Hilary Rosen v Ann Romney: Will Mitt Benefit?

Resisting the cheap thrill of calling this the “War Between Women,” I nevertheless think this dustup pitting two views of modern womanhood against one another is worth acknowledging. Do you think Rosen was right in what she said?

Politico Arena asks:

During an appearance on CNN Wednesday night, Democratic commentator Hilary Rosen questioned whether Ann Romney was qualified to be talking about women’s economic issues since she’s “never worked a day in her life.”

On Twitter @AnnDRomney responded: “I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work.”

Do Rosen’s comments advance the Democratic narrative of a GOP “war on women”?

Or is it a mean-spirted attack on Mitt Romney’s wife of 42 years that’s like to backfire on the Obama campaign and fellow Democrats? http://politi.co/HBRdyo

My Response:

Rosen’s words about Ann Romney were ill-chosen, unkind, and aggravate a festering boil even among women in the paid workplace who are struggling to balance work and family responsibilities. It’s not as though stay-at-home moms have no brains with which to consider economic issues.

That said, Rosen’s concerns about Ann Romney would have rung both accurate and true had she stated them differently. Romney had the luxury to stay home with her boys because of her privileged position as the wife of a man who has been wealthy all his life. For most women, paid employment isn’t a choice, it’s an economic necessity. But that’s not the only reason women work. It’s fulfilling to use one’s gifts to contribute to society both within and outside of the home. And it’s fulfilling to earn a paycheck—a fair paycheck.

With Equal Pay Day—the date in April when women across America are reminded of the 23% pay gap between them and men doing the same work—looming, Mitt Romney’s wildly inaccurate allegations about Obama causing women’s job losses, and his party’s 18% gender gap in key swing states because of their War on Women’s bodies and economic lives, the Republican standard bearer has a lot more to worry about than what Hilary Rosen is saying about his wife.

For the same reasons that her husband comes across as a man out-of-touch with working families since he grew up and remains wealthy beyond most people’s wildest expectations, Ann Romney—who undoubtedly had far more household help raising those five boys than most Americans can even imagine—can’t hide behind the “it took a lot of work” excuse to justify relinquishing whatever career aspirations she might have had as a young woman. She was able to maintain her no-longer-traditional role of wife as helpmeet in charge of child rearing only because she married a 1%’er.

GLORIA FELDT is the New York Times bestselling author of several books including No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power, a sought-after speaker and frequent contributor to major news outlets, and the Co-Founder and President of Take The LeadPeople has called her “the voice of experience,” and among the many honors she has been given, Vanity Fair called her one of America’s “Top 200 Women Legends, Leaders, and Trailblazers,” and Glamour chose her as a “Woman of the Year.”

As co-founder and president of Take The Lead, a leading women’s leadership nonprofit, her mission is to achieve gender parity by 2025 through innovative training programs, workshops, a groundbreaking 50 Women Can Change The World immersive, online courses, a free weekly newsletter, and events including a monthly Virtual Happy Hour program and a Take The Lead Day symposium that reached over 400,000 women globally in 2017.

3 Comments

  1. Aletha on April 17, 2012 at 1:44 am

    Gloria, you made some good points, but this brouhaha has a long and troubling history. Mothers in particular do not get a fair paycheck, as I think I recall you observed in your book, and at this point that is responsible for most, if not all, of that pay gap. I think Romney will benefit from this, despite the rush by leading Democrats to distance themselves from Hilary Rosen, because of a peculiar blind spot among certain liberal feminists such as Ms. Rosen which Heart described in her latest entry on her blog:

    In the meantime, too often, discrimination against mothers flies under the feminist radar.

    Heart wrote that article over six years ago, but I think it is still highly relevant today.

  2. […] own horns as flagrantly, each woman who works for pay outside the home (note the language here, Hilary Rosen) gets ever-farther behind in the paycheck race, amassing a half-million dollar average deficit by […]

  3. […] motherhood is hard, but so is fatherhood if done right. Rosen was wrong in how she said it, but right in what she meant to communicate. Obama would have made himself a hero […]

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