In highlighting the need for husbands to get back to work, the president makes women feel like our role is to do unpaid labor.
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Straight from Portland’s Wall of Moms.Although what I call my “constant citizen’s outrage scale” shot way up when I first saw the coverage, I was afraid to go down to the volatile late-night protests because I have two young kids to care for. But if you’ve seen any of the emotionally rousing footage of the now-infamous “Wall of Moms” using their privilege to stand between BIPOC kids and their federal attackers, you won’t be surprised that my excuses quickly turned to vapor. If they could handle it, so could I.
We’re the ones leaving in droves.
It was a quick comment, but it spoke soliloquies. One week before the election, at a rally on October 27 in the battleground state of Michigan,: "I'm also getting your husbands, they want to get back to work, right? They want to get back to work. We're getting your husbands back to work, and everybody wants it.”
There was a quiet chorus of yeses in response. Some head nods. But there wasn’t a mention of the, four times the amount of men. A number that large, presumably, because and with and the full-time job that is for grade-schoolers, it just makes short-term financial sense in heterosexual dual-career couples for the mom to stop working. In fact, during the pandemic when they didn’t have childcare.
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But hear this, Mr. President: Moms want to get back to work too. Focusing on fixing the situation of unemployed men, rather than women, confirms that you care more about their economic opportunity and professional achievement than ours—or even as your own daughter publishes books about working women, you’re not paying attention.
The policies moms, and the country, for that matter, need right now are around living wages, childcare subsidies and paid leave, all of which would keep women in the workforce and therefore, a goal both sides of the aisle have right now. Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told Working Mother that President Trump was the . But we’re still waiting for that to come to fruition.
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Yes, it’s true there are moms who don’t want to pursue paid work, and perhaps those moms are more likely to be in Trump’s base, the group he was addressing at that rally. But the electorate absolutely includes moms like me who want real childcare solutions so we can hit the career goals we’d been working toward before a virus shrunk our economy and ended hundreds of thousands of lives. We love our families, but we derive great personal fulfillment from the paid work we do. And we want to reclaim that ability that the pandemic has stripped from so many of us.
If that sounds selfish coming from me, a mom of a 6-year-old and a 2-year-old, ask yourself: Would it sound selfish coming from my husband, the dad of those same two kids? If a president wants to help him get back to work, but not me—even if it’s for the financial prosperity of my family—what does that say about who he thinks should be in the workforce and who shouldn’t, or at least doesn’t need to be?
In that same rally, President Trump said: “And I love women, and I can't help it. They're the greatest. I love them much more than the men.”
If that’s the truth, help us reach what so many of us want: equal pay to men, equal opportunity to be business leaders and the reliable childcare that’ll help us get there.
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