Hilary Rosen, Ann Romney, and what the “stay at home” mom conversation overlooks

If you happened to be away from your computer or CNN last night then you missed Hilary Rosen’s now controversial comment about Ann Romney.  Mitt has used his wife Ann to strategically deflect criticism from his problematic positions and comments on women’s rights.  Ann, the more likeable Romney, and the one which doesn’t appear to be run by an internal hard drive has tried to relate to American women on the issue of the economy and jobs.

On CNN last night Hilary Rosen a democratic commentator, completely unaffiliated to the White House or Obama campaign said, Ann Romney “never worked a day in her life,” explaining that when Mitt Romney uses his wife as a source to understand the concerns of women he’s not getting an accurate picture because Ann Romney, with a wealthy family, has not had to deal with the same concerns that most American women have had.  Romney’s camp fired back immediately calling Rosen an Obama campaign advisor (she is not) and David Axelrod and Jim Messina sent out tweets condemning Rosen’s comments as offensive and inappropriate.

But the real magic started when Ann Romney broke out her Macbook to join the twittahs to speak her piece apparently very offended by this comment but more likely seeing it as an opening to restart the “mommy wars” of the 1990s.  Ann’s first tweet evah read, “I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work.”

While raising children is hard work whether you do that alone or whether you do it while working isn’t really the issue.  Sure Ann made a choice but it was a choice she was free to make because of her economic status.  Many American women would love to stay home and raise their kids and not have to work but they don’t have that luxury.

Michelle Obama worked and raised her children because she and the president both had to pay off student loans.  Something tells me Mitt and Ann Romney are unfamiliar with the terror that accompanies anything arriving in the mail marked “Sallie Mae.” And think for a moment how the right would react if Michelle Obama had chosen after law school to stay at home and raise her kids instead of working as a hospital executive.

There is also an issue of how the “stay at home” moms who are praised tend to be white and suburban.  While a certain level of economic success allows for these women to stay at home with their kids instead of also bringing in money to support their families and put food on the table, I would be very hard pressed to find anyone, particularly on the right praising a woman of color for being a “stay at home” mom.  I hear a lot of “welfare queen” language or that our current president is a “food stamp” president but nothing about how wonderful it is that so many women of color are choosing to stay home and raise their kids.  More likely women of color who are “stay at home” moms would be viewed as “lazy” or “poor role models” for their children.

This whole faux controversy obscures the real point.  Mitt Romney’s gap among women voters is very real and it’s not going to go away just because he ignores his past comments and dispatches his wife to tweet.

Welcome to the general election kids.  It’s gonna be a long summer.

Join the Conversation

  • http://feministing.com/members/35upward/ think tank

    You say that Hilary Rosen is unaffiliated with the White House, however, White House records show that she has visited the White House more than 30 times to meet with White House officials in the past year.

    I think many people view her comments as suggesting that staying at home and raising children is not hard work, or work at all for that matter. Which is just offensive to any women that has had children. My mom was extremely offended by these remarks. Even Michelle Obama has come out defending Ann Romney on this. Obama really needs to distance himself from this. Isn’t this one of the goals for us feminists? To have child rearing recognized as legitimate work, which is why employers should be more flexible when women get pregnant. If Ann Romney went to work and hired someone to stay at home and watch her kids then is the women or man that watches her kids not really working? As feminists we must denounce this type of notion that child rearing children is not work.

