unless you’re a creep, in which case I probably have banned you! Ha!)— it just means you’ve entered the vortex of paranoia emanating from my spam filter. I am checking the filter regularly to fish people out.

  6. cellocat says:

    That is paternalistic and cruel. And what is coerced “dignity” anyway?

  7. tinfoil hattie says:

    This hypocisy isn’t limited to The Romney campaign, or to Republicans, or to conservatives. Most people, including well-known feminists, define “work” as “paid work outside the home,” a fact that speaks volumes.

    Read The Price of Motherhood by Pulitzer-nominated writer Ann Crittenden for an excellent takedown of this principle. As Crittemden points out, two thirds of the world’s wealth is created by “human capital.” Guess who that means? (Hint: it’s “women.”)

    I haven’t seen one Democratic nominee for president, ever, suggest serious support for motherhood. (I’m talking about mothers, because mothers do most of the heavy liftimg in parenting.) Maternity leave? No. True choices and input in how and where to give birth? No. Insistence that the mother and medical team, not insurance companies, determine what care is needed after a woman gives birth? No. Subsidized child care? No. Social security or Medicare pay-in for women who don’t have paying jobs? No. Support for low income women who want to raise their children rather than go back to “work”? No. Substantial support for parents who adopt? No. “Permission” for mothers without paying jobs to set aside their own tax-deferred retirement, at the same limits as those who work for pay? No. No, and no, and no.

    Instead, we (yes, I include myself in this) engage in tired and tiresome arguments about whether motherhood is really “the most important job in the world,” or if something else is. We argue whether rich women work as hard at motherhood as poor women do. We argue about whether motherhood is hard at all, or if mothers (especially “SAHMs”) are just whining. We argue over whether it’s “better” to have a paying job when you’re a mother, or whether it’s “better” to take care of your children “at home.” We argue over whether mothers “chose” motherhood, so too bad for them, they’re ruining the world anyway with overpopulation.

    It all adds up to disdain for and dismissal of mothers, which has its roots in (surprise!) hatred for women. Either we believe that motherhood is valuable and that mothers need support, or we don’t. Sitting around pointing fingers at who said the “worst” thing obfuscates the real reform and help and support mothers need. This pretext that we revere and support motherhood, while every single family policy speaks otherwise, is exhausting and crazy-making. Nobody runs for office on the “I will REALLY help mothers/women/parents” platform. I, for one, would love to have an honest and substantive discusssion about this on the national stage.

    Of course, that will never happen as long as wealthy, mostly white men are the ones making the decisions for not just the 99%, but also the “other” 51%.

  8. Violet Socks says:

    Read The Price of Motherhood by Pulitzer-nominated writer Ann Crittenden for an excellent takedown of this principle. As Crittemden points out, two thirds of the world’s wealth is created by “human capital.” Guess who that means? (Hint: it’s “women.”)

    I haven’t read this, but it’s a longstanding issue with feminist economists (or maybe I should say economically-minded feminists) that women do the work of the world. Unpaid.

    Go to any poor village where there’s “high unemployment.” You will typically find the men sitting around the village square, shooting the shit, complaining about how there’s “no work.” They mean paying work, work fit for men.

    Meanwhile, the women in the village never stop moving: carrying water, fetching firewood, milking the animals, tending crops, building fires, cooking the food, feeding the kids, caring for the kids, keeping house, making and repairing clothes, weaving the family’s homespun….it never ends. Never ends.

    The unpaid work of women holds up the world.

  9. riverdaughter says:

    Wow! I’m sorry, but I actually happen to agree with Mitt on this one. Welfare is no way to live, Violet. If I were a young single mom and someone was going to foot the bill for childcare for me to get training or find a good job, I’d take it.

    Yeah, it’s a shame that many women who want to be full time mothers can’t do that because they have to work. Most middle class women foot the bill themselves for childcare, which can be extraordinarily expensive. Ann Romney was born lucky, except for the illnesses.

    I can’t understand why so many liberals are so deaf, dumb and blind to the appeal of a job over welfare. We’d better be careful because the rest of the country will think Mitt is being very generous here, even though we know that most Republicans would rather have the tots sitting out in the car while their mothers are working. BTW, even in the most progressive scandanavian countries, maternity leave doesn’t last forever. Of course, they get stipends when they return to work but sooner or later, the state expects you to return to your job or pass it on to someone else.

  10. tinfoil hattie says:

    With which of Mitt’s sentiments do you agree, riverdaughter? The one where motherhood is so sacred and important, and mothers should be at home raising children (the LDS doctrine, by the way)? Or the one where mothers should be punished for having children, and must be humiliated and reminded that they are lesser human beings and don’t deserve a “choice” because they are poor?

