Mothers, Don't Fall for Ann Romney's Stay at Home Mom Bait -- Her Husband Still Supports a War on Women
Ever since Hilary Rosen's appearance on AC360 last night, a war has erupted over stay at home motherhood. Pushing back against Mitt Romney's tactic of using his wife to help him understand American women's economic hardships, Rosen, a CNN commentator, said that Ann Romney "had never worked a day in her life."
It was an unfortunate choice of words, because of course Ann Romney, the mother of five sons, has "worked a day in her life" -- motherhood is hard, legitimate work whether you stay at home or go to a workplace every day. Many stay at home mothers are rallying behind Romney in the wake of Rosen's remarks for those very reasons, and Ann Romney helped stir the pot by joining Twitter specifically to hit back at Rosen.
But as many people have pointed out over the past half day, Ann Romney is a disingenuous poster woman for stay at home moms, because she is the 1%. She no doubt worked hard to raise her children, but most moms who don't have Romney's economic advantages -- i.e., the vast majority of mothers in America -- would not relate to Romney's definition of "work." In Ann Romney's world "struggling" means selling some stocks to get through college. Issues like unemployment (the "womancession"), slashed childcare services, and healthcare disparities do not affect her the same way they do so many American women. This tweet sums up that sentiment pretty well:
Yes. RT @bedheadchicken SAHMs rallying around Ann Romney is kinda like cowboys rallying around George Bush. He's not really one of you!— Rebecca Traister (@rtraister) April 12, 2012
Beyond all that, it's problematic that we're even having this conversation about what it means to "work" as a mother, and whether those different kinds of work have greater or less value. At care2, Jessica Pieklo urges U.S. mothers not to take Ann Romney's bait:
Let’s also remember that in talking about whether or not stay-at-home-mothers are of equal, lesser, or greater value to mothers who work outside the home we are no longer talking about the fact that Republican assaults on health care means that women have even fewer options to chose to stay home or to work so the idea of “choice” becomes effectively meaningless.
Instead, the argument wedges women against women, and pits the value of work outside the home against the value of work inside, as if there is a difference. Most importantly, it means we’re no longer talking about the right’s very real assault on women’s choices and options.
Was Rosen's statement dumb? Yes, but mostly because it created a monster -- a national conversation that obscures the very real war on women and mothers that Ann Romney's husband supports. And if candidate Romney really wants to attract the "mom vote," he should support equal pay for women, living wages for all workers, universal healthcare access, paid parental leave, reproductive rights, and safety-net services -- measures that will actually help mothers of all stripes.
Update:Ann Romney doubled down on Fox News this morning, and she did not help make the case that she understands the plight of most American mothers (via TPM):
“I know what it’s like to struggle.” She admitted that she may not have struggled financially as much as others in the U.S. “I would love to have people understand that Mitt and I have compassion for people who are struggling,” Ann Romney said. “We care about those people that are struggling.”