Ann Romney Does Not Love Women Like Me

Ann Romney’s speech at the Republican National Convention left Lynn Beisner more angry than inspired. Here’s why.

This morning, I woke with the realization that I don’t like Ann Romney. I know that we were all supposed to be impressed as hell by her speech a couple of nights ago, but she lost me at “tuna.” I am sorry, but if you think that you know what it is like to struggle because you have had to eat tuna fish sandwiches then you should just sit down, shut up, and never, ever pretend to empathize with people who have truly struggled. Let me tell you what struggling actually is, Mrs. Romney. It is families for whom tuna is a luxury. Try cracker soup, which is made of hot water poured into broken up saltine crackers. Or try a tomato sandwich for dinner, and when your garden isn’t putting out tomatoes, you will just have to settle for a mayonnaise sandwich, maybe with a little onion. Mrs. Romney is so elitist that she doesn’t have any clue just how elitist she is.

But what is worse, she is sexist in that soft way that I find so utterly infuriating. She paints a picture of mothers as these women who wear halos because they actually work harder than men. She rhapsodized in length about women being the mothers, wives,  grandmothers, big sisters, little sisters, and daughters. In other words, we are only as valuable as our relationships to family members. You will notice she did not say, “we are the doctors, lawyers, senators, and CEOs” because she knows that conservatives only really love women when they stay in their tidy little domestic spheres.

What really got to me was when she talked about women caring for the older generation. What I heard her saying, behind those flowery words was, “Get ready, women. Paul Ryan’s cuts to Medicaid will turn granny out of the retirement home and guess who will have to come and live with you? And you thought that you could escape the domestic sphere when your children were grown. Silly, silly you. We have plans, called cuts to programs, that will keep you out of public life forever.” Perhaps I was the only one who heard that. Then again, I am one of the relatively few Americans who knows that Medicaid, not Medicare, is what keeps elderly patients in nursing homes. So when the GOP talks about deep cuts to Medicaid, they are saying, “We are going to kick your parents out of the nursing home. And guess who gets to take care of them? No, not your husband; he has the health insurance, remember?”

One of the more offensive lines for me, perhaps because she is once again trying to identify with us, the common folk, is this: “You know the fastest route to the local emergency room and which doctors actually answer the phone when you call at night, and by the way, I know all about that.”

Well, Mrs. Romney, good for you. I am so happy that you have enough money to only use doctors who will personally come running when you call in the middle of the night. Us normal folks, we don’t have concierge doctors. We have doctors who work in a practice where they share the duty of being on call. Someone always answers our call, but we do not find it necessary to have one particular person at our beck and call 24 hours a day. And as for us knowing the fastest route to the hospital, what is that supposed to mean? Does that mean that part of being a good mother is to obsessively worry about my children so much that I have already mapped out the shortest route from my house to every local hospital? Seriously?

By far, what pissed me off the most was this little section of the speech:

And if you listen carefully, you’ll hear the women sighing a little bit more than the men. It’s how it is, isn’t it? It’s the moms who have always had to work a little harder to make everything right. It’s the moms of this nation—single, married, widowed—who really hold the country together.

There is so much wrong with that little paragraph. For starters, it gives women the false impression that we have actual power in our country. We hold a very small fraction of elected or executive offices, and those who sit in the boardrooms of corporations and who make our laws are the people with the real power. This “hand that rocks the cradle rules the world” crap was pandering, placating poop when it was first said and it is the same today.  

At the same time, however, she infantilizes men and completely ignores their contributions. Women do not hold the country together; or at the very least, this mother does not hold her corner of the world together. I hate to disappoint Mrs. Romney and belie her carefully crafted Rockwell narrative, but some of the women who give birth and raise children do not meet her definition of being a mother because we are not holding much together.

I will confess, my husband holds our little corner of the world together. He is the one who keeps our family running and organized. Without him, this house would fall down around our collective ears.

I am not sure why Mrs. Romney seems convinced that women sigh more heavily or why we are so much more noble. And for the record, I was utterly unconvinced when she called out: “I love you, women!” Maybe she loves those noble, angelic creatures who have magical abilities to hold the nation together. But she doesn’t love women like me.

Lynn Beisner is the pseudonym for a mother, a writer, a feminist, and an academic living somewhere East of the Mississippi. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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