'War on Stay At Home Moms' Ignites Rich Lady Shitstorm

Illustration for article titled War on Stay At Home Moms Ignites Rich Lady Shitstorm

Yesterday, Democratic operative Hilary Rosen dove headfirst into Category 5 crap tornado when she said that Ann Romney, a career stay-at-home mother, had "never worked a day in her life." Twitter went to war over it. Thousands of brave internet comments died in the foxholes. Before issuing an apology today, Rosen was rebuked by everyone from Debbie Wasserman Schultz to David Axelrod. But lost in the hyperbolic "War on Single Mothers!" crossfire has been an important point to make about Ann Romney's career — staying at home to raise a family is certainly an admirable choice and running a household is hard work, but assuming that being a single-income family is an economic option available to everyone is both out-of-touch and naive. I'll celebrate the choice of the wife of a millionaire to stay at home and raise the kids like I'll celebrate the winner of a yacht race or a polo match.

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Rosen's initial assertion that raising five boys isn't "work" is off base; I'm sure that trying to get 5 boys to act right at the same time is a little bit like trying to teach an enthusiastic Lab puppy how to play the piano. But staying at one of your nine homes with the children is a little bit different than having to wake up at an ungodly hour, get in your dreary compact car, drive it for an hour or so, park it, and go to a job working for some asshole who uses phrases like "circle back around" and "touch base" and "grow the business" for 8-10 hours so you and your husband combined can make barely enough money to pay for your kids' babysitter and the mortgage. Middle class women don't get to choose whether or not they "want" to work; they work full-time because they have to, and in some cases, they stay at home because paying someone else to look after the kids is so damn expensive that working doesn't make sense. Either way, there's very little "choice" involved.

Ann Romney responded to Rosen on an appearance on Fox News, saying that her "career choice" must be respected, like the choices of all women. Quoth she,

My career choice was to be a mother and I think all of us need to know we need to respect choices that women make. Other women make choices to have a career and raise a family, which I think Hilary Rosen has actually done herself. I respect that, that's wonderful. But there are other people that have a choice, and we have to respect women and all those choices that they make.

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Choice, choice, choice from the wife of a candidate who has advocated for nothing but limiting the choices of women. A candidate who wants employers to opt out of covering contraceptives for women, forcing them to "choose" to spend their own money to not get pregnant rather than utilize the insurance for which they pay premiums. A candidate who has not supported the Lily Ledbetter Equal Pay Act, a law that makes it easier for women to sue employers for pay discrimination. A candidate who has said that he'd support a constitutional amendment that defined life as beginning at the moment of conception, effectively eliminating the right of women to "choose" whether or not they want to be pregnant.

After doubling and tripling and double dog doubling down on her statements last night (including a blog post where she accused Mitt Romney of "hiding behind his wife's skirt,") today, Rosen issued an apology to Ann Romney,

Let's put the faux ‘war against stay at home moms' to rest once and for all. As a mom I know that raising children is the hardest job there is. As a pundit, I know my words on CNN last night were poorly chosen. In response to Mitt Romney on the campaign trail referring to his wife as a better person to answer questions about women than he is, I was discussing his poor record on the plight of women's financial struggles... As a partner in a firm full of women who work outside of the home as well as stay at home mothers, all with plenty of children, gender equality is not a talking point for me. It is an issue I live every day. I apologize to Ann Romney and anyone else who was offended. Let's declare peace in this phony war and go back to focus on the substance.

Rosen's right; she shouldn't have chosen those words. Ann Romney's certainly had to work a day or eleventy in her life. But what Ann Romney hasn't had to do is worry about who is going to take care of her kids, where her family will get the money to send them to college, whether or not they'd be able to afford to treat her expensive, uninsurable condition.

Although she may soon have to worry about finding a reputable repairman for her husband's car elevator.

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Rosen/Ann Romney in TV Faceoff [Politico]

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DISCUSSION

aquietpanic
aquietpanic

This is totally anecdotal, but all I see day in and day out is the reasons why I should totally not want to have a baby, and GOD FORBID I should want to or choose to stay home with him/her.

I don't tell a lot of people this because the derision and pity in their faces is so obvious when I do, but growing up I wanted two things from life: to be a writer and to stay home with children. My first year out of college, the only job I could find was as a nanny to an infant and a toddler. I did that full time for a year. I lost 30lbs and I was constantly exhausted, but after I started my degree-appropriate office job, I sat in my cube and cried. And then I cried harder when I visited the family and the baby who had clung to me all year and wailed when I went home at night no longer knew who I was. But it was ok because no one ever puked on me at work anymore and nobody raised their eyebrows when I told them what I was doing for a living. (The nannying paid way better, FYI.)

Now, four years later, I'm excited about having babies sort of soon-ish. I keep waiting for that moment when all of a sudden having babies is something that gets people around me excited (other than my mom), because that's like a thing in our society right? But all I read is articles about how we women are so over the whole baby thing. People at work are afraid to hold them. My grad school friends are flummoxed by them. And here I am trying to tip-toe around the fact that my husband and I just sat down to plan out exactly what has to happen over the next few years so that I can quit my job and stay home. I don't know one single other person with a similar goal. (It helps that I make so little money that the cost of childcare isn't worth it.) Honestly, I get a sort of mild amount of satisfaction from my job, but it's nothing compared to my anticipation for staying home with babies.

And I could not be more ashamed of this.