Mitt Romney Doesn’t Get Women

There’s been lots and lots of talk about Romney’s positions on women, especially his anecdote about seeking out “binders full of women” when appointing people to state positions as governor (which by the way turned out to be false).  Frankly, I don’t have time to get into everything Romney has said about women, or his flip flopping and double talk about things like insurance coverage of contraception or whether he would work to outlaw abortion. And frankly, lots of other people out there are addressing these things, so it’s not like I have to. But I do want to touch on a couple of Romney’s comments, one from last night, one from a couple of weeks ago, and a third from a couple of months ago.

Mitt Romney and June Cleaver

The first quote deals with women in the workforce:

“I recognized that if you’re going to have women in the workforce that sometimes you need to be more flexible. My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school. She said: ‘I can’t be here until 7 or 8 o’clock at night. I need to be able to get home at 5 o’clock so I can be there for making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school.’ So we said fine. Let’s have a flexible schedule so you can have hours that work for you.” (source)

This comment really bugs me because it’s so close and yet so far – and also because Romney seems to think that he hits it out of the park when he says this kind of thing, which is telling. In one sense, his comment sounds totally fine. He’s right, moms should be allowed to have flexible hours. I totally agree. But I don’t think that moms need flexible hours because they are moms, and that’s where Romney goes awry. Moms need flexible hours because they are parents. And dads need flexible hours too.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: We need to move away form making this a mom issue and toward making it a parent issue. Only then can we actually achieve equality in the workforce. As it is, male employers look at women with children and assume that they will need extra allowances men won’t need (not that that means they’ll necessarily give those allowances). If we could approach parenting equally – as an equal commitment of both mother and father – then we could move away from this and move in a positive direction. Parents need things like flexible schedules. Both parents, male and female. If I am given allowances, I don’t want it to be because of my gender, I want it to be because I’m a parent, and I want my husband to be given those same allowances as well (of course, the fact that only cis women and trans men can be pregnant or breastfeed does mean there will have to be a few differences early on).

And more and more, families do approach parenting equally. Men and women share the housework and the child rearing. But somehow I don’t feel like Mitt realizes this, perhaps because he’s never experienced it. Instead, he assumes that his female staffer with children needs allowances that he wouldn’t allow a male staffer with children. He assumes that his female staffer needs a flexible schedule because she needs to do mom things like cooking and child care, not because she’s a parent.

As other commenters have suggested, Romney appears to look at his female staffer and see June Cleaver. Well, Mr. Romney, I am not June Cleaver. And nor are the vast majority of women today.

Kids need a stay at home parent…

The second comment of Romney’s that got under my skin was this one, made in the context of a discussion about early childhood education and preparing children for kindergarten:

“It’s an advantage to have two parents, but to have one parent to stay closely connected and at home during those early years of education can be very very important.” (source)

Romney says it is “very very important” to have one parent stay home and not work during a child’s toddler and preschool years. First, kudos to Romney for not saying that it has to be the female parent, but I’m pretty sure he only avoided saying that out of political necessity and not because he really thinks all parents are created equal. I’m pretty sure that when he thinks of a parent being “closely connected and at home,” he’s thinking of a parent with lady parts. But let’s overlook that for a moment. While I’m, like I said above, all for making the stay at home mom issue into a stay at home parent issue, and I’m all for the growing number of stay at home dads, I have a big problem with this idea that a parent has to stay at home for those early years, or else the child is somehow going to be messed up or given the short shrift.

We put Sally in daycare not long after she learned how to walk, and Bobby will start daycare around the same time. I personally don’t think that being in daycare and now preschool has been “second best” for Sally, and Sean agrees with me. We went into the whole daycare thing a bit nervous as both Sean and I had stay at home moms, but Sean told me about six months ago that based on our experience he now thinks of daycare as a positive good rather than a necessary evil, and feels that daycare gives a child more advantages than staying home with a stay at home parent. Now every family and child is different and daycares vary in quality so I would never try to dictate our choices to others, but I can say with absolute confidence that Romney’s comment that having a stay at home parent is necessary and that daycare somehow automatically gives a child a short shrift is bullshit.

There’s another level on which Romney’s comment fails as well. Even though there are more and more and more stay at home dads these days, being a stay at home parent is still seen as more a mom’s responsibility than a dad’s responsibility. If a couple has a child and decides that one of them needs to stay home, their friends and family will generally assume that it will be the mother who will stay home, and it generally will be. So suggesting that kids who don’t have a stay at home parent will be messed up ends up being simply another way to lob guilt at working mothers. Indeed, when I heard this comment it was impossible not to read it as a personal attack. After all, this idea that working mothers are bad for children has a long history, and it is in this cultural context that people hear comments like Romney’s.