    • http://feministing.com/members/bettythegrisette/ Betty

      But that’s one of the most fascinating things about the latest wave of the war on women: the way conservative women are forced to confront misogynistic attitudes and even play what they likely wouldn’t hesitate to call the sexism card. Obama’s resposnse to “Rosengate” is probably everything you could desire, focussing as it does on Michelle’s hard work at mothering. My own mother was stay at home, and that informed my feminism: for example, the way other people–especially, actually,sadly, working moms, treated her like her time was less valuable than that of those who were out there striving for that all-important paycheck. I guess my mom, and probably Ann Romney, faced a sort of Schrodinger’s misogynist: they were constantly dismissed or backhandedly belittled by people who might just be irritated working-joe types who thought that busy in a different way = idle, or might seriously believe that woman-y work was no work at all. What’s clear at least is that those types have a long legacy of misogynist tropes to avail themselves of; if they needed to express contempt, ancient patriarchal ideas were ready to hand…why try to say what you really mean when you can grab a cliche? They sort of called my mom a hausfrau like it meant she was nothing at all. And what did that mean? It’s puzzled me for over a decade now.
      Rosen’s critique was different. The thing is, Ann Romney can actually afford a staff to help her with her parenting. That was way beyond my mom’s suburban means, way beyond my current means. And as Zerlina brought up, there are plenty of stay at home moms in this country who won’t ever get the praise Romney gets. Some of them are women who basically have to calculate the costs of a job, with childcare and transportation costing what they do. As all this ‘Rosengate’ unfolded and I kept seeing more and more people put choice in quotes, I kept having this urge to Shakespeare-bomb it, and now it is late enough for me to let the pretentiousness out: some are born SAH parents, some achieve SAH parenthood, and some have SAH parenthood thrust upon them.
      Thanks to my dad’s salary my mom got to definitely choose–to achieve, really. She didn’t have financial anxieties. Same for Ann Romney; her SAH motherhood is her achievement. She’s basically a career mom. She’s in a position a lot of the middle class were in before and that some lucky people still enjoy in a post-recession world: she’s like a worker able to choose a career in a non-profit industry, or any career that attracts them and fulfills them temperamentally and plays to their intellectual and personal strengths and interests. She can ask her job to fulfill her and stimulate her and can afford to take those benefits as compensation, in lieu of a high salary or wage. Money just isn’t her first consideration. She can afford to do something ‘meaningful’ with her time. I don’t grudge non-profit workers or writers or anybody in an intellectual profession or Ann Romney and all the other by “real-choice” choice moms or anyone else for being able to do what they like with themselves. If they share insights, we all benefit.
      But I am not happy with Obama’s distancing and Ann’s defense of herself. Probably it does opne the door to ‘mommy wars’ II. This lets SAHMs (those supported by a man’s salarly) own some sort of authentic motherhood. Sorry, but SAHmotherhood isn’t the ‘true’ version. It’s not a more mother-y motherhood than that practiced by working moms. It was an iconic motherhood, maybe, for most of the culture at one time and still is iconic for people like the Romneys. However, that just shows their commitment to ideals over reality.

  • http://feministing.com/members/adriennelee68/ Adrienne

    My mother had her own business and worked from home. Her dream was to be able to do this so she could spend time with her kids while they were growing up. It’s an admirable dream, but the only reason this was financially possible (because her business wasn’t enough to support solely) was because of my father’s salary. She often says how blessed she was to be able to do that.

    And can we not remember the depression many women once faced being a housewife? It’s not for everyone.

    I wish I could say that to almost everything the right says, “It’s not for everyone.”

  • http://feministing.com/members/feminista813/ Kelsey

    While I agree with Rosen’s basic point that Ann Romney does not represent, or even necessarily understand, the concerns of the average American woman, the comment was ill-advised. You can say that someone is privileged or out of touch without implying that they have never worked hard at anything before. You could even say something like “Ann Romney has never been part of the labor force, so she doesn’t understand the needs of working women.” But saying she has never worked a day in her life definitely implies that being a full-time mother is not work. That is the sort of comment that people who are supportive of women’s rights need to avoid or we risk alienating women who do choose to leave the workforce when they have children.

  • http://feministing.com/members/treydawgg/ Trey

    As a working mom, who CHOOSES to work, I’m offended by Rosen’s comment. Stay at home moms do work hard, and we should be supporting their choice to stay home and raise kids.

    And, I’m also offended by the whole stigma that only white women are praised for being SAHMakers while minorities are viewed as lazy/welfare queens. There are many women of color who make the choice to stay home and raise their kids because their family situation and economic situation makes that choice. Go to your local playground and see the various men and women who choose to stay home and raise children. You’ll see they come in many cultural varieties.

    Your article suggests that working women such as Michelle Obama somehow deserves more of an authoritative leadership position because she chose to work her way through school and being a working mom. I think past First Ladies (such as Eleanor Roosevelt) would strongly disagree with you. This type of attitude is exactly what we should be fighting against, so that stay at home moms who choose to pursue a career after children have grown can enter the work force without bias and bigotry.

