Thursday, April 12, 2012

Attention Fellow Women: Let's Take on One Another's Ideas, Not Personal Lifestyle Choices

“Guess what? [Mitt Romney’s] wife has actually never worked a day in her life. She’s never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school?” -- Hilary Rosen, Democratic strategist and CNN political analyst, on Anderson Cooper 360.

“Spare me the faux anger from the right who view the issue of women’s rights and advancement as a way to score political points. When it comes to supporting policies that would actually help women, their silence has been deafening . . . I have no judgments about women who work outside the home vs women who work in the home raising a family. I admire women who can stay home and raise their kids full-time . . . It is a wonderful luxury to have the choice. But let’s stipulate that it is NOT a choice that most women have in America today.” -- Rosen in a piece on the Huffington Post after her appearance on Anderson Cooper.

"I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work." -- Ann Romney's first Tweet on her new Twitter account opened after Rosen's comments on CNN.

"My career choice was to be a mother. And I think all of us need to know that we need to respect the choices women make. Other women make other choices, to have a career and to raise a family. I respect that. That's wonderful." -- Romney on Fox News.
"Every mother works hard, and every woman deserves to be respected." -- Michelle Obama's Tweet sent out hours after Rosen's comments.
If Hilary Rosen wants to challenge and/or attack Mitt Romney and his stances on certain issues and if she wants to blast the Republican Party, go for it. It's as American as apple pie to challenge candidates and their parties.
Ann Romney, like Michelle Obama, puts herself out there in the public eye as a campaign surrogate for her husband, offering personal anecdotes about life at home and how she thinks her husband would be a good leader. The decision to pick up that microphone and speak in public makes her statements on behalf of her husband fodder for media analysis.

Ann and Mitt Romney are very wealthy, therefore their perception of what "regular" Americans struggling to pay their bills may think and go through, are likewise fair game for scrutiny.
But to issue a one-off criticism of Ann Romney rooted in the fact that she chose to be an at-home mother, therefore implying that she has no right to talk about what any women may or may not be thinking about the economy, is a step too far and is seriously unproductive. If Rosen had said that Ann Romney's affluence made her a specious representative for "regular moms" then I'd be cool with that. But that's not what she said.

It's not wise to pick apart other mother's decisions with regard to work-life issues and how they raise their children. (All of this reminds me of the nasty and vitriolic comments directed at Elizabeth Edwards when she decided to take her children on the presidential campaign trail along with her husband John in 2008 even after she learned that her cancer had returned. People excoriated Elizabeth Edwards for making a choice that they wouldn't have, even though that choice was none of their business and had nothing to do with John Edwards' political agenda.)
Ann Romney's decision to be an at-home mom isn't a) relevant to the criticisms of her husband's campaign stances or b) a reasonable justification to dismiss her views on what some women might be thinking or worrying about. Just because someone is an at-home mother (or father) doesn't make that individual a clueless moron with no connection to the outside world and no leg to stand on when it comes to issues of concern to other parents.
Women are not a monolithic voting group. We come in all shapes, sizes, colors and creeds. We don't all make the same lifestyle decisions. Just like our male counterparts. We should celebrate the diversity of American women instead of sniping at one another with regard to our child-rearing decisions.


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