But Rick Cooks and Rick Cleans: Rick Santorum’s Real Stance on Women

And here we go again with another post showing the wonderful regard that Rick Santorum supposedly has for women and for their place in society! Trigger warning for inflammatory, insulting statements on Santorum’s part that would cause one not only to cringe, but to foam at the mouth with anger and turn into a raging She-Hulk. Yes, it’s that bad, Persephoneers.

Rick Santorum, courtesy of Getty Images.

A recent article from The Huffington Post discusses Rick Santorum’s recent losses in state primaries, and it posits that this is because his attitude toward women’s rights has alienated prospective women voters, who have set their sights–and their votes–on Mitt Romney. This has been the case in two battleground states, Ohio and Michigan, where it was thought that Santorum might have had an advantage over Romney because he would be able to target working-class, socially conservative voters. Why is this the case? Because, says Jason Cherkis, the author of the article, Santorum has “a long history of theorizing about women’s sex lives and attempting to turn these theories into law.”

But J. Hogan Gridley, the spokesman for the Santorum campaign, insists that Santorum has the highest respect for women. “He’s always been surrounded by strong women…Rick cooks and Rick cleans”¦ [He and his wife are] equal partners in the marriage. I think the more people realize who he is as a husband and as leader in the realm of women’s rights, they’d be surprised”¦ There are high level women on our campaign who report only to Rick.” (Cherkis)

So says Gridley.

But the fact of the matter is this: Rick Santorum has no respect for the rights and personhood of women. Not only does he advocate the limitation of contraception and abolition of legal abortions, but he also believes that the government should intrude into women’s personal lives in ways that are impossible for even me to imagine.

During his 1994 campaign, Santorum proposed that unwed mothers should only receive welfare payments after they named the father of their child. Again, from Cherkis’s article, here is Santorum’s philosophy on the whole matter:

What we say is that in order for a mom to be able to go on welfare if she has a child out of wedlock, you have to tell us who the father is”¦ If you don’t tell us who the father is, you won’t be eligible for any welfare benefits, none, not even medical care. You tell us who the father is or you don’t receive benefits. If Mom knows she isn’t gonna receive welfare if she doesn’t know who the dad is, y’know maybe she’ll be a little more careful, maybe”¦ Or maybe she gives us a list, say, “Well, it could be one out of five.” “¦I mean, y’know, I don’t know what she’s gonna do, but at some point we’re gonna see her cooperate”¦ We say to Mom that you tell us the wrong name, and we’ll bring that guy in and give him a blood test and it’s not Dad, you lose your welfare benefits”¦ Not until you tell us another name, but till we find out who Dad is, we establish it.

And when it comes to minors who are receiving welfare benefits? Santorum believes that “teenage moms should be ineligible for welfare,” because “the main reason they get pregnant in the first place is because ‘they get a pretty big cash benefit.” (Cherkis) And it gets even better: one of Santorum’s welfare reform bills “would encourage states to refuse welfare to unmarried parents, require unmarried minor mothers to live with their parents, and the bill would reduce federal payments to states that do not achieve high rates of paternity establishment.” (Cherkis)

While it is important that paternity is established so that arrangements for child support can be made, it is quite another thing to deny an unwed mother welfare benefits outright if she honestly does not know who the father is or does not wish for the father to be involved in the child’s life. Perhaps the mother may have just left an abusive relationship and does not wish for the father to remain in the child’s life, or perhaps the child may have been conceived in rape, or maybe the mother honestly doesn’t know who the father is. But that is no reason to deny someone medical coverage and welfare benefits. And in Santorum’s ideal world with no contraception available and no legal access to a safe abortion, there would be a greater possibility for an unplanned pregnancy. Isn’t this doubly punishing a woman who carries an unplanned pregnancy to term? And what would happen once the child’s father was found? Would the mother have to marry the father–regardless of the circumstances in which the child had been conceived–in order to receive welfare benefits? Or would mothers need to remain in toxic, if not abusive, home situations and raise their children in them to receive these benefits? And if the mother in question is a teenager–what then? Are the grandparents responsible for the teenager’s care as well as her child’s? Must the teenager remain in an abusive home, as well, if the child is conceived as a result of incest or rape?