    • http://feministing.com/members/franziakafka/ Franzia Kafka

      You’ve misunderstood the argument. No one here suggested that working women have more authority to speak on the hardships of motherhood. They did suggest that people need to be aware of the privileges of being a millionaire stay-at-home mom (such as, according to the Daily Kos, having 4 or 5 housekeepers : http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/04/12/1082748/-Ann-Romney-has-5-housekeepers ).

      Many women who would like to be stay-at-home moms do not have the choice because they don’t make enough money to support themselves. They have to work. I work with several such women. I don’t see Republicans clamoring to improve wages, or offer paid maternity leave or mandatory paid sick days or vacation, or do anything at all to offer more women or men the choice to stay at home with their children, if they want.

      • http://feministing.com/members/suzann/ Suzann Kase

        This is not a place – I think – that you want the argument to go. At least – not unless you want to be bitten by it.
        Anne Romney is wealthy now – very much so – and in a sense of cultural capital or accessible wealth she was never *poor* as such – but starting out and given the various points on the family life trajectory? The Romney family was no better off – although perhaps no worse off – than the Obama family. Both men – Romney and Obama – were roughly in the same economic strata upon leaving college – both working for legal and investment companies. (Although in not quite the same function – the income for both was in the six figure range) The big difference in family income? Michelle Obama was earning over 300,000 a year prior to her husbands election. (Which I think is a great thing – she has the talent to deserve it and certainly worked hard both becoming a lawyer and then at the hospital – but lets not pretend that she was struggling to keep her daughters in shoes.) Both families have – and had – domestic staff. If the Romney family is more wealthy now, it is much a factor of age – and for the rest a factor of the income restrictions inherent in the office of President. Once out of the White House ( not, let us hope, for another five years – but eventually all Presidents term out) I have no doubt that both President Obama and Michelle Obama will return to profitable employment (perhaps speeches, or another book) and will end up just as successful – and wealthy – as the Romney family. If not more so.

  • http://feministing.com/members/courtkneestl/ Courtney

    I’m really glad to see this “controversy” being discussed in terms of race and class. I’ll admit – I was kind of put off when I first heard Rosen’s comments. But after reading the full transcript of the interview and taking it in context, I realized she was basically right.

    My mother was a “stay-at-home” mom for most of my life. Although she worked and went to school when I was much younger, throughout my elementary through high school years, she had to be a stay-at-home mom because she needed to be on call for my brother, who is disabled, 24-7. We’ve been working class my whole life, and many have criticized her for not working outside the home. People obviously assumed that she spent her day “watching soap operas and eating chocolates,” when that was clearly not the case at all. I think it’s important that you bring up that low income women and women of color do not get the same recognition for the work they do at home and in fact often get called lazy for it. Ann Romney – a wealthy, white woman – however, is praised for what she does. Rosen was simply pointing out that Ann Romney most likely does not understand the struggles that many working moms AND many stay at home moms have to deal with.

    I think this should also be an opportunity to point out yet another hypocrisy of the right. They constantly sing the praises of (rich, white) stay-at-home moms, but offer few incentives or benefits for staying at home. Let’s face it, our parental leave policies are minimal, and leaving the workforce is an incredibly huge risk for most poor or working class women.

    • http://feministing.com/members/suz3tt/ Suzett

      Courtney you hit the nail on the head!!! Great Comment.

    • http://feministing.com/members/stellarose/ Stella

      One of the key reasons rich white guys have this approach (white rich moms need to stay home, poor moms of color need to go to work) is because it is totally economically self-serving. Have a wife at home is a HUGE boost to wealthier men’s careers — shoring up a supply of women from their own social class who are programmed to be their helpmate is key to advancing their own careers. As a bonus, getting the women with a similar level of education to themselves out of the high-paid workforce means less competition for them rising to the top of large organizations (law firms, investment banks, fortune 500 corporations, private equity funds).
      Completely different economic incentives are at play for women outside their social class and educational peer-group.

    • liv79

      “I think this should also be an opportunity to point out yet another hypocrisy of the right. They constantly sing the praises of (rich, white) stay-at-home moms, but offer few incentives or benefits for staying at home.” Yes to all of your words.
      Also, I’m in agreement with the OP’s point on choice. Choices are things you get when you have the economic stability to do so. Believe me, it killed me to leave my baby with a sitter while I went to school and work, but there was no other alternative because social service in my state don’t even equal minimum wage. Child rearing is hard work, and no one should say otherwise, but Rosen’s assertion was accurate if not nuanced- housekeepers and nannies and cooks certainly make child rearing easier.

