Women’s reasons to be furious are many and deep: The coronavirus pandemic has reminded us how unequally the burden of child care falls, with many women being forced to sacrifice their careers or their own wellness because the kids are home and fathers and husbands aren’t doing their fair share. Now the child care industry is on the brink of disaster, which will compound the pressure on mothers.
But the child care crisis is also a jobs crisis, with one in five jobs in this overwhelmingly female occupation having disappeared since February. That’s not the only pandemic-related job loss hitting women especially hard: State and local governments shed 1.5 million jobs, and 63% of those workers were women. Both child care and state and local government jobs are also disproportionately held by Black women—in the case of child care, it’s increasing the race-and-gender pay gap, while in the case of the government jobs, it’s reducing it: Black women are earning more in state and local government than they do in the private sector.
As Sen. Elizabeth Warren said in her Wednesday night Democratic National Convention speech: “We build infrastructure like roads and bridges so that people can work. That infrastructure helps us all because it keeps our economy going. It’s time to recognize that child care is part of the basic infrastructure of this nation—it’s infrastructure for families.”
“The fact that we do not value child care, that we don’t value early education, this is not something that Covid created—it’s something that Covid exposed,” a doctor, activist, and mother of two told The New York Times. “The moms and parents around me are all feeling that very same thing.”
”I am so full of rage,” Alida Garcia, the vice president of the immigration advocacy group Fwd.us and mother of 1-year-old twins, told The New York Times. But, capturing the bind women are in, she continued: “We are exhausted.”
And all of the things brought up by the coronavirus crisis are laid on top of the rage that propelled women into the streets for the Women’s March, like the fact that a man made it into the White House after bragging about habitual sexual assault of the kind too familiar to too many women. The way any woman who runs for higher office is subjected to endless sexist attacks and snidely misogynistic commentary. The ongoing unequal pay that puts Women’s Equal Pay Day in late March or April and Black Women’s Equal Pay Day in August.
Women have reason for our rage. But trying to brand it as another voting bloc, another campaign-year curiosity, the flippant shorthand of “rage moms”—that’s just offensive.