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Take Your Faith Moms and Shove It

On paper, I'm the mom that the GOP thinks it has in the bag. I attend church. I have two children. I stay at home, live in the Midwest and oh yes, I'm white. We are "Faith Moms" — described by the Christian Defense Coalition as "…the millions of women that attend weekly Bible study and discussion groups, coordinate church activities, drive their children to youth group and choir practice and are literally the lifeblood of thousands of churches across America. Both Catholic and Evangelical churches would have a hard time functioning without these dedicated 'Faith Moms.'"

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With a dying and evolving base, the GOP is reaching out to us "Faith Moms" in an increasingly desperate attempt to stay relevant. In Iowa, we have Joni Ernst, of the Sarah Palin mold. She is folksy in her approach, Conservative in her politics. If you asked Pat Robertson what an acceptable female politician would be she is the perfect prototype. Similarly, this month the GOP aired ads where women try on wedding dresses, metaphors for politicians. The metaphor is troubling at best: Wearing men, white men, to fit their patriarchal dream. And that is just scratching the surface.

But the problem with this pandering is more than its condescension; the GOP is totally missing the point of what women need out of politics.

The reality of the "Faith Mom" or the "binders full of women" that the GOP believes it has in its clutches is far more complicated than they want to admit.

While I fit the mold of "Faith Mom" if you scratch the surface, the illusion of the perfect conservative woman falls apart. I am a stay-at-home mom, but only because I live in the Midwest where jobs that pay women well and provide benefits are hard to find. I once went to a job interview, six months pregnant, and was told I would be required to work 50-hour work weeks, no flexible hours, no paid maternity leave, abysmal health coverage and I would be paid $28k a year. I walked out.

I also have two children and childcare is an overwhelming cost that we can't afford with me working such a paltry salary. Yes, I am actively involved in my faith, but I am becoming increasingly disillusioned in a church that systematically silences the voices and narratives of women and is rank with homophobia.

Even my friends, who fit this "Faith Mom" mold a little better, still spill out of the box. They want flexibility, they want maternity leave, they want, God forbid, birth control.

Recently, I found myself in a conversation on Facebook about the IUD with a faith leader. When I told him I had used an IUD and so did many, married, middle-class mothers, he accused me of lying and being a baby killer. So, that went well.

The reality of the "Faith Mom" or the "binders full of women" that the GOP believes it has in its clutches is far more complicated than they want to admit. Women who have faith aren't just single issue voters. Women who have children aren't always going to agree with a Republican interpretation of what it means to be "pro-Life." And this is because of our status as women and mothers.

The GOP is forcing narratives on women that just don't fit, even with the women who fall into their base.

I admit, it took having children, in the space of a loving marriage and a middle-class Midwestern life, to fully empathize with the difficulties single mothers must face, to recognize my privilege and to want something better not just for me, but for all women. No matter what it should be, having children and working, this is hard. And it's a hard thing to do when your party, when your politics, when the people who assign themselves the job of representing you, don't even listen.

But the ultimate point is that the GOP is forcing narratives on women that just don't fit, even with the women who fall into their base. The Republican narrative insists that the women who want equal pay, paid maternity leave, free birth control, IUDs or government subsidized childcare are single, poor or irresponsible, when the reality is, we are their base. We are married. We have children. We have faith. And we just want to be heard. Unfortunately, the GOP isn't listening.

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Unfortunately, just like the women in the wedding dress ad, the GOP isn't going to listen, they are just going to keep stuffing us into dresses and packages that they think are pretty and hope we say, "Yes."

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