Sexist Solutions

By Maritza Gordillo

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Officials in Frederick County, Maryland were voting on a possible elimination in local funds for the well-known Head Start program for children who come from low-income families. This proposal raised worries and frustration for parents, but parents were not only worried because of the cut in funds, but also furious with the sexist solutions and remarks made by some elected officials. Paul Smith and Kirby Delauter, both commissioners in Frederick County, suggested that women should stay home and take care of children instead of sending them to school, thus saving money. Smith says, “My wife stayed home at significant sacrifice during those early years because she knew she had to be with those kids at that critical age.” Delauter agreed with Smith, stating, “My wife, college educated, could go out and get a very good job, she gave that up for 18 years so she could stay home with our kids.”

Many argue that the commissioners’ comments and suggestions were very sexist and ignorant because a woman has just as much right to get an education and have a career as men do. Maybe these individuals were privileged to sustain their families on a single income and have their wives stay at home if that was their choice, but for Smith to assert that, “the mother’s role is primarily in the home…,” does not mean he can generalize and assume that every mother is mandated to be a house wife. Smith and Delauter fail to consider women who live on a single income and do not have the luxury of staying at home with their kids. Why do many people assume that mothers should forego their careers to stay at home and be the primary caregiver of the family?