    • http://feministing.com/members/pjwhite/ Penny White

      Great comment! Thank You!

  • http://feministing.com/members/robbieloveslife/ Robert

    “Many American women would love to stay home and raise their kids and not have to work but they don’t have that luxury.”

    This is a very interesting comment. I thought women wanted to work? I thought quitting work and raising kids was bad because that’s what happened before feminism. This comment makes it sound like feminism has failed these women.

    • http://feministing.com/members/stellarose/ Stella

      Robert, with all due respect, women are not one large consciousness sharing one overarching life plan. We are human beings and individuals much like yourself and your fellow males. The feminist movement on the 1960s (which is what I assume you characterize by the term “feminism”) had as one of its goals that women should have equal access to paid labor as men. That is still a goal of many feminists.

      However, another fact is that our nation stands alone amongst developed countries in providing no paid maternity leave and very little help with childcare to couples or single parents who must work for a living. This makes the life of working parents of both genders very difficult if not impossible. It is much easier in other countries which prioritize families over businesses. I have lived in some of these countries so I know first hand.

      These factors, combined with the fact for some women and men, caring for their own children is satisfying, challenging and fulfilling work that makes economic sense, leads some parents, men and women, to want to do so instead of pursuing paid labor.

      Absolutely no contradiction between giving women equal access to paid labor, and some women and men wanting to stay home with their kids. Make sense?

      • http://feministing.com/members/robbieloveslife/ Robert

        Understood that it should be a choice. Contrary to popular belief, mothers don’t need to be rich to stay at home. My mom was a SAHM for most of my youth and my dad didn’t make much. Out of curiosity, aren’t these “other countries” failing? I’m assuming you are talking about Europe because they have more 1st world countries than any other continent even though they are about the same size as the US put together (minus Russia). One major factor in their sinking economies is that they didn’t prioritize business over families. That’s necessary in flourishing economies. As bad as our economy is we haven’t seen anything as bad as the mess in Europe. We make a big deal about occupy wall street but that is nothing compared to the riots in Greece, England, Spain, Italy, and probably soon to come France and Portugal. Germany has lost half its funds in bailing out countries. Our system is not that bad.

        • http://feministing.com/members/maggielorraine/ Maggie

          Robert, could you perhaps be more specific when you say “One major factor in their sinking economies is that they didn’t prioritize business over families. That’s necessary in flourishing economies”? I’d be very interested in an economic analysis that links things like paid maternity leave and affordable healthcare to the current fiscal crisis, especially as “major factors.”

          • http://feministing.com/members/robbieloveslife/ Robert

            The European socialist system provides far more benefits to employees at the expense of expansion and profits. Hiring someone costs a company so much there because of all the paid maternity and paternity leave plus healthcare provided which means there is less money left over for investment purposes. In America, hiring someone doesn’t cost nearly as much so a company can continue to grow and hire people. In less than 10 years the European system has gone from sky high to crumbling like crazy. It is unsustainable and leaders are scrambling to change the way they run things. I’m a business major and all my economic teachers have taught me this. One only has to look at China’s economy to see the impact of prioritizing business (they own us).

            This is not an argument against employee benefits, it is an argument for balance. Could parents use more employee benefits here? Of course, but let’s not go overboard.

    • http://feministing.com/members/pjwhite/ Penny White

      White upper middle class bias has failed everyone.
      “I thought quitting work and raising kids was bad because that’s what happened before feminism.”
      Poor women and/or women of color did not have the option of “quitting work” to raise their kids. It was then and still is a luxury reserved mainly for the privileged classes. Privileged white feminists fought for the right to enter the same professions in which their husbands and fathers worked. Working class and poor women needed then – and need even more desperately now – reasonable access to housing, health care, and education for themselves, and for their families. In many ways, feminism – and society in general – has failed poor and working class women.

      • http://feministing.com/members/maggielorraine/ Maggie

        I know that many feminists’ kneejerk response to your critique will be defensive, but I agree with you. Our conception of feminism must entail analysis of class and race privilege to be meaningful, and most importantly to help all women (and men), regardless of their economic position, ethnic background, orientation, nationality, etc.