  11. Sameol says:

    Oh, Lord. Riverdaughter, in addition to subsidized childcare both Sweden and Norway offer tax-free subsidies to parents of young children who want to stay home. Unlike our punitive welfare system, they’re still allowed to work part-time. It’s actually quite controversial, but only because the subsidies are considered too low to allow everyone to freely choose to work inside the home without financial sacrifice.

  12. riverdaughter says:

    Well, tinfoil hattie, let me just say that the Republicans smell a weakness here in the area of welfare that liberals seem to be confused about. Yes, that’s right, I said it. Liberals, and I count myself as one, can’t seem to figure out what they really want in welfare. I would much prefer it if we had a system like Sweden’s or Norway’s where everyone has access to good healthcare and childcare and stipends and such. But we don’t.

    But here’s the thing that I think the left is confused about: We seem to actually *want* for poor parents to collect welfare checks. That welfare check will keep them in poverty for a long, long time. When the children of those parents finally go to school, those parents will have been out of work, subsisting, barely, for 5 or more years. How is this a good thing under any circumstances? Even if you are a wonderful parent, welfare is no way to live. You end up in substandard housing, possibly in a high crime area, and all around you are people who have too much on their minds to even think about what lies beyond the confines of their public housing. It warps the perspective. You don’t strive for anything because you don’t know there’s anything worth striving for. If you grow up in an environment surrounded by lots of teenage mothers who didn’t finish their educations, that starts to look normal. Then the next generation gets trapped in it.

    I can’t understand how liberals could possibly think that this is a good way to grow up. It’s horrible. So, yeah, anything the government can do to get people out of a generational rut of poverty and into a job is worth trying. Even if that means putting your kid in a government subsidized childcare center and going back to work when they’re two.

    Back in the 90′s, when the Clinton administration tried to provide support for welfare recipients to help them transition to work, the Republicans were hard assed bastards and fought him on every single initiative. But think about what Clinton would have accomplished if his reform had gone through. Anyone who lost their job would have had access to training, housing vouchers, healthcare, childcare. It would have been a true safety net like we see in more progressive countries. No wonder the Republicans wanted to kill it. That would have been truly revolutionary. It would have meant that there would have been a path out of welfare and on the other end, it would have meant that no one who found themselves suddenly unemployed would be in danger of losing everything. Well, Republicans couldn’t have that. It would have been another Democratic triumph. So they killed it. And now, we’re all mad a the Clintons for wanting to change the way welfare recipients saw their lives as one endless, bleak month after month?

    Don’t get me wrong, Republicans see this confusion on the left as a political opportunity and they’re going to jump on it. You don’t have to believe in welfare queens to want something better for poor people. It is compassionate to want to help single women transition to work. Yes, it sucks that some people have it better than others through no effort. But I don’t think it is a very good argument for why we should oppose work and training programs for people who need them.

    So, I would be very, very careful about this issue. The Republicans will wipe the floor with us. The problem is not that welfare recipients will be forced to go to work. The way to address this is to ask why all hard working people don’t have access to government subsidized childcare and medicare for all like civilized
    countries. Why are we subsidizing bankers and not all women who need to work for a living? Why are we subsidizing insurance companies on top of the outrageous taxes we already pay?

  13. Susan says:

    tinfoil hattie, Democrats at both the state and federal levels have offered and, even, instituted many of the initiatives that you have mentioned including a pretty good federal adoption law that was spearheaded by Hillary when Bill was president. In the old days, when the GOP wasn’t run by zealots, some of them even supported those initiatives. It’s not the Democrats who are trying to cut the programs that are in place that help mothers. It’s the GOP.

    I seem to remember that you supported Hillary’s candidacy. If that’s correct, I don’t understand your hatred for feminists and Democrats. I, too, was shocked at the hostility toward women demonstrated by the Democratic leadership in 2008 but it hasn’t blinded me to the fact that I once was a Democrat and I’ve never disrespected women or motherhood. I’m a feminist and so is Hillary. So, why are you hating on women who have fought to increase opportunities and equal treatment for women? Why would you have ever suppported Hillary in the first place if you hate feminists and think that Democrats have “never” supported motherhood?