…but welfare moms better get a job 

As I hear Romney’s comments and compare them to other comments he has made, I’m struck more and more by his classism.

“While I was governor,” Romney said, “85 percent of the people on a form of welfare assistance in my state had no work requirement. I wanted to increase the work requirement. I said, for instance, that even if you have a child two 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 daycare 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.’” (source)

Reading this statement in which Romney argues that mothers of small children on welfare need the “dignity of work” and should be required to work and put their kids in daycare side by side with his statement that it is “very very important” that one parent “stay closely connected and at home” during a child’s early years is flabbergasting. It simply doesn’t make sense. If everyone needs “the dignity of work,” then why in the world does he place so much importance on having a stay at home parent? And what about Anne Romney? She never had a job outside the home – which is what he’s saying mothers who take welfare need – so was she robbed of “the dignity of work?”

Romney appears to believe that middle and upper class mothers should stay at home with their children but that poor mothers better work. Poor mothers need “the dignity of work,” but middle and upper class mothers don’t. This is so twisted and wrong it’s making my head hurt. Either people – all people – need “the dignity of work,” or Romney’s claim that this is why he wants mothers on welfare to be forced to get jobs is a smokescreen.


I honestly think it makes it worse that Romney is clearly trying, and yet still falling so short on these issues. He intentionally says that a “parent” needs to stay home with the kids, not that mothers need to, and he trumpets the fact that he gave a woman on his staff extra flexibility so that she could go home to cook and care for her children, but he doesn’t realize that he’s still reinforcing the ideas that working mothers are bad for children and should be expected to pull a double shift, both of which are ideas we need to do away with for once and for all. But the fact that Romney thinks he scores when he says these things means he’s really out of touch with the needs and lives of women like me.

There’s also the fact that he can talk about the importance of having two parents and tout the importance of marriage while refusing to allow gay people to marry. Romney is all for families … so long as they’re his “approved” type of families. Gay families don’t count, and as we learned last night he sees single parents as a cause of gun violence. Oh, and families that are on welfare don’t seem to be approved either, so you better not get too poor if you want to be on Romney’s good side. For Romney, the “approved” type of family is the two parent, opposite gender, not-in-poverty family where one parent stays home when the children are small and the lady parent always cook supper. And that’s simply not the reality for my family, or for the vast majority of American families.

The reality is that Mitt Romney comes across as horribly out of touch every time the word “women” comes out of his mouth.

Note: I’d like to invite my readers to use the comments section to discuss not only what I’ve written about here but also to bring up and discuss other statements made by Mitt Romney on women’s issues. Depending on how the discussion goes, I may copy and past some of your comments offering additional Romney quotes and analyses to the bottom of this post. 


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About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Niemand

    There’s a certain amount of evidence that going to preschool is healthier and better for kids’ psychosocial development. Especially only children or children in small families. Will try to pull some articles if you’re interested.

    • Libby Anne

      Sure, that would be interesting! Like I said, I’m inclined to agree, and that certainly fits my experience, but since every parent, child, and situation is different, I wouldn’t want to make some sort of blanket statement that staying at home was necessarily bad for kids or something. Besides, that also plays into the blame game – there’s a woman who lives across the way from us who stays at home with her daughter, and people are constantly telling her that she’s ruining her child by not putting her in daycare for the socialization, but since she can’t get a job and they’re living on loans while her husband is in school, it’s not like she can just enroll her daughter with the snap of her finger so instead she just feels like a bad mom all the time. In other words, I hate it that moms essentially always feel under attack from someone and I try to avoid perpetuating it!

      • Niemand

        Definitely! Every child is different, every family is different, and daycare or preschool is not right for every situation. My feeling is that the current evidence suggests that there is no need to feel guilty about either choice-the situation is simply too complex for anyone to be able to say “this is the right thing” for any given family-except, of course, members of that family. In terms of public policy, though, I’d like to see more options being made available, both longer family leave (including more flexible paternity leave) and more funding or subsidy of high quality daycare and preschool.

        I didn’t find the original article I was looking for (sorry!), but did find a cochrane review of the subject, which might be helpful:

  • smrnda

    My Mom took time off work and decided to keep me at home rather than preschool etc., and though I learned a lot it put me very far behind in social development and I felt like it took me years to catch up. The advantages she thought she was giving me she could have given me alongside the advantages of socialization with kids my own age. I mean, I was the first kid (second one was much later.) Nobody in my family or neighborhood had kids so I missed out even on learning how to play usual kid games. I realize that I didn’t acquire the usual energy and emotional expressiveness of children since I was around my Mom and grandparents all the time, who had slowed down significantly.

    And on work, if Mitt Romney’s wife doesn’t have to work, why should any other Mom? If being a Mom is a job (the defense the Romneys made against accusations that Anne Romney ‘never worked’ ) then why do we need this work requirement for poor mothers since don’t they already have a job?