    • http://feministing.com/members/tashabunny/ natasha

      A lot of women want to be stay at home mothers. A lot of women want to work. Different women want different things.

    • http://feministing.com/members/maggielorraine/ Maggie

      No, Robert, it makes it sound like you don’t understand feminism. The issue here is choice, options. If a woman wants to work outside the home, she should be able to. If she wants to work in the home, that is her choice.

  • http://feministing.com/members/franziakafka/ Franzia Kafka

    Rosen’s comment was somewhat offensive, but I agree with her basic point. What’s forgotten in the conversation is, well, the fact that women of differing economic statuses have totally different experiences of motherhood (and reproduction), as well as the fact that the Republican Party which the Romneys represent has never given two shits about the plights of stay-at-home mothers or single mothers or any other kind of mother, and will probably not lift a finger to support improved social-safety nets and other supports for poor mothers, or improve education, or reduce the general stigmatizing of women for their reproductive or child-rearing choices, or even move to reduce the gender pay gap, etc.

    Ann Romney may have been a stay-at-home mom, but she was also a stay-at-home millionaire. She could have hired full-time nannies to raise her boys. She never had to worry about not being able to pay the bills because her spouse was at a $10-an-hour job. Meanwhile, where I am currently employed, a single mother who recently asked to reduce her hours so she could drive her 15-year-old to her part-time job and driver’s ed classes was told that she would work 40 hours a week or none at all. Ann Romney doesn’t reflect the experiences of the majority of stay-at-home moms in the country, who can often only decide to stay home after making enough sacrifices to ensure that their family can survive on $35K a year. Single mothers often survive on even less.

  • http://feministing.com/members/nlc06001/ Natalie

    While having worked in politics I think that the comment was not the best choice of words, I do agree with what Rosen was saying. My mom was able to stay home and raise me while I was young but had to go back to work after my parents divorced. I respect both roles that she had both as a stay-at-home mom and as a working mom, both were full-time jobs. However Rosen wasn’t talking about how being a stay-at-home mom is or isn’t hard work; she was saying that as a stay-at-home mom Romney does not speak for the experiences of all women. Rosen was responding to Mitt Romney seeking Ann Romney’s advice on the experiences of women relating to jobs and the economy. While yes Ann Romney’s experience is a valid experience and she worked hard as a stay-at-home mom, her experience does not represent that of all women. Her experience does not reflect the experiences of women that have been hard hit by the bad economy, the Romneys are certainly not struggling financially. While Rosen may have been able to express this more effectively; I agree that Ann Romney does not represent my experience trying to find a job for the past two years, because she isn’t looking for one.

  • http://feministing.com/members/cherylsass123/ Cheryl Lynne Oropal

    my sister is voting for this fucking jerk , even though she found Santorum tooooooo conservative in her own words. I absolutely can NOT understand why a woman with a college education , who was a teacher for 9 years in a horrible new york city high school after 26 years working for NYNEX-Verizon and two more at another phone corporation ; can vote GOP! the party’s no longer the party of Abraham Lincoln , nor teddy Roosevelt or fiorello la guardia. it has become the party of religious right Christo-fascist morons and , for moderates, those who want this already shitty due to unregulated capitalism country to return to those ” glory days” of Ronald Reagan! [ meanwhile, the private banks , both large and small, up in CANADA are doing very well because of governmental regulation! as are the citizens not wealthy enough to travel to the USA to get decent health care! ] . latest poll by FOX News says Romney 46% / Obama 44% [ then again who can trust FOXY News and their biased bullshit!]

  • http://feministing.com/members/nicole41/ Nicole

    What really bothers me about this discussion is the insinuation that there is a particular kind of woman who is qualified to comment on women’s issues – and certain kinds of women who are unqualified. It’s the same kind of argument that Republicans make when they spout their “REAL Patriots!” spiel, and it’s completely asinine.

    When I made the decision to stay home with my kids I did not hand in my brain. Nor did I hand in my woman card. I am, in fact still a woman, a feminist, intelligent and capable of thinking. I am equipped to observe my own experience and that of other women. Absolutely I am of a certain race and social class, but I am not *stupid* and I am still “qualified” to be a woman and speak to that experience.