    On the welfare issue, having spent my youth in a working class family and my professional life working with mostly poor and working class people, I saw that the welfare program, Aid to Dependent Children, was creating a dependent underclass. Even Democrats saw that and we pay taxes, too. Teenage girls, to get out of the house, could have a child and be guaranteed their own apartment, with utilities paid and food, clothing and medical care provided. For girls who lived in poverty and saw no future because the work open to women who weren’t college educated was often low-paying anyway, it seemed a reasonable choice at sixteen. I supported the Clinton welfare reform bill because it included childcare and job training and educational assistance. I think everyone, if mentally and physically able, male and female, needs to have the experience of working for a living. My slightly mentally disabled cousin is happier when he has a job. Even Ann Romney should have had that experience. Knowing that you can take care of yourself is empowering and no one can ever be sure that a husband or the government will always be there to take care of you. One of the main problems with the current welfare system is that people do not have sufficient childcare to allow them fulfill the work or school requirements which will only be worsened by Mitt Romney’s economic policies.

    I won’t vote for Obama EVER but I still vote for down ticket Democrats unless I have a damn good reason to choose another candidate. So far, none of them have submitted a transvaginal ultrasound bill.

  14. dandelion says:

    Hmmm… When is some politician (or anyone else) going to demand that men work INSIDE the home?

  15. tinfoil hattie says:

    I’m long since banned at riverdaughter’s, stemming from years back when I dared to point out myiqx2u’s assholish sexism regarding posting “hawt” photo of some government “babe,” so I can’t respond to her latest post, in which she paints me as some sort of bad person! For wanting mothers to have welfare! Because it keeps women in poverty!

    So, RD, if you read this: you don’t speak for me; you don’t know what I “want”; and you still haven’t answered my question.

  16. quixote says:

    Riverdaughter, the point at least in this discussion is that women do a vast amount of necessary and unpaid work. (Unless I’ve missed the point myslef? Violet?) That doesn’t make it “work,” nor does it make it welfare.

    Sure, sitting around doing nothing is bad for the soul. That’s not a big problem for poor women on the whole. Usually, they’re running themselves ragged. The people who have to figure out what to do with their time are usually independently wealthy. And, yes, they’re on a kind of welfare, and yet oddly enough people aren’t worrying about their immortal souls.

    The number I remember for an estimate of the total work on the planet done by women was over 70%. The proportion of payments to women varies widely (I seem to remember something as low as 2% for Africa. ?? That can’t be right.) Global average is somewhere around 30%. So, if anything, women are providing a lot of welfare to somebody who’s sitting on their butt instead of doing their share of the work, but most of those somebodies aren’t women.

  17. quixote says:

    (I’m digging around for links. Marilyn Waring is a New Zealand economist who’s done a lot of accessible writing on the economic value and extent of women’s work.)

  18. Carmonn says:

    tinfoil hattie, I’m really sorry she did that to you, but at least she actually quoted your comment, which makes it clear that she either didn’t even understand it at all, or else she’s being completely disingenuous.

  19. Carmonn says:

    Paraphrasing something Katha Pollitt said years ago, why is it that taking care of someone else’s children is work, but women who care for their own children and need financial assiatance are considered social parasites who would be better employed “finding their dignity” wiping down tables at Wendy’s (which they also do at home)? I don’t think women who work inside the home doubt their own ability to take care of themselves and everyone else, too.

  20. tinfoil hattie says:

    susan, you should google “the fallacy of the complex question.”

    Meanwhile, please tell me, with citations, exactly which items in my list were used as a campaign foundation for any Democratic nominee for president. And which ones are laws that I am too ignorant to know about?

    Democrats are not pro-women. But they claim to be, so I want them to prove it before I ever vote for one again.

    Why are you so wiling to settle for crumbs?

  21. tinfoil hattie says:

    Carmonn, LOL! I’m so difficult to understand, that susan thinks I hate feminists. Best guffaw I have had in a long time.

  22. Violet Socks says:

    Quixote, here are the statistics (as reported by the U.N. and pretty much unchanged since 1980):

    Women make up half of the world’s population, perform two thirds of the world’s work hours, produce half of the world’s food, yet receive one tenth of the world’s income and own less than one hundredth of the world’s property.

    So, women do about 70% of the work and receive about 10% of the money.

    The fact that we live in a money economy and have since time immemorial really blinds us to the underlying reality. The fact is, women—female humans—have been doing the work of the world since before there was even money. In paleolithic times women did the bulk of the provisioning, just as they still do in hunter-gatherer societies (with the sole exception of the Arctic, which is a highly specialized economy that evolved fairly late in human history). Women do and did the gathering and preparing of food, while men did and do the luxury stuff: hunting for game, which nobody counted on for food because the hunt was always hit or miss.

    Then when women invented horticulture they continued to be the primary providers, working their farms to provision their families. Men’s work, again, was focused on luxury stuff: trade, hunting, and so on.

