Ann Romney Acknowledges, Embraces Sexism

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
Aug. 29 2012 12:46 PM

Ann Romney Acknowledges, Embraces Sexism

150890196
Ann Romney feels your pain.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Last night the RNC made its appeal to female voters, and Ann Romney's speech really was an exemplar of the form, putting a sorority girl grin on a description of women's lives that, stripped of sentimentality, reads like a laundry list of the daily injustices women face for no other reason than being women. This part, in particular, jumped out at me

And if you listen carefully, you'll hear the women sighing a little bit more than the men. It's how it is, isn't it?

It's the moms who always have to work a little harder, to make everything right.

It's the moms of this nation—single, married, widowed—who really hold this country together. We're the mothers, we're the wives, we're the grandmothers, we're the big sisters, we're the little sisters, we're the daughters.

You know it's true, don't you?

You're the ones who always have to do a little more.

You know what it's like to work a little harder during the day to earn the respect you deserve at work and then come home to help with that book report, which just has to be done.

You know what those late night phone calls with an elderly parent are like and the long weekend drives just to see how they're doing.

You know the fastest route to the local emergency room and which doctors actually answer the phone when you call at night.

Advertisement

In sum, she offered up a description of what feminists call "systemic sexism," a list of the very injustices feminists have worked, with some success, to eliminate. If it was Gloria Steinem saying the same words in a speech at the Democratic National Convention, Rush Limbaugh would be having an on-air heart attack right this second. A thousand well-coiffed Fox News anchors would be rushing on air to denounce this liberal nonsense about a "war on women." Yet, there Ann Romney was, acknowledging that even conservative women know it to be true: Women work harder for less pay and less respect. She described sexism in fairly blunt terms.

So how does Ann Romney get away with this? Because she framed it not as a problem to be fixed but a trial that women have to endure. She put a positive spin on it, claiming that these extra struggles make us women extra good. Instead of demanding equality, she encouraged her female audience instead to take their payment in martyrdom.

It was actually refreshing! Most of the time, the battle over sexism in this country is over the facts. Feminists declare sexism a problem. Anti-feminists respond by denying that it even exists, insisting that equality has been achieved, implying women only fall behind because they aren't up to the task (which is, of course, in itself sexist). Ann Romney instead stood up and admitted that sexism is real and that it actually structures women's lives. Instead of fighting, she empathized, and implied that there is some consolation for women in knowing of their own moral superiority to men. Set aside the fantasy of equality, ladies, she seemed to say. We all know how life really is. As the capper to ladies' night, it was a very telling speech. 

Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based writer and DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, AlterNet, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case

The Jarring Experience of Watching White Americans Speak Frankly About Race

How Facebook’s New Feature Could Come in Handy During a Disaster

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

View From Chicago

You Should Be Able to Sell Your Kidney

Or at least trade it for something.

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Terrorism, Immigration, and Ebola Are Combining Into a Supercluster of Anxiety

The Legal Loophole That Allows Microsoft to Seize Assets and Shut Down Companies

  News & Politics
Propublica
Oct. 17 2014 4:21 PM Why the Poor Pay $1,400 for Old iPads #MuckReads: A weekly roundup of investigative reporting from ProPublica.
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 19 2014 11:40 AM Pot-Infused Halloween Candy Is a Worry in Colorado
  Life
Outward
Oct. 17 2014 5:26 PM Judge Begrudgingly Strikes Down Wyoming’s Gay Marriage Ban
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 17 2014 1:54 PM Republican Midterm Debate Strategy: Be Pro-Life, But Not Anti-Abortion
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Oct. 17 2014 1:33 PM What Happened at Slate This Week?  Senior editor David Haglund shares what intrigued him at the magazine. 
  Arts
Behold
Oct. 19 2014 4:33 PM Building Family Relationships in and out of Juvenile Detention Centers
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 17 2014 6:05 PM There Is No Better Use For Drones Than Star Wars Reenactments
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 19 2014 7:30 AM Persistence Pays Off: The Smoking Trail of a Shooting Star
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 16 2014 2:03 PM Oh What a Relief It Is How the rise of the bullpen has changed baseball.