Who Does Speak for Me?

It was expected.

The firestorm about Hilary Rosen’s comments regarding Ann Romney.

She said nothing that was not true, she just said it inelegantly.

We all are used to other people speaking for us. Our parents did it, our teachers, or pastors, our spouses.

But truly it is the province of politicians to claim to do so.

Do you have any idea how many times I have come close to putting my foot through the TV screen when John Boehner deigned to tell me what I as  part of the “American people” want, expect, hate, refuse to accept?

It can only get worse when Bill O’Reilly tells me what I as “one of the folks” thinks about the price of hogs or the new Start Treaty.

The fact is, no woman may,  by that fact alone, can speak for me. I am too different even when we might share any number of characteristics. Having a uterus is not our connection, nor is having a husband, nor children, nor any of a host of other items we share or have shared.

Everyone sooner or later figures out that nobody, no matter how much they love you, spend years with you, or even study you intensely for science’s sake will ever really KNOW you. Nobody gets inside your skin. Nobody shares the pain, joy, fear, anger and on and on. Nobody. NO BODY. It’s the nature of being.

At best we get approximations. We share some of the same problems and concerns. But we have well more that we don’t share. And those influence how we think and what we need and desire as much as what we do share.

Ann Romney chose to be a stay-at-home-mom. Right there, she establishes a difference with tons of other women. She had a choice. Plenty don’t. She had enormous funds of money to help her out. She could have nannies and housekeepers and all sorts of support personnel to help her, whether she chose to avail herself of them or not. Again, another choice.

She was married, she had no independent career, she had no money worries. All these things separate her and join her in myriad ways with women around the country, but she cannot speak for any of them.

Most women don’t have the luxury of Ann’s life. Some wouldn’t want it if they could. Others would give up much to have it. She can no more relate to them and the pressures in their lives than Willard can relate to his gardener.

The best any of us can do is empathize. We can imagine how it MIGHT be to walk in someone else’s shoes. We can conclude that our life has been easier, more rich in opportunity, and we can thus feel compassion for those who have lived a rougher, more tenuous existence.

Rosen was simply saying that Ann Romney can’t know what it is like to worry about a sick child all the while trying to participate in a meaningful way in a board meeting. She cannot know what it is like to have to miss another school event because that second job is essential if the gas bill is to be paid. She cannot know what it is like to come home dog tired from being on your feet all day and have to try to put together a decent meal on a shoestring and then wash a load of clothes, check homework, listen to the woes of her elderly mother on the phone for an hour, and fall exhausted into bed.

I can’t know what that would be like either.

When Willard says that his wife talks to women around the country and “they are worried about jobs, and gas prices”, he is trivializing women and their lives. He is lumping us all together in some bloc of voters, and speaking for us.

President Obama got it right when he said that women are not some group. Like men, women are individuals, albeit with sometimes similar concerns, but sometimes not. Surely ultra conservative women don’t agree with being in the same group with liberal progressive women.

HUMANS are individual masses of contradictions, life experiences, opportunities taken and missed, choices, and lack of choices. We generally speaking want to be fed and clothed and housed and we want to have meaningful things to do, and we want to have access to decent education and we want decent health care. We generally want that for our kids too. The best way to get those things is as varied as there are stars in the sky.

So, stop all the faked shock and all that crap because Rosen said something the wrong way. She was perfectly right in her overall statement, she just said it badly.

And that’s my rant about that.

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20 comments on “Who Does Speak for Me?

  1. I must have missed the big controversy here but yeah, stereotypes don’t work well.

    • Sherry says:

      Sorry Lib, I should have at least stated the issue. Ms. Rosen said that Ann Romney never worked so she was not a spokesman for women on economic issues.

  2. lbwoodgate says:

    Nicely stated Sherry.

  3. okjimm says:

    It’s just another ten cent controversy fabricated by the Republicans. Rosen said nothing rude, crude, obnoxious or false. That is left up to FoX.

    • Sherry says:

      Yes, her point was obvious, and of course we will be hearing about it for weeks from Fox and friends, the right wing mobsters.

  4. Jan Hilton says:

    Thanks, Sherry. Too much media attention to the ONE sentence out of the whole–we’re such A “soundbite” culture. Yuck.

    • Sherry says:

      Yes, I think it also bespeaks the desperation of the Romney people in trying to stop the leakage of women from their ranks of supporters.

  5. Hansi says:

    This whole Ann Romeney thing is little more than a distraction to keep us from thinking about the truly serios stuff that still needs to be done in this country…like taxing the rich.

    • Sherry says:

      Yes, of course it is. Just like the NRA wants to distract people into thinking that their 2nd amendment rights are in danger. From where? Point to one salient thing this president has done to threaten gun ownership or use in this country? Just one? The absence of anything is now being used as “proof” that it’s coming. Crazy.

  6. List of X says:

    “Rosen was simply saying that Ann Romney can’t know…”
    Ironically, you began the post by saying that no one is qualified to speak for anyone else, and then made the same mistake yourself :) Even in such a well-written post.
    But I agree, it’s a completely manufactured controversy.

    • Sherry says:

      I’m not sure I did. To what specifically are you pointing to? But thanks for your thoughts in general.

    • List of X says:

      I was referring to your words in the top of my original comment. When you are trying to explain what someone else was trying to say, you are, in effect, trying to speak for that person, and your point was that no one should do that. Ok…. now it sounds like I am trying to explain what you were trying to explain, making the same mistake myself. So I’ll just stop here :)

  7. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    Rosen was correct and I wish she hadn’t apologized. And I disagree, List of X. Sherry is pointing out the fallacy of Mitt believing that his wife can accurately depict the lives of working outside-the-home moms. You missed the point.

    • List of X says:

      I agree that Rosen was correct, I agree that she should not have apologized, I agree that Ann Romney cannot speak for anyone but herself. So I disagree that you and I disagree. My point was that it extremely easy to make the same mistake of speaking for someone else – whether you are claiming to speak for working moms as Ann Romney did, or for Hilary Rosen, as did Sherry.

      • Sherry says:

        I see your point. I am interpreting Rosen’s meaning. And that is always dangerous of course, but something we all do. Just as Ann Romney interprets what she hears from some women. I caution I guess exactly what women she is talking to. I’m thinking she might get some different points of view if she were visiting women in arenas that are vastly different from a Republican fundraiser/townhall etc.

  8. […] navigation ← Who Does Speak for Me? Apr 14 […]

  9. Terri says:

    No doubt Ann Romney had many options before her as a woman of an affluent man. And, if not, as a member of the LDS church she would have had access to many resources through the women’s society – which provides food and clothing for the less fortunate LDS. The entire one sentence of Rosen’s comment is ridiculously over played…and, yes – I have been a stay at home mom, and I have been a working mom, and I have had plenty of money, and I have also struggled profoundly. So, if I can see the idiocy of the media hype over the Rosen statement – then any one can. This has been turned into something completely absured. True to the nature of the confused and embattled GOP/Teaparty elite…and the ill informed Democrats and not-yet-decided…

    • Sherry says:

      Indeed Terri you are so right. And now we learn that Mitt has said quite awful things about moms on assistance–that they must work outside the home in order to have “dignity”. So I guess it just becomes what is useful in the moment, only to be changed as the electorate might pull one.

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