Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Hard Truth From Orlando

Split that hair! Split that hair! Duck the whole argument because she left out the phrase "outside of the home." Hilary Rosen, Democratic strategist, said that Ann Romney, Mitt's wife, doesn't understand working women because she's never worked -- forgetting that "critical" phrase -- outside of the home. So of course, all the Republicans are declaring that Rosen meant women who stay home and have kids and take care of their husbands and all the household stuff aren't really working, that doing these things doesn't take effort, etc. And this entitles the Republicans to ignore the entire anti-women message of their political policies.
Rosen was right, though, despite her omitting the defining phrase. Ann Romney isn't likely to get it. She's the stereotypical Republican woman; wealthy, white, married her whole life to the same man, stay-at-home mom and homemaker, big member of her church, never had to scrounge around on her own for an income or figure out how in the world she's going to take care of herself and her children without "her man" and his income to carry her along. She doesn't get it because she's done all the so-called traditional things and had all the resources that are no longer the statistical norm in today's economy and society. An unexpected pregnancy or loss of a job or serious medical condition isn't financial disaster for her household. It won't mean food on the table for her children and herself, it won't be a choice of abortion or college and better incomes for herself or her family. Ann's a dinosaur poster-child for the 1950's American womanhood, who went from her father's house to her husband's house and never had to survive all by her lonesome.
But we're decades past that standard. Statistics show that the "nuclear family" consisting of a married couple with their own children -- long considered the average or norm family unit for the U.S. -- now constitutes less than 1/4 of all U.S. households. In fact, marriage has declined across the board and is clearly divided along racial lines. Per NYT writer Sam Roberts, statistics, based on the most current census, reflect that 70 percent of African American women are unmarried, 51 percent of Hispanic woman are unmarried, 45 percent of white women (non-Hispanic) are unmarried and 40 percent of Asian women are unmarried.
And the trend toward marriage shows an ever-increasing decline. Women nowadays know that they're probably going to spend most of their lives alone and they alone are going to have to provide for themselves and any children they might have. They can't count on the magic income of some man, much less that he'll be able to provide sufficient income to support her or children they might have together. Even if she marries prudently, she won't realistically have the option of being a stay-at-home mom -- not if she wants to be able to feed and clothe any of her children -- and forget about sending them to college without substantial debt and hardship.
And that doesn't touch the economic realities suffered by average Americans as incomes continue to decline across the board -- except for the likes of Ann Romney's husband and the other 1 percenters.
In the U.S. , about 55 million households are living on $46,000 or less a year with nearly 47 percent of their income going for housing alone. And recent studies have shown that the average American household needs two incomes to achieve a middle-class lifestyle. The median income is $24,000 gross annual income per household member. In 2010, the cost of taking care of a child was up to $13,830 per year -- in some cases, nearly 30 percent of a working woman's income.
Reportedly, the average American, age 25 or older, earns $32,000 per year, does not have a college degree, has been, is or will be married and divorced at least once during his/her life, lives in his or her own home in a suburban setting and holds a white-collar office job. That's a far cry from Ms. Romney's world; she probably counts $32,000 as a day's pin money for maintaining multiple households.
But the real determining factor for poverty, which Ms. Romney will never understand due to her rarified situation, is gender bias. Women in America are routinely denied equal access to employment opportunities, denied equal access to healthcare, by law allowed to be paid less then men for equal work, continually denied the fundamental right to decide on the number and spacing of children, bear an unequal share of the responsibility for raising children, and so do not have the same ability to earn a living income and to protect themselves or their children from poverty.
Ann Romney's husband represents the Republican Party, which has espoused for decades a party platform denying women's rights to equal pay, denial of a right to equal access to healthcare, reproductive choices, denial of social and economic issues which adversely affect most of the U.S. population based entirely on gender. Ann isn't likely to see a disparity between her life and the lives of other American women. In her world, hers is the "right" way for a woman to be. She married one of the 1 percenters. She had his children and she could afford to raise them and get them whatever they want or need. She works hard to maintain that marriage and care for "her man's" family. That's her job, for which she does not collect a paycheck per se, and I'll never say she doesn't earn whatever she collects.
But 99 percent of the women out there won't get to marry a 1 percenter. They have to earn their own income or be prepared to supplement a 99 percenter husband's income in order to survive in today's economic reality. Without a woman who understands modern reality to represent women's interests in our country's government, to protect our fundamental rights as human beings and citizens of this nation, we'll always be second-class Americans with only the thin right to vote between us and chattelism.
I'm sure Ann doesn't feel second-class. I wonder how she'd feel if Mitt had a mid-life crisis and cut her off? Would she be as complacent about the issues of women in America then?
The bottom line is, I don't care who represents the Republicans while they continue to espouse a denial of equal rights for women. My one vote will be for anyone who runs against them. And for those white, married, wealthy women who say, I got my man, what's wrong with you? Better hope he doesn't change his mind. It's a hard world out there when you're all on your own and everything's stacked against you because whatever's between your ears doesn't count as much as what's between your legs.

   Florida Cracker

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