Ann Romney is the quintessential political wife. She’s beautiful, polished, graceful and cunningly intelligent. She is also the worst role model for our American daughters since the Octomom. As the campaign season opens full throttle, Ann Romney is On Our Radar.
Last week, Ann and Mitt Romney wanted us to praise them for making multimillion-dollar contributions to their church that they neglected to mention went to fund anti-gay causes. This week, in their speeches at the Republican National Convention, Ann and Mitt tried to sell us the fiction that their’s is the perfect partnership. What they didn’t say is that Ann, by virtue of her sex, is the junior partner, because in the Mormon view, that’s the way God has ordained it.
Did you know that Mormons believe whether or not a woman is allowed in heaven is up to her husband?
A few months ago, Ann Romney set off a skirmish in the War on Women when she reacted indignantly to Democratic pundit Hilary Rosen’s observation that Ann has never worked a day in her life. Ann and the FOX chorus decried Rosen, psychoanalyzed her lesbian lifestyle, and declared motherhood is indeed the hardest “work” there is. At the time, most liberals thought that comment was a function of Ann’s wealth. It seemed so obvious to the Left that if you have never held a paying job, you simply don’t know what the experience is like. It would be like a straight person claiming to be an authority on what it feels like to be gay.
The dust-up engendered a few days of an #AskAnn hashtag on Twitter, where people posed questions intended to highlight their skepticism about Ann being the right person for the role of the liaison between working women and the Romney campaign. They asked some interesting questions, everything from, “Do you know where to find all-night daycare if a job on the better paying night-shift opens up?” to “What do you do when your uninsured sister begs to use your health insurance card because she found a lump in her breast?”
Personally, I thought Ann might have been equating “childcare,” which most working mothers outsource out of necessity, and “motherhood” which is the same for all mothers no matter who changes the diapers, or for that matter, who gave birth to the child. If Ann wants credit for the lice removal and the potty training, I, for one, am willing to offer it. But chaperoning a rowdy kindergartner on a trip to the to zoo, is not at all equal to trying to tape the Republican Convention for CNN while conventioneers are throwing peanuts at you. Work and full-time parenting are both commendable endeavors, and I think it would be wonderful if all women were financially able to choose whichever path makes them happy, but they are simply not the same experience.
Did you know Mormon sons are not taught to do household chores? Cleaning up after sons is considered the job of the mother until they marry, and then their wives are expected to serve as their handmaidens.
Now that we have had time to get to know Ann better, It turns out both of those conclusions may have been wrong. Ann, the stay-at-home mom, was not pretending to understand the problems of working women. She was also not using the word “motherhood” interchangeably with “childcare.” Ann was being faithful to a tenant of the Mormon Church; bearing children is the main purpose of a woman.
In the Mormon view, and the Romney view, full-time motherhood is what God wants all women to do. The more babies the better. Bearing children is the gold standard, and women who work at anything else are on the second tier of female humanity and not assured of a place in heaven. Go back and watch Ann’s convention speech, you’ll find she speaks about women only in terms of their family relationships, “We’re the mothers, we’re the wives, we’re the grandmothers and big sisters. We’re the little sisters and we are the daughters. I love you women!” Never once did she identify women as people in our own right. It is simply unimportant to her that we’re the CEOs, or we’re the Marine pilots, or we’re the hedge fund managers.
Did you know in the Mormon Church a woman seeking to end her marriage is assumed to be an adulteress and must provide the male temple elders a written account of her sexual encounters before being granted a divorce? (Men have no such requirement.)
Ask about the “War on Women” the Republicans have agreed upon a strategy of disbelief in any such organized pogrom, followed by a quick change of subject to “What women really care about is jobs.” They seem convinced women will vote to trade away control over their bodies if they are distracted by the shiny hope of a bigger paycheck. There is some irony in that strategy, since their usual game plan is to use social issues to keep people from voting their pocketbooks. Meanwhile, abortion rights are being eroded all over the country.
I am an equal opportunity religious skeptic. Whatever gets you through the night, I am not only ok with, l will fight for your right to believe it – right up to the point it bleeds into the right of the rest of us to live in reality. It sounds hyperbolic to warn that today’s attempt to deny women contraception access could be tomorrow’s campaign for clitorectomies, and yet, in Texas, the state has given itself the power to penetrate a woman against her will, which is also the legal definition of sodomy. It can happen here.
I do not want my daughter to garner praise for being a brood mare. I don’t want her spending her days waiting on her children or her husband. And incidentally, I don’t want my grandsons to grow up helpless and clueless being waited upon by mommy. Ann Romney is the antithesis of the modern woman. She is everything we don’t want our daughters to be. With the possible exception of Michele Bachmann, I can’t think of a worse female role model in the political sphere.
The Romneys don’t talk about their faith for the same reason they don’t talk about their taxes; we would be appalled if we knew what festered behind the veil. Ann Romney is but a watery consomme to Michelle Obama’s warm chicken noodle soup. (With homegrown vegetables.) Let’s hope we have but two more months to keep Mrs. Romney On Our Radar.
Jean Ann Esselink is straight friend to the gay community. Proud and loud Liberal. Closet writer of political fiction. Black sheep agnostic Democrat from a conservative Catholic family. Living in Northern Oakland County Michigan with Puck the Wonder Beagle.
Radar Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
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