    The dignity of work my ass. Romney wants to force poor women into the workforce so they can do low-wage, low-skill jobs with no potential for advancement so that members of the ruling class (like himself) can profit from their labor. Mitt Romney is all about his own family, at the expense of other people’s. His wife needs to stay home, so get those poor women to work so his stocks can go up.

  • Alexandra

    “I recognized that if you’re going to have women in the workforce that sometimes you need to be more flexible.”

    This comment made me especially mad, not only because it says moms should be doing more child rearing than dads, but also because he’s saying women = moms. There are childless women out there, and they’re women too!

    • Libby Anne

      Good point regarding childless (or childfree) women!

    • http://jw-thoughts.blogspot JW

      the women -moms comment – I think you are taking it too personal. It is a general statement because not all women can get pregnant and then not all women who have kids are fit for motherhood. How often have you heard someone refer to their mom for their inspiration in whatever way as opposed to their dad? The motherhood bond is closer to the child than the fatherhood bond is. Mother’s Day, isn’t it a bigger day than Father’s day?
      So, yes,

      • Libby Anne

        The motherhood bond is closer to the child than the fatherhood bond is.

        And there I disagree. To the extent that your statement is true, it’s a social construction born out of the patriarchal structure of society. It’s not some sort of natural truth. And for an increasing number of families today, it’s quite simply false. In fact, if my children were to end up feeling closer to me than to Sean, I would see that as a problem. Mitt Romney doesn’t seem to realize this and you might not either, but today’s parents generally seek to share the responsibility of child rearing rather than foisting the whole thing on the mother as in the past. I know many a father who would be offended at the idea that his children should have a closer bond with his wife than with him.

      • Libby Anne

        Also, as for Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day, Sean and I celebrate both equally.

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        When I was a child, I was just as bonded to my father as to my mother. My parents also shared the care for me equally. Gee, I wonder if there’s a connection?

      • Carol

        Mothers Day vs. Fathers Day, the final showdown. That’s the clincher argument of mother bonding over father bonding right there, the Hallmark ™ days, the totally hyped up, heavily marketed non-events.

      • Carol

        There are some ways that my kids are closer to me than my husband and in other ways they are closer to him. In terms of motivational speeches for teenagers, my husband can’t be beat. He’s so good at it, he should take it on the road professionally, he has just the right touch of knowledge, personal experience and humor. So he does that more than I do. He has more in common with them than I do, and it’s common that they can have intense conversations with him that I just nibble around on the edges. But we share almost everything equally as well, and the 4 of us are together a lot. We both also have a lot of flexibility with our work situation, that helps tremendously and believe me, we have recognized this for many, many years and we know we’re very lucky.

      • Alexandra

        I don’t think you got my point, mostly because I really don’t get yours. Women’s issues aren’t parents’ issues. Assuming that they are shows how out of touch he is with women.

      • Amanda

        No, the motherhood bond isn’t stronger than the fatherhood bond. I’m more like my father and am closer to him than I am to my mother. Different families have different dynamics.

      • Anat

        Mother’s Day, isn’t it a bigger day than Father’s day?

        Wow, what a silly argument. When my daughter was in preschool she sang the songs from the Mother’s Day celebration from May to June, and then switched to the Father’s day songs from June to well into September, maybe October. Obviously Father’s Day made more of an impression! No, just retract that. It’s beyond silly. And as Libby-Anne says, the emphasis of motherhood is just a tool of patriarchy, just away to deny all other aspects of women.

      • RowanVT

        Uhm…. I’m equally attached to my dad as I am my mom…. When I was very young, I had a stronger bond with Dad than I did Mom because Mom was sick a lot. Dad basically had to raise me and my brother. Mom told me how sad it was, once she was all better, that I didn’t want to spend time with her. I was only 5 when she was well enough to begin taking care of me too, and she didn’t get her first spontaneous hug from me until I was 6.

        So, rude gesture in your general direction.

      • victoria

        My kid really loves me, but in her eyes her Daddy is a demigod and the most wonderful human being on the face of the planet.

    • Judy L.

      I especially bristled at his phrasing: “IF you’re going to have women in the workforce…”

      There is no IF. Women are not an adjunct to the workforce. Women ARE the workforce just as much as men. The only difference is that it’s assumed, by dinosaurs like Romney, that a man’s status as a father should have no impact on his professional life, but a woman’s status as a mother means making special scheduling allowances for her in the workplace because it’s assumed that, unlike her male counterparts, she doesn’t have a wife at home taking care of things. (Ah, a stay-at-home wife…every working woman needs one.)

