Author: has written 5284 posts for this blog.

Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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104 Responses

  1. BBBShrewHarpy
    BBBShrewHarpy April 15, 2012 at 10:06 am |

    Jill, I’d vote for you.

  2. BBBShrewHarpy
    BBBShrewHarpy April 15, 2012 at 10:25 am |

    You and me both, but surely there is more we can do than fight among ourselves about the value of motherhood (not that I’m suggesting you were doing that in either of your posts).

    Take a look at the link I posted in the previous motherhood thread, about the growth of the High-Paid Nanny population:

    Nannies!

    I find this interesting because it may indicate what happens when women have economic clout: the type of work that is valued and financially rewarded perhaps changes. It is clear from the previous Motherhood post that childcare is incredibly important to many women, and this may be what happens when they can actually pay for it, and aren’t made to feel guilty for not taking these activities on themselves.

  3. librarygoose
    librarygoose April 15, 2012 at 10:34 am |

    Is it the fact that you’re a woman? Because I’ve been told that womanhood is the only qualification they need for me to listen to to a person. (I was told this by man, which totally makes sense.)

  4. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie April 15, 2012 at 11:25 am |

    Yep. If you’re poor, you’re not a SAHM – you’re a resource-sucking welfare leech.

    Being a mother. Nothing but awesome benefits from society!

  5. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie April 15, 2012 at 11:27 am |

    And P.S., Rosen’s statements were offensive, especially for a Democrat. Offensive, anti-SAHM, sexist. Yes! Even Democratic women screw up! And should own it. After all, the Democrats are “our” party, right? Hell, where else are we gonna go? The Dems are on our side!

    Right.

  6. Echo Zen
    Echo Zen April 15, 2012 at 11:51 am |

    Jill’s post is exactly how the Obama administration should have responded to the GOP’s attack on Rosen’s facts, rather than capitulating to so-called family values with a tepid “there’s no tougher job than being a mom” response. If Romney gave a damn about SAHMs who don’t look like his wife, he and his party wouldn’t spend all their time trying to strip working SAHMs of programs and services that enable mums to stay home with their children.

  7. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve April 15, 2012 at 12:14 pm |

    And P.S., Rosen’s statements were offensive, especially for a Democrat. Offensive, anti-SAHM, sexist.

    Tinfoil, I don’t agree that Rosen’s comments were anti-SAHM, because I think she was distinguishing between ‘job type’ work and actual labor, but I will agree with you that they were (most-likely unintentionally) sexist.

    Putting aside the motherhood bit, to be the wife of a political candidate, and subsequently First Lady of a state, is a job. It requires a lot of hard ‘job type’ work, and even though Mitt Romney’s name is on the governor’s paycheck, she was a partner in the earning of that money. Not that they needed that comparable pittance as he had made his money elsewhere, however, I still think this qualifies as having ‘worked’ a day in her life.

  8. Codi
    Codi April 15, 2012 at 1:06 pm |

    I agree that Rosen’s comments were likely politically inept, but that doesn’t make them untrue. Of course republicans are going to run with this. They’re going to squeeze all the mileage they possibly can out of this. I’m sure that even as I’m writing this, Romney’s super pacs are diligently crafting blistering ads (which of course Romney can disavow). I only hope everyone–or at least enough people–can see through the disingenuous outrage at the remarks.

    Jill, you’re my idol!

  9. Lisa
    Lisa April 15, 2012 at 3:15 pm |

    This whole Rosen-gate is a disgrace.

    This issue isn’t just about motherhood, it’s about societal and outdated expectations of parenting and what constitutes real “work,” but it’s getting labeled SAHM vs WOTH word wars. This issue stems from a complexity of sexism and discriminatory legislation that directly impacts poor, working mothers and circumvents choices for ALL families. What a cute world the Romneys must live in to believe that working two or three jobs to barely cover rent and dinner is called dignity.

  10. The BPI Squirrel
    The BPI Squirrel April 15, 2012 at 3:19 pm |

    GOP Worldview: Moms dependent on husbands: paragons. Moms dependent on society: parasites. This is about Male Privilege. https://twitter.com/#!/bpicampus/status/191511888327213056

  11. DM
    DM April 15, 2012 at 4:23 pm |

    While I completely agree that Romney’ s policy doesn’ t take into consideration a wide range of groups, I need to ask, did you mean to say that parenthood is the most important job in the world or only motherhood? I think that all problems come from the way a lot of people view the mother’ s role. Times are though and for a woman it’s hard to go to work and provide a good education for her child. But I believe that this comes from the fact that it is expected from the woman to take care of the child especially in its first years. Let’s face it, it’s unbelievably nerve-racking to work (a lot of jobs) and when you come home to have to work some more(never-ending work). Where’ s the husband in this scenario? I mean when you worry what it will be like for a woman to have a job and be able to give her child her time and effort then you don’t really expect the husband to take on much responsibility.

  12. MomTFH
    MomTFH April 15, 2012 at 5:10 pm |

    I also think Rosen’s comments, while definitely careless, were taking into account that Ann Romney has, most likely, never had to do the really hard work of being a mother. I am a single mom with few resources. I cook every meal, clean every toilet, wash every pair of underwear, etc. If Ann Romney woke up with her child, cooked for her child, or cleaned up after her child, it was by choice, not by necessity.

  13. Glosswitch
    Glosswitch April 15, 2012 at 5:13 pm |

    I had a bit of a rant about this here – as a mother, in essence what drives me mad is how patronizing the whole tone is, and how lacking in nuance regarding different experiences of work and parenting. I even (just a little bit) resent Michelle Obama’s “all mothers work hard” comment – I for one am a right slacker given the chance!

  14. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie April 15, 2012 at 6:55 pm |

    If Ann Romney woke up with her child, cooked for her child, or cleaned up after her child, it was by choice, not by necessity.

    So Ann Romney, who did not have nannies, didn’t work as hard at being a mother because she could have hired nannies, but didn’t choose to? What kind of logic is that? Is it easier to take care of five children by yourself (and she’s LDS, so she did NOT get help from “the provider”), if you can afford a nanny?

  15. ahimsa
    ahimsa April 15, 2012 at 7:12 pm |

    I’m a little bit dismayed that this whole debate (I realize that this was discussed in the previous thread) continues to be framed around the issue of “stay at home MOMS” instead of “stay at home PARENTS.”

    Since language shapes how we think (and vice versa) then why don’t more feminists just stop using SAHM and switch to SAHP? Or maybe SAHC (Caregiver) for families headed by grandparents or aunts/uncles? These phrases are more inclusive of men and they work for families that don’t fit the old family stereotypes. SAHM seems to reinforce the idea that the default family is a heterosexual couple, “the” dad (can’t there be 2 dads?) goes to work, “the” mom (can’t there be 2 moms?) stays home, and so on. It’s not like SAHP is any harder to type.

    So, why continue using SAHM? If it is important to the discussion to note that the parent in question is a woman then that information can be included. It doesn’t mean that the umbrella phrase has to include gender.

    To me it’s similar to saying “police officer” instead of “policeman” or “firefighter” instead of “fireman.” It allows the subconscious mind to imagine both male and female versions of those roles. I know it’s a small change but I think language matters.

  16. MomTFH
    MomTFH April 15, 2012 at 8:03 pm |

    @tinfoilhattie, the Romneys claimed five housekeepers on their taxes in 2010. Parenthood is hard work for everyone. However, Mitt Romney has made it clear that poor moms should not be subsidized by any safety net to stay home with their children, but should know “the dignity of work.” There is a huge difference between choosing not to have a nanny, but having several housekeepers, and not having a choice to hire anyone. In fact, many women don’t have the choice to stay home at all, because their families simply can’t afford it, and have to do all the housework, all of the childcare, and work outside the home, too.

  17. LeftSidePositive
    LeftSidePositive April 15, 2012 at 8:51 pm |

    So Ann Romney, who did not have nannies, didn’t work as hard at being a mother because she could have hired nannies, but didn’t choose to? What kind of logic is that?

    This kind of logic:

    Rent a flat above a shop
    Cut your hair and get a job
    Smoke some fags and play some pool
    Pretend you never went to school
    But still you’ll never get it right
    ‘cos when you’re laid in bed at night
    watching roaches climb the wall
    if you called your dad he could stop it all

    –Common People

    Having a way out of hard work can make all the damn difference, even if you don’t decide to use it.

  18. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. April 15, 2012 at 8:58 pm |

    Because this isn’t a gender neutral phenomenon. SAHM are the target of this classist bullshit. SAHD face different challenges …but this is about sexism, not parenthood or caregiving independent from gender.

