I haven’t been watching convention coverage, either party’s, because my heart can’t take it. The whole thing makes me want to throw up into an airsick bag (which I’ve done before), and tuck it, gently but securely, into the pocket of Mitt Romney’s extremely expensive jacket. (It’s okay, though; he’ll have someone else get it dry cleaned, and then fire them.)
Anyway, I haven’t heard any of the speeches, but I have heard some precious dispatches from them, one of which was the not at all surprising or condescending moment when Mitt Romney told the RNC audience that Ann Romney’s job as a mother is way more important than anything he will ever do in his life.
This idea that motherhood is the most important job in the whole wide world is crap. Dangerous, powerful crap. (Jessica Valenti wrote about this last week in the Washington Post, go read her piece there.) What about fathers? What about people who do the job of a parent who are not actually related to the folks they act in the role of parent for? This isn’t a question of semantics; when Romney and company say mothers are “ . . . who really hold this country together,” they don’t mean parents. They mean mothers. Women. Lady faces. And as s long as motherhood is talked about as if it’s respected, it might seem like the Republican party isn’t touting bullshit misogynist policies.
If motherhood is so important, so respected, so essential to who women are and would be, etc, then why would we want to use birth control? Or get an abortion? Or do anything, really, besides be pregnant? See? It shouldn’t matter if there’s no access to birth control and abortion, because women should just want to be with child. If we don’t, we’re sluts (pretend for a second that slut is only a bad word) and we deserve what we get. We need to find a nice man to set us straight. (See what I did there? Straight? You’re welcome.)
So no job that can be more important than motherhood. I’m unconvinced, and not only because being a mother has never held any appeal for me, as I’ve said three thousand times, and will keep saying until people stop telling me I’ll change my mind or accuse me of being defective. We keep perpetuating this idea that women are exclusively, innately caregivers of children (and men, who are apparently equally helpless), as if men or women or you know, people, are anything innate other than human beings. That’s not liberating, it’s essentializing and tyrannical. Parenting should only be a choice, not an assignment, and we can’t be wooed by people facetiously praising women for fulfilling what the patriarchy has decided is our only legitimate destiny.