      Also, Romney didn’t answer the question concerning how he would ensure equal pay for women and equality in the workforce. And I was left baffled by why, in 2002, Romney needed binders full of women from women’s groups to find qualified female candidates for his cabinet. With three decades’ experience in business and politics he couldn’t come up with a least a few names on his own?

    • Regina

      Hi there. Look, I agree it wasn’t phrased well but the truth is that married women DO perform a lot more housework on average than their partners. It has been shown over and over in all sorts of studies, regardless of whether both are working full-time. Most of the women I know want to work part-time or flexible hours if they can afford it so they have the joy of spending more time with their kids. I was excited and grateful that at least he brought up flexible work hours- I mean, no one has ever even put that out there. This is huge!! Should men have it too- of course, but our society isn’t going to accept that all at once. Why not let women get the advantage on this one! And the truth is, even though it may upset some women, most of us do go home and cook dinner- he was just speaking the truth in all fairness. Obviously, for people who can not afford part-time/flex hours, it is a totally different economic situation. I think his point was, ideally it would be better not to get into that situation as a single mom- i.e., have children born into a stable relationship that is also economically sound, and certainly that would be a better goal for moms, dads, and kids. Obama has done nothing for women. If the bill he signed had any significance, the pay difference between men and women would not be occurring, unchanged, four years after the bill was signed.

      • Anat

        but the truth is that married women DO perform a lot more housework on average than their partners.

        And that is the problem. Which won’t be fixed without giving the same considerations to employed parents of any gender. Which real progressive countries do.

        Why not let women get the advantage on this one!

        Because giving ‘advantages’ to women make employers even less likely to hire women? Because these ‘advantages’ keep women behind in promotion and pay?

        The pay difference between men and women is a more complex issue with deep roots that isn’t going to be solved by one piece of legislation. There is a lot of sociology and psychology going on behind what pay is offered, whether people get raises etc.

      • wanderer

        See, you bring up a good point in Romney’s attitude about all this. You say Obama has done nothing for women. But Romeny blatantly said he WILL NOT lift a finger. His response in the debate was basically “when I’m president there are going to be all these jobs magically appearing everywhere, so much so that employers will hire (even) women, and that will magically make them more flexible with schedules.”
        I might be paraphrasing a little … but that was the jist. NO intention of making SURE women get a fair shake or fair wages.

      • kagerato

        The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (2009) did make it much easier to sue for damages in pay discrimination cases. The Supreme Court had ruled that a lawsuit had to be filed within 180 days of the first time the discrimination occurred (which is pretty ridiculous and nearly impossible). Now, a lawsuit can be filed within 180 days of any time the discrimination has happened, which means the common case of on-going wage theft can be properly addressed. That’s hardly “nothing”, although maybe it doesn’t go quite far enough.

        To be fair, though, the democratic Congress gets a lot of the credit for this, as it is a law (not a regulation). The President signed it, though, so he deserves some modest accords.

        As to ending the pay gap in general, it’s a tough problem. Lawsuits are never really going to do it, because companies see lawsuits as merely a cost of doing business and often account for them well ahead of time. Nothing short of making pay discrimination outright unprofitable would make a dramatic shift there.

        The overarching issue, and the reason this is so complicated, is that much of the wage gap between men and women is caused by differences in the occupation distribution. Even assuming that we eliminated all instances of pay discrimination where a woman was paid less for the same job, that doesn’t actually close the gap. Men have a much larger share of the jobs that simply pay more. Some examples include top-tier executive positions, doctors, lawyers, high-level research scientists, the military brass, and legislators. Fully correcting the matter requires hiring a lot more women for these posts.

    • LPBB

      I’m coming into this discussion late, but that drives me absolutely nutty about this campaign specifically and the large issue of the way that “women’s issues” or the “women’s vote” are generally framed in our political discussions.

      I am a cis woman. I am biologically capable of having children. However, I have chosen not to have children. But the Romney campaign continues to talk to women *only* in the context of motherhood. Romney’s treatment of gender disparity in the workforce only focused on how important it is for work to be structured so that women, aka mothers, can get home in time to cook dinner for their kids. Yes, that’s a wonderful goal and I support it. I actually support flextime for all — whether you are a mom, dad, grandparent, caretaker for an elderly parent, or simply a selfish beyatch who refuses to fulfill the function the Good Lord had in mind when he created you. I firmly believe that flex time will lead to more productive employees overall.

      Ann Romney’s speech at the convention that was supposed to show women that Romney is the guy for them? All about Moms. I listened to that and thought “Wow. I’m nowhere in your envisioning of this country. I’m completely erased.” It’s like women who don’t have children don’t exist in their worldview. Or if we do exist, we exist only as potential moms, so these are still our issues because one day we’ll be a mom and then these things will be important to us. Woman=Mom, so we’ll focus on what Mom’s want, because that’s what all women want.

