ROMNEY FLASHBACK: “Poor Mothers Should Be Required to Work Outside the Home Or Lose Welfare”

by Alex Seitz-Wald

Quick Hits Headlines

Apparent new rule: being a stay-at-home mom is only work if your name is Ann Romney.


In case it wasn’t already clear that last week’s controversy over stay at home moms was entirely manufactured, this should put the question to bed.

Romney and allies cried that Democrats had declared “war on moms” after a Democratic strategist said Romney’s wife hadn’t worked a day in her life. Romney’s camp said this meant Democrats don’t value stay at home moms and motherhood, while they believe that women who stay home are doing real work.

And of course, being Republicans. they believe this with every fiber of their being — right up until it’s more convenient to believe the exact opposite.

“I wanted to increase the work requirement,” Romney told an audience in New Hampshire. “I said, for instance, that even if you have a child 2 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 day care 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.”

“Our political and public discourse around the family — to our great detriment — often behaves as though history began in the 1950s,” writes Sara Mead. “But the idea that there are two types of women — White, married, virtuous, affluent ‘true women’ and then pretty much everyone else — is an old one, dating back at least to the Victorian Era Cult of Domesticity. While ‘true women,’ by confining themselves to the domestic sphere and womanly arts of childbearing, rearing, and making a harmonious family home, both required and deserved men’s protection from the slights of the harsh world, it was tough cookies for the majority of women who didn’t fit that model (from white working class women, to widows and single mothers, to women of color, like Sojourner Truth in her famous speech) — not to mention their kids.”

This is just another in a long line of examples of Romney being so used to privilege that he barely understands the concept. When his wife stays home to raise the kids, that’s hard work and he’ll fight anyone who says otherwise. But if a less affluent woman does the same, she’s just a lazy bon-bon eating Welfare Queen who has no idea what labor even is.