    I think the real argument that Rosen was trying to make is that Romney is is so affluent that she can’t understand what “real” women go through. And she is STILL wrong. Rosen doesn’t get to qualify Ann Romney as “real” or “not qualified enough” woman. I am truly disappointed in this blog post, in fact, because you did just that. You, a feminist blog, just went and rated women on their qualifications to speak on being a woman based on their wealth, race, class and career status. Apparently Ann Romney failed (and Michelle Obama qualified?). Who said you get to decide which women are qualified and which aren’t? I think you need to check your biases. All women ARE indeed women and therefore qualified to talk about being women. Feminists of all people should be defending Ann Romney’s “qualifications” to be a woman.

    • http://feministing.com/members/pjwhite/ Penny White

      It seems as if HIlary Rosen’s comments hit a nerve with you. You seem to be very uncomfortable with the choice you have made not to work outside the home.
      I wish you would stop complaining about the burdens of your privilege (having the freedom to make that choice puts in a very rare and privileged position) and instead express empathy for the women who have no choice – who are responsible for ALL of the things you are responsible for IN ADDITION to providing food, shelter, and medical care for their children.
      I have been a stay at home mom when I could be, and I have been a working outside the home mom when I had to be -and you know what? STAYING HOME IS EASIER!!!!
      Yes, I have read the obnoxious bumper sticker proclaiming that every mother is a working mother. But you what is even more true? Every mother is a FULL TIME mother.
      No one said you or Ann Romney didn’t qualify to speak as “real” women. But neither you nor Ann Romney are qualified to speak for the women who are hardest hit by this economy. Be nice to them when they ring up your groceries. Their lives are much harder than yours.

  • http://feministing.com/members/nicole41/ Nicole

    And just to clarify – of course Ann Romney does not speak for me or represent me. But neither does Michelle Obama. I speak for me. But telling Ann Romney that she is not qualified to speak to women’s issues because she’s someone not “real” enough is about as anti-feminist as I can imagine. If we shut down one woman we shut down ALL women. We need to affirm Ann Romney’s right to be a woman, and then invite more dialog.

    • http://feministing.com/members/nlc06001/ Natalie

      While I agree we should not disqualify someone as being a “real woman” because they are too rich, or too poor for that matter. I do think it is appropriate to critique the use of someone who hasn’t sought out a job from speaking on the economic experiences of all women. Ann Romney hasn’t struggled to find a job, or keep a job in this bad economy; she hasn’t chosen not to seek a job.

  • http://feministing.com/members/stellarose/ Stella

    I love your point about the class and race difference in women’s choices. Whenever my neighbors glare judgmentally at me as I walk to the subway every morning, leaving my kids behind, I just remind myself that those are the same people who scowl at women on the subway who are with their kids, have “too many kids”, and should “get a job.” In our culture, YOU CANNOT WIN AS A MOTHER. People will judge you regardless of what you do and how you look — and those people will be men, women, feminists, misogynists, rich, poor, friends, enemies, family, strangers, etc. Motherhood is so wrought in this culture, and people have issues with it. If you want to have kids as a woman, you need to follow your own voice and tune out the crap.

    That said, yes, raising 5 boys is hard – I have two and I can barely survive each day. But Ann is so fabulously wealthy that the fact is she could have hired an army of nannies to do it for her. I’m not sure what sort of help she had; it might have been none. My point is, when you have millions of dollars, everything is easier. Just the knowledge that you COULD hire help if things got too much is huge, even if you never actually do it. I’m not sure she should try to compare herself to a mom of five who also has to work outside the home to put food on the table. Or a stay-at-home mom who is poor and needs to spend lots of energy taking care of the kids and trying to make ends meet.

    I think the point of the commentator was that Ann has never had to work FOR MONEY for a day in her life. No one is saying raising kids is not the hardest job on earth (take it from me — it is). But EVERYTHING, including raising kids, is easier when you have millions of dollars.

    • http://feministing.com/members/robbieloveslife/ Robert

      I actually think the fact that Ann Romney could have afforded nannies but chose to care for her kids herself is worthy of praise. The easy way for rich folks is to pay others to take care of their kids. You are partly right saying you cannot win as a mother. Not all mothers are looked down on, it’s only single mothers that get crapped on by society for various reasons which include stereotypes. There’s even some division between single mothers and happily married mothers. This even affects the kids. When I was in elementary school we used to make fun of kids without a dad by calling them bastards. Obviously it was wrong but when you’re a kid anything that makes someone unlike the others is a big deal.

