Election 2012: The Mami Wars
My friends call me Sah-rah Palín–the Latina Sarah Palin–because I am so critical of the “mainstream media” as it concerns the lack of diversity, especially at the decision-making level.
The Mommy Wars debate reignited by Hilary Rosen‘s comment on CNN that Ann Romney didn’t “work a day in her life” is Exhibit A. True Dat although I don’t criticize that very personal decision. It’s one my SIL and Lil’ Sis made.
And that’s my point. Despite their political differences, R² are actually very similar women from virtually the same background who had the luxury to make different choices. Most women, especially working women and those of color, don’t have that option. They have jobs so that combined with their husband’s income, they can make ends meet. For a host of reasons, others are single moms and are lucky to work one job to keep their families afloat.
Last week, the Federal Reserve revealed its forecasts at its yearly pow wow, including: “The committee expects economic growth to remain moderate over coming quarters and then to pick up gradually.”
More específico, please? Economic “tongues” translation into plain English:
Mamis, get ready to make do with less.
Kids, make room in your pockets for latch keys (I know, a little ol’ school).
This is where the media comes in. To hold the people in power accountable. To ask what’s being done, what’s not, why, what’s failed, are there any alternatives? And to ask if they realize the impact of their ivory tower or Inside Beltway thinking.
Why don’t I hear these women’s voices as soon as I turn on the TV instead of navel-gazing coverage of the White House Correspondents Association‘s dinner? Who is sticking up for these families instead of gushing over Sofía Vergara‘s cleavage? Actually, why weren’t one of these moms invited as a major media organization’s honored guest instead of ‘Riba ‘Riba herself?
The answer lies at the highest levels of media power, which is quite homogenous. And I’m not talkin’ ’bout race but more about socio-economic class–one of the topics Americans are uncomfortable addressing, likely because of the sacredness of our national narrative that we are a country built on the middle class.
Jes, although in this economy, the middle class is an endangered species.
Chances are the CNN EP of the show that broadcast the “not work a day in her life” comments, host Anderson Cooper, his guest booker, Hillary Rosen, and Ann Romney all come from the same station in life. It just didn’t dawn on them to ask these questions or get a new perspective.
¡Psst! You don’t have to go that far. Next time news outlets need more perspectives, just take a look, and not merely see, what’s around you. Chances are the office cleaning lady, the nanny, the jardinero, might be able to offer another point of view that will resonate with most Americans.
Continue reading or click on the link below to my latest Latina Magazine column:
By Viviana Hurtado
It was the shot heard around kitchens, in car pool lines, and book clubs. Referring to Ann Romney, advisor to the Democratic National Committee Hillary Rosen said on CNN, she had “never worked a day in her life.” Indeed, the wife of likely Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney had not pursued a professional career after graduating from college. Instead, she choose to stay home and raise her sons. Responding to Rosen, @AnnDRomney tweeted, “I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work.”
Barbs from Republicans and Democrats went back and forth on cable TV, Twitter, and blogs. This latest round in the so-called Mommy Wars hit a cultural nerve and I wanted to write about women’s visceral, make that uterine reaction. Since I don’t have kids, I asked my sister. “Huh?,” she asked. I got the same reaction from other friends and women in my blogging networks: “This is asinine. I don’t have time for this.”
Yes, these Latinas are too busy working, raising children, often times both, to engage a debate that seems, well, out of touch with the reality of a rapidly growing segment of the population and electorate. Many American women don’t have a choice but to work–they either are raising their children singlehandedly or have to bring home at least half the bacon in a household. That more homes are dual income has as much to do with women asserting their independence as economics.
While the cost of living–what you pay for gas, food, and utilities–has increased, incomes for 90% of Americans have flatlined, even slightly dipped, with an average taxpayer earning in 1988 $33,400 a year adjusted for inflation. 20 years later, the average is $33,000, according to data from the IRS.
Within this financial context, who is “right”? Hillary Rosen is correct in noting that Ann Romney never had to work a day in her life because husband Mitt comes from a ritzy family, and as important, made millions as head of private equity firm Bain Capital. Yet Ann Romney is equally spot on. Babysitting my nieces for two hours gives me panic attacks–what if they get bored, what if they hate me, what if I break them? I can’t imagine raising five kids–and boys!–day in and day out.
Where both women are “wrong” is the assumption that their upper class reality–whether they choose to work or not–is the standard. 12.8% of women in the workforce are Latinas. Yet our jobs are among the least compensated, earning on average 60 cents for each dollar white men make, according to the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) which recently released the Trabajadoras report. Even my friends who “stay at home” have “side” jobs or businesses–blogging, making and selling arts and crafts, homeschooling their children, selling Avon or Mary Kay make up.
There’s also this: Romney and Rosen likely have access to “help” in the form of nannies, babysitters, servants, personal assistants, gardeners, interns, cooks–all the things that free up valuable time so they can focus on nurturing their children and their marriages, as opposed to the endless juggle of tasks on a To-Do List. In the case of Latina women, we’re lucky if we have family close by who can lend a hand.
While Team Obama and Team Romney are trying to gain an edge with the coveted voting bloc of women, both campaigns would be wise to not ignore mamis–their realities, the issues that matter most to their families, their aspirations. Just months before the November general election, they’re listening and watching, closely.
To read more of Viviana’s politics pieces in Latina, click here.Do the “Mommy Wars” as reflected in Romney v. Rosen tiff reflect your reality?