  19. JeanLouise
    JeanLouise April 15, 2012 at 9:30 pm |

    tinfoil hattie, if Ann Romney didn’t have household help, that was her choice. There’s nothing in the Book of Mormon that commands her to wash the dirty shorts of five sons all by her lonesome when her family can afford to do otherwise. As a matter of fact, they did have some help in the ’90’s because the single, Mormon mother who Mitt threatened with ex-communication if she refused to give up her baby for adoption worked for them upon occasion.

    Mitt Romney’s a bloodsucker and Ann Romney’s his enabler. The Romney-Ryan budget will literally take food out of the mouths of hungry children. Ann Romney NEVER had to worry that her children would not have breakfast.

  20. ahimsa
    ahimsa April 15, 2012 at 10:56 pm |

    … the vast majority of stay-at-home parents are moms. There are about 154,000 stay-at-home dads in the United States. There are more than 5 million stay-at-home moms. So yes, in an ideal world stay-at-home parenting would be gender-neutral, but it’s not. We’re talking about a VERY deep gender divide …

    I completely agree with your statements above. I was not trying to say that all these problems are due to lack of gender neutral language. (if only life were that easy) I’m not denying any of the enormous amount of the sexism and classism in the current situation.

    I’m sorry if it seemed that I was suggesting that a small change in language would magically lead to some ideal situation and parental equality. Of course it would not, just as switching to the term “firefighter” did not automatically eliminate all the barriers that prevent women from becoming firefighters.

    However, I didn’t think of it as an either/or issue. I thought that gender neutral language for stay at home parenting would help a tiny bit to fight against the subconscious sexist and heteronormative stereotypes built into the phrase “stay at home mom.”

    But thanks so much for your explanation about why you think it is important to use the term “stay at home mom.” I thought the term was was simply reinforcing a negative stereotype. I think what you’re saying is that you must use the term in order to highlight the gender imbalance. I suppose I thought the gender imbalance in parenting was so obvious (are there people who don’t know about it?) that it didn’t need to be highlighted.

    Anyway, this gender imbalance was one of the reasons I never became a mother, stay at home or otherwise. I saw the huge imbalance in parenting roles and did not see any good way out of it under the current system. It was not the only reason but I know was a factor.

  21. Theodore Sporer
    Theodore Sporer April 16, 2012 at 12:06 am |

    Perhaps its becaue rearaing chidlren is something women are hard wired to do and men aren’t. Given the nihilistic post modern morality its simply amazing that more young people don’t want to reproduce…which is sad.

    Maybe if people would appreciate the many very good things out life in the presen USA and take a little pride in their country.

    1. MomTFH
      MomTFH April 16, 2012 at 9:05 am |

      @Theodore, exactly how can you determine women are hard wired to “rear” children, as opposed to culturally trained and expected to “rear” children? There are plenty of examples in nature of males caring for young, and plenty of examples of human males doing so, too.

      I am also confused about your assertion that young people don’t want to reproduce, and don’t have pride in our country. Yes, teen birth rates have finally stopped climbing. Half of pregnancies are unplanned, and 85% or more of teen pregnancies are unplanned.

      I suspect your hand wringing about post modern nihilism and women’s child rearing nature doesn’t include concern about affordable and available family planning, so more children are actually desired children, and ample affordable health care and child care coverage, so the prospect of bringing a child into this great country of ours isn’t as intimidating.

  22. A Woman’s Work Never Done | Just Above Sunset

    […] And there’s Jill at Feministe: […]

  23. Past my expiration date
    Past my expiration date April 16, 2012 at 5:43 am |

    so much more of the kid-stuff “just happens” to fall on the mom (or it’s the mom who has to remind the dad to do stuff, or ask; a lot more of the mental work falls on her).

    I, me, personally, don’t like it when the kid-stuff gets lumped in with the housework. This may be because I love doing the kid-stuff, and I hate doing the housework. I’d like to think it’s a more principled objection, though.

  24. There is no mommy war | Susan Campbell

    […] own Mitt — the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination — seems to be suffering some disconnect over the issue. Let me get this straight: If a mother stays at home and collects benefits, then […]

  25. That’s what SHE said | The Stay-at-Home Feminist Mom

    […] involuntary guest post is brought to you by Jill, over on Feministe. I agree with her googolplex, plus […]

  26. Nancy Green
    Nancy Green April 16, 2012 at 6:20 am |

    In Rhode Island, women who depend on TANF often have way more challenges than just raising a child alone– which is a huge logistical problem in itself if you need to work a regular job.
    They often have children with special needs, and finding safe, adequate child care is difficult– never mind affording it.
    I think a lot of RW talking points have a core of truth that resonates.
    A core truth that everyone should have access to education and dignified work– in their family and in their community. This won’t come cheap. It doesn’t just happen by cutting aid. Investing in education and child care will create jobs, but the financing will come from taxes, and that’s a hard sell.

  27. wriggles
    wriggles April 16, 2012 at 6:25 am |

    The problem is perhaps the framing of work/ hard work as a job. Doesn’t that play into the idea that only paid work is work?

    There’s something odd about calling a relationship a “job”. Being a parent is primarily a relationship between human beings.

    Parenting just doesn’t fit into either job= work; no job= no work split. Trying to force it into the former seems to uphold the underlying capitalist premise of you’re only working if you have a J.O.B.

  28. Angie unduplicated
    Angie unduplicated April 16, 2012 at 7:26 am |

    Mitt old boy, I hate to disillusion you, but the state-supoorted mother of the 2 year old already knows about the dignity of work. Washing stained onesies in the bathtub ’cause she can’t afford the laundromat is work. Walking to the store or the bus stop with a squirming baby on her hip is not just work, but workout, as is picking up toys all day long to keep from tripping on one for a visit to the ER. Cleaning aged housing more frequently because the kid and the roaches soil it all, is more work. How will reducing her assistance and increasing her workload give her dignity? My discount bifocals just don’t see it. Willard’s rose-colored glasses might, but they’re stained brown from having his head up his ass for an entire campaign.

  29. Tony
    Tony April 16, 2012 at 9:15 am |

    There’s something odd about calling a relationship a “job”. Being a parent is primarily a relationship between human beings.

    Parenting just doesn’t fit into either job= work; no job= no work split. Trying to force it into the former seems to uphold the underlying capitalist premise of you’re only working if you have a J.O.B.

    It’s interesting and disturbing way our language works, substituting “job” when we really mean “duty” or “role”. I think most of the people who say things like “motherhood is the most important job” really mean that motherhood isn’t a job, it’s in a category of labor defined by reciprocity and distribution rather than barter and profit motive. It’s in a category that people instinctively understand as more fundamental, to human life than market labor. And yet, we’re afraid to say this. Even motherhood can only be validated in terms of Adam Smith’s “economic (wo)man”.

  30. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve April 16, 2012 at 10:11 am |

    I know I’m old but I seem to remember the expression used to be ‘Motherhood is the most important job a WOMAN can do’

    Surely we can all agree that that’s problematic.

  31. Rob in CT
    Rob in CT April 16, 2012 at 12:12 pm |

    Obvious troll is obvious, but gets 2 bites anyway. Must be a slow day.

    As to the topic, remember, kids: you must not have an abortion, but once you have the kid and you’re struggling, you need to have your nose rubbed in shit. Otherwise, you’re a lucky ducky, and we can’t have that. Moral hazard, dontchaknow. The kid is collateral damage? Well, he/she shoulda picked a better parent to be born to! That’s what I did!

    ;)

  32. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl April 16, 2012 at 1:02 pm |

    The problem is perhaps the framing of work/ hard work as a job. Doesn’t that play into the idea that only paid work is work?

    There’s something odd about calling a relationship a “job”. Being a parent is primarily a relationship between human beings.

    Parenting just doesn’t fit into either job= work; no job= no work split. Trying to force it into the former seems to uphold the underlying capitalist premise of you’re only working if you have a J.O.B.

    Parenting is hard work, period, full stop. Not only does it require a large amount of physical exertion (especially in the early years of a child’s life,) but it requires a great deal of emotional work as well.

    I refuse to get into the whole mother v. father business, I think it’s a distraction and only leads to butthurt on both sides of the sexual divide. It is true that too often mothers get the shaft in hetero relationships and end up doing far more than their fair share of the parenting heavy lifting, but even when both parents endeavor to split up the load equally it can still be a lot of work.

    Notice I’m not wasting time with platitudes about how it’s the MOST. IMPORTANT. JOB. EVER. It’s not a race or battle to the death, but it sure helps the Repubs when we on the leftish side of things (and especially feminists) tear each other apart in these Mommy Wars.

