Jessica Valenti is not much charmed by the Republicans’ fetishization of motherhood and “moms” as a compensation for their attack on women’s actual rights and needs.
These days, “mom” is king. It was perhaps the most frequently used word at the Republican National Convention this past week, where Ann Romney, mother of five, said, “It’s the moms of this nation . . . who really hold this country together.” Paul Ryan said his mother is his role model, and Chris Christie all but called himself a mama’s boy.
Republicans’ efforts to woo women have become fever-pitch pandering as the party tries to undo damage from comments such as Rep. Todd Akin’s remark that a “legitimate” rape victim can’t get pregnant and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett’s advice to women who object to invasive ultrasounds before an abortion: “You just have to close your eyes.”
But given the GOP’s extreme antiabortion platform, which does not include exceptions for rape or incest, focusing on motherhood as a gateway to women’s hearts and votes seems misguided. After all, no matter how many platitudes are thrown around, this is the party that wants motherhood not to be a choice, but to be enforced.
Yes but the two are connected, or even the same thing. Women are swell as “moms,” they’re the best thing ever, but women who aren’t “moms” and who in fact think being a “mom” should be optional and the choice of the woman in question? They’re monsters. That’s the choice for women: “moms” or monsters. “Moms” good, monsters shudder shudder bad. Women who aren’t “moms” are worthless, pointless, a mistake, dead weight, a drain on everything.
American culture can’t seem to accept the fact that some women don’t want to be mothers. Parenting is simply presented as something everyone — a woman especially — is supposed to do.
This expectation is in line with the antiabortion movement and the Republican ethos around women and motherhood. No matter what women actually want, parenthood is perceived as the best, and only, choice for them.
Also in line with conservatism in general. It’s always good news for the rich and dominant when people rally around “family values,” because that means they won’t risk going on strike or telling truth to power. There’s nothing like a mortgage to make a rebel stop rebelling.