The Square Circuit

Academia, parenthood, living in a bankrupt city, and what I read in the process.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

spreading santorum

Rick is everywhere these days, spreading his Santorum on all of us. And we all know how nasty that can be. The Pittsburgh POST-GAZETTE had a front-page story on Santorum's ubiquity this week,

George Stephanopolous—usually a total tool—interviewed him this morning on ABC, and actually challenged him on his assertions about "radical feminists" who devalue motherhood, the home, etc. Sounding like a teacher of rhetoric, and thus one close to my heart, Stephanopolous poked at Santorum's straw-man argument:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s talk about something else in the book, radical feminists. A second quote from the book, you say, Respect for stay-at-home mothers has been poisoned by a toxic combination of the village elders’ war on the traditional family and radical feminism’s mysogynistic crusade to make working outside the home the only marker of social value and self-respect.
Let’s get specific here. Name one or two of these radical feminists who are on this crusade.

SANTORUM: Well, I mean, you know, you have — you go back to, what’s her name, well, Gloria Steinem, but I’m trying to remember — I can’t remember the woman’s name. It’s terrible. Anyway…

STEPHANOPOULOS: But it’s kind of an important point. Because you paint this broad brush: radical feminists, village elders. Name one.

SANTORUM: There’s lots of — no, there’s lot’s of — well, Gloria Steinem. There’s one. I mean, there’s lots of writings out there…

STEPHANOPOULOS: She’s been on a crusade against stay-at-home moms?

SANTORUM: There’s lots of writings out there, and there is an opinion by the elite in this country across academia, across the media, that stay-at-home motherhood is not adequately affirmed and respected by our society.

I wonder if he was thinking about Steinem's writings such as this one:
"We also have to re-define work, so that the work of caring for children and doing human maintenance in the home is counted as productive work, has attributed value." (Thanks to Bitch, Ph.D., for this quote.)

I'm in academia, in a large city, that votes reliably Democratic. I'm in a liberal department: I bet my department has no more than one Republican voter in it. I bet the college faculty (as opposed to the university, which might be slightly more conservative) would break down 90-10 in terms of liberal-conservative (although of course we'd fight about terminology and nomenclature). Our faculty members come from Harvard, UCLA, Columbia, Emory, Duke, Texas, Notre Dame, Yale, Virginia, Stanford...in other words, we ARE the "elite" of "academia" about whom Santorum speaks. And I have NEVER ONCE heard ANYONE in academia—in my department, in my graduate school, at conferences, on listservs, in the CHRONICLE OF HIGHER ED, anywhere—denigrate "stay-at-home motherhood." I've heard it craved, envied, praised, described, analyzed, but never slagged upon.

I wonder if that same situation holds on, say, Wall Street. On K Street. I wonder what Grover Norquist's young Republican go-getters think about stay-at-home mothers.

Okay, and I have to say this, too. I completely agree that "our society" does not "adequately affirm[...] and respect[...]" "stay-at-home motherhood." Seriously. The federal minimum wage is $5.15. In 2001, Wal-Mart's average wage was 8.23 (that's a grand total of $17,118 before taxes if the employee works 40 hours a week for 52 weeks in a year). If Rick was making his living working at Wal-Mart, I wonder if he and all of his kids would want mommy to stay home?

Santorum's seat is up for grabs in November 2006. The Democratic frontrunner, Bob Casey, is hard to swallow (no pun intended here, santorumphiles) for many of us because he's anti-choice. There's no guarantee that he'll be the nominee, but he's a strong candidate.

Look, I voted Nader in 2000. (No hate mail: I was living in Texas at the time, so I had no effect on the results.) I know the value of a principled stand (sound effect here of a toilet flushing, a la Zonker voting Perot in DOONESBURY 1992). But we have GOT to get Santorum out of the Senate. He's bad news in every way. Aw yinz in Pennsavanya, please help out. Aw yinz in udder states, send money to Casey or the Dems or NOW or NARAL.

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