      I support things like universal childcare, higher wages for teachers, more generous parental leave policies following the birth/adoption of a child, etc because I believe that they benefit society as a whole. But, I don’t have a very personal stake in these issues and they aren’t the ones that really animate me as a voter.

      As a voter, some of the “women’s” issues that really animate me are continuing access to birth control without the intrusion of the gov’t or my employer, safe and legal abortion, pay equity, stronger laws against rape, domestic violence, etc. These are issues that have a daily impact on me and that I care about strongly. (This is just a list off of the top of my head, not exhaustive).

      Unfortunately, I think in the larger discussion, “women’s issues” tend to boil down to “moms’ issues”, which just feeds into the political strategy of focusing on mom’s issues as a way of addressing women’s issues. And “moms’ issues” tend to boil down to educated, white middle-class mothers of children 0-10 issues. I know my sister who’s daughter just went off to college has different issues that are important to her as a mom than my friend who has a 3 year old. (When I say “important” I mean “animating to the point of voting on that issue.” I think my sister would recognize that Charlotte’s issues are important, they just don’t have the same impact on her life anymore and her focus is elsewhere now). But Charlotte’s issues are the ones that are commonly recognized as mom issues: good schools, affordable daycare, flexible working schedule, etc.

      I also have to say that I was deeply deeply insulted by the fact that Mitt Romney seems to think the only hope women have of getting hired is for the economy to grow so fast that employers will be so desperate to hire anyone that they will actually hiring women.

      • Libby Anne

        This is pertinent.

    • Kiya Nicoll

      The thing that got me about it was actually not the sexism of it – though that enraged my *housemate*, but the fact that to Romney, someone going home at *five* is a special concession.

      I actually managed to make a childfree acquaintance go, “Oh. Right” and back down on her anger at parents who get those “special concessions” when I pointed out that a forty-hour workweek isn’t a special concession, it’s something that should be normal and expected! (Especially given that the research on the subject suggests that hours beyond forty become less and less valuable until the point at which they become actively counterproductive.) There’s a lot of resentment about parents being treated with the level of consideration for their personal lives that other people don’t have a socially acceptable way to demand.

  • Jayn

    The big point I noticed (aside from the ‘two parent family’ thing) was that his solution to helping women in the workplace was basically make sure there’s so many jobs there aren’t enough men for them. Nothing about pay equality or biases in hiring, just get the economy going so well that businesses HAVE to hire women. And to an extent, it might help with the general shift needed of seeing women doing more outside the home, but it doesn’t address the pay issue or the division of ‘women’s work’ and ‘men’s work’.

    • smrnda

      a reason why we don’t see more jobs is a lack of consumer demand. Nobody hires any more workers than they need to to make money. If a profitable company gets a tax break, it increases its revenues, but they aren’t going to hire more workers unless they really need them. If the liquor store around the corner got a tax break, they aren’t going to hire an extra person since they can get by on 2 at a time.

      So, why is there so little consumer demand? Check out profits, check out how they increase, and then check out how wages for workers has been doing. Low and stagnant wages lead to a lack of consumer demand. The people at the top don’t use their money for buying goods or services but for consolidating their ownership and putting the squeeze on more workers. Businesses consolidate ownership and then demand increases in productivity or decreases in compensation.

      Eventually this causes things to stagnate because you can’t make money without there being workers who have money to spend. There is no market force, other than minimum wage regulations or the possibility of workers going on strike, that would lead to an increase in wages.

      The policy that would help is to tax the rich and use the money for education and infrastructure. Let college grads get an education without going into debt. Get workers enough money that they can do better than just scrape by. Hire teachers and other people we need; the will be spending money in their local economies that would otherwise be going to tightening the grasp of a few people on more things.

      As for work, I work in the tech field, and our problem is we have $$$ to hire people but no qualified candidates since we don’t have enough people with the educations we need. It’s tough to go to school when you don’t have money, and something I learned was that poor kids don’t major in computer science – if you can’t dedicate yourself full time to your studies, you will fail out of the program. More affordable educations will mean people can pursue some of the more lucrative and more demanding fields.

  • AztecQueen2000

    I especially loved how Romney made a point of mentioning how the best plan for avoiding single-parent families is to ensure that children are born in wedlock. Don’t we have a 60% divorce rate? Aren’t most single-parent families created well after the children are born?

  • appellategirl

    And, um, there would be fewer babies born out of wedlock if birth control was made cheaper and more freely available.

    • Amanda

      There you go being logical.

  • smrnda

    On births ‘out of wedlock,’ this should just be accepted as the new normal and we should learn to deal with it.

    • Judy L.

