Back in the high life again

One year ago, ten miles away, I decided to start a blog.

… then I forgot about it and stopped writing. Other stuff happened — I moved, got busy with work, started drinking, whatever. No need to offer up excuses and platitudes since I have, like, zero readers. But that’s my fault, isn’t it.

In any case, I have thought of some more things to say in the past few days about gender, politics, life and whatnot, and would appreciate any feedback, positive or negative, to start the conversation.

Let’s start with this:  As I write I’ve seen two talk show discussions regarding Hilary Rosen’s comments about Ann Romney “actually never  worked a day in her life” — the first on Chris Matthews’ “Hardball” and the second on Real Time with Bill Maher. As you probably know, this generated not only the requisite “instant bipartisan criticism” in defense of the hard work that stay-at-home moms do but a broader commentary on women’s issues in politics.

First, I have no issue with any woman deciding to work or not work, including Mrs. Romney. It’s a personal decision on what’s best for one’s family, and that is justification enough. Furthermore, I find it pointless, insulting, and wholly unnecessary for either “side” in this argument to criticize the other.

Nonetheless, the conversation has taken some odd turns. For example, its worth recognizing that Mrs. Romney has the economic choice to choose whether to work outside the home or not. Given the Romney’s wealth, it’s fair to say their family choices rest on not having to worry about income to support their children — this is not the circumstance most women (or men) find themselves in. So, I would respectfully suggest that even if Mrs. Romney had worked outside the home, she would not relate to  the plight of a single mother who works full-time for $10 per hour. Those focused on the so-called “mommy wars” sometimes miss this point.

Second, the comments have inevitably opened up a broader conversation about the women’s vote and women’s issues in politics. Thus everything from the classic issues like pay equity and abortion to things like contraception, violence against women, and even gun control under the umbrella of “women’s issues.” (I mention the latter because on “Hardball” Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus explained this by saying that “women realize guns can kill people, and they are not toys.”)

This raises some questions. If these really are “women’s issues” — interpreting this to mean that as compared to women, men generally do not share a comparable level of concern about family planning, stopping rape and domestic violence, and the responsible use of firearms, regardless of their preferred policy solutions — this represents a serious cultural problem in my view.

I’m not so cynical as to suggest men are totally callous about these issues and/or vote against the interests of women.  But, the bottom line is, issues that affect our wives, mothers, sisters and daughters affect us too, and there is no reason they should be viewed through a single-gender lens. For men to do so indicates narrow-mindedness.

Put another way in the framework of the classic “pay equity” debate, would I want my wife to be paid less than male coworkers? Certainly not! Not only would it be insulting to her intelligence and competence in the workplace, but it would put a greater strain on our household finances. It’s really a shame when anti-feminist ideology blinds people to their own family’s interests. The more men who talk about so-called “women’s issues” as their concerns too, the more our political leadership will focus on them rather than using them as talking points to court women’s votes.

I’ll leave it at that.



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