The Republican National Convention concluded earlier this week after Mitt Romney accepted his party’s nomination and not before Republicans made a desperate attempt to court women voters. The convention featured an impressive lineup of female speakers including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez and of course, Ann Romney who talked about mothers saying, “You are the best of America. You are the hope of America. Tonight we salute you and sing your praises.” Romney himself mentioned the word “mom” at least ten times in his acceptance speech. But speeches and theatrics can’t overcome GOP policies that are decidedly not female-friendly.
Remarkably, we find ourselves agreeing with something New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said in an interview with CBS. Christie told Charlie Rose, “I think it’s condescending to women to say we have to have a different message for women than we have for men.” We do too. It’s not about saying “mom” a lot. It’s about the policies.
Take Ann Romney’s message, which was was more patronizing than condescending. She told us “women sigh more than men,” and “mothers work a little harder.” She told us her husband makes her laugh. And then her husband struck up his “motherhood is the most important job” message again as he sang his wife’s praises.
Women, and mothers in particular, already know what our days are like. We know how much we love our children. We know how hard we work. And we know that the policies that will have an impact on our families include equal pay for equal work, paid sick leave and a woman’s right to choose. And we know that those are family issues, not women’s issues. Those are the messages we’re listening for.
Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan wants to move the debate away from social issues and focus on the economy. When Brian Williams asked him before the convention, “Are you prepared to leave this gathering and own the fact that the platform of this party allows a woman who has been raped no exception but to carry that child to term?” He moved the discussion away from abortion. “You know, I think what suburban women are mostly worried about is jobs.” He went on to say, “Women are worried about the education of their children, they’re worried about economic growth and opportunity. They’re worried about the fact that we’re mortgaging their kids’ futures. So, that’s what most women are asking us about.”
Romney has also tried to redirect the national debate toward the economy and take the focus off contraception and abortion. But women know that reproductive rights and the economy are linked. When women have access to contraception and resources for family planning, they, as well as their spouses, can make informed decisions about education, career, family, and how to best manage all three. During his convention speech, Mitt Romney told us his mother once asked, “Why should women have any less say than men, about the great decisions facing our nation?” That’s what we want to know.