OHATCHEE, Al. April 19, 2012 — Hilary Rosen might not have intended to slight stay-at-home moms when she said that Ann Romney “has never worked a day in her life”. No decent person who has a clue about motherhood would want to do so because it simply makes no sense.
If you have been raised by a stay-at-home-mom (like I have) or have simply observed the fury that ignited in response to Rosen’s comments, you’ve probably been informed that stay-at-home moms work harder than Congress and actually know how to spend within a budget they’ve been assigned. Stay-at-home moms save the government expense by providing childcare (and often education) for their own children.
“The homemaker has the ultimate career,” C.S. Lewis is often quoted as saying. “All other careers exist for one purpose only - and that is to support the ultimate career.”
As conscientious consumers, homemakers also stimulate the economy by saving for and buying best for their children, and ultimately raising and investing in future taxpayers.
Furthermore, choosing to live within one provider’s income when able to do so opens employment opportunities for others.
That being the case, Rosen might have intended only to say that Mrs. Romney can’t relate to women who work outside of the home and thus cannot relate to typical American economic challenges.
But the problem with this is that Rosen’s conclusion is illogical.
Of course stay-at-home moms can relate to women and the economy. Home is where economics begins. The word “economics” itself is derived from the Greek word for “household management.”
“The fact that Ann Romney doesn’t struggle financially doesn’t make what she does any less valuable,” wrote liberal columnist Kirsten Powers in The Daily Beast. “I suspect there is a lot about how she has contributed to her community that we don’t know. Her full-time homemaker role also doesn’t make her any less able to speak about women’s economic conditions. Presumably she is just as capable as Hillary Clinton or Elizabeth Edwards or Michelle Obama in boning up on policy issues and educating herself about the economic plight of women in America.”
Ann Romney, who regularly hosts campaign events and phone conferences for her husband, is obviously sharp and well-spoken. As a young mother she completed her college degree through Harvard Extension School, and she has served as first lady of Massachusetts.
Nevertheless, Rosen thinks that Mitt Romney citing his wife’s opinion when discussing what American women think and need constitutes being completely out of touch. Some how this diagnosis didn’t apply to Barack Obama as he named his wife and grandmother when Rick Warren asked him who the three wisest people were in his life, and who would he most rely on in his administration.
Besides, what does relate-ability have to do with being qualified to run the executive branch of the U.S. government? That is somewhat like dismissing a doctor for not experiencing the same ailment that his patient has (to avoid plagiarism, I must admit that I got this analogy from my mother, who used to work as a registered nurse before becoming a stay-at-home mom to nine children).
If having a woman in the White House who can relate to the average American woman is so important, then the female presidential candidate who had to get a job after her parents’ divorce and work her way through college before getting the chance to be a stay-at-home mom to five children should have received more credit – Michele Bachmann.
Does anyone seriously think that the Obamas can relate to ordinary Americans, by the way? They were already millionaires after Barack authored two best-selling memoirs before running for the presidency in 2008. President Obama’s entire life story is far from ordinary. Who cares?
“But there’s something much more fundamental about Mitt Romney,” Rosen insisted. “He just seems so old-fashioned when it comes to women, and I think that comes across, and I think that that’s going to hurt him over the long term – because he doesn’t really see us as equals.”
How does Romney not see women as equals? By selecting a female lieutenant governor and appointing ten women to his cabinet in Massachusetts?
If having a wife whose headquarters was home has anything to do with it, then we need to reconsider who is really living in the dark ages. Historically, home has gone from being the busy hub of work and entertainment for all family members to becoming the place where people are only supposed to hang out when they’re not working (hence the reason why it’s easy to dismiss stay-at-home moms as non-workers). But technological revolutions have started to bring the productivity of home full circle. Perhaps there has never been a better time to be home!
Being at home does not require economic and social uselessness or inequality. I know plenty of stay-at-home moms who have earned extra income creatively working from home. I know fathers who work from home as well. Even I work from home and help out with homemaking, which puts me in that bizarre stay-at-home daughter category.
It has been over a month since the Sandra Fluke controversy erupted, and yet again we are dealing with a clash over differing views of individual and government responsibility pertaining to women. “Apparently, picking a good provider is only okay in political mates, not domestic ones,” wrote conservative pundit S.E. Cupp, observing the irony in feminists scorning well-off married women like Ann Romney while upholding victimized women who look to the state for provision.
This ultimately brings us back to the fundamental debate over the purpose and ability of government in relation to economic and social matters at this crucial moment in American history. It is an answer in this debate that women – roughly 53% of the electorate – will truly end up voting for.
FOLLOW-UP POST AT AMANDAREAD.COM…War over Women: Hilary Rosen, Ann Romney, and what American women want
Amanda Read is an unconventional scholar, a Southerner without an accent, a Christian who hasn’t been a churchgoer in 17 years and a college student who lives with eight younger siblings. A writer and artist, she blogs at www.amandaread.com and is the author of the historical drama screenplay The Crusading Chemist. Amanda is majoring in history and minoring in political science at Troy University.
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