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Mommy Wars: Everybody is Missing the Point

Mommy Wars: Everybody is Missing the Point

I’ve spent the last few days mulling over this whole Hilary Rosen-Ann Romney kerfuffle. If you are unaware, Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen dismissed Mitt Romney’s statement that women “really care” about economic issues, not this silly war on women stuff. (I mean, come on ladies! There are real issues we need to be talking about. Manly issues, amirite?) Specifically, Rosen said, “His wife [Ann Romney] never worked a day in her life.”

This has been widely interpreted as a slight to stay at home moms. As if not having an outside job makes one inferior to those who do. But that’s not what Rosen was commenting on. The fact that Ann Romney is a stay-at-home-mom is not the point. The simple reality that the Romneys had enough money to make that a viable alternative is entirely the point.

The fact is that the Romneys are not your average American family. They are worth, roughly, 17 bazillion dollars (or $200 million. Whatever). Does anybody really believe that Ann Romney knows what it’s like to try to make ends meet with one average income? Perhaps mothers are more in touch with how much milk costs, or the price of gas. But if you have access to what is functionally an infinite amount of money, does any of that really matter?

You see, just because Ann Romney and I are both vagina-Americans, it would be foolish for me to think — economically speaking — that we are cut from the same cloth. Because we are not.

As Linda Hirshman explained in The Washington Post, middle- and working-class women, when it comes their economic interests, have much more in common with middle- and working-class men. People who work for a living have a vested interest in receiving fair pay. Stay-at-home moms do a crazy amount of work, it’s true. But they don’t have as much of an interest in making sure women are paid the same as men for similar work.

And let’s not forget that it’s Mitt and Ann Romney’s stance on economic issues Hilary Rosen was commenting on. I’m sure that women, like men, are concerned about the economy. (I know I am, given that I’m two years out of law school and still temping and writing ranty blog posts.) But do we have to pretend that, by virtue of having a vagina and raising children, I can speak for all stay-at-home mothers on issues relating to the economy?

All credit to the Romney campaign. They turned what was a valid criticism of Ann Romney’s ability to sympathize and connect with the average woman into a referendum on her choice to stay at home and raise children. Attempts to use this to start a discussion of the actual economic needs of women in this country have been giant fails.

Money separates us in ways that are deep and unfortunate, and we don’t always want to acknowledge the gulf. Ann Romney isn’t a bad person. She just has more privilege than I can even dream of. The greatest privilege you can have is the ability to ignore your privilege. The debate isn’t stay-at-home-moms vs. the world. The debate is how we can improve the lives of women, regardless of their choices or circumstances.

Barbara Bush actually said something sensible for once, “Forget it. Women who stay at home are wonderful. Women who go to work are wonderful. Whatever.”

Hell yes.

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98 comments

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10:04AM PDT on Oct 24, 2012

OBAMA BIDEN 2012

1:30PM PDT on Apr 20, 2012

Haha, finally a Bush saying something that's awesome. This is a first!

1:36AM PDT on Apr 18, 2012

I love Linda Ms comments you go girl. I wish I could give you a star. I dont have a photo yet. dont know how to download a photo yet I never used the program on this computer. I will read up. Plus I havent done a profile on myself yet. And I only have one friend listed.
At any rate, the deal in topeka is the second one in ks about beating your wife. I believe the other one was in wichita. I know for a fact they were going to reinstate the law in topeka since so many women protested as well as the coalition of violence against women. But, you know linda and everyone what do you expect when state rep gorthaim from WI said that women are single moms should be arrested for child abuse. Then the state rep from WI (his name slips my memory-course i am almost 60 and my mom had alzhys when she died- not good news for me.) said that a women who is beaten should stay with the husband and receive the help that she needs (like the women provoked him etc.. usualy bull hockey)since she obviously loved something about the husband or why would she have married him? Many men hide that anger until they have that piece of paper some husbands believing that they become the mans' property.
Then of course there is a law attempting to get passed in southwest(cant remember that either)to TEST MOTHERS GETTING CHILD SUPPORT because an ex hubby believes she was using drugs.
Dont forget that the senate wont re-establish the violence against women act. The law has included und

11:00PM PDT on Apr 17, 2012

@ Gene J: Beautifully said! I would love to send you green stars too but can't because of sending you others for other posts on other topics too recently. (I wish they would change that about Care2.) In any case you are absolutely right and voiced my exact sentiments as well!

10:36PM PDT on Apr 17, 2012

Thank you Julia!

10:33PM PDT on Apr 17, 2012

@ Kevin B: You have made several coments here that i would love to send you green stars for, but cannot as I have sent you others for other topics too recently. You still deserve them though!

10:22PM PDT on Apr 17, 2012

I know Lee, the Democratic party has to be as tough as the Republicans but not stoop to the level of lying and misinformation. So often they are just so damn agreeable and reasonable but as the Republican party has become the party of hate and insanity that just won't work anymore. As a progressive I am consistantly disappointed in them, but where else is one to turn? I hope you are right and that times are changing because we need some serious answers (the problems are all completely fixable) but not until we get the right adults in there fighting for what is right.

9:23PM PDT on Apr 17, 2012

Its not the money the Romneys have. Its the way they act. They are somehow 'better'- more just; closer to God; entitled.. because they have money??
And by the way if you look at Mitt Romney's "job" Bain Capital- its as sleazy as it gets. Bain makes nothing, gives nothing- 22% of the companies in which Bain invested wound up either in bankruptcy or shutting their doors entirely, while Bain itself has made billions of dollars for its investors. Bain’s modus operandi was to invest in companies, leverage them up with debt, and then sell them off for scrap, allowing Bain’s investors to walk away with huge profits while the companies in which Bain invested wound up in bankruptcy, laying off workers and reneging on benefits.Adding insult to injury, Bain would hide its profits in tax havens, not even paying the rate it was supposed to on the profits it made laying off workers.
So Ann Romney not only didn't have the 'dignity' of a job- she is living off the pain of others.

9:19PM PDT on Apr 17, 2012

Linda M.-Unfortunately that is too often the problem, progressives and liberals wilt before the right wing lie machine and echo chamber. This was never about "working mom's" it was about out of touch uber-rich bozo's thinking they knew the needs and experiences of working Americans. Rosen was right and had nothing to apologize for, but she apologized anyway.

Reality has no basis with the Fox news driven right wing lie machine. Bill after bill is passed by Republicans attacking women and their response is "What war on women, you liberal made that up." It is like Hitler invading Poland and going "what war you made that up." But the gullible and the hateful fall for it all the time.

9:11PM PDT on Apr 17, 2012

Mrs. Romney..." I chose to be a stay at home mom. We must respect the choices women make". For many women it is NOT a choice, that is the main point. She has no clue that many are deprived of that very choice. Work or starve and lose the roof over her and her children's heads. (Does this respect for choices of women include things like abortion?) I doubt Mitt agrees.
As many have pointed out here, Rosen's comments were correct. She should not have backed down. She was referring to the actual need for work outside the house and the real work involved in raising kids, not by hired help. I wish Rosen had stood up for what she said and presented some of the points made here in these comments so the Romneys could make political hay by misconstruing what she said.

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