Saturday, April 14, 2012

I declare a war on wars

Ending warAs if it’s not bad enough that we are in two actual wars, we seem to have a tendency of late to take any contrary viewpoint and turn it into a faux war.

War on Christmas. War on religion. War on traditional marriage. War on women. (It won’t surprise you to know that I think there is a legitimate effort to harm women with restrictive policies, but then I’m what Rush Limbaugh would “affectionately” refer to as a Feminazi. Because standing up for equal rights for women is just like persecution of ‘undesirables,’ death camps, and invading Poland. Just. Like. It.)

Now we’ve got the war on moms, also called the Mommy Wars. I thought we’d been through all this when women started entering the workforce en masse, and we had the discussion about how working women can balance their jobs in the public sector with their jobs at home, bring home the bacon and fry it up in the pan, and juggle all of these aspects without going batshit crazy. It seemed to have worked itself out pretty well, despite plenty of infighting among women themselves, with moms who stay at home saying that working moms are neglecting their children, or working moms saying that they can’t be really fulfilled unless they also work, and on and on. But things did seem to settle down, for the most part, or we at least reached a truce. The reality is that I’m sure a lot of women would choose to be able stay at home with their kids if they could afford it; it has become increasingly difficult for a family to live on one income, so many moms work out of necessity. Of course, for single moms, that goes without saying.

[Note: I’m sure there is someone sitting there in their cozy little cottage, thinking “Hey! You never had kids, so you can’t write about this! Stop writing! Now! Right now!” I laugh at your demands and your exclamation points. HA! As a woman who supported herself for many years, I feel I have the right to have opinions about women in the workplace. I also have friends who have dealt with these issues. As I’ve written before, you don’t have to have experienced something directly to have opinions on it. So get over it.]

Hostilities have resumed in the Mommy Wars because a Democratic analyst on CNN (Hilary Rosen, a mother of two) said that Mittens’ wife Ann doesn’t understand the plight of working moms, because she’s never worked a day in her life. Cue the outrage! Unleash the uproar! ::sigh:: Listen, it was poorly worded, and it was kind of a dick thing to do. But then it was framed as Democrats ridiculing women who choose to stay home with their kids, and that is just absurd. Rosen clarified her remarks (and Joan Walsh strongly defended Rosen) and I think it’s important to understand what really is going on here.

No one is attacking stay-at-home moms. If a family is able to have the mom (or the dad, if that works for them) not work outside the home, more power to them. Ann Romney could afford to do that—and then some. Did she work hard raising five boys? I don’t doubt it. Did she have struggles to deal with? She sure did...breast cancer and multiple sclerosis. She is, by all accounts, a decent and good woman, and no one is attacking her for choosing to stay home and raise their kids.

Stop all warBut let’s be very clear: it was a choice for Ann Romney. For millions of American mothers, there IS no choice. They must work in order to help pay the bills, or to put money away for their kids’ college expenses. Ann Romney’s hard work in raising five boys and dealing with major health issues are in the context of a very wealthy woman. She undoubtedly had help with the kids, and if you think she was the one doing all the cooking and cleaning in however many houses they own, you are a silly person. She had outstanding health insurance to get her through her medical problems.

Whatever Ann Romney’s struggles are, they are not that of the typical American mom or working woman (whether a mom or not).

Imagine a single mother of three working a minimum wage job, or slightly above minimum wage. She is struggling to pay rent and put food on the table, let alone put money away to send her three kids to college. Her job doesn’t provide health insurance, and when she starts getting progressively weaker, she begins to call in sick a lot. She misses so much work, she gets fired. One day she can’t get out of bed, and her oldest child calls 911. She is taken to ER, and after thousands of dollars in extensive testing, it is determined that she has MS. What is going to happen to her? How will she continue to support her children and how will she care for them?

Now let’s consider a single woman, no children, working a decent job with good health insurance. She left the Midwest for better job prospects and a better climate, so she doesn’t have any relatives in her new location. She’s young and healthy, and she’s putting money away for eventual retirement...and one day she finds a lump in her breast. Surgery, a combination of radiation and chemo, and an eventual bone marrow transplant. Her savings are wiped out, she can’t afford to have anyone come in and help her, but she not only manages to get by, she makes a full recovery. But she’s got a half a million dollars in medical bills to pay off, and that’s going to take her a long, long time.

Now tell me how Ann Romney’s struggles are similar to either of these women. Hypothetical women, but such stories happen every single day in our country. The wife of a multi-millionaire can afford the best health insurance possible, she can afford to pay even a million dollars in medical bills, she can afford help around the house whether she is ill or not, and she can afford to send each and every one of her five children to the best colleges possible. In no way does that mirror the experience of most American women, and although she may empathize with the plight of such women, she is far from Everywoman. Her husband’s policies will not do average American women any favors.

THAT is what Hilary Rosen was trying to say. She was not condemning Ann Romney for staying home to raise her kids. She was not even condemning the Romneys for being multi-millionaires. She was condemning Mitt Romney for being so out of touch with how average people—especially women—are struggling that he has to rely on his wife to relay to him what she hears from people when she’s campaigning, and she was condemning Ann Romney for thinking that her struggles are just the same as working women who don’t have a fortune to rely upon.

So let’s just stop this bogus “war on moms” and the hypocritical outrage coming from people who want to cut programs and assistance for moms who actually have
to work. Mmkay? There is going to be plenty to fight about in the coming months, but let’s keep the sparring in the realm of reality.


  1. if mrs. romney's experience was the experience of the 'typical american mom' then i would think it would of been tacky to make such a statement. however, mrs. romney represents the 1%, and the 99% just don't have it that way. period.


  2. Preach it, Sista! You KNOW how I love when you get riled up!! And your comments are right on target! My mom raised 5 boys as a stay at home mom, and even though Dad owned his own business and made decent money, we certainly didn't have the resources the Romney's have. Not only did Momma raise her own 5, she also cared for my cousins and 2 neighbor kids after school so their mom's could work to supplement their family's starter-home incomes. The war on mom's is crazy- why would ANYONE not want to make it easier for a woman to take care of her own children and her own affairs?!

  3. Read a really good piece on just this topic this morning. I don't know how the Romneys can think that their experiences equate in any way to the average person in the US.

  4. I don't begrudge the Romney's their wealth and their healthcare.
    I do, however, dislike them for acting like they are regular people, with regular issues.

  5. Well written!

    "[Note: I’m sure there is someone sitting there in their cozy little cottage, thinking “Hey! You never had kids, so you can’t write about this! Stop writing! Now! Right now!”...."

    As I was reading that I was thinking, "some people are going to say she has no right to write about this issue since she has no kids!"

  6. Well said. The "war on moms" is happening more in the media than in real life (at least in my experience). I've been a stay-at-home mom for the past 11 years, and I didn't take offense at Rosen's comment. I knew what she was getting at. However, Ann Romney pretending she's the typical American mom offends me. Ann Romney certainly doesn't represent most stay-at-home moms I know. I don't know any who have the resources she does or a staff to take some of the burden off. And she certainly doesn't have to worry about how to pay the bills, or feed her family, or how she'll pay the doctor if somebody gets sick.

  7. I second Bob's comment... Ann Romney is experience is out of touch with the majority of Mom's, much less a single Mom, so as you pointed out, Hilary Rosen's error was of poor word choice not of highlighting the difference...

    ...if there was a 'War on Moms' (and I think it is... the war on Women and the poor), it is being waged by men like her husband who would shred the social programs that help the Mom's who aren't like Ann...


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