      Any time you hear someone using the term ‘out of wedlock’ you should say, “Yeah, those illegitimate, bastard children really are the cause of all the problems in our society.” It might take people a while to realize that ‘out of wedlock’ sounds just as offensive as ‘illegitimate’ or ‘bastard’, but it’s way past time we stopped using any of this language to define children as less-than and to demonize single parents.

  • Pam

    I think race also plays a big part in this issue as well.

    • smrnda

      I think Romney’s basic point is that middle, upper-middle and upper class white motherhood and woman-hood need to be protected, and that the ‘others’ need to get back to work. That was the real perspective throughout history of upper class snobs and twits, as the Victorians went on about some cult of proper woman-hood and mother-hood while pregnant women were working in coal mines.

      • Pam

        Thank You. That’s what I wanted to say but my brain is not working today!

      • smrnda

        It might just be that I’m far more nasty and contentious. Plus, let’s be honest, Romney would lay off workers by the thousands and send families into poverty to make sure his *own* precious rich white family could buy another mansion. Of course, his argument will be that if people like him just got more tax cuts, all those out of work people would be employed again…

      • Bix

        So true, about the Victorian ideal and hypocrisy. I’ve also read that women (and presumably men) spend more time with their kids now than at any other point in history, or at least compared to the ’50s. We structure our lives around our kids a lot more than we used to.

      • smrnda

        The idea that we should *only* work 40 hours a week and only 5 days a week was once considered radical. During the industrial revolution, I can’t imagine how people even had time for sex, let alone actually raising the kids.

  • Attackfish

    My mom is a nurse, and was in school when I was little. My dad did the bulk of getting us home from daycare, making dinner, etc. in spite of having an extremely inflexible job, and then once my mother graduated and she started working, it became her job to shift work around the kids. Since it turned out that I was really sick and had multiple disabilities, this meant not only was it incredibly difficult for my mother to hold a job, but made her job much more vital (a kid with disabilities is really expensive!) and made her nursing knowledge critical on a more personal level. Dad had to be able to take some of the slack so Mom could stay employed, and be ready to drop everything to rush to my school and deal with a crisis. He not only had to deal with structural consequences because he was seen as not properly committed to his job, but he was mocked, because he was taking care of his child, and that was the Mommy’s job, not the Daddy’s. (I’m sure most people mocking him didn’t put it that way, but it was strongly implied. It was also implied that having a child with disabilities was something to be ashamed of). And then my dad’s insurance decided not to cover my immune therapy anymore, and Mom’s work insurance was the only thing letting us pay my doctor. The idea that needing to be available for one’s children is a problem for women only is really disgusting.

  • Josh

    Romney’s smugness over women was incredible when he said, “I recognized that IF you’re going to have women in the workforce that sometimes you need to be more flexible”. It’s as if women are somehow not yet in the workforce…Looking at the comments I’m thinking what should have been said was: “Because there are men and women in the workforce, you need to be more flexible.”

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      How about just “Because most working people have families and responsibilities outside of work, you need to be flexible.” That covers it pretty well, I’d say.

      • Judy L.

        It doesn’t matter how we phrase it, because the real problem with what Romney said is that NONE OF IT addressed or answered the question that was posed to him. The question-asker wanted to know what HE WOULD DO to rectify inequalities in the workplace, specifically the wage gap. Romney didn’t answer the question.

  • Sheila Crosby

    Didn’t Rmoney vote against equal pay?

    • Liberated Liberal

      I couldn’t find any information on that. Ryan absolutely did vote against it.

      My Google-Fu is fuzzy today.

  • jose

    I didn’t like that Romney linked economic prosperity and discrimination. His solution against discrimination is to grow the economy. He said improve the economy so companies will be eager to hire women. That means when the economy gets worse again, discrimination would naturally come back. But these are two different issues that shouldn’t be tangled together like that. The message is that equality of opportunity in the workplace is a luxury that we can only afford when the economic conditions allow it, instead of the right thing to do morally and economically.

  • smrnda

    Great point Jose, it also makes me think that Romney is really a typical run of the mill rich guy saying nothing but ‘once I get a few million more, then women and minorities can cash in too!’

  • Karla

    “We need to move away form making this a mom issue and toward making it a parent issue. Only then can we actually achieve equality in the workforce. ”

    Yes yes yes yes yes yes. “Women’s issues” are losers in our society. Labeling a problem as a women’s problem is the fastest way to ensure it won’t get solved.

  • Steve

    Romney shows every sign of being a sociopath. He is physically incapable of understanding anyone not in his situation, showing any empathy or telling the truth.

    • smrnda

      He did try to make a case in the debate that he was a nice guy while in a position of church leadership, but overall his social impact has got to be quite in the negative. His few moments of generosity don’t outweigh the massive damage from his greed, but I’m sure that in his minds the occasional times he pretended to care make him a great guy.

