Thursday, April 19, 2012

Romney and Rosen and the Hard Work We All Do

Last week, I, along with many other stay at home moms across the nation, was a bit taken aback by a comment made by Hillary Rosen about presidential candidate Mitt Romney's wife, who is a stay at home mom, not "working a day in her life". A few days later I got to participate in an interesting conversation on Twitter about the issue and I decided afterwards it would be worth my while to share my opinion here.  Before I start, let me say that one neat thing about the Twitter discussion was that everyone involved was very respectful and I really felt like we were all making an effort to better understand one another and see each other's perspectives.  I love dialogue like that and it pains me that it is too infrequent in our society, much less on the Internet.  

Before I get started, there's one other thing I want to address.  One person on Twitter mentioned that stay at home moms are often overly sensitive.  My response was that I agree that they (I) are, but that our culture has really devalued this important work and so it's hard not to be a little defensive at times.  A favorite example of the culture? College Peyton saying to high school SD in our early lifeguarding days- "My wife WILL work".  Yep, Jackass, she will.  She does. [In Peyton's defense, he claims he was just saying that his future wife wasn't going to be be laying around all day reading gossip magazines and eating BonBons all day long.  However, that's kind of my point.  I know very few stay at home moms that do that.] I'm not trying to play the martyr, but I think it's espesially difficult at times for someone like myself, who, similarly to Ann Romney has "never worked a day in her life" save the aforementioned lifeguarding gig and a few part time situations that are really more fun than work to be taken seriously.  

Okay, so onto my main points: 

Obviously, you have to have some sort of financial prosperity to make the decision in good conscious, to operate on a one person income.  However, there are plenty of women that stay at home that have just as little of an idea of Ann Romney's lifestyle as their working counterparts.  It's unfair to them to make such a derogatory statement about who is and is not working when what Rosen was really trying to do was take a stab at the Romney's wealth and perceived ignorance of middle and working class Americans and their circumstances.  

I really think Rosen did herself a huge disservice by bringing up the stay at home mom thing when really what she was attacking was the Romney's wealth.  Because her occupation (or lack of) really has nothing to do with it.  Most modern first ladies, "working" or not, have come from a position of privilege. Do you really think Laura the Librarian and Michelle the Lawyer ever worried much about how to feed their kids or stressed out about making sure they had coats.  Pretty sure Sasha and Malia haven't ever been on reduced lunch, but I could be wrong.  (Actually, I couldn't be...I did some Wikipediaing just to make sure.)

Which brings me to another point.  I really think this conversation is part of a different, much larger idea that touches on many aspects of our lives.  Specifically, I think there's a growing consensus that if you're not an expert in a field your opinion lacks validity.  Now, I understand that experiences do add credibility, but people can educate and inform themselves as well.  For example, Peyton knows a lot more about prescription drugs than the average American; does that make his opinion on healthcare more valid than mine? Not if I've taken the time to form an understanding of the issue.  And who is to say Ann Romney hasn't done just that in regards to the economy? 

Finally, someone made the point that capitalizing on this was just a tactic used by the Romney campaign to gain points in an election year.  My response to that? I would hope that if I had a husband running in an election for the presidency of this country, and I was attacked and criticized in such a way I would respond by defending my values and my work with the same grace and eloquence Mrs. Romney did regardless of what advisers suggested I do.  But that's why we're Paul supporters.  Because he prioritizes his values over political gain.  And consequently, that's why he hasn't a snowballs chance in Hell.

Maybe one day we'll see such a man in the White House.  And maybe one day this absurd argument about whose work is legitimate will cease.

Probably not in my lifetime. 


Sarah said...

I agree with you that Rosen was completely out of line in her phrasing of the attack against Ann Romney. Personally, though, I'm much more bothered by how both of the Romneys have tried to twist this conversation. As governor, Mitt Romney actively worked to prevent low income women from being able to stay home with their young children, and now he's going to try to act like a champion of SAHMs? Baloney. He says that "every mother is a working mother," but his actions have shown that he only believes in SAHMs among privileged women. If he, or any of the rest of this crew that have jumped to defending SAHMs wanted to make things better for women, they would have done it. Stronger, more humane maternity leave laws, affordable daycare options, waiving the welfare work requirement for mothers of young children. Both sides of this argument are trying to make it about something superficial to avoid dealing with the real problems women are facing. Blegh.

amanda said...

Admittedly, I'm a left leaning independent, but I will say that, I too, have have been intrigued by Ron Paul and that I know very little about Mitt Romney. As an independent, I think my state allows me to vote in the republican primary, so I plan to do more research before May 8.

I was trying to remember exactly what I heard Rosen say when I heard the story reported on the radio-so I googled it...(I included it below) I think Rosen was wrong to say she never worked a day in her life, when what she obviously meant was she'd never had to bring money in to support her family. Her point being, what you said, which is that she's a woman of privilege and doesn't speak for or on behalf of every woman in regard to their concerns. I think it's unfortunate that the point she was trying to make, which is that the Romneys are a bit out of touch with the reality of the American people (as our all of the candidates) got lost in semantics.

To be honest, my primary concern isn't the economy-maybe that's naive of me, but my primary concern is that our citizens have their basic needs met-food, healthcare, shelter, and education. I think if people didn't have to worry about meeting their most basic human needs, they would thrive and our economy would too...but I'm a bit of a bleeding heart.

That's kind of why I like Ron Paul. From what I hear, he's found ways to make his values and his economics match up in life. We could all learn something from someone like that.

From Rosen-"What you have is Mitt Romney running around the country saying, well, you know, my wife tells me that what women really care about are economic issues, and when I listen to my wife, that’s what I’m hearing. Guess what, his 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 and how do we — why do we worry about their future."