Thursday, October 21, 2004

Open Letter to Theresa Heinz Kerry

Dear Theresa,

I'm on your side, really. I don't think your comment about Laura Bush was meant to be mean. I think your comment says much more about our society than it says about you. The Republicans like to flaunt their family values agenda and claim that they value women like Laura Bush who choose to stay at home and raise children. But they don't put their money where their mouth is. There's no tax incentive for a woman to stay at home and while she does, she loses money because she puts none into Social Security and none into a 401(k). And the Republicans are constantly trying to make her into a second class citizen. We want you to stay at home, they say, but we don't want you to make decisions about your own body. The Democrats are not much better. They, too, haven't come up with any economic incentives for women who stay at home.

The fury over your statements reveal, too, that the media and the campaigns are still encouraging a rift between working moms and stay at home moms. Most of us (and I've been in both camps) have come to respect each other and understand the difficulties of both sides.

There's not much help for the working moms, either. Schools still function on the concept that someone is home at 3:00. Maternity leaves are still woefully short and often unpaid. The long hours required for upper-level positions and for elected positions means that there are fewer women as Executives, Senators, Congresspeople.

I hope that the Democrats can find a way to make this controversy into something positive, into something that fosters a real discussion about how to support women in their efforts to raise children and participate in our economy and our democracy. Don't let the Republicans spin this into another "family values" fiasco. Let's do something about it.

Laura, working mom