Why Hilary Rosen/Ann Romney should open a dialog

So, apparently there’s been a whole shitstorm (sorry) about the commentary made by Hilary Rosen about Ann Romney. I think that the comment was that Mrs. Romney (I think she uses Mrs. instead of Ms.) had never worked a day in her life. And a lot of conservative voters and maybe liberal voters were upset by it (you tend to hear more about the backlash from conservatives in the media than liberal backlash against it, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it doesn’t exist). 

I want to give Ms. Rosen the benefit of the doubt – I think that what she meant to say was that Mrs. Romney hadn’t been a mom that also had a job outside the home (like me – I’m a mom but I also am a lawyer and earn money for being a lawyer), because she didn’t have to be – she was fortunate enough to have enough of an income from other sources (such as her husband, or being independently wealthy) to not have to work outside the home in order to earn money to support the family. It’s also apparent that Mitt Romney uses his wife as the go-to person on issues that surround women – definitely on their roles on the economy but I’m unclear as to whether he consults with her for sure about other stuff (although I wouldn’t be surprised). I think that the point that Ms. Rosen was trying to make, albeit gracelessly, was that a woman like Mrs. Romney isn’t the “norm” for the experiences that most American women that are moms have on a day to day level (but then again, I’m probably not either, being a lawyer with two degrees, health care benefits, a retirement and savings account, car and home). And I think that this is a valid point on some level.  I would like to think that whoever our leader is would strive to do as much research ainto the experiences of people as he can in making the best decision possible.  And in doing so, I would hope that our leader would utilize the experiences of many different types of people because that can lend valuable insight and plans that could be helpful. So in doing so, I would hope that our leader would consult with women like Mrs. Romney, women like me and women that aren’t like either of us – the women that struggle to make it on minimum wage jobs as single moms.

That being said, I think that there’s another issue here that has been both simmering at times and sometimes out in the open, boiling. And sometimes I think that it’s an underlying current in a lot of our debates about women.  In the last 40-50 years, women’s roles have changed tremendously.  In the profession I work in, only recently have women begun assuming judicial positions in a way that is beginning to come close to parity (the two justices that do the jury trials in our jurisdiction are women and I just did a jury trial where all of the attorneys and the judge was a woman and the only person that was a man was my client). But most of the private attorneys are still men, as are the partners of the law firms (I often forget that it’s still so male dominated because the organization I work for is pretty evenly split).  So the roles of women have undergone a radical change recently but in the last decade or so, there really hasn’t been a conversation in the mainstream media about the tension that exists between the SAHM and Work outside the home mom, the expectations that each role engenders and how each side’s expectations influence the others. 

For instance, as a Work Outside the Home mom, I often feel the pressure to do it all and to have it all and if I can’t be Wonder Woman and do it all and be everything to everyone, while winning all of my trials, then I am complete and utter failure.  There are also people, like some conservatives, who think that all women that work outside the home are downright evil, or selfish, or both.  There are some Sork Outside of the Home Moms that think that SAHM moms are making it a step back for the women that do go into the workforce.  These perspectives ignore the stark economic reality of the world that we currently live in – there are women that have to work because they are the only breadwinners and need to support their families.  And I think that these women lose out when we have women like Mrs. Romney and Ms. Rosen as the only ones that are consulted with.  I’m just saying.  I’m also saying that I am glad that this happened because now I think that we can talk about the struggles that SAHM’s have, the struggles that Work outside the home moms have and the guilt that our society puts on all of us women, no matter where we are, when it sets dictates that are unrealistic.  And for that I’m happy. 

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2 thoughts on “Why Hilary Rosen/Ann Romney should open a dialog

  1. I agree that it would be wonderful to have more different voices of women in the dialogue–and men’s voices too. I truly believe men should have the culturally acceptable option of more balance in their lives between home and work, which would make it easier for at least some women to have more balance in their lives and be an overall benefit to their families. I think everyone would be happier and society as a whole would benefit.

    • Absolutely – the roles of men/fathers needs to change if we, as women, are going to be able to attain the equality and the economic viability that we need. I hope that this will spur a little of that discussion.

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