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Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Mommy Wars and Employment – Missing the point

I read all the commentary in the Washington Post and watched several pundits discourse on Hilary Rosen’s unfortunate choice of words – “Ann Romney never worked a day in her life.”  There were good points, stupid points and missed points. Everyone agreed that being a stay at home mom was a bitching hard job, and so do I.  Rosen’s words reminded everyone of what the other Hilary said back in 1992: “I could have stayed home and baked cookies.”  Neither of these very smart women was denigrating women who chose to stay home and do that difficult job.  Hilary Clinton was saying that she made a choice for a career, and I think almost everyone has come to accept the legitimacy of that choice.  I don’t know exactly what Hilary Rosen had in mind, but I’m sure it had nothing to do with putting down stay at home moms.  Whatever it was, what seems to be missing in all the media commentary is that Ann Romney had a choice.  I suspect what Hilary Rosen wanted to say is that most women don’t have a choice; they have to work for money.  If Ann Romney needed groceries, gas or another Cadillac she had the money.  Too many women don’t.  In my generation, most men who bothered to graduate from high school and then worked hard could support a family.  That’s no longer true.  For many families that aspire to any kind of middle class lifestyle, both parents have to work or one of them has to take a second job.   As for single parent households, I don’t understand how they manage at all.  I am in awe of any and all who can manage to provide a decent life for their kids.

Wages have been stagnant for decades and the rewards of our ever more productive economy have flowed to the top; not much has trickled down.  Married men and women with children should have a choice about which one works outside the home – maybe both, and single parents with children should have opportunity to work and also have available to them child care programs and other assistance to make work possible.  In both cases it means people have to be paid a living wage.

While I didn’t find much in my cursory survey of the media that discussed the irrelevance of Ann Romney’s situation to that of most people, when I googled "Mrs. Romney," the first item was an article in the NY Times that was exactly on this point:
March 14, 2012

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