Moms, Speak Out to Control the Coronavirus

Why aren’t more mothers expressing outrage at Trump’s handling of COVID-19?

Posted Jul 29, 2020

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash
Source: Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

On January 21, 2017, millions of people in the U.S. and around the world took to the streets as part of the Women’s March, voicing their outrage after Donald Trump had been sworn in as president. Many expressed fear and alarm about the potential impact of his administration, particularly on the lives of women, given his past actions and statements.  

Yet no one could have imagined the COVID-19 crisis, which has taken the lives of more than 150,000 individuals. Experts predict that 100,000 more Americans will die of the disease by Nov. 1.

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on the economy, shuttering industries and claiming millions of jobs. Many of those lucky enough to remain employed have endured commutes and workplaces that potentially expose them to COVID-19, largely without any special compensation like hazard pay. 

And then there are the mothers, as well as wives, daughters, sisters, female colleagues and women experts. All over the country, the lives of moms in particular have been shattered by the realities of the virus. As women, they’re more likely to work in the hardest-hit sectors – education, hospitality, leisure, healthcare, retail, etc. – and are thus bearing the brunt of job losses. They also face more long-term damage to their careers from the time they spend out of work. Single moms have many fewer options, especially those who are essential workers.

Many moms have also had to endure long-term separation from their adult children. I myself have three kids who all live abroad. Because of how poorly the U.S. has managed COVID-19 I cannot visit any of them – nor can they travel here – and on Aug. 14 I’ll be missing my own daughter’s wedding.

Though not a death, this is a sad and emotionally challenging turn of events for my family, as any mom would understand. Count it among the numerous other losses endured by women: having to decline the embrace of grandchildren; consoling teenagers who’ve missed anticipated milestones; saying goodbye to dying loved ones over the phone or not at all.

So why aren’t there a sea of moms and women in general demanding an end to the anti-science posturing that’s only furthering the spread of COVID-19 and prolonging our collective pain, suffering and death?

Moms have a long history of activism. Mothers of children with special needs have been fearless in creating communities that fight for as many kids as might benefit from their advocacy. Following the death of Trayvon Martin, a group of moms whose children were killed by police or gun violence founded “Mothers of the Movement” to press for change. And just recently in Oregon, a group of women banded together to create “A Wall of Moms” to protect protestors from unidentified federal officers.

It’s highly notable that some have compared refusing to wear a mask with drunk driving, as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was founded by a New Jersey mom who lost her daughter to a drunk driver.

Why aren’t more moms and women expressing their collective outrage at the president’s handling of COVID-19? In particular, where are the GOP moms – those who hold office, as well as representatives’ wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, and colleagues, who’ve had enough of the negligence and are ready to speak out? 

There are woefully few examples. One exception is House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney who has expressed public support for Dr. Anthony Fauci – a stance that has led to attacks from other Republicans.

Where are the others? Where are the mothers, wives, daughters, and other women who desperately want their children back in school, their parents safe in assisted living, and their communities virus-free? 

I understand human beings’ inherent complexities and contradictions. As a mental health attorney, I face such issues every day. I am a multi-faceted person myself with personal and professional opinions that don’t always line up neatly with issues at hand. But first and foremost, I am a mother and am thus hardwired to concern myself with the needs of others. 

The voices of many women have been missing from this country’s discourse on the Coronavirus. I am raising mine in hopes that it will do some good.