Thursday, December 08, 2016

The Right-Wing Formula For Motherhood in The Trump Era

This juxtaposition of two news items about women in the US is worth highlighting:  First, Ohio passes a very strict abortion bill:

Donald Trump's election, and a presumption that he'll appoint conservative Supreme Court justices, spurred Ohio Republicans to pass what would effectively be the nation's strictest time-based abortion law, a legislator said.
Ohio lawmakers on Tuesday passed a controversial "Heartbeat Bill" that would ban abortions in that state from the moment the heartbeat of a fetus can be detected -- which usually occurs about six weeks into a pregnancy.
How many women know that they are pregnant at that six weeks point?

Never mind.  Ohio is just following the usual forced-birth playbook of the Republicans.

But what makes the story interesting is the reference to Donald J. Trump, our Dear Leader-Elect,  and the fact that  Kellyanne Conway, his campaign manager, told us the proper place of mothers:  It's not in the White House:

Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said that mothers should not accept high-powered career opportunities—a standard that does not apply to fathers, in Conway’s opinion.
Put those two Trump-initiated snippets together, and what do you get?

The extreme right-wing plan for women:  Women's fertility is for the society (and its ultra-fanatic religious people) to control, not for women themselves,  but once children are born any difficulties that might cause are none of the business of the extreme right-wing.  They wash their hands!  No, more than that:  They tell us that the mothers of small children should not try to get powerful paid jobs.

Or any type of jobs, really, because the conservatives also oppose subsidized childcare, parental leaves and any other arrangement which would help parents of small children to both work for money and to parent.

Mothers are expected to care for children and absorb all the costs of doing so, including lower lifetime earnings, lower retirement benefits and a smaller likelihood of getting promotions or, indeed, that entry into those high-powered career opportunities Ms. Conway believes should go to fathers.

But the right-wing plan is even direr for the poorer mothers who work in low-paying jobs without proper access to daycare, without paid parental leave and possibly surrounded by people who share Ms. Conway's views about the proper place for mothers: Doing grunt work for pocket money or out of the labor force altogether.

I'm not sure if this post makes the point I want to make:  The right-wing in this country wants to socialize decisions about conception, about pregnancy and even about giving birth, but once a child is born, everything should be privatized:  Almost all responsibility is saddled on the shoulders of the mothers, while the wider conservative society, in general, refuses to budge one inch from its traditional gendered expectations about the role of mothers.*

* It's worth noting that the white supremacists, some of whom are firm Trump supporters, also wish to see white women's roles roughly limited to childbearing and child-rearing, while someone else decides how many children they are to produce for the Vaterland.