    Getting back to Wriggles comment, I hate that is seems as though feminism is still struggling with whether or not mothering/SAHMing (as done by most SAHPs, without the benefit of staff/nannies etc) is “work” in the same way that work done by a WOHM parent. Because the only difference between the two is that one gets the benefit of a paid wage by a 3rd party and the other doesn’t. But that then leads down the path of how valuable the labor is considered by virtue of the wages paid for it, and historically, labor traditionally done by women is not valued as much as that traditionally performed by men. And of course the patriarchy loves to tie a person’s value directly to his or her net worth, and as women still tend to make $.70/$1.00 that men do of course men usually end up on the top of that calculus.

  33. Mommy wars, revisited | Mom’s Tinfoil Hat

    […] I also think Mitt Romney should explain why women with two year old children need to know the “dignity” of going to work, but only if they are below a certain income. […]

  34. Emolee
    Emolee April 16, 2012 at 2:35 pm |

    to be the wife of a political candidate, and subsequently First Lady of a state, is a job.

    Yes, another example of expected yet unpaid labor from women. I have thought of this a lot in the context of First Ladies. Yes, most of them don’t need the money, but that is beside the point.

    I know I’m old but I seem to remember the expression used to be ‘Motherhood is the most important job a WOMAN can do’

    Fat Steve has a point here. Saying that Motherhood is the most important job in the world is pretty much the same thing as saying ‘Motherhood is the most important job a WOMAN can do’ because by most people’s definition, a man cannot be a mother.

    What is being said is: ‘Motherhood is the most important job a WOMAN OR A MAN can do- but men, since you CAN’T be mothers, go ahead and be doctors and lawyers and plumbers and whatever. Women, do the MOST IMPORTANT thing and be mothers.

  35. Donna L
    Donna L April 16, 2012 at 3:30 pm |

    by most people’s definition, a man cannot be a mother.

    A definition that I hope everyone here recognizes is inaccurate. I’ve met men who are mothers, and identify as such. Just as I know that there are women who are fathers.

  36. Emolee
    Emolee April 16, 2012 at 3:54 pm |

    @ DonnaL, yes, I don’t agree with the definition. I think men can identify as mothers, and women can identify as fathers.

    I wanted to make my point without being trans-erasing, although I admit that I did think that most men (cis and trans) would call themselves fathers while most women (cis and trans) would call themselves mothers, even if they identified differently when their child(ren) were born/raised. I will admit to being a little confused- wouldn’t calling a trans man a “mother” be pulling that old shit about how he is really still a woman? (I’m not trying to challenge you- I really don’t know).

    What I was getting at originally is that when politicians say that motherhood is the most important job in the world, they are targeting people they perceive as women, people they see as fulfilling the roles of women in society. It is a message to women (and to mena about women). Which is why “being a dedicated parent” would be better language in my opinion.

  37. Emolee
    Emolee April 16, 2012 at 4:08 pm |

    Also- it is possible that to some people, the term “mother” (when specifically used instead of “father” or “parent”) means more than just “parent who happens to be female.” And I think that is fine/awesome when we are talking about individuals and how they choose to identify. I think the idea that I am my baby’s mother means more to me than that I am her parent.

    On a societal level, though, I think that having a definition of “mother” that is so different from that of “father” (instead of just a genderizing of the word “parent”) is actually part of the problem. Maybe it doesn’t have to be- but it is. I feel this is one reason so much of the burden of child care is placed on women- because things are their *job* as “mothers” that would not necessarily be their job as “fathers” or even “parents.” Consider the difference between what it means to father a child and to mother a child.

  38. Left blogs: Fake home mom scandal | Buy Autoblog

    […] “Either Romney doesn’t view stay-at-home parenting as “work,” or he thinks that the only dignified work happens outside the home. Which speaks volumes about the importance he places on his wife’s work. What Hilary Rosen said was sloppy, but let’s focus on the people with the real power here: Folks like Mitt Romney,” said Jill at Feministe. […]

  39. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve April 16, 2012 at 6:29 pm |

    Are there any divorce lawyers among the commentariat?

    If so, I’m curious to know if there has EVER been a man who insisted that his wife receive significantly more than half of the ‘community property’ due to her having the most important job.

  40. Raincitygirl
    Raincitygirl April 16, 2012 at 7:12 pm |

    Emolee, I’m sure you meant well, but it’s really not Donna’s job to educate you on how trans people identify themselves vis a vis which parental role they have. For one thing, Donna is only one person, and she can’t speak for “the” trans experience (and anyway, the trans experience is not monolithic). For another, that’s not what this thread is about.

    Again, sure you didn’t mean anything bad by your questions. However, I know there’s been feedback in the past about members of the commentariat feeling put on the spot and feeling obligated to answer Trans 101 type questions on posts which aren’t Trans 101 topics.

    I’m not trying to speak for Donna here. It’s entirely possible she’s okay with answering you. I just read your reply and had this reflexive moment of *cringe* because it seemed to fall into a pattern I’ve seen before. It seemed like someone should speak up, and it should probably be somebody cisgendered. If I’ve overreacted, I’m sure Donna or another trans commenter will tell me so.

  41. LeftSidePositive
    LeftSidePositive April 16, 2012 at 7:13 pm |

    On a societal level, though, I think that having a definition of “mother” that is so different from that of “father” (instead of just a genderizing of the word “parent”) is actually part of the problem.

    YESYESYESYES!!!!

  42. Donna L
    Donna L April 16, 2012 at 7:34 pm |

    Thanks, Raincitygirl. You’re right, I just didn’t feel like getting into any big explanations or elaborations on this thread, when it isn’t really relevant — all I was doing in my original comment was bringing up a small reminder that motherhood and fatherhood aren’t always, or necessarily, tied to a particular sex or gender. A more detailed answer to Emolee’s question would involve saying things like: in my experience, yes, probably, generally, sometimes, not always, and it depends. So I didn’t feel like dealing with it. Especially since it would involve talking about my own life, which I’ve done plenty of here but don’t always feel like doing either.

  43. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve April 16, 2012 at 8:34 pm |

    it’s really not Donna’s job to educate you on how trans people identify themselves vis a vis which parental role they have

    It’s not, but Donna’s comments have certainly educated me about trans issues greatly since I’ve been visiting this blog, even if educating me was the farthest thing from her mind. As you say, it’s not relevant to the post, but I thought it was worth saying.

  44. Emolee
    Emolee April 16, 2012 at 10:23 pm |

    I do not expect DonnaL (or anyone else) to educate me. However, I think asking questions in response to people’s posts is appropriate. My post was in response to DonnaL’s, which was in response to mine. But the only question in it was actually meant to be posed to the readership in general, and I was interested in various people’s takes on it. I can see where that could be unclear due to the parenthetical following it, which was a direct address to DonnaL.

    I don’t expect DonnaL to speak for all trans people (or think that anyone could), but I have appreciated her generosity in the past
    regarding speaking to her own experience and her understanding of
    common ways cis people can be allies versus fuck up. On this issue I did think she *might* want to share her opinion. I did not address her as “trans spokesperson” but as the person who responded to my initial comment. However, I never thought giving her opinion or sharing her knowledge was an obligation and assumed that if she didn’t want to she wouldn’t, which would be fine.

  45. john
    john April 16, 2012 at 10:33 pm |

    First Romney did not say “poor mothers” like this article is quoting he specifically said PARENTS who have young children and are on welfare should work while the state is helping with childcare cost. This makes sense to me because when working, people have a better chance however slim of upward economic mobility than people who are just depending on welfare. Helping out families with daycare cost would be helpful for working families and allow them to get back into the work force sooner.

  46. LeftSidePositive
    LeftSidePositive April 16, 2012 at 10:35 pm |

    Wait–is the issue here:

    1) whether or not transgendered persons who identify as women should call themselves “mothers,” which I hope would be completely non-controversial on this blog;

    or,

    2) is it about people who identify as male calling themselves “mothers” if they do the majority of the nurturing parenting, which I must say seems to entrench some pretty gender-normative stereotypes, even if that particular male-identified person sees himself as bucking the trend? It would also seem to be problematic as appropriation, as well.

    A more complicated situation, I guess, would be a transgender man who hasn’t undergone reassignment surgery and thus actually carries a pregnancy to term–I could totally see in that case why he would identify as a “mother” and in that very particular context I wouldn’t see that as enforcing problematic gender stereotypes but just noting his biological reality, but if the “mothering” refers to nurturing when the person zirself does not identify as female, I have issues.

  47. Emolee
    Emolee April 16, 2012 at 11:28 pm |

    My question was about male identified persons (whether cis or trans) identifying as mothers, and vice versa with female identified persons and fathers. It was not about trans women identifying as mothers.

    I assumed (perhaps too simplistically) that most trans men would identify as fathers and most trans women as mothers. I see the point raised about a trans man giving birth and just don’t know how most people on this situation feel or identify. I certianly think it should be their choice.

