Dear Ann Romney: I Felt Forgotten
Dear Ann Romney,
I look forward to the day when women in American politics [ ... and let's face it ... right now, the women in politics (on both sides) getting the most coverage in the media are the wives of politicians] don’t boil their agenda down to simply JUST being a mother or a wife.
American women have a lot to offer our country. The wives of politicians are active members of the political system and are important figureheads. Not only are they essential parts of political campaigns, they also have opportunities to promote their own causes, act as figures of the state in domestic and international affairs, and are role models for other American women.
I think it's important for American women to understand that along with being wives and mothers (if we so choose), there are other identities we can take up in politics outside of these roles. More importantly, it's important that we American women know that these roles outside of being wives and mothers are just as important to our sense of American identity and place in the American political system.
Ann Romney, if you recognize that women “are the ones that have to do a little bit more, and work a little harder throughout the day to earn that respect at work.” And to then “come home and help with a book report.” then I challenge you to do something about it.
If you recognize the unfair duality of the worker/caretaker role, if you recognize the injustices in the workforce, if you recognize all the inconsistencies in women’s lives, then I challenge you to ... DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
If you believe -- like you say in your speech -- that women really are, “the best of America ... the hope of America .... and that there would not be an America without (us ... and that you would like to) salute and sing (our) praises” ... then DON'T FORGET ABOUT US.
You took the time to single us out, to describe our story. You sang our praises for all the sacrifices we make, and how hard life is to be a woman in America ... and then, you just moved on. You kept us there in that depressing, struggling state. You moved onto your husband's accolades and this life you two built up together into the limelight and didn’t even mention us again.
Is your story supposed to save us, the downtrodden American women? Was your message for us to infer that we, too, should find nice husbands to have five babies with? Because even though I listened to all 22 minutes of your speech, I didn’t hear you refer back to us and our struggle. I didn’t even hear you refer back to women outside of your own identity as a wife or mother.
I felt forgotten. Just like the American political system has a tendency of doing to us women, as a subgroup. Unless, of course, our wombs or vaginas or identities as mothers and wives are needed to tote the political limelight. Then, like in your speech tonight, you remember us. This makes me feel like it is only for my ability as a woman to reproduce that the American political system remembers me.
But please, Mrs. Romney. If you really care about the American woman. If you really believe that we are the best of America. If you really believe that there would not be an America without us, and we weren’t just part of Republican rhetoric, then please keep in mind that above all else, American women are not just simply wives and mothers.
Some of us are lesbians, Mrs. Romney. That does not limit our own desires to be wives and mothers. That does not mean we are a subsection of the United States to be ignored, to be corrected, or outlawed. That does not make us any less American. Please don’t take away our basic human rights to love or be loved, or to carry the same rights and freedoms as others.
Some of us are immigrants. You, Mrs. Romney, being the granddaughter of a Welsh coal miner might understand what that journey might be like. The transition of our families to be accepted into the American community without washing away our cultural past is important to our sense of identity. Don’t destroy it with anti-immigration campaigns that only muster more resentment and backlash to our newly arrived families trying to make a living and establish that same sense of integrity, hard work, and determination to reach the American dream that you spoke of in your own family’s experiences.
Some of us are not white, Mrs. Romney. And we will be judged for our hair, for our accents, for our clothes, for our head scarves, and for the very radicalized racial/religious identities that have negatively been pegged to us amidst our own struggle to assert ourselves -- not as equal to or better than our white peers -- but as fellow American citizens.
Some of us are single, Mrs. Romney. VERY single. And we have different needs that might oppose your own understandings of what that should entail. And although you may judge, and although you may not think it right, ultimately, if someone else impregnates me unwantedly, it is not for you, your husband, or the American government to tell me what I should or should not do with my body. Mrs. Romney, although you never had daughters of your own and therefore never had to hear the cries of your fourteen-year-old daughter who was molested, nor fathom ideas like taking your daughter to get an abortion, I still ask of you ... as a woman who might sympathize with what that experience might be like ... all I ask is that you keep that option there, for those of us women who do have to face those decisions.
As the daughter of an immigrant, as someone who is multi-ethnic, as a single woman, as a survivor of molestation and most importantly, as an American, I ask you to think outside of your box for what it means to be an American woman. I ask that you think of all the experiences American women face based on our identities outside of mothers and wives. American women who -- because of our differences -- might need to have special causes and agendas promoted for us. But always, Mrs. Romney, keeping in mind that just because a specific American population has certain needs doesn’t mean this further separates us or should be abhorred in political circles. It doesn’t make us less American in any way. As Americans, we should be building toward a higher goal together. And that goal is to further bring American and American citizens together.
I ask you to think of what those needs could entail outside of the world you live in, and regardless of whether your husband wins the next election, that you keep this understanding of the American woman in mind as you actively promote our cause.
Shanthi Marie Blanchard