Let’s take a closer look at Gov. Phil Bryant’s comments he made a couple of weeks ago when he responded to the question, “How did America get so mediocre?” As we all know, Bryant has been demonized by the liberal press for his response… well, the part of his response on which they chose to focus because it served their purpose in being able to define him as “ the type of conservative who boxes women into a corner with mixed messages,” as one Jackson publication put it. Bryant said, “You know, I think both parents started working, and the mom is in the workplace.” That’s the fragment, which was extricated from the remainder of his response and started the firestorm. Bryant continued on with many clarifying statements, saying, “That’s not a bad thing….They’re pursuing their careers. It’s a great American story now, that women are certainly in the workplace.” And, ”I think there was that loving, nurturing opportunity – that both parents had a little more time.” He goes on to describe his own childhood and in an era when Bryant says both parents had more time, and compares that era to today, where he acknowledges, “In today’s society, parents are so challenged. Not just the mom, but the mom and dad. They’re working overtime. They’re trying to balance both of them in the workplace.”
Bryant was being unfairly judged in this. As much or more was said about “both parents” as it was about mothers. Bryant’s own wife, Deborah, worked outside the home for years. He does not seem to be arguing here over the fact that women have had to work, often out of necessity, to help provide for their families. However, Bryant is pointing to the connection between parental involvement and the well being of the children. He is pointing to the vitally important position women have in our families and society. Surely, no one could argue that the decline in education and in our culture in general is related, to a great degree, to the drastic changes in the stability of the family unit over the past several decades. Having a mother and a father. Having a Mother and Father who understand the sacrifice it takes to raise children well, even when both parents work outside of the home.
There are many people, many women, who would agree that the most important place a woman can be is in the home caring for and nurturing their families. They would agree, if this were financially possible, that this is a place of honor for her, not a position of being “subservient” as we all read so often.
I believe Governor Bryant would agree with this. I believe his comments reflected a concern for the American family, not a disdain for women who work, whether by choice or necessity.
» Scott Coopwood is owner and publisher of the Delta Business Journal, Delta Magazine, and The Cleveland Current, based in Cleveland, Mississippi. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.