      Also, his social class and level of privilege mean that he probably never has to think of the people he screws as anything but numbers. To some extent I don’t think it’s very likely privileged people will develop empathy. They are insulated from the consequences of their actions, for the knowledge of the damage, and are surrounded by people padding their egos. What would you expect?

      • Judy L.

        I respect that lots of good Ministerial work is done by genuine, empathetic, sympathetic and suppotive people, but only a sociopath can be a truly successful preacher or missionary. Missionary work requires you to regard other people as a means to an end (your own success) and to disregard their current beliefs and values.

        Romney was a missionary, a bishop, and a businessman. There’s no core to this man – he’s veneer all the way through. You can see it in his face: he’s always looking past the person he’s supposedly looking at, always looking as though he’s waiting to speak instead of listening, and always insisting that he get to play by his own rules. He’s the guy who will introduce himself and shake your hand and say ‘good to meet you’ but won’t remember your face or your name five minutes later. He’s literally the kind of guy who will sit at a table with a group of unemployed people and joke that he’s also unemployed. He either has no clue about how other people perceive him, or he doesn’t care. Either way, it’s pathological.

      • Liberated Liberal

        This is very typical of psychopathic people. I, unfortunately, dated one once AND have a family member with the same qualities. He was abusive, mean, cruel and destructive, but because he pretended to do nice things once in a great while (only so that he could us it against said person or persons), he genuinely believed he was a GREAT guy. He had no ability to comprehend how anyone could perceive him or his actions as wrong (or superficial when they were “good” actions). Mitt is exactly this type of person – so narcissistic that he will never realize that anything he does is wrong, no matter how hideous it is. Some people are claiming that he is willfully blind to his actions and behavior, but I completely disagree. He isn’t aware, and never will be, no matter how diligently it is brought to his attention. In his mind he is 100% right, good, moral and in charge. Nothing will change that.

      • wanderer

        I’d also like to point out that probably a good portion of his “philanthropy” is forced tithing by the mormon church. So…. basically he’s paying them what they require him to pay to keep his “soul saved”, and the money is most likely used to send more people to convince others to become a mormon. (not for feeding the homeless, etc.)

    • wanderer

      agree. He seems to care about people in his little circle, but doesn’t seem to be able to empathize or put himself in ANYONE else’s shoes. Scary.

      • smrnda

        I actually had a few family members like this as well, one who had the annoying habit of mocking anyone he saw on television who had undergone some tragedy or experience and injustice, but who (in person) would of course be polite to everyone. He took me to task for judging him for ‘how I watch TV!’ The problem is you can’t be callous for 3 or more hours a day, and then expect people to think that you’re a decent person.

        Mitt probably doesn’t behave as overtly bad, but he’s clearly a believer in his own benevolence. He’s happy to donate money, but if you take into account how he got it, he’s causing more harm than good. He’s also unwilling to recognize a system clearly rigged in his favor.

  • Saraquill

    He’s conveniently forgetting how there are families that need at least two incomes in order to stay afloat. As nice as it might be for some families to have an adult stay home and look after the wee ones, it’s way better to make sure that the entire household doesn’t have to live hand to mouth.

  • Annie

    Not on the same question, but tangentially related, was anyone else galled by Romney’s inference that minority, low-income, single mothers are responsible for the culture of violence that leads to gun control issues? I don’t remember the exact phrasing, but he went from saying that #1 we don’t need more gun control laws, we need to enforce the ones we have (okay, I can get behind that, maybe), #2 we need to change the culture of violence in this country (alright buddy I’m with you, may not agree on how to get there, but yeah), to #3 this is all caused by a lack of two parent households and more people need to be married (*record screech* whaaaaaaa???).

    Then the smart ass in me said, so if two parent households are so damn important, why are we not letting homosexual couples get married again?

    Also, he did not get into office in MA, find that he didn’t have women candidates to choose from for cabinet positions, and push for more female applicants. A bipartisan commission to promote women in higher office presented him with his “binder full of women” when he was elected.

  • machintelligence

    I’m a little late to the party, but here is a great parody song originally by Allen Sherman in the 1960′s covered nicely by the Capitol Steps.
    And some notes on the original:

  • lucrezaborgia

    I’m calling bullshit on day care costing more than welfare.

  • Manoj Joseph

    Re: mom’s needing flexible hours to cook dinner.

    When Ann Romney was battling multiple sclerosis, this is what Romney told Ann.
    ‘I don’t care how sick you are. I don’t care if you’re in a wheelchair. I don’t care if I never eat another dinner in my life.I can eat cereal and toast and be just fine. As long as we’re together, everything will be O.K.’

    That’s some 50s mindset!

