Ivanka Trump, trotted out of late as proof that obviously Donald can’t possibly be a misogynist because some of his sperm has X chromosomes in it, has taken to video to tell us all about Donald’s policy proposal for working moms. (It’s the one he only developed because Ivanka herself pushed him to it, saying, “Daddy, daddy, we have to do this!” because nothing says “I respect women” like making your adult daughter sound like Veruca Salt at a campaign stop.) And because we can’t have woman- and family-friendly policies in place just because they’re the right thing to do in our current economy and societal structure, Ivanka had to come right out of the gate telling us that the most important job that any woman can have is mother.
She, her inherited real estate job, her clothing company, and her nanny speak directly from the heart.
So I, my freelance job, my sporadic blog writing, and my two largely self-sufficient dogs will do the same.
1. Being a mother isn’t that kind of job. This is evidenced by the fact that, for example, motherhood doesn’t come with a paycheck, or benefits, or limited working hours, or government regulations that keep mothers from being screamed at by a tyrannical boss at three in the morning. “Motherhood is the most important job” is the rallying cry of people who want to placate mothers by patting them on the back and telling them that they are Very Important and Valuable, then offering no concrete support.
2. Way to marginalize women who aren’t mothers. Own a uterus and present as female? Your story is as absolute and ink-writ as that complement of ova you were born with. Of course there’s a wide range of unsolicited advice that comes with a decision not to fulfill your uterine destiny, but the top of the list is always how empty and meaningless one’s life must be without a baby in it. I guess, as a woman who has no interest in being a mother, I can only aim as high as the second most important job a woman can have. (In fact, as a non-entrepreneur who is neither a mother nor a wife, I might actually top out at fourth.)
And seriously, I get enough of the message that my life isn’t fulfilling and I’m not making a worthwhile contribution to the world because I don’t have kids. I don’t need to hear it from a rich real estate scion stumping for her disgustingly sexist father.
3. What’s the most important job a man can have? Is it taking responsibility for your children and taking an equal role in their upbringing? I can’t imagine that it is, or else we’d get a bunch of condescending videos defining men by their reproductive capabilities. And Trump’s plan would include paid family leave and not just paid maternity leave. I’m guessing in Trump’s mind, the most important job a man can have is “guy who got millions from his father and rose to the top by screwing his small-business vendors, gaming his taxes, declaring bankruptcy four times, and running a scary-successful presidential campaign based on his racism, sexism, classism, and flat-out lying,” but I’m going to go with “astronaut.”
4. At least now motherhood is an important job now and not an “inconvenience.” Which was Donald Trump’s opinion in 2004 — that a woman’s pregnancy is “certainly an inconvenience for a business.” (Wait, no, he never said that. I forgot.) And his position in 2010 that working mothers “are not giving me 100 percent” — just (a very specific) 84 percent. At least the many Trump employees who don’t get paid maternity leave at all — despite Ivanka’s claims to the contrary — will appreciate that they’ll have that option under a Trump presidency, even if it’ll only be because it’s required by law.
5. Motherhood doesn’t have to be the Most Important Job for mothers to still deserve accommodations in the workplace. (And fathers, too — let’s enable families to make parenthood a team effort.) Regardless of where motherhood ranks on the importantness scale, women are the primary source of income in 40 percent of households and the primary caretaker in 59 percent of households, and excluding them from the workplace by making it impossible for them to parent would decimate the workforce and put single-parent and two-income families in financial jeopardy. Whether motherhood is the first or eighth most important job, children require parental attention to grow into productive adults, and mothers (and fathers) need to be able to provide that attention without sacrificing income. Regardless of the importantitude standing of motherhood, pushing a woman out of the workforce because she has kids is basically turning motherhood into a punishment, and that’s not conducive to a healthy home environment for her or her kids. And even if motherhood isn’t the most important job of all jobs a woman can have, a woman who is a mother doesn’t deserve to suffer poverty or professional stagnation just because she also has this responsibility to her children.
So let’s cut the crap already: Ranking women’s roles from most to least important is unnecessary and divisive, and paying lip service to the sacred value of motherhood while doing nothing about it is hypocritical. Support working mothers because we live in a society. And don’t believe a man who hires inexperienced teenagers because they’re hot when his surrogate says he’s all about respecting women in the workforce.