  • http://feministing.com/members/lefty281/ Miranda B.

    Why should I defend someone’s decision to not have employment? Seriously, why should I? I’m a single working mother who got a good job because I got educated and then worked my behind off for years to rise to a level where I make some decent money and have some amount of flexibility in my work schedule. Then I adopted a couple of kids. When I was ready and able. And now I work my behind off to make sure that I take care of both my parental duties and my job duties. It’s never perfect (I don’t have nannies or cleaning help), but stuff gets handled okay and we gotta good thing going at our home, once you subtract out the teenager attitude. I guess I’m single because I said “no” to a few marriage proposals along the way. Whether that’s choice or not, I don’t know…maybe had a different person been proposing, I would’ve reacted differently. But then that would make it fate, right? Anyhow, that doesn’t seem like choice, it just seems like my particular life circumstances and how I handled them and how I set goals and worked toward fulfilment and self-realization in my own way. How someone else does that is her business, and I don’t feel obliged to defend it. Or repsect it more than I would respect anything else about anyone else, if I thought it was respect-worthy. If a woman hooks up with an affluent man and then wants to let him pay her way to raise their kids, then so be it. I’m in a different world than that and mine works for me. It’s worth noting, however, that in my world, a lot of women fought a lot of battles several decades ago to make it possible for me to work hard and achieve the life that I have. So if I’m going to defend anything, it’s going to be the value of those battles. I don’t recall that during those times anyone had to fight to have women NOT work outside the home, because the men who had the good jobs (or even the not-so-good jobs) back then were okay with that.

    Anyway, when this ‘respect and defend all righteous mommy roles’ discussion crap, when it comes up, so seldom seems to have anything to do with my experience. When I read it, it makes me feel that there’s some other way to go about life than to be in charge of myself and handle my responsibilities, and I’ve been a grownup for too damned long to go there. I’ll tell you what…when we start having this same debate about choice and daddies who don’t have outside work versus daddies who work both at home and outside (noting that there are probably numerous discussion topics for the latter), then maybe I’ll be able to engage. Not holding my breath on that one, though.

  • http://feministing.com/members/smiles/ Smiley


    A simple question: had a Republican said that a Democrat’s wife had never worked a day in her life, would have taken the same position?

    Somehow, I think not: you would have called the remark insulting and demeaning.

    And there lies the flaw in your argument: it is transparent that your position on the issue is not based on Hilary’s remarks but on the fact that she is a Democrat.

  • http://feministing.com/members/rachelpiazza/ Rachel Piazza

    NOW President, Terry O’Neill made a good point on The Ed Show last night. Hillary Rosen should’ve said “work for pay” instead of just “work”. Rosen fell into the trap of not labeling at home labor and child care as “work”. In my opinion, it was semantics. The point Rosen was making was that Ann Romney is out of touch with the reality of women’s lives – including the pressures of balancing parenting and working for pay. This burden falls disproportionately on women, even when they have a partner. Clearly, neither Romney has a clue. At least Rosen’s comments have heated up the debate on Romney’s position on women’s issues.

  • http://feministing.com/members/progree/ Progree

    @Nicole – what Hilary Rosen and the others were saying is that Ann Romney is not a particularly good choice for advice on the economic pressures facing women. It is hard not to agree, and a bit laughable to turn this into “If we shut down one woman we shut down ALL women” non-sequitir. Do you think, for example, that suggesting that Mitt Romney might not be the best authority for the plight of blue collar men is “shutting down one man shuts down ALL men”?

    I really came here to pass this on — Even Mitt Romney does not think that stay-at-home Moms do enough work and don’t have the “dignity of work”. This is what he said in January in a New Hampshire townhall meeting: “While I was governor … I wanted to increase the work requirement. I said, for instance, that even if you have a child two years of age, you need to go to work. And people said, ‘Well that’s heartless,’ and I said ‘No, no, I’m willing to spend more giving daycare to allow those parents to go back to work. It’ll cost the state more providing that daycare, but I want the individuals to have the dignity of work.’” .