    • smrnda

      Yeah, I mean, why didn’t he learn how to cook and cook for her? If I was with a man and I was ill and he went on about ‘well, I’m willing to eat cereal” I’d be asking “so, what am I going to eat? Nice making my illness all about YOU!”

      • Attackfish

        “Nice making my illness all about YOU!”

        This. My mom heard his comment, and her reaction was “Aww, that’s sweet, but it’s sweet the way a child would be sweet.” And she’s right, it’s all about Mitt. That’s normal and healthy in a six-year-old, not so much in a grown man. A grown man should be talking about how they’re in this together, and he’ll take care of her, and she needs to focus on staying as healthy as possible.

    • Niemand

      Mitt, Mitt, Mitt. Did it never occur to you that you could learn to cook? That maybe you should be making your chronically ill wife dinner instead of even considering whether she could cook for you?

      • alfaretta

        For #@$% sake, he’s one of the richest men in America, he could hire a staff of cooks! He could contract to have food flown in three times a day from the top restaurants in America, for that matter.

  • Rikard Molander

    Funnily, here in Sweden the debate about preschool goes the other way – parents who decide to keep their children at home are derided as “depriving their child of an important experience”. It’s assumed that daycare with other children is better for the child’s psychological development, and if you choose not to, there’s definitely some stigma associated with that. It’s funny how cultures differ.

  • Redhead84

    Your points are valid and I am a strong supporter of women’s rights. But you can’t say that Romney meant to say “mom” instead of “parent” when talking about a parent staying at home with the little ones. You can talk about the tone in his voice or context of the conversation, but don’t call it a fact. That’s what your opposition will grab onto and negate your whole argument. Stick with facts to keep your message strong.

  • Holly

    “…of course, the fact that only cis women and trans men can be pregnant or breastfeed…”
    This may be splitting hairs but homosexual females can do both of those things as well.

    • Libby Anne

      “Cis” and “trans” refer to gender identity rather than sexual identity. “Cisgender” refers to “individuals who have a match between the gender they were assigned at birth, their bodies, and their personal identity” while “transgender” is “the state of one’s gender identity (self-identification as woman, man, neither or both) not matching one’s assigned sex (identification by others as male, female or intersex based on physical/genetic sex).” Whether one is cis or trans does not actually say anything about one’s sexual orientation – whether they are attracted to males or females. Thus a cis person can be either gay or straight, and a trans person can be either gay or straight. Thus “cis woman and trans men” covers everyone born with a uterus, whether they currently identify as female or male. I hope that helps, I know it can be confusing!

      • Attackfish

        Well, not quite everyone. There are genderqueer people with uteri who identify as neither men nor women too.

      • Libby Anne

        Attackfish – You’re right, it’s important to avoid assuming that the binary is all-encompassing. But generally I do hear people use the terms “cis” and “trans” as though that encompasses everyone. Is there another word to add, or is “genderqueer” the correct term, and if so why is it not often used alongside “cis” and “trans”?

      • Attackfish

        Probably the best term is non-binary people. “Genderqueer” like “queer” more generally I think is one of those terms best used within the queer community.

      • somaticstrength

        As a non-binary person, I’ve seen trans* (with the asterisk) used the most; the asterisk an attempt to encompass all non-cis identities.

      • Holly

        I stand corrected. I thought I had read that cis was basically another term for straight and is preferred because it doesn’t imply everyone else is crooked.

      • Libby Anne

        No worries!

      • Attackfish

        somaticstrength: So that’s what the asterisk is for. Good to know.

        Holly: You live, you learn :)

      • Holly

        Wish we could just call people…well, people.

  • ButchKitties

    What Mitt Romney doesn’t get about women could fill a binder.

  • http://Love,Joy,Feminism Northstar

    A word on Mitt Romney’s widely-touted charitable contributions: about 80% is to the Mormon church; much of the rest goes to the Tyler Foundation, a Romney family charity.

    “Charitable giving” is a great way to mask income if you’re giving to yourself.

  • Elizabeth

    I’m a stay at home Mom. It was my choice, and I decided I would prefer to stay home. I have a zillion hobbies (some of which are starting to pay off as I have recently begun teaching things and being paid) and so never had any problems keeping myself happily occupied–more recently, I volunteer to drive people who are otherwise stuck at home on shopping trips, to the doctor–pretty much where they want/need to go, which keeps me pretty busy. That said, one of my sisters would have been absolutely miserable had she stayed home. She got a job. My other sister is apparently a member of the Quiverful movement–she has six children and she homeschools them, as does my brother and his wife (except they have seven children). I choose to only have two children–my choice, just as I don’t argue with their choices.

    I am really tired of the endless discussions about what is better for children. How about what is best for the parents? I like being a stay at home Mum. There are those who would prefer having a job. Sometimes I think that the battle between the two is manufactured so that we don’t start cooperating.