    I just get tripped up when the difference between mother and father is something more or different than the difference between she and he.

  48. DonnaL
    DonnaL April 16, 2012 at 11:52 pm |

    I assumed (perhaps too simplistically) that most trans men would identify as fathers and most trans women as mothers.

    Emolee, they probably would. All I meant to point out was that it isn’t always the case! And you needn’t worry, I didn’t interpret what you asked as imposing (or as intended to impose) any obligation; I just didn’t feel like getting into it.

    But I guess I usually do end up feeling like I ought to say something. So absent any other trans people chiming in, I will say this (even though I’ve said pretty much the same thing not long ago in the “Having A Baby” thread): what people haven’t seemed to realize is that the decision by a trans woman who’s a biological father, or a trans man who’s a biological mother, as to whether they consider themselves father, mother, both, or neither, is often largely (or at least somewhat) dependent on the age of their child or children when they transition, and their children’s wishes. Because — believe it or not, for everyone out there, hopefully not here, who sees trans parents as entirely selfish! — sometimes trans people very much want to make their transitions as easy as possible on their children, and not deprive them of the continuity represented by retaining the same terminology. As I said in that other thread:

    Had I transitioned when my son] was considerably younger I think that I simply would have been his second mom, but the very first thing he asked me after I told him when he was 14 that I was planning to transition (he had already guessed I was trans, much earlier) was “is it OK if I still call you Dad?” How could I have deprived him of that? That kind of continuity was the least I could give him, and the least he deserved. So although when we’re out together people assume I’m his mom and we don’t correct them, he continues to call me Dad in private (except when he’s chastising me and calls me Donna), and I’m fine with that. As I’ve probably said before, it’s an entirely non-gendered word for us, just a three-letter word that simply means “you’re still mine, still the same person you’ve always been.”

    As far as my personal identification is concerned, and what I call what I do, most of the time I just think of my self as a parent who engages in parenting! I would like to have had the chance to be a mom, and I guess I really think of myself as both mother and father, at the same time. Who says that can’t be so?

  49. DonnaL
    DonnaL April 17, 2012 at 12:03 am |

    A more complicated situation, I guess, would be a transgender man who hasn’t undergone reassignment surgery and thus actually carries a pregnancy to term–I could totally see in that case why he would identify as a “mother” and in that very particular context I wouldn’t see that as enforcing problematic gender stereotypes but just noting his biological reality, but if the “mothering” refers to nurturing when the person zirself does not identify as female, I have issues.

    Oh really? You have “issues”? Did it ever cross your mind that it’s none of your [insert epithet of choice] business what a trans parent decides to call the parenting they engage in? And that singling out trans people by accusing them of “enforcing” problematic gender stereotypes, in whatever fashion, is one of the more common of the repulsively transphobic arguments that get thrown at trans people every single day?

    Not to mention that it obviously never even crossed your mind that a trans man might already have children long before he transitions, who might very much want and need their mother, even though he’s a man, to continue mothering them, and that he might be entirely happy to do so because it’s nobody’s business other than the parent’s and the child’s. Or that the same could be true of a trans woman who’s a father (not that “fathering” is generally considered an ongoing activity post-conception, more’s the pity), as I just explained. So please climb down off that judgmental horse of yours and leave us be.

  50. LeftSidePositive
    LeftSidePositive April 17, 2012 at 12:26 am |

    Donna–I did not in any way limit my comments to trans parents, nor was I in ANY way singling out trans people. I referred–inclusively–to all people who identify as male or female, and referred to ANY people (cis or trans, as it appears Emolee was doing as well) who were using “mothering” solely to refer to nurturing parenting (as opposed to traditionally “fathering” parenting or being the secondary caregiver) which DOES in fact reinforce harmful gender stereotypes if the person thinks that nurturing parenting by definition = mothering. If the parent has other reasons for identifying as a mother, for which I gave an example of bearing a child, I said that’s totally fine. Your other example, of someone who was functioning as a mother and hadn’t transitioned yet would seem to me to be someone who is not in fact defining “mothering” by virtue of gender-stereotyped roles (but in fact in relation to zir particular already-established interpersonal role), and is therefore not relevant to what I was talking about.

  51. DonnaL
    DonnaL April 17, 2012 at 12:37 am |

    I don’t buy it. The paragraph in question speaks for itself. Whatever your intent supposedly was, it certainly didn’t come across that way. If you were jumping back to talking about cis people, then maybe you should have started a new paragraph.

    And even if you were talking about cis people too, you admittedly were including trans people in your comments about your “issues” with “reinforc[ing] harmful gender stereotypes,” and you’re still setting yourself up as someone qualified to pass judgment on what trans people do or don’t do in that regard. And you still aren’t acknowledging how problematic that is. Next time, please leave trans people out of your musings on the subject, OK? Because you clearly don’t have a clue.

  52. LeftSidePositive
    LeftSidePositive April 17, 2012 at 12:49 am |

    No, Donna, I was very clearly using the trans issue as an example of what is NOT problematic. And generally the word “but” is used for contrast. Note also that I did not say I have issues with mothering referring to parenting, I said it was problematic when used to refer to NURTURING, which refers to a very specific set of caretaking behaviors traditionally coded as female. And no, I’m not going to start a new paragraph for half a sentence–not only is that bad grammar, but it splits the point up incomprehensibly and makes no semantic sense. It was also very clear in my original comment that I was objecting to the use of “mothering” as appropriation not in regards to how someone self-identifies (or had self-identified).

    You just misread–that’s okay, people misread on the Internet all the time, but if you have to get your grammar wrong to say someone said something bad, nope, it’s on you.

  53. thinksnake
    thinksnake April 17, 2012 at 12:56 am |

    LeftSidePositive, surely you understand that your intent is really irrelevent to whether you’ve said something cissexist. If a trans person is saying that you’re being cissexist, don’t claim you didn’t intend to be read that way, or claim that they just don’t understand your grammar.

    Also, if two halves of your sentence have very different points, then they shouldn’t be one sentence. That’s a big part of grammar too.

  54. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve April 17, 2012 at 1:07 am |

    Wait–is the issue here:

    1) whether or not transgendered persons who identify as women should call themselves “mothers,” which I hope would be completely non-controversial on this blog;

    or,

    2) is it about people who identify as male calling themselves “mothers” if they do the majority of the nurturing parenting, which I must say seems to entrench some pretty gender-normative stereotypes, even if that particular male-identified person sees himself as bucking the trend? It would also seem to be problematic as appropriation, as well.

    Far, far, from it. The issue is whether or not we can discuss the above article without using our comments towards said article a a platform with which to be insensitive to trans women.

    You see, up on top of the page is an article about motherhood and poverty written by a woman called Jill on 4.15.2012, that is, in fact, the main thrust of what many of us have been commenting on. Donna naturally wishes that the comment could be done with a few less insensitive comments. Who could say that was anything but a legitimate concern?

    A more complicated situation, I guess, would be a transgender man who hasn’t undergone reassignment surgery and thus actually carries a pregnancy to term–I could totally see in that case why he would identify as a “mother” and in that very particular context I wouldn’t see that as enforcing problematic gender stereotypes but just noting his biological reality, but if the “mothering” refers to nurturing when the person zirself does not identify as female, I have issues.

    Interesting I have never heard the term ‘more complicated used to mean ‘completely irrelevant’ before.

  55. Emolee
    Emolee April 17, 2012 at 1:10 am |

    Donna, thanks for your reply. I don’t always have time to read all of the threads, and I had missed what you said on the having a baby thread. What you say makes a lot of sense practically and emotionally. I had considered a trans person who was a parent before transitioning, but for some reason had not thought of it from the perspective of continuity for the child.

    I imagine it takes a lot of bravery and patience to talk about your own life here – and obviously you have no obligation to educate us- but when you make the abstract personal, it does tremendous work. thanks again for helping me “get it.”

    It sounds like you have a great relationship with your son.

  56. LeftSidePositive
    LeftSidePositive April 17, 2012 at 1:15 am |

    thinksnake, no one’s actually shown anywhere that I did say anything cissexist. Saying that motherhood should not be defined as the act of nurturing is a statement about gender essentialism and gender roles and has nothing to do with whether or not any persons in question have gender identities different from those assigned at birth. Acknowledging some reasons why a transgender person may have OTHER reasons for identifying as a mother that do NOT revolve around the problematic gender-essentializing is in no way criticizing their identification or their role; in fact, it’s the exact opposite.