    You can follow this thread all through human history, with men taking on the high-paying luxury activities while women continued to do the basic provisioning and care that is necessary to keep life going.

    And this has not changed.

    Because we live in a money economy, where money has invaded every aspect of our lives and is the means by which everything is measured, it is easy to think that women who work at home are “parasites” on people who earn paychecks. But the truth is the exact opposite. The unpaid work that women do and have done forever to sustain life at the family level is what subsidizes everything else. As I said in that other thread, the only reason men and some women can engage in specialized paying labor in the marketplace is because unpaid women at home are keeping everything afloat by doing the basic work of life.

    It is only in modern, highly industrialized nations like our own that the burden of this work is lessening, owing to labor-saving devices. But even with electric stoves and microwaves and so on, women still spend many hours every week doing the fundamental work of cooking, cleaning, and childcare that must be done in order to support life. Furthermore, on a macro level our western capitalist lifestyle is reliant on the millions of women around the world whose unpaid labor makes our cheap food and fancy gadgets possible.

    Women do the work of the world.

  23. tinfoil hattie says:

    But why do YOU hate feminists, Violet?

  24. Violet Socks says:


  25. quixote says:

    “women do about 70% of the work and receive about 10% of the money.”

    So it’s worse than my fuzzy memory remembered. Figures. I think I’ll go take a walk and look at birds and plants and the huge blue Pacific that never has to think about these things.

    (I’m pretty sure tinfoil hattie was being funny. As in, sarcasm/ You don’t insist all women get counted-in-the-GDP-type jobs, you’re not a feminist /sarcasm.)

  26. Sameol says:

    TFH is referring to comment #13. TFH’s hatred of feminists is so well hidden, I’m still trying to find it.

  27. Violet Socks says:

    I’m sorry, I guess I missed some words in this thread. There are so many!

    You know, I’ll just point out that feminism is a broad path. My own comment #22 is profoundly rooted in one branch of feminist analysis. But there are many schools and flavors of feminism all over the world. Linda Hirshman is often cited as an American feminist who doesn’t value the unpaid work of women, though I hesitate to go there simply because I haven’t read her work except for a few articles. She definitely gives the impression of devaluing unpaid labor, but perhaps in her book-length efforts she’s dealt more fully with the issue.

    By the same token, Democrats are also a motley bunch. Overall the party has done a poor job of supporting women, as I have been saying ad nauseum for years now. But “the party overall” is not the same as individual Democrats, many of whom have worked very hard for women’s rights. In my lifetime, pretty much every feminist and leftist I’ve known who has gone into politics has done so on the Democratic side. So there are definitely true progressives within the party.

  28. Violet Socks says:

    Susan, I don’t see where you’re getting the idea that tinfoil hates feminists and Democrats. She is a feminist, and I think politically she’s a post-Democrat Green. I am pretty sure her frustrations are with the inadequacy of the status-quo-enabling Democratic party, and with some feminists.

  29. tinfoil hattie says:

    Nah, I just hate feminists. As well as women, men, SAHMs, Democrats, puppies, and babies.

    Also, harp seals.

    (Thanks, Violet)

  30. Sameol says:

    What about Christmas and America? Are you actually denying that you hate them?

  31. tinfoil hattie says:

    Ha ha ha, Sameol! Ya got me!


  32. Gayle says:

    “Linda Hirshman is often cited as an American feminist who doesn’t value the unpaid work of women, though I hesitate to go there simply because I haven’t read her work except for a few articles.”

    Forget about impressions: you have to read “Get to Work: A Manifesto for Women of the World.”

    You must!

    Oh, and I don’t believe Linda H. devalues unpaid work. Linda sees that the world we live in devalues unpaid work. There is a difference.

  33. Susan says:

    carmonn, my personal experience is that both men and women who know that they can take care of themselves and their families by working at a paying job, even wiping down tables at Wendy’s, are happier and healthier people.

    quixote, in fact, there is quite a bit of sitting around time for people in poverty when their food, shelter and clothing are provided and they have no hope of ever improving their lives. It’s the people who are trying to climb out of poverty by working, getting an education or job training who are constantly busy trying to take care of thier homes and children while also dealing with significant transportation and childcare issues.

    tinfoil hattie, what I see coming from you is massive anger towards anyone who doesn’t agree with you completely. Since Hillary has been more of a practical Democrat since her days in Arkansas, there is no “fallacy of the complex question” involved in asking why you supported her when she clearly did not run as the radical candidate that you seem to be demanding today.

