Friday, April 13, 2012

Just a Housewife?

Just when I thought I had nothing to write about, along comes another campaign faux pas. I am so grateful for people who say stupid things.

I cannot believe in 2012 this is still a hot button issue.

A Democratic ‘strategist’ named Hilary Rosen made the off-handed remark that Ann Romney was not qualified to discuss the economy because she had “never worked a day in her life”.

Even I, someone notorious for putting my foot in my mouth, would be hard pressed to come up with a more idiotic statement than that.

The firestorm began right away. When I started to type the word “Hilary” into Google to determine her actual title, the full name Hilary Rosen popped up before I even finished her first name, with page after page of references to the incident. An article on the subject generated over 1000 comments in the New York Times.

I thought the whole point of the women’s movement was to support choice in what a woman decided to do with her life. And I thought it was generally acknowledged that your brain did not cease to function because you worked in the house rather than outside of it. It is outrageous that there are still people who are ignorant enough to give lip service to the old “just a housewife” myth.

I was a stay at home mother by choice because I believed raising my children was the most important work possible. It was the happiest, hardest job I ever did. I never for one second did not appreciate how lucky I was to be able to afford to do so. I don’t know much about Ann Romney, but I figure there is a good chance she has felt the exact same way. Well, at least a few times.

When I was 39, with four kids under 16, my husband died and I had to go back to work. It's pretty tough being a single working mother too. But there is no way I would even imply I was superior to a mother who was not working outside the home. Making it a contest as to what constitutes an authentic American woman diminishes all of us.

Is Ann Romney qualified to speak about the American economy? Well, for one thing, it is a free country and she is entitled to speak about anything she wants. As the wife of a kabillionaire, she probably does not have the exact same perspective as your average mom, working or not. But more power to her.

The women in this country have a myriad of issues to deal with. Discrimination is still rampant in the workplace. There is no infrastructure of safe, reliable child care for women who do work. Gun violence is killing our children at a rate of one child daily. The education system is inequitable. American women, working, non-working, mothers, childless, Democrat, Republican, are all in this together. The last thing we need is a divisive, sneering ‘strategist’ denigrating the life choices of any woman.


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8 comments:

Muffie said...

I, too, was shocked at the remark, but that's politics! Having been a stay-at-home Mom as well as working outside, I felt I had the opportunity to choose. And Ann was right, raising children is hard work!
I continue to be amazed at Mrs. Romney and all her energy since she has MS. I told my husband, I want her kind so I can hop up steps, spin around, stand for long periods, and walk normally.
Peace,
Muff

Marie said...

The woman was an ass for making the statement and an ass for not backing down when she was called on it.

Politics are despicable.

I have a lot of questions about Ann Romney's condition. She takes no DMM's and claims to keep symptoms at bay through diet and exercise. But MS doesn't work like that. You can eat healthy till the cows come home and still have a relapse. I am uncomfortable with her potentially being the face of MS. Unrealistic expectations will skyrocket if she promotes that perspective.

Thanks for leaving a comment, Muff!!

Anji said...

Like you I believe that bringing up your own children is the most important thing a woman can do. I also respect the choice of women who prefer to work.

I think that there is still a long way to go before we sort out who a 'liberated' woman is.

Patty Woodland said...

She was foolish to say that but her second comment which is being ignored is far more true and it said that "...She's never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing."

THAT is the part of the comment that should be receiving the press because it IS so very true. Mrs. Romney HAD the choice to stay home which so many mothers do not get. She has the best possible medical care for her MS which so many people do NOT get because of her financial situation. If her husband is elected he will not bring positive change for the poorer among us...

Marie said...

Patty, I do agree with you there, just if I had gone off on that tangent I'd still be writing the post. She has had advantages that even the most fortunate of us (and I count myself there, I had a very comfortable life) do not experience.

I also agree Romney is COMPLETELY out of touch with the average American.

And of course, there is the whole Seamus incident, which is enough for me right there. :(

Marie said...

Anji, I agree with you as well. I can't judge women who stay home or women who choose to go to work. It is no one's business but theirs. What is up with the "Mommy Wars"?!?! Why do we have to compete with each other instead of supporting each other as women?

I just don't understand those perspectives.

joetaxpayer said...

My wife and I both work. Some of the stay at home moms I know are busier and lead a more frantic life than we do. One has three kids and volunteers her time for multiple charities and committees. Another, raises the kids and is nearly a fulltime care giver to her aging parents. The first part of Rosen's remark was really ignorant, but as others noted, the 10 digit wealth certainly makes Mrs Romney different from the other stay at home parents or for that matter, 99.999% of any of us.

Marie said...

Joe - I agree that being a SAHM is hard work. In addition, when I was at home, I volunteered at church, was on the PTA board and I was a La Leche League leader, a group facilitator for nursing mothers. I never stopped for a second but I was really happy. These were all activities I could do and bring the kids along with me.

I also agree that Ann Romney must have a pretty skewed perspective on the economy. In that respect, I did think Rosen was correct. Like I said to Patty, I only referenced that lightly because 1) I would still be ranting and 2) my more urgent consideration was the disservice women do to other women. Rosen's intro was so offensive because you know that is exactly how she feels - she thinks it is less valuable to stay at home than to be a working mother. It infuriates me to have women denigrated like that.

Thanks so much for stopping by and for your thoughtful comment!