    What Donna is claiming I said is most emphatically NOT WHAT I SAID nor is it even borne out by the text and it’s one thing to say intent is not magic, but it’s quite another to hold someone responsible for every possible misread that someone could make on a forum comment. No one is a mindreader and we cannot anticipate every possible misconstruction of a statement. Again, we’re not talking about statements-with-problematic-undertones or anything, we’re talking about ascribing a totally different meaning to something that has nothing to do with what was said.

    And sentences contain contrasting points ALL THE TIME. That’s what “but,” “however,” “although” and so on ARE FOR.

    Here: “Mr. Jones died a wealthy man after investing in railroads, whereas Mr. Smith was penniless after several failed ventures in shipping and coal mining.” See? Contrasting points! One sentence! It can be done!

  57. DonnaL
    DonnaL April 17, 2012 at 1:21 am |

    LeftSidePositive, now you’re contradicting yourself. Please tell me how the following phrase in your sentence — “if the ‘mothering’ refers to nurturing when the person zirself does not identify as female, I have issues” — excludes trans men, especially when the first part of your sentence is specifically about trans men!

    And then — and I don’t usually say this, but it’s fully justified here, since you’re obviously unwilling to acknowledge that you could possibly have said anything offensive, and instead are telling me I “misread” what you wrote — please f off.

  58. DonnaL
    DonnaL April 17, 2012 at 1:26 am |

    Plus, in comment 55 you expressly admitted that that comment was intended to refer to all people, cis and trans. Which is quite different from what you’re saying now.

    Also, speaking of making your intent clear, adding the word “only,” as in “if the mothering refers ONLY to nurturing,” etc., might have accomplished that. But that isn’t what you said. Not that I would agree with you if you had. So please just stop now.

  59. LeftSidePositive
    LeftSidePositive April 17, 2012 at 1:36 am |

    Donna, I never said that clause “excluded” trans men–in fact, I said the opposite: “I referred–inclusively–to all people who identify as male or female, and referred to ANY people (cis or trans, as it appears Emolee was doing as well) who were using “mothering” solely to refer to nurturing parenting (as opposed to traditionally “fathering” parenting or being the secondary caregiver)”.

    But, that is totally different from saying the state of being trans makes the attitude problematic (which is in no way what I said, no matter how much you try to make it so)–the problematic issue of gender essentialism is ENTIRELY INDEPENDENT of whether one is cis or trans. (And yes, trans people can have problematic gender-essentializing attitudes just like everybody…Chaz Bono comes to mind! People, no matter whom, are influenced to various extents by the toxic attitudes of their culture.)

    And heaven knows I’ve told more than a few people to fuck off in my day, but please at least don’t pin me for saying the exact opposite of what I said–repeatedly!–and then tell me to fuck off. That is not in fact justified.

  60. LeftSidePositive
    LeftSidePositive April 17, 2012 at 1:47 am |

    So using “only” would be clear but using “solely” isn’t? How? Why?

    Moreover, why do you disagree that using “mothering” to refer specifically/solely/only to the act of being a primary caregiver/nurturer–in the absence of other contexts and connotations of the word–is problematic?

  61. thinksnake
    thinksnake April 17, 2012 at 2:10 am |

    “but if the “mothering” refers to nurturing when the person zirself does not identify as female, I have issues.”

    This is what you said. Which denies that trans men can nurture. That probably isn’t your intention, but INTENTION ISN’T MAGIC.

  62. LeftSidePositive
    LeftSidePositive April 17, 2012 at 2:20 am |

    No, thinksnake, not at all. That is, in fact, the exact fucking opposite of what it says. It says that it is problematic to call that nurturing “mothering” as though such nurturing behavior is inherently female/womanly/feminine. Calling that behavior “mothering” when the person does not consider zirself female (or, did not consider zirself female or live as female at the time the relationship was established, or did not have a biologically female role in the pregnancy) is actually what is denying that men (cis or trans) can or should nurture. Saying the term “mothering” should refer to some element of femaleness (broadly defined) and NOT to the act of nurturing as opposed to other types of parenting is in fact saying that nurturing should be construed as valuable/appropriate/important behavior for all genders and identities, not just the female ones.

  63. LotusBecca
    LotusBecca April 17, 2012 at 6:31 am |

    LeftSidePositive, I’m a bit hesistant to argue with you given the hardcore way you (rightly) pwned me on the “Rick Santorum is against pre-natal screening” thread two months ago, but I figure as a recently out-of-the-closet trans Frequent Commenter in the Feministe Commentariat it’s now sorta my duty to go a few rounds in situations like these. So yeah.

    I’m not a parent so I can’t draw on that sort of personal experience to make my point. But I am transgender, and though I feel like you mean well, I also find it annoying that you’re opining on trans people’s lives in order to make your broader rhetorical points. Like saying that Chaz Bono has problematic gender essentialist attitudes, like saying you “guess” it would be “complicated” for a trans man to be pregnant and therefore such a person would get your stamp of approval if he called himself a “mother.”

    I didn’t quite read what you’ve said exactly the same way as Donna or thinksnake have. But regardless, I feel unsafe and on guard when I hear cisgender** people use trans people’s lives as interesting little tidbits to pass judgment on or to make broader points about gender. Most trans people are used to hearing cis people negatively judge our opinions on gender issues (as you negatively judged Chaz Bono, for instance) or dispassionately analyze the various idiosyncratic nuances of our lives (as per your discussion of trans men and pregnancy). And the people doing this include feminists excluding us from their communities, or psychiatrists denying us hormones, or politicans denying us legal equality, or stand-up comedians mocking our feelings and identities. And other asshats. So since I believe I know you well enough to know that you’re not an asshat, you might consider in the future not writing in a way that you’re likely to be mistaken for one.

    Now I’m no spokesperson for anything, but in terms of what would personally make me feel more comfortable moving forward–here is what I’m specifically requesting, worded as clearly as I can word it: I would appreciate it if you and all cisgender people reading this limit your discussions of trans people to things you have personally experienced in regard to specific trans people you’ve met or to things that are verifiable facts (with citations included). And I would appreciate no more hypothetical scenarios, speculations, or negative value judgments of trans people until the day we have equal rights to y’all in society.

    **I’m assuming you’re cisgender based off some things I remember you saying on the other thread; please forgive me I’m mistaken here.

  64. LeftSidePositive
    LeftSidePositive April 17, 2012 at 7:19 am |

    LotusBecca–I’m sorry, but I really don’t think it’s appropriate to shame someone out of a conversation because they might say something that might resemble something else if you stretch it enough.

    Moreover, why SHOULDN’T I criticize Chaz Bono? He has said some very harmful things about women, and about trans people who do not identify similarly to him:

    http://supermattachine.wordpress.com/2011/09/19/why-chaz-bono-is-a-misogynist-who-does-not-represent-us/

    He is, moreover, a public figure who was making those comments to major media outlets. And no, there is nothing about being trans that would magically protect someone from being misogynistic, and I will damn well judge someone who says that women’s “talking and gossiping” is “really grating” and that “all men” have “higher sex drive” because those statements are ignorant and harmful to women, and no one’s history gives them carte blanche to hurt others. Moreover, I brought that up specifically in the context of DonnaL claiming that trans persons should apparently be explicitly excluded from any criticism of a social attitude, and that is neither fair nor accurate.

    Furthermore, when the topic itself is the borderline between issues of personal identity and socially normative gender roles, it by necessity requires a certain amount of nuance to tease out what is in which domain. Issues of prescriptive gender roles affect lots of people, including cis women (which, you are correct, I am), and saying we can’t discuss that boundary and the implications that people’s choices have on establishing norms means that we would be silenced from an issue that actually does affect our lives on multiple levels. I’d also like to clarify that I didn’t mean that a transgender man being pregnant must be complicated in itself, rather that he’d have complicated reasons for deciding how he’d want to label his preferred role–I’ll grant you I could have qualified “complicated” more clearly. Finally, I did not bring up trans identities out of the blue to make a point–the conversation was already ABOUT some confusion as to how trans identities factored in to the difference between gender role and gender identity.

    And to bring up a point that came up on the Rick Santorum thread as well, “likely to be mistaken” is a very subjective standard, and quite frankly there’s a limit to how much someone can be expected to anticipate before they’re allowed to participate in discourse. Like with the Rick Santorum thread, when some of us were told it’s still our fault we weren’t clear enough, including on a distinction we made multiple times.

  65. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve April 17, 2012 at 8:03 am |

    LeftSidePositive, I’m a bit hesistant to argue with you given the hardcore way you (rightly) pwned me on the “Rick Santorum is against pre-natal screening” thread two months ago, but I figure as a recently out-of-the-closet trans Frequent Commenter in the Feministe Commentariat it’s now sorta my duty to go a few rounds in situations like these. So yeah.