What Santorum would like to see. Image courtesy of


Santorum has not asked these questions because in his mind, women are not real people who are entitled to the rights that men are. Women cannot be trusted to make decisions about their own sexuality. When they do, and if it ends in an unplanned pregnancy, it’s not because it was unplanned, it is because unwed mothers are using their uteruses and their ability to bear children as some kind of business racket to make tons and tons of money. To prevent this, Santorum would turn the clock back to the early twentieth century when women’s decisions were controlled by their husbands and fathers. Even if he is surrounded by strong women, Santorum somehow can’t allow women to be strong enough to think and make decisions for themselves.

It doesn’t matter if Santorum and his wife supposedly have an egalitarian marriage or whether or not he has women in the highest positions of his campaign. Santorum is not a champion of women’s rights; to be honest, I would go so far as to say that he is a misogynist. And for a misogynist to say that he has women in high positions of his campaign and that he and his wife have an egalitarian marriage when he pushes for laws restricting women’s rights and limiting their chances for equality is analogous to a racist saying that he has black friends.


19 replies on “But Rick Cooks and Rick Cleans: Rick Santorum’s Real Stance on Women”

I laugh hystericaLLY every time someone tries to say people are making money off the welfare system. Seriously? Have you gone through this system? It is HELL.

My sister is a teen mother. She didn’t get “huge benefits”. Instead she got teachers who decided that her disabilities weren’t legit once she got pregnant and she ended up DROPPING OUT OF SCHOOL because teen pregnancy apparently invalidates her IEP from before the pregnancy in her teacher’s eyes. She’s had to fight to keep her home heated, and the lapse of a couple days between it running out and them doing anything has meant my mother taking my niece for days on end. And don’t get me started on the run around for medical that makes it so a typo can get you discontinued.


Cooks and cleans, huh? Who wants to bet that he just grills outdoors and takes out the garbage?

Really, I cannot wrap my brain around this man’s popularity (not that I would want to, mind you, it might catch the stupid). But then, I also can’t imagine being a misogynist, racist, homophobic, classist fundamentalist either, so that might explain it.

Oh look, Santorum does his own shopping (from the website

Now Accepting Immigrants From Femmerica
(I’m sweeping when an older gentleman comes up. Note that I’m female.)
Customer: “It’s good to see you doing that.”
Me: “Oh…um…thank you.”
Customer: “So many of you young ladies these days are d*** fem’nists.”
Me: “Actually, sir, I am a feminist. It’s just a little dirty, so I need to clean up.”
Customer: “You d*** fem’nists! Taking jobs from real ‘Mericans who need jobs.”
Me: “Sir, I was born in this country. I’m a third generation American. Being a feminist makes me no less American than you. I just support women’s rights.”
Customer: “That ain’t ‘Merican! Women ain’t ‘Merican!”

Sadly, Tennessee has a law on the books that require a woman to provide the name of the father in order to receive both TANF benefits and Medicaid. Their reasoning is, “Well, if we know who the father is, we’ll make sure that he’s doing the necessary aspects of being a father.”

And for a while, we (human services caseworkers) were told that, if a woman did not give a name – except in cases of rape, which they had to prove with a police report or some other documentation – they would not be eligible. I circumvented the system for a LONG time by just asking them for a name, any name, I didn’t care. From what I know now, they’ve changed that policy to where if the woman does not know the father or isn’t sure, she just has to cooperate with child support in any way she can: if they ask her for documents or tell her to come to court, for example, she has to comply.

God, I really wish that Santorum would just stop talking. About anything. Ugh.

The thing is – even though that is really, really shitty, it still pales in comparison to what Santorum says/advocates.  He doesn’t pretend that the slut-shaming is so that fathers can be held accountable, it’s so sluts will stop being sluts.


I don’t see it as being any different, because they are ultimately trying to do the same thing: penalize women for having sex and daring to carry those children to term (but that’s a whole other story that ugh, just pisses me off). Tennessee lawmakers just have a more tactful way of saying it that makes them seem more egalitarian. Santorum just doesn’t have the sense to be that opaque. Maybe that’s a good thing?

This just reminds me of that Jon Stewart segment with John Oliver, where he’s yelling at Santorum for saying what he actually thinks and urges him to be more like the other candidates who say “everynothing.”

Oh – I think you are right in the motivations, but the fact that Santorum is openly saying it frightens me.  Like it’s OKAY to just feel that way, and he’s supposed to get people to line up behind him by saying it.

And people are lining up behind him.

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