  34. The gold digger says:

    Go to any poor village where there’s “high unemployment.” You will typically find the men sitting around the village square, shooting the shit, complaining about how there’s “no work.” They mean paying work, work fit for men.

    I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Chile, where I worked with indigenous women. Several women in my group were invited to the Smithsonian Folklife Festival – all expenses paid. One woman said she couldn’t go. I asked why not. “Who will watch my children? Who will cook? Who will get the water? Who will feed the chickens? Who will weed the garden?”

    I asked, “Your husband doesn’t have a job. Can’t he do it?”

    She looked at me as if I were crazy. Which I guess I was.

  35. Carmonn says:

    Susan, women who work at home don’t think of themselves as useless or doubt their ability to take care of themselves. They tend overall to understand that they have skills and brains. Working at home is not actually a mental disability.

  36. Susan says:

    Carmonn, what is your problem? At no time did I state or even imply that “working at home is a mental disability”. I clearly was speaking about the the security that comes from knowing that you can take care of yourself and your chldren if confronted with circumstances that make that necessary.

    Disagreeing with my opinion which I specifically stated was based on my own experience is one thing. You didn’t even bother to qualify your overreaching comnment that women who work at home don’t doubt their ability to take care of themselves. While I’m sure that’s true for some women, spend a day dealing with victims of domestic violence as I have for decades. You’ll meet a plethora of women who are terrified that they won’t be able to support themselves or their children if they leave their abuser.

    You’re welcome to your own point of view but falsely implying that I made such an offensive comment says a lot about you, none of which is flattering, and nothing about me.

  37. Carmonn says:

    I’m pretty sure my problem is I hate feminists, puppies, seals, and Christmas and my political opinions are not allowed to evolve over time–am I close? Am I close? Oh, well. My heart is broken by your bad opinion but at least I know I’m in extremely-oh-but-extremely good company with my massive waves of amber grain-anger.

    Your #13 post hadn’t been approved before I made my previous one, my point is that, while you referenced mentally disabled adults benefitting from being transitioned into work, those circumstances are dramatically different from what we’re talking about. “Poor women, he said, shouldn;t be given a choice, but instead should be required to work outside the home to receive benefits.”

    That’s devaluing childcare and other forms of domestic work that these women are already performing. “Overall,” actually is a qualifier, by the way (and I put that in there just for you because I knew it would upset you otherwise), and while, amazingly, I am the weenciest familiar with domestic violence just like millions upon millions of other women (trust–although to qualify I’m sure there are one or two who have actually never ever heard of the rare phenomenon of domestic violence or the circumstances of women being trapped with their abusers), we’re not, again, talking about women who are afraid they can’t support themselves in the workplace. We’re talking about women who don’t necessarily (qualifier!) want to work outside the home being forced to do so because in Mitt Romney’s world, they’re not smart enough to understand that they could accrue all of these marvellous benefits of self-esteem and dignity by being taught to work, ie paid minimum wage at Wendy’s for the same jobs they manage to perform at home without dissolving into a paralyzing orgy of self-doubt (often! I mean often they don’t doubt!). Or, alternatively, by being put in childcare positions where they can get paid for performing many of the same tasks for other people’s children that would make them social parasites if they demanded payment for them vis-a-vis their own kids.

  38. Miss Clairol says:

    there is no “fallacy of the complex question” involved in asking why you supported her when she clearly did not run as the radical candidate that you seem to be demanding today.

    But that isn’t what you asked. You asked why she supported her if she hates feminists. Again, google the fallacy of the complex question.

  39. Susan says:

    Carmonn and Miss Clairol, I considered for a brief moment whether I wanted to try to match the sheer snottiness of the above two posts and decided it would be a waste of my time.

    I think it’s good for men and women to know that they can earn of living. So, shoot me for having such a radical opinion.

  40. Violet Socks says:

    I’m not moderating this argument; I’m just letting comments from regulars out of the spam filter (which is still acting weird, no clue why).

    But it’s clear enough to me that this is one of those arguments that turns on misconstructions of individual sentences in people’s comments. And then builds from there, yadeyadyeayde.

    Nobody here disagrees on the basics. Yes, being a full-time mother is work. Yes, it’s work that has dignity and deserves respect. Also, we live in a money economy and everyone is empowered when they know they have some means to earn money if necessary, whether they’re a Guatemalan weaver working a backstrap loom or a part-time real estate agent in Denver or whatever. It’s especially empowering for women to know that they can be financially self-reliant if necessary and not dependent on fickle husbands or other controlling male relatives.

    Also, Mitt Romney is an asshole. Hillary Clinton is good.

    Everybody knows all this. Stop arguing.