All right. I have come late to this discussion, and hope I may be forgiven if I’ve missed something. I won’t take time here to defend myself as a stay-at-home mom (who has also been self-employed as a piano teacher, childcare provider, editor, theater director, etc.–though none of those things probably count) for over 20 years. Not surprisingly, I completely agree with my younger brother about the fantastic mother we had. She would be quite astonished to find that what she did for 30 years wasn’t considered “work”…
What I’m puzzled about is Hillary Rosen’s defensive statements in response to the backlash she received on her first statement.:
” I said that I thought it was wrong for Mitt Romney to be using his wife as his guide to women’s economic struggles when she ‘had never worked a day in her life.’ …
‘My wife has the occasion, as you know, to campaign on her own and also with me,’ Romney told newspaper editors, ‘and she reports to me regularly that the issue women care about most is the economy.’
So it begs the question, is Ann Romney Mitt’s touchstone for women who are struggling economically or not? Nothing in Ann Romney’s history as we have heard it — hardworking mom she may have been — leads me to believe that Mitt has chosen the right expert to get feedback on this problem he professes to be so concerned about. “
I’m puzzled for at least two reasons: First of all, whether or not Mr. Romney expressed himself clearly in response to a reporter’s questions, it seems presumptuous for Ms. Rosen to assume that Ann Romney is incapable of speaking to women who are struggling financially and accurately reporting what they are saying. And what does Mrs. Romney’s employment status have to do with the women she speaks to on the campaign trail? Does being a stay-at-home mom make her hard of hearing?
Beyond this, implying that only women who are in the work force should be spokespeople for those who are “struggling economically” is short-sighted and illogical at best. Why shouldn’t stay-at-home moms be just as economically aware as women who work? (And what makes Rosen think none of them are struggling?) Does Ms. Rosen imagine that those of us who raise children rather than spending 40 hours away from home each week, are somehow sequestered from the real world? Do full-time mothers not put gas in their own cars? If they do, are they not capable of noticing that prices have gone up? Do we not often pay all the bills, balance the checkbook, and know full well when the prices of natural gas, electricity or city water have risen or fallen? Are wives and mothers oblivious to the rising cost of groceries, clothing, cleaning supplies? Whether we’re “struggling” or relatively comfortable, if women are saying that the economy is a major concern for them, why should this be a reason to criticize Romney or his wife?
If Ms. Rosen wants to address the so-called “gender gap”, by which I assume she means equal pay for equal work, isn’t this much more a white-collar than a blue-collar problem? And isn’t it therefore disingenuous to imply that Ms. Romney, as a stay-at-home mother, is in some privileged, pampered class who can’t relate to the needs of a struggling, working (executive) woman?
Until Ms. Rosen, Mr. Romney, and politicians in general, are willing to say what they mean, and face issues head on–rather than equivocating with warm fuzzies or diverting arguments into finger-pointing vitriol–they can expect little respect from the general public, but lots of tweets, blogs and other backlash against the inanity of their “phony war.”
If we’re going to spend all this time and energy, wouldn’t it be nice to do so over a substantive topic, for once? Or is that too much to ask in campaign season?