    I’m not a parent so I can’t draw on that sort of personal experience to make my point. But I am transgender, and though I feel like you mean well, I also find it annoying that you’re opining on trans people’s lives in order to make your broader rhetorical points. Like saying that Chaz Bono has problematic gender essentialist attitudes, like saying you “guess” it would be “complicated” for a trans man to be pregnant and therefore such a person would get your stamp of approval if he called himself a “mother.”

    I didn’t quite read what you’ve said exactly the same way as Donna or thinksnake have. But regardless, I feel unsafe and on guard when I hear cisgender** people use trans people’s lives as interesting little tidbits to pass judgment on or to make broader points about gender. Most trans people are used to hearing cis people negatively judge our opinions on gender issues (as you negatively judged Chaz Bono, for instance) or dispassionately analyze the various idiosyncratic nuances of our lives (as per your discussion of trans men and pregnancy). And the people doing this include feminists excluding us from their communities, or psychiatrists denying us hormones, or politicans denying us legal equality, or stand-up comedians mocking our feelings and identities. And other asshats. So since I believe I know you well enough to know that you’re not an asshat, you might consider in the future not writing in a way that you’re likely to be mistaken for one.

    Now I’m no spokesperson for anything, but in terms of what would personally make me feel more comfortable moving forward–here is what I’m specifically requesting, worded as clearly as I can word it: I would appreciate it if you and all cisgender people reading this limit your discussions of trans people to things you have personally experienced in regard to specific trans people you’ve met or to things that are verifiable facts (with citations included). And I would appreciate no more hypothetical scenarios, speculations, or negative value judgments of trans people until the day we have equal rights to y’all in society.

    As I praised Donna earlier, I’d like to give kudos to your comments as well. It’s ironic (though quite understandably so,) that I am someone with a number of trans women friends, but I have never dreamed of asking them about any of the issues facing trans women, possible because it is only upon reflection that I view them as trans women. I was in a band for 3 years with a trans woman bassist and a cis woman guitarist and although we talked about so much personal shit, I never viewed her as anything but a woman when in her presence. Perhaps if i had grown up with her and seen her transformation it might have been different. Anyway, I am aware it’s kind of derailing this thread about motherhood but I do want to encourage these type of comments in the general realm of things,

  66. LotusBecca
    LotusBecca April 17, 2012 at 2:41 pm |

    I apologize to anyone who may be annoyed about the continuation of this derail; please speak up if it bothers you. I feel the need to continue though.

    LotusBecca–I’m sorry, but I really don’t think it’s appropriate to shame someone out of a conversation because they might say something that might resemble something else if you stretch it enough.

    LeftSidePositive–I can how you could read what I wrote as shaming, but my intention, unmagical as it was, was not to shame you out of any conversation. I do not want you to feel ashamed. I just wanted you to listen to what I was saying and reflect on it, and I appreciate you engaging with me.

    Moreover, why SHOULDN’T I criticize Chaz Bono? He has said some very harmful things about women, and about trans people who do not identify similarly to him.

    I read the blog post you linked and thanks for that. All this information about Chaz Bono was new to me. I was a bit disappointed but unfortunately not too surprised about his comments erasing non-binary trans people, given how nearly universal such sentiments are. I was surprised though, as well as appalled and disgusted, by his comments about women and their “grating” “gossip.” I definitely support you in calling out sexism wherever you see it, and that’s something I want to get more bold at doing, too. I suppose I just meant earlier that I’d feel safer if you discuss offensive remarks trans people make by primarily focusing on the offensive content of their remarks, not by obliquely referencing the remarks in service of a broader point about how “trans people can be prejudiced, too!” You probably know that the wider culture is well aware that trans people can be gender essentialist and, in fact, the wider culture frequently stereotypes trans people as being em>more gender essentialist than cis people. So I’d rather just be free of anything that, even unintentionally, reinforces that discourse. Not that I’m saying you made a some super horrible mistake or something!

    I’d also like to clarify that I didn’t mean that a transgender man being pregnant must be complicated in itself, rather that he’d have complicated reasons for deciding how he’d want to label his preferred role–I’ll grant you I could have qualified “complicated” more clearly.

    Thanks, I appreciate you clarifying!

    Finally, I did not bring up trans identities out of the blue to make a point–the conversation was already ABOUT some confusion as to how trans identities factored in to the difference between gender role and gender identity.

    True, although the way I read the situation is that Donna made a relatively straightforward three sentence post @ 41 that didn’t even necessarily require a reply, which then Emolee, a cis person, used as an opportunity to express various confusions about trans people’s identities which were pretty 101. Subsequently you joined in with your confusions about trans people’s identities. I understand that aspects of trans people’s identities can be very confusing to cis people, and I try to accept that, but I still feel leery and nervous when cis people discuss their confusion at length when at best it seems to me to be tangentially related to the original topic of conversation.

    And to bring up a point that came up on the Rick Santorum thread as well, “likely to be mistaken” is a very subjective standard, and quite frankly there’s a limit to how much someone can be expected to anticipate before they’re allowed to participate in discourse.

    “Likely to be mistaken” is a very subjective standard: you’re right. I intentionally worded it so to emphasize that there are no hard and fast rules here, and that I’m merely expecting you to approach my criticisms of what you said with an open mind–that’s all. Please don’t feel shut out of this discourse and continue to participate in it.

    Oh, and Fat Steve, thanks for the kind words. I feels good to know people are benefiting from this type of thing because putting myself out there in this particular way is new for me, and while it feels empowering it’s also somewhat scary, and I worry about being judged as a pest who monopolizes time and space.

  67. Emolee
    Emolee April 17, 2012 at 3:31 pm |

    Donna made a relatively straightforward three sentence post @ 41 that didn’t even necessarily require a reply, which then Emolee, a cis person, used as an opportunity to express various confusions about trans people’s identities which were pretty 101.

    I don’t think this is fair. I asked one question. I agreed with Donna’s post, but I was also interested in gaining a more full understanding of what she said. I did not “use” her post as “an opportunity to express various confusions”; it was her post that generated the question.

    As someone who had been generous with her knowledge and opinions before, I didn’t think Donna would find the question offensive (and based on her reply I don’t think she did). However, I am sorry if I offended any trans people. The question came from a place of desire to be an ally to trans people.

  68. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. April 17, 2012 at 3:50 pm |

    @Becca – You are definitely not a pest. A lot of us have learned from the experiences you’ve shared on this and other topics…even if we don’t take the time to express it. (And today being “sandwich day”, I was just thinking of how grateful I am to you while wrapping up some vegan wraps this morning to take to the shelter.)

  69. LotusBecca
    LotusBecca April 17, 2012 at 4:45 pm |

    I don’t think this is fair.

    You’re definitely right Emolee. And what I wrote did come off as accusatory, and I’m sorry. I re-read your posts. I do believe that you desire to be an ally to trans people. I wasn’t trying to cast blame at you in the first place even, more just describe a general dynamic in this thread that vaguely reminds me of other social situations I’ve been in and feel uncomfortable about.

    However, I am sorry if I offended any trans people.

    Well, I, at least, certainly wasn’t offended. The overall dynamic here as I interpreted it was just more making me scared and uneasy than anything. I’m trying to work through some generalized paranoia I’ve been feeling toward cis people lately. I’ve very recently come out to a bunch of cis people about my gender identity including my parents, a few co-workers, and my girlfriend’s roommate, and have been slammed in the face by some insensitive judgments, and I am trying to not generalize this to a paranoia toward all cis people, which would be self-sabatoging for me.

    @Becca – You are definitely not a pest

    Awww. . .YAY! Thanks Kristen. Glad to hear you are still making the vegan wraps, too!

  70. IrishUp
    IrishUp April 17, 2012 at 4:53 pm |

    “Moreover, I brought that up specifically in the context of DonnaL claiming that trans persons should apparently be explicitly excluded from any criticism of a social attitude, and that is neither fair nor accurate.”
    “Finally, I did not bring up trans identities out of the blue to make a point–the conversation was already ABOUT some confusion as to how trans identities factored in to the difference between gender role and gender identity.”

    Of course, context matters. The same act can be bullying or friendly teasing, depending on the relationship and understanding of the individuals involved. A line of argument that is legitimate criticism when it occurs within the same plane on the kyriarchy become derailing or even marginalization when it comes from above you.

    That *I* do not share this particular oppression necessarily places any criticism of Chaz from *me* differently from where (eg) Ev Maroon is coming from when *he* does it. I am not saying Chaz is, or should be exempt from criticism. I AM saying that, since I’m a het-cis-nice white lady whose identity has some overlap with USian *F*eminism, *if* I decide to critique Chaz, I’m *necessarily* carrying ALL THE BAGGAGE of USian *F*eminism’s incredibly shitty and oppressive treatment of trans* people when I do so.

