Not everyone has to agonize over choosing life priorities, and I think it's likely more and more will choose to skip mom-ism altogether,... maybe for economic reasons, and maybe because we'll have more talk about women asking themselves, "Do I really want to raise kids?". "If I love kids, would I rather free myself to work with lots of them in other settings?"Oh, what could go wrong?!
That's one of the early comments on an article over at The Nation, by Jessica Valenti, "I'm Not a 'Mother First,'" which begins:
To make her point, Valenti must reject Romney's use of the sex-neutral word "parent." Why not take it seriously? What does she do when her standard template doesn't fit? Just force it on anyway. Why weren't American women outraged at the sexism of Romney's statement? Because it wasn't sexist! It was putting children first.
Last week, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney said it was better for children to have a parent at home. “To have one parent to stay closely connected and at home during those early years of education can be very very important,” he said. It’s not hard to imagine which parent he’s talking about.
Romney’s statement didn’t elicit much in the way of outrage, a sign that American women have one more hurdle to overcome on the way to equality: the sexism of mom-ism. It’s no longer enough that women love their children. To be a truly committed parent, women are expected to be mothers above all else—we’re “moms first.”
And let's get some respect for the men who take the role of at-home spouse in the single-earner family (or who modify their work life to be the parent spending the most time "closely connected and at home"). Valenti mentions fathers in only one paragraph:
Fathers are never expected to subsume their identity into parenthood the way that mothers are. If President Obama were to tell us that he is 'father-in-chief' first, America would balk. How could a man be an effective president if he put the needs of his children above the needs of his country?Women aren't expected to subsume their identity into parenthood anymore either. It is a choice, and a woman who makes that choice is at least as likely to be disrespected as to be praised.
And maybe President Obama should have waited until his girls were older before he immersed himself in the overwhelming duties of running for and serving as President. For some reason he had to jump in when he did, despite his and his daughters' youth. We were just about to get the first woman President, so the time was ripe.
ADDED: Hillary Clinton would have been a better President. Where's the outrage about that?