With a headline that surely makes every person who reads it cringe, our governor makes us look like backwards idiots once again: “Mississippi governor: Educational troubles began when ‘mom got in the workplace.'" The Washington Post writes this morning:
‘Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) said Tuesday that America’s educational troubles began when women began working outside the home in large numbers.
Bryant was participating in a Washington Post Live event focused on the importance of ensuring that children read well by the end of third grade. In response to a question about how America became “so mediocre” in regard to educational outcomes, he said:
I think both parents started working. The mom got in the work place.
Bryant immediately recognized how controversial his remark would be and said he knew he would start to get e-mails. He then expanded on his answer, saying that “both parents are so pressured” in families today. He also noted that America seemed to be losing ground internationally in regards to educational outcomes because other nations began to invest more in their own school systems and make progress.’
This completely infuriates me, as a working mom in Mississippi, on so many levels. And it infuriates a lot of my friends as well. Here are a few things my friends have had to say in the last hour about Gov. Bryant's latest idiotic remark:
“Folks, in case you wondered why I'm a Democrat, it's in no small part because I believe in women. While Gov. Bryant blames education failures on working parents, he has apparently failed to notice that American women are better educated than we've ever been, precisely because we have opportunities and choices in our careers. Heck, some of us even go to med school and make pioneering medical discoveries in HIV research, right here in Mississippi. But it's nice to know that Gov. Bryant thinks that we should have been at home in the kitchen instead.”
“Dear Republican Party: You really better get your act together. You are not minting any new Republicans. And, if you want to know why, look at headlines like this one.”
“There is a disconnect between cause and effect among misogynists. They think since women are the ones who get pregnant, they are the ones responsible for all births, therefore they are responsible for all the resulting child rearing and support. They don't really see a correlation between having unprotected sex with a woman and a subsequent pregnancy. They set men back about 10,000 years. Surprise, surprise Gomer....for every single mother there is a single father. That's the way it works.”
“This all assumes two-parent households only. This assumes the mother is to blame for all of society's ills. This is such terrifying ignorance coming from who we say is in charge of our state.”
“So mothers go work and the world goes to pot....very interesting. Is he saying that fathers don't engage their children intellectually? They don't read to them, talk to them, train or counsel them? Because why...they are working? He must be the worst father in the world.”
“As a mom who quit a job to stay home and homeschool for 10 years I'd like to punch this little jerk in the face. Because we know how great life was before women could vote and do jobs and stuff. But maybe our labor problems started when we ended slavery? What about child labor? Bring back those good ol' days. What you have to remember is that they whine about this so much because they're losing the battle, and with it their God-given power and privilege. #getusedtoitbuddy”
“I guess women never went to work in states like California and Connecticut.”
The comments go on and on.
Does this man not live in our world? Why does he think women work? Because they have other options? Because they are bad mothers? Because they do not love their children? I simply cannot wrap my head around what might be going on in his mind. Forty-four percent of kids live in single-parent households in Mississippi. Also, Mississippi ranks in the bottom five nationally in education spending, according to the Associated Press, thanks in no small part to Governor Bryant and his Republican buddies.
You can’t demonize welfare moms sucking the government teat and also demonize working moms, Governor Bryant. You can’t have it both ways.
Has it ever occurred to you that many, many teachers are mothers?
Weren’t your own two children the product of a household with a working mom? (Deborah Bryant has worked at St. Dominic Hospital for 37 years?!)
Women work because they want to pay for food for their children. Because they want to pay for medicine and doctor’s visits, and shoes and a roof over their family’s heads. Because they want to create a better community for their children. Because they have curious minds and big ideas, and ways to make our world better. As my friend mentioned in a comment above, a woman in Mississippi made great advances in curing HIV only last year. Perhaps Gov. Bryant thinks we would be better served had Dr. Gay stayed home and kept her hypothetical children.
Men can be good parents, too, Gov. Bryant. Fathers can have a great impact on a child’s learning as well. Perhaps this is something you should consider, as a father yourself.
I don’t think there’s anything that can change the deep-seated, evangelical/fundamentalist Christian beliefs that our governor holds. It is engrained into him that women are less than men. That they should bow to men’s desires, and not overstep a woman’s role, in the home and in the world.
And I know for fact he intends to govern our state by these beliefs. He has made this very, very clear. A theocracy is his hope and goal.
I am embarrassed we have elected such a man to lead our great state.
Cristen Hemmins lives in Oxford, Miss.