Sunday, April 15, 2012


I've intentionally stayed out of the whole Hilary Rosen / Ann Romney issue. For one, I in my own mind have no dog in this fight. I'm sick and tired of petty bullshit games that traditionalists and new wave feminists play. Just because one woman makes a different choice than you in the same circumstances does not make that choice "bad". That's the thing about choice; it's a direct consequence of YOUR values and YOUR circumstances. No one can fully understand the "why" of someone else's life choices unless they've lived that other person's life. I will say, however, that Rosen stuck her foot so deep in her own mouth by assuming that she does understand Ann Romney's situation and by passing judgement on that choice.

That rant aside, what REALLY pissed me off today is this particular quote:

Not to be left out, the ever-entertaining Little Miss Mandy gets her hate on

Hillary Rosen sensibly goes on TV and points out that this claim doesn’t even make sense, since Ann Romney is hardly the expert, being a lifelong housewife married to an incredibly rich man who doesn’t know the first thing about what it’s like to try to live off a paycheck [...] But Romney has a secret weapon up her sleeve: Housewife Romanticization. She knows the feminine mystique still runs strong in this country, and that there’s a strong tradition of idiotic platitudes about the greatness of housewives that exist to conceal very real concerns about inequality and female dependency, concerns that were raised in the 60s and haven’t ever been completely killed off despite heavy use of meaningless platitudes.
Oh boy....

Before I woke up to reality and started casting off the "feminist" ideals indoctrinated into me, I actually believed in the inherent evil of "female dependency".

Now, having grown up and experienced life in a way few ever have (thank God) there is no faster way to get me swearing than to mention "female dependency". The problem with that particular concept is the lack of it's complementary statement, male dependency. Or, as I prefer to look at it, familial interdependency.

I've been a single mom, a stay-at-home mom, a working mom. None of them were particular easy, though each has different challenges.

Nothing prepared me for the role of cancer patient's wife. NOTHING.

That's right, I'm playing the cancer card for the first time ever.

The base assumption of the whole Ann Romney debacle is that she lives an easy life because she is married to a rich, successful man and doesn't need to work for money. That may or may not be true, we don't know. Maybe she is completely dependent on Mitt, though I suspect that isn't the case. I would suspect that he is just as dependent on her. Financial dependency isn't the only kind of dependency out there.

BCD (before cancer diagnosis) Chris carried the family financially while I stayed home with the kids, or just stayed home. I depended on him for financial support and emotional support; he depended on me to be on call for him and the kids and take care of the inane details of life so he could focus his mental energy on his job. This interdependency worked for us. In the meantime he was encouraging me to learn how to handle all of the family affairs on my own, just in case he would ever need to travel or for some reason he became incapable of doing so.

That ending up being very prescient on his part, and I am extremely grateful.

We've not written about this, but before Chris's cancer symptoms were brought under control he lost the ability to do a great many things. This fortunately is no longer the case, but for a while there I picked up quite a bit of slack.

Nothing hammers home the concept of your spouse being dependent on you quite like being the only one with any physical energy, functional knees, a job, and health insurance. EVERYTHING physical became my job, from the shopping to the mowing of the yard to fixing the fence to getting the oil changed to cleaning the house. While working, dealing with a series of catastrophes, deep depression, and very high anxiety.

Nothing quite describes the terror of 1. knowing the love of your life has cancer and 2. knowing that if you lose health insurance coverage, things could become VERY, VERY BAD. This is the definition of a nervous breakdown perfect storm. Honestly, there are days I'm surprised I'm not in a fetal position in a corner somewhere.

And if I believed in the feminist lie that I should pursue complete independence, that women don't need men and men don't need women, that we should work only for ourselves, I would have hit the road a long time ago.

Chris and I work towards one common mission: the health, wealth, and happiness of our family. Both of us work towards that mission 24/7. For years that meant he pursued a paycheck and I took care of the household and we both took care of the family; now it means we are each other's emotional support, his job is finding (and now starting) another job and getting better, and my job is to work and keep him insured while he seeks treatment.

If and when the situation changes, what we each need to do will change as well. We'll adapt, just like we always do, and between the two of us we'll take care of the family.

This is what is referred to as "interdependence" and every successful relationship is based on the precept of being there for each other. Chris needs me as much as I need him; I'm not caught in some patriarchal trap of being dependent on a man to live while he finds me replaceable.

I'm not replaceable, and I suspect Ann Romney isn't replaceable. We are needed for more than our ability to earn money.

Anyone who believes the only worthy pursuit in life is earning money is deluding themselves. Anyone who believes their only worth is as a money earner is to be pitied, not be held up as the female (or male) ideal.