Beyond the Romney-Rosen Catfight

Despite the 3.5 million news stories about the Hilary Rosen/Ann Romney cataclysm, a surprising number of critical issues affecting working and stay-at-homes moms DIDN'T get covered as both Democratic and Republican political machines postured endlessly about American motherhood today.


Now, like a lot of people, I have been frothing at the mouth since hearing Hilary Rosen’s mean-spirited, inflammatory quote:  “Ann Romney never worked a day in her life." What struck a nerve with me -- perhaps with a lot of moms -- is that no matter what my choices are, I hate to hear moms publicly disparaged.


We are all working hard, one way or another. I have more respect for what Ann Romney accomplished than any of the male political candidates, including her husband.  Raising five kids with an ambitious husband who was rarely home is far harder than raising capital, creating a company, running a state, or running for president. But I don't actually disagree with Hilary Rosen. Ann Romney is probably not the best advisor on economic issues facing the average working mom. 


So why all the fuss if there wasn’t a real issue here, beyond a pundit’s gaffe?


Well, for starters, the skirmishes served to distract voters from the real, and fixable, issues facing women in America today.  Why dig deep if you can skim the surface and make your opponents look foolish?


Here is a short list of the far more important, nonpartisan “women’s issues” NOT discussed last week:


The Mommy Wars Are Not Between Working and At-Home Moms


The women writing in Mommy Wars make clear that while surface tension simmers between some working and at-home moms, most do not care how other moms raise their kids, as long as no abuse occurs.  I doubt Hilary Rosen really frets over how Ann Romney prioritized work and family, and vice versa.


We all worry far more deeply about what other people think of us. Are we good moms? Have we made wise choices about how to juggle work and family?  Why doesn't anyone ever tell us we are doing a good job? Why isn’t there more substantial societal and governmental support when it comes to motherhood?


This lack of positive feedback and true backing in policies, legal enforcement, and incentives leads some of us to be thin-skinned about criticism, and to disparage moms who have made different choices. Instead we should be pointing our fingers at a country that worships moms while offering woefully little to help us be the best we can. This is the real mommy wars in our country – the lack of support for moms at every level of the income spectrum.


The Majority of Moms Have Far Too Few Choices About Everything