    If I ignore this truth, and go ahead an put my critique of Chaz out there carelessly, I’m wieding my privilege in a way that’s antithetical to my goals of equality. OR, I can realize that while what I have to say may be true, necessary and kind, the silence is NOT improved by my saying it, NOR does it need to be said by me AT ALL. Frankly, it’s just not my place.

    Likewise, for me to discuss trans* identities carries all of THAT shitty baggage. USian *F*eminist discourse on motherhood, gender roles, and gender essentialism, especially where trans* people are concerned, is fraught territory. It’s a DMZ riddled with landmines. I really DO NOT want to accidentally blow something up with my carelessness. Much better to proceed carefully and let the people who have *lived* here talk about where the land mines are, should they be so inclined.

  71. Everett
    Everett April 17, 2012 at 5:14 pm |

    Is it just me, or does anyone else think nobody is served by arguing about transpeople and parenting when the conversation started out about TANF funds and poor mothers, and the lack of the Democrat’s response to Romney’s outrageous statements?

  72. Emolee
    Emolee April 17, 2012 at 5:21 pm |

    LotusBecca- Thanks for your latest post. I’m really sorry that you have been subjected to insensitive judgments by people to whom you have recently come out, especially because it sounds like these may have been people close to you whom you trusted. That really sucks, and I wish we didn’t live in that kind of world.

    I completely understand the idea of general paranoia toward people who have a certain privileged status. I go through this, too, with certain parts of my identity sometimes. I hope you will be surrounded by more kind, supportive people as your life continues.

  73. LotusBecca
    LotusBecca April 17, 2012 at 8:14 pm |

    Thanks for your very nice response Emolee.

    Is it just me, or does anyone else think nobody is served by arguing about transpeople and parenting when the conversation started out about TANF funds and poor mothers, and the lack of the Democrat’s response to Romney’s outrageous statements?

    Much as I was one of the ones arguing, I actually agree with this Everett. So I will offer some thoughts I have about the OP. I think a big reason why people like Mitt Romney don’t value the work that poor SAHM do is because they don’t see much value in the lives of poor children, in general. Someone like Ann Romney is doing the most important job in the world because raising rich, white Mormon children is so important and it’s so essential that these children get raised up right with a good work ethic and with solid, traditional values. Poor children on the other hand are basically a lost cause in this view and are just going to grow up and be a drain on the system like their parents. If fact, more time around their mom might just give their mom a greater opportunity to transmit her toxic values on to them. So I definitely see a classist (and even more implicitly also racist) hatred and devaluation of poor people and poor children going on here.

  74. EG
    EG April 17, 2012 at 8:20 pm |

    I think a big reason why people like Mitt Romney don’t value the work that poor SAHM do is because they don’t see much value in the lives of poor children, in general.

    Seconded. I also think it’s because they fundamentally don’t think that poor women can, by definition, be good mothers, so their mothering is worthless. And that basically, they think that poor people are fundamentally different from them, so that poor children don’t need the kind of care and help and love that their own kids do.

  75. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve April 17, 2012 at 8:28 pm |

    Is it just me, or does anyone else think nobody is served by arguing about transpeople and parenting when the conversation started out about TANF funds and poor mothers, and the lack of the Democrat’s response to Romney’s outrageous statements?

    Clearly you are unfamiliar with DIrk Gently’s system of Zen navigation. When people start sharing their personal experiences in a POSITIVE way, despite it having little to do with the OP, “I rarely end up where I was intending to go, but often I end up somewhere that I needed to be.”

  76. Fish Jones
    Fish Jones April 17, 2012 at 9:06 pm |

    ‘nother little pickle in the mess:

    Mitt Romney and his family are Mormon. Ms. Romney not working outside the home happens for religious reasons as well as ‘they’re wealthy blah blah blah’.

  77. Emolee
    Emolee April 17, 2012 at 9:08 pm |

    Someone like Ann Romney is doing the most important job in the world because raising rich, white Mormon children is so important and it’s so essential that these children get raised up right with a good work ethic and with solid, traditional values.

    Yes, and also because these women are raising THEIR children. In the sense, as you point out, that they are white, rich, Christian kids, but also quite literally. It goes back to Jill’s excellent point in her original post about how women’s unpaid labor does so much to prop up society and specifically “successful” men who (specifically due to this labor) get the benefit of children without having to drastically uproot their lives or sacrifice their own career goals.

    Of course they will say that these women are doing the most important job in the world because the job these women are doing is the very one that enables their way of life.

    In contrast, poorer women are just a drain on society, producing the wrong kinds of kids for the wrong kinds of men (or not for men).

  78. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve April 17, 2012 at 10:14 pm |

    Mitt Romney and his family are Mormon. Ms. Romney not working outside the home happens for religious reasons as well as ‘they’re wealthy blah blah blah’.

    Surprised he doesn’t strap her to the car when she has diarrhea.

  79. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie April 17, 2012 at 11:57 pm |

    @tinfoilhattie, the Romneys claimed five housekeepers on their taxes in 2010.

    By which year her five children were fully grown. These housekeepers somehow reached back in time and made it easier for Ann Romney to raise her sons? After all, that IS what we’re talking about, here. Not how rich she is now or how much help she had in 2010 or how she’s not qualified to talk to poor/middle class people because she’s rich. We’re talking about: Did she, or did she not, “work” when she was raising five children?

    Having a way out of hard work can make all the damn difference, even if you don’t decide to use it.

    So if you can afford a daycare provider, and you don’t hire one, it’s therefore easier to raise the five children yourself?

    tinfoil hattie, if Ann Romney didn’t have household help, that was her choice. There’s nothing in the Book of Mormon that commands her to wash the dirty shorts of five sons all by her lonesome when her family can afford to do otherwise.

    No, but Mormon Doctrine requires the wife to do manage all child-rearing and household work. I said she didn’t get any help from Mitt with the child-rearing.

    Furthermore, which way do you want it? You’re pissed that she didn’t hire babysitters? You are pissed that she was wealthy enough to? Raising five kids was easier because she could have hired help?

    I really don’t understand this mentality at all.

    And let’s not forget that neither Ann, nor Mitt, said Ann was representative of all poor women or knows how bad poor women have it or how hard it is to budget. Mitt said: Ann talks to women and women tell her the economy is their biggest concern. Rosen said: How dare she talk to women, since she has never worked a day in her life? Ann said, I have worked, raising five sons. The world exploded into a pile of straw, and people started lighting fires.

    How do any of you know how much “work” she did? Do you know how much work I do, or have done? No, you do not. Do I know how much work you have done, or do? No, I do not.

    99% of the discussion around this is projection.

    1. MomTFH
      MomTFH April 18, 2012 at 9:37 am |

      The Romneys have acknowledged that they had a “laundress” and other housekeeping help when their sons were younger. They have only released their 2010 returns. I don’t know why you would assume millionaires with five kids wod have five housekeepers oy that one year.

      I am not angry at anyone’s wealth. I am not sure where you got that from or why it’s relevant. The point of the post and my comments are clear. Ann Romney is not an expert on women’s economic problems. Period.

  80. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve April 18, 2012 at 9:53 am |

    99% of the discussion around this is projection.

    No, it isn’t

    Mormon Doctrine requires the wife to do manage all child-rearing and household work.

    99.999% of this discussion stems from the fact that this ‘doctrine’ is little more than a steaming pile of horseshit.

  81. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. April 18, 2012 at 10:24 am |

    How do any of you know how much “work” she did? Do you know how much work I do, or have done? No, you do not. Do I know how much work you have done, or do? No, I do not.99% of the discussion around this is projection.

    Let’s see if we can look at this from another angle. Romney said he listens to his wife about what is important to women. Essentially claiming that his wife is a good representative of womankind. Another woman objected (inarticulately) to being represented by Ann because she has never worked a day in her life. The comment was pretty clearly not about engaging in physical or intellectual labor. It was pretty clearly about living with economic constraints. Most women in the US live with economic constraints and make tough decisions about how to manage those constraints including *being required* to engage in labor that benefits others in exchange for some type of payment. The universe exploded because people are misreading her comment in an effort to stoke the mommy wars. SAHMs engage in labor. Some SAHM make constrained choices to stay at home. Some WOTHM make constrained choices to work outside the home. Ann Romney never faced those constraints and is in my view a piss poor representative for women regardless of whether she washed every dish or checked every math problem, personally.

  82. MomTFH
    MomTFH April 18, 2012 at 10:32 am |

    *Sorry for mobile device typing fails, but I think my intent was still clear. *would and *only

  83. Esti
    Esti April 18, 2012 at 11:03 am |

    @ tinfoilhattie

    We’re talking about: Did she, or did she not, “work” when she was raising five children?

