If you haven’t heard of Democratic Strategist Hilary Rosen or the comments she made about Ann Romney never having worked a day in her life, then you aren’t paying attention. It has been all over the news lately. Her words started off a virtual ‘fire-storm’ as the pundits would call it. Everyone from the right and the left has scrambled to be heard on this issue. And yet, the excessive heat hasn’t caused the nuclear core of political punditry to reach critical mass and melt a hole to the core of the earth. Shocking.
As soon as the words were uttered you would have thought Atlas faltered in his grip on our fragile planet. But then the day grew dark in natural order and the sun rose in the morning just as it always had. But the indignation continued as Democrats distanced themselves from Ms. Rosen’s opinions while Republicans attributed them to the president and his staff. And the flurry of angry rhetoric continued again through the night and into the next day and so on and so on, ad nauseum.
You may ask yourself what was in Hilary Rosen’s words that created such pandemonium that conservative mothers were shielding their children’s ears and shouting in disgust. If you must know I’ll tell you. But first, prepare yourself, send your children from the room for it’s too hideous to be allowed into the light of day, and because the quote follows these three periods…
“What you have,” she told Anderson Cooper on Wednesday night, “is Mitt Romney running around the country saying: ‘Well, you know, my wife tells me that what women really care about are economic issues. And when I listen to my wife, that’s what I’m hearing.’
“Guess what?” Rosen observed. “His wife has actually never worked a day in her life.”
Okay, okay, slow down a minute. Take a deep breath and hold it because I have a confession to make: I didn’t have the same visceral reaction as the rest of the country. That’s right. When I heard her comments I found myself nodding my head in agreement. And for a while I couldn’t understand why. It isn’t that I couldn’t foresee the Wrath of the Con brewing in the wings. The minute her statement met the blogosphere I imagined Rush Limbaugh’s puffed up face and disconnected utterances, spewing more fury at the Democratic Party. And though I recognized the blitzkrieg assembling on the right side of the aisle, I still didn’t understand why. Was I missing something? Surely I had to ponder this more with an honest eye on my own values and experiences as a woman who has both worked and been one of those stay-at-home moms.
Shouldn’t I be defending women who choose nobly to stay at home with their children and raise them with values that ensure their success in the world? Of course I agree with women who make it their responsibility to raise their offspring rather than allowing society to instill their own sense of right and wrong. And I do agree that being a mother is a difficult job. Jubilant interaction with other adults and coworkers is instantly replaced by baby-talk and reading a whole math textbook in order to assist your child with his homework. (Damn you new math! You’re destroying my aging brain cells and the faith my son once had in me!) Stay-at-home moms give up a lot to be there for their children.
As I’ve thought about this, and the more I’ve listened to what is being said in the media with regard to this matter, though, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not the one missing something, It’s everyone else. You see, the reason I was silently agreeing with Ms. Rosen was because of the content of the discussion, not because I thought she, in any way, believed that stay-at-home moms have it easy. What Ms. Rosen was saying was that there is a HUGE difference between moms who work and moms who don’t.
A mom who works outside the home, in most cases, doesn’t have a choice. It is a matter of feeding and clothing her children and providing health insurance for them that causes her to rise at 5:00am each morning to start her day. After she has dressed and prepared to leave for work she gets her kids ready to start their day as well.
She worries about her children as much as the mom who works inside the home. But she has other things to add to her worries than her daily responsibilities at the office, store, gravel pit, etc… such as whether or not her children have made it home safely from school, or will she return to an empty house and wonder where her babies are. From personal experience I can tell you that, while she is performing her duties at work and ensuring she’s doing so at a level at or above her male counterparts (so that she can maintain her worthiness status at her job), she’s also worried about whether her kids are finishing their homework and how it was reflecting on their grades. Because, you see, working mothers care as much as stay-at-home mothers about how well their kids do in school. But they usually stay up late helping their kids to succeed only to wake up early, early the next morning and start all over again.
The biggest difference, however, between moms in the home and outside the home is the part where she is wondering if her paycheck will be enough to cover their expenses. Equally concerning is the fear that she isn’t being paid the same as her male counterparts for performing the same tasks. Is she devalued because she lacks the testosterone to grow a beard or a pair of huevos and instead grew children in her womb and made the more difficult choice of helping her husband to provide a decent life for them? No wonder there are more women choosing contraceptives to control the timing of their first child in order to establish themselves financially.
And now, the conservatives who are shouting from the rooftops about the value of women who stay at home with their children are also trying to cut off easier access to birth control through an employer’s insurance, as I’ve mentioned in previous blogs. These same conservatives are voting against fair pay for women and easy access to the legal system in the event they are discriminated against due to the estrogen they excrete. These types of legislation that effect working women much more than stay-at-home moms are being proposed by Republicans across this country and Mr. Romney has been either silent on these matters or vehemently opposed to the ones that adversely affect working women across the United States. Has Ann Romney whispered into his ear for these women? When I hear the comments coming from his lips I can honestly say that if she is, he isn’t listening. Should I be surprised? Not at all. During this election cycle I have witnessed the laws enacted and the wars being waged in opposition to the strong opinions of the people who will be voting in November. Will I be shocked if Mitt Romney doesn’t win the presidency? In no way, shape or form. But that’s Only My Opinion.