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Hayes took Romney's admonition as a threat. She felt attacked, even intimidated. Moreover, it was insulting. "He was saying that because Dane didn't have a Mormon father in the home and because of the circumstances of his birth—being born to a single mother—then the expectation of the church was that I give him up for adoption to the church agency so he could be raised by a Mormon couple in good standing."
Hayes rejected Romney's advice and kept her son. She eventually completed her master's degree at Emerson College and today serves as coordinator of volunteers for the Watertown Free Public Library outside of Boston. "I made absolutely the best decision for that kid," Hayes declares. "He's a wonderful young man. If there is a God, I think the last thing he would have wanted is for me to give my son away just on somebody else's decision."
She, too, like Carrel Hilton Sheldon a year earlier, eventually dropped out of the church.
These stories involving Mormon women of different age and different status in the church community—and all coming from when Romney was in a hierarchical (and, indeed, patriarchal) position of power over them—form an alarming, composite pattern of Romney's leadership career for more than a decade in the LDS Church.
"Romney just doesn't have any sensitivity to women's issues," says Dushku. "But even more than that, he genuinely believes he's always right, that he's never made a mistake. In Mitt's view, no one else has anything to offer."
Romney—and Republicans in general—is experiencing a significant gender gap at the polls this election season, with the most recent poll conducted by the YWCA indicating that Obama is leading Romney by 49 to 31 percent. In respect to issues that most directly impact women, this should come as no surprise.
As Republicans gathered in Tampa to coronate Romney as their nominee, several Republican speakers mocked the Obama slogan of "Forward." As Rebecca Traister, Salon columnist and author of Big Girls Don't Cry, noted, they seemed to be calling instead for a "moment back in time" when "only a select few—the white, the male, the straight, the Protestant—could reasonably expect to exert political or financial or social or sexual power."
In word and deed, Traister observed, Republicans "have been telegraphing their hope to return us to a moment not just before Roe, but before the birth-control pill, before the sexual revolution, before second-wave feminism hammered pesky terms like 'harassment' and 'equal pay' into our lexicon, to a moment when women's bodies and sexuality and identities were men's to define, patrol and violate at will."
Romney, it would appear, is the perfect Republican candidate to bring us back to that patriarchal future.
Last week, as Dushku watched the first of the presidential debates, she saw a competent, even "slick" politician sparring with President Obama, but she also saw someone who is a political chameleon.
"He's not a man who has anything like a moral core," she says. "He's very loyal to the Mormon church, pays his tithing, is faithful to his wife and so on, but he doesn't have a set of core values you can count on. I've known him for nearly 40 years. He may have a different suit on, but he hasn't changed; his experience hasn't changed. His performance was very consistent to the Mitt I knew back then. He can't relate to average working women. He's still coming from a place of privilege and entitlement."