    That’s actually not what Jill was talking about at all. In fact, the entire point of what Jill was saying was that this conversation is not about whether being a SAHM is “work”.

    People are talking about the Romneys being able to afford household help not because you stop doing the work of being a SAHM if you can afford but don’t use help, but because Mitt Romney apparently believes the converse — in his eyes, being a SAHM is incredibly important work, but only if it’s done by people who have lots of money. If you’re a SAHM who needs state assistance, you apparently don’t know the dignity of work and Mitt would prefer you get a job and stop sitting around eating bon-bons all day.

    The fact that the Romneys could afford household help is relevant to the conversation because it goes to the root of his hypocrisy. If you’ve never had to wonder where your child’s next meal is coming from, or been forced to quit your job because you can’t afford childcare, or known that if you get sick there is no safety net for you and your children, then it makes it all the more offensive for you to claim that those mothers don’t know the “dignity of work” but you understand the economic issues most mothers face.

    It’s no different than if Mitt Romney had said “I understand the economic issues workers in this country face because I’ve done the work of going to my job every day of my adult life.” If someone pointed out that Mitt Romney may have done the work, but he’s wealthy enough that he had the option not to and thus doesn’t understand the economic issues most workers face, I don’t think anyone would be yelling foul.

  84. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie April 18, 2012 at 3:27 pm |

    I don’t know why you would assume millionaires with five kids wod have five housekeepers oy that one year.

    I don’t assume anything about anyone I don’t know. My statement was limited to whether or not the Romneys had daycare/childcare/”nanny” help when their children were growing up. They did not, according to them. Perhaps they are lying. That’s what started this whole argument, remember? It’s since morphed into an entirely different animal.

    Also, Ann Romney has MS. Maybe she hired other help because she needed it. Lucky her, she’s a millionaire and can hire help.

    Ann Romney is not an expert on women’s economic problems. Period.

    She never said she was. Period.

    Pick on her freaking husband. He’s the jackass in all this, on every single level I can think of.

    Romney said he listens to his wife about what is important to women. Essentially claiming that his wife is a good representative of womankind.

    That is YOUR projection. I did not hear that. I heard, “She gladhands along the campaign trail, and I will prove that I personally am in touch with your problems, because she reported back to me.” Like all politicians do.

    It’s no different than if Mitt Romney had said “I understand the economic issues workers in this country face because I’ve done the work of going to my job every day of my adult life.”

    This is where we part. For everyone who heard the comment, there is a different interpretation of what it meant. YOU are projecting YOUR belief onto what he said.

    NONE of these explanations justifies the scorn, ridicule, misogyny, and personal criticism heaped upon Ann Romney, who never said a word about anything until Rosen claimed Romney had “never worked a day in her life.”

    @Fat Steve, whether or not Mormon doctrine is a steaming pile of horseshit has nothing to do with whether or not people have shifted the conversation from a careless, sexist remark made by a Democrat woman (who should know better) to hating on Ann Romney because she is rich, out of touch, lazy, no expert on economics(!) (WHO THE HELL SAID SHE IS???), and a hands-off mother. Also, I think you might not know what “projection” means.

    1. MomTFH
      MomTFH April 18, 2012 at 5:41 pm |

      @tinfoil hattie, Mitt Romney himself said he consulted Ann Romney about the economic needs of American women. No one used the word lazy.

  85. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve April 18, 2012 at 4:47 pm |

    Also, I think you might not know what “projection” means.

    Well I assumed you were using it in the context of commenters ascribing Ann Romney with attitudes that less reflect the truth than their own unfavourable attitudes. If not, then what did you mean by projection? If so, can you site the type of post you’re talking about?

  86. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve April 18, 2012 at 4:48 pm |

    Pick on her freaking husband. He’s the jackass in all this, on every single level I can think of.

    You don’t get how Hillary Rosen’s original comment was picking on her husband?

  87. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve April 18, 2012 at 4:50 pm |

    Oh, and Tinfoil Hattie, if we’re going to be pedantic I don’t think you actually know what ‘99%’ actually means as you made your point in comment number 87.

  88. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. April 18, 2012 at 5:36 pm |

    @Tinfoil,You might check the mirror on that projecting accusation.

    Recent quote from Romney:“My wife has the occasion, as you know, to campaign on her own and also with me…and she reports to me regularly that the issue women care about most is the economy.”

    Not to mention nearly every damn time someone asks a question about the gender gap or “women’s issues” he refers to his wife. When asked about contraception he said “I wish Ann were here…to answer that question in particular.”

    If you can’t see that as him holding his wife out as a rep of womankind, that’s not a projection by me, that’s denial by YOU.

  89. bemused_leftist
    bemused_leftist April 18, 2012 at 10:36 pm |

    Rosen’s comment was in context of women’s issues such as Lily Ledbetter, maternity leave, ‘gender equity’ — payroll workplace issues. She was complaining about Mitt Romney deflecting such questions by talking about his wife’s views, when his wife had no personal experience of payroll workplace.

    Ann Romney (well, the campaign) quoted Rosen out of context, twisting that kind of ‘work’ to mean ‘any work’. Thus starting Mommy Wars and making Rosen a target for lynching.

    1. MomTFH
      MomTFH April 19, 2012 at 9:37 am |

      @bemused leftist, as much as I agree with your main sentiments, I think “lynching” was a really ugly period in American history that is ay more serious than what Rosen is experiencing.

  90. MomTFH
    MomTFH April 19, 2012 at 9:38 am |

    *way

  91. EG
    EG April 19, 2012 at 11:58 am |

    Yeah, seriously. You know what’s like lynching? Being targeted by white supremicists with the collusion of the white government and legal system, often using the white newspapers for publicity, for the purposes of being kidnapped, tortured, and murdered. It’s really nothing like what Rosen is dealing with.

  92. Donna L
    Donna L April 19, 2012 at 12:16 pm |

    Bemused Leftist, I strongly suggest that before you make any more lynching analogies, you first look closely at each of the 80+ lynching photos and postcards at http://withoutsanctuary.org/main.html, and read the accompanying descriptions, and then think very carefully about the appropriateness of that kind of comparison. In fact, there’s no excuse for it.

    There really needs to be a new “Godwin’s Law” about comparisons between criticisms of public figures who have every opportunity to defend themselves (and, in this case, enormous wealth to allow them to do so), and hanging — and sometimes burning — people (largely African-Americans) without trial, to the delight of crowds and often, as EG points out, with the collusion of local authorities. The law would, of course, apply retroactively to Clarence Thomas.

  93. EG
    EG April 19, 2012 at 1:39 pm |

    Yes. The verb “lynch” is like “rape”; I can’t imagine a situation in which it is appropriate to use either as a metaphor.

  94. bemused_leftist
    bemused_leftist April 20, 2012 at 2:08 pm |

    In a recent interview with Diane Sawyer, Ann Romney told how she got her view of what issues women care about. Sorry I don’t have the link handy (and I hope this doesn’t print out in Bold).

    She said that at campaign events when Mitt is behind the rope line, she goes outside the rope line and circulates through the crowd and asks the women “Why are you here?”

    Brief answer — “the economy” — from a self-selected crowd.

    Imo Mitt’s deflecting more detailed questions to her, merits the criticism that Rosen made.

  95. bemused_leftist
    bemused_leftist April 20, 2012 at 2:23 pm |

    Here’s the link and quote I referred to in my last post. It’s Ann Romney explaining where she gets her information about what issues women are concerned about.

    http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/transcript-diane-sawyer-sits-mitt-ann-romney/story?id=16150624&page=6
    Mitt goes in the– on the rope line and he gets mobbed. And then I go to the other side of the rope line and I go and talk to people. And I’m– there’s so many women that are there and I’m like, “Why are you guys here? What is– what’s motivating you? What are you talking about? What are you thinking? What are you feeling?” And it’s really interesting the response I get. Number one which is so fabulous for me and it’s so endearing to me is they say they praying for me which is so touching to me, it nearly makes me cry. The other thing they say is I am so worried about the deficit spending and the economy and my husband’s job, my job, my child’s job. That’s all they’re talking about.
    And I have been hearing this now for a year. And I’ve been– after all of this and all this time when everyone else is talking about everything else. And I’m like, “Wait a minute, I know what’s going on. I know what’s happening. I know what people care about. I know what women are talking about.”
    [….]
    I will say for me financial security has not been a huge issue. But that does not mean I’m not compassionate. It does not mean that I have not had different challenges. Everyone in life has their challenges, mine have not been financial.
    [….]
    You don’t have to go through everyone’s specific difficulty to understand that people are having trouble.

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