11 Things Politicians Need To Stop Saying About Working Moms, Immediately
Hillary Clinton's campaign was amazing. However, despite the fact that we just witnessed a wonderful working mom run for president, we still have a lot of ground to gain. In fact, the work that remains is harrowingly obvious when you stop and listen to certain politicians talk about mothers. In fact, there are so many thing that politicians need to stop saying about working moms, if we're going to see any substantial change regarding family planning, family care, gender equality and our overall economy.
From reinforcing bullsh*t, sexist gender roles to ignoring research, science, and reality about how families really function and what families need to thrive (and even survive), so many politicians have the wrong idea about working moms (and moms in general). What's worse is that their arguments often peg working moms against stay-at-home moms, in some fictitious battle that none of us are going to win and that takes valuable time and energy away from the real fight for women's rights.
Being a working mom isn't easy and it isn't always a choice, but regardless of why and how we enter the workplace, working women deserve equal rights and equal pay. Of course, that means working moms deserve adequate family and maternity leave, sick leave, and a living wage to support their families. It's not only good for them, it's good for their children, their families, their communities, and the country they call home. After all, we live in a country that allows us the opportunity to demand the best of our elected leaders. I'm thinking the following is a pretty good start:
That They Should Stay Home Their Kids...
Despite research that kids turn out fine regardless of whether or not moms work outside of the home, working moms (read: bad moms) are constantly being compared by politicians to a idealized version of their stay-at-home counterparts (a version that doesn't doesn't actually exist).
Recent research suggests that girls who grow up with working moms might actually become working moms themselves, be more successful in the workplace, and earn higher wages. Regardless of a mom's choice to work outside or inside of the home, until politicians stop expecting women to be the default stay-at-home-parent, how can we achieve equal pay, family leave, and end workplace harassment and discrimination?
...But If They're Poor, Then They Should Work
If you are well off, you should stay home, but if you're poor, you should work. Talk about a double standard. Moms can't be good moms, unless they can afford to be good moms. Class privilege, meet misogyny. Apparently, in this country, you two are good friends.
Mitt Romney once said that Temporary Aide to Needy Families (TANF) recipients should be required to work, even if they had small children at home. Or, as he put it during a town call meeting during the 2012 election.
"While I was governor, 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."
It seems that poor moms can't win.
That They Should Breastfeed
Let's get one thing straight: my breasts, my body, my choice. My, and other moms', bodily autonomy doesn't go away in the birthing suite or when baby comes home. You don't get to tell us what we need to do with our bodies.
Breast is only best for some people and some babies, and breastfeeding, pumping, and maintaining supply, etc. are all harder when you work outside the home. Plus, since politicians who don't think companies should have to give breastfeeding moms breaks to pump or adequate family leave to establish breastfeeding or who don't think insurance companies should have to cover pumps, "just breastfeed" isn't always an option. So, you know, please stop.
That They Don't Need Paid Maternity Or Family Leave
The United States lags behind the rest of the industrialized world in nearly every measure of quality of life, and paid maternity leave and family leave are no exception. In fact, the U.S. ranks dead last. This can be a big deal when research shows that paid maternity leave can improve health outcomes for mothers and babies, including lowered incidence of postpartum depression and infant mortality and higher rates of breastfeeding and vaccinations. In turn, shorter leaves prove harmful to a mother's health and wellbeing.
It's not shocking. Pregnancy and childbirth is hard, and women deserve a chance to recover physically and emotionally before returning to work. Breastfeeding is hard, and even harder when you have to pump at work. Of course, working may interfere with your ability to get sh*t done, including taking your kids to the doctor or even being able to take a sick day when they get sick and can't go to daycare. We need to do better.
That They Don't Deserve A Living Wage
It's not surprising that many of the same politicians who think that poor moms ought to work, are also against increasing the minimum wage. How is a single, working mom expected to survive on $7.25 an hour?
That Employer-Sponsored Insurance Shouldn't Have To Pay For Their Birth Control
That Daycare Is Bad For Kids
Politicians love to hate working moms and frequently cite daycare as the enemy to happy, healthy kids. Sure, you can have it all, but only if you want to mess up your kids for life or let day care raise them.
The truth is, they should be more worried about helping families find affordable, high-quality day care, which doesn't hurt kids one bit.
That They Care About Them, When They Really Don't
Donald Trump spent the last two months of his campaign telling working moms that some of his plans, including limited paid maternity leave and tax deductions for child care, would benefit them. Not surprisingly, those plans fall short when it comes to helping the low-income working families who really need it (and, in particularly, single mothers).
Also, it is sexist AF. Not only does his maternity leave plan only include six weeks of partial pay (compared to Hillary Clinton's plan of 12 weeks at full pay), it excludes men, reinforcing traditional gender roles. Stay-at-home fathers are also excluded from his child care tax deduction plan. These exclusions and assumptions match his messed up views about gender roles in parenting. As he told Howard Stern in 2005,
“I won’t do anything to take care of them. I’ll supply funds, and she’ll take care of the kids.”
That Motherhood Hurts Their Abilities In The Workplace
Trump also has had some things to say about moms in the workplace. One of his employees, Carolyn Kepcher, allegedly hid her pregnancy from him for six months, because she was afraid of being fired or it hurting her career. She was probably right to be afraid. Trump had this to say in an interview with NBC News:
Well you know, pregnancy is never...ummm...it's a wonderful thing for the woman, it's a wonderful thing for the husband, it's certainly an inconvenience for the business.
That Working Makes Them Bad Women, Wives, or Mothers
Too many politicians seem to think that working outside the home makes women bad wives and mothers. This couldn't be further from the truth, in my opinion and in my experience. Working, for me, has made me a better mom. . In 1994 Donald Trump told ABC News,
“I have days where I think it's great. And then I have days where, if I come home, and I don't want to sound too much like a chauvinist, but when I come home and dinner's not ready, I go through the roof,"
That Working Women (Or Any Woman) Shouldn't Be Able To Decide When They Become Mothers
Vice President-elect Mike Pence has had some hurtful things about women in general, including a woman's role being in the home, marriage, and families. To make matters worse, he wants to limit access to birth control and abortion care.
Whether politicians like it or not, abortion care is part of the family planning process, and an estimated half of women who have abortions are already mothers. Limiting abortion care and reproductive rights, limits all women, and most certain hurts working mothers.