You may have heard Hilary Rosen’s careless comments about Ann Romney last night. In an interview on CNN, she claimed that Ann Romney had ‘never worked a day in her life’ and therefore was incapable of understanding the majority of women’s economic concerns. I think the point she was making is that Ann Romney is not a good advisor on women and economic issues because she is so far removed (and has been for so long) from the average woman’s economic struggle. Yes? I get that Ann Romney doesn’t know what it’s like to get paid 30% less for the same work. I get that Ann Romney doesn’t know what it’s like to be a SAHM mostly because the cost of childcare is 75-100% of any salary you could command and so the numbers just don’t add up. I get that and I agree with it. Mitt Romney needs a better advisor on women and the economy. Agreed.
HOWEVER, to claim that a woman who has five kids has ‘never worked a day in her life’ is absurd!! It also shows a lack of respect for mothering and is thereby damaging to all SAHMs. The phrase is highly charged….it’s disdainful, in fact. Perhaps Hialry’s disdain was actually for the idea that Ann could be an advisor on women and the economy, but what came across was disdain for the work of SAHMs. Context: Hilary Rosin, a liberal, feminist, working mother; a communications specialist, just ‘accidentally’ dissed SAHMs. Not cool!
Respect for SAHMs is something for which women have been fighting HARD for the past decade or two. Think about the campaign to get women to stop saying ‘just’ a SAHM. Think about how women have started putting SAHM on their resume and inventing new titles (domestic engineer). Remember the study that was released several years ago that attempted to determine the average salary for a SAHM? These are all examples of the ways in which a small subset of society has tried to legitimize SAHMs (to the greater society) over the past twenty years. For Hilary Rosin to dismiss the work of SAHM so cavalierly sends a bad message. Very bad message.
I just want to share a couple of things with you, Hilary:
1. Stay-at-home moms work. Very hard.
2. Wealthy stay-at-home moms who have help work too! It’s not about how much help you have, it’s about how present you are. Being present for your family; thinking about them, planning activities, planning meals, creating memories….all of that is work!!! I reject the idea that we need to put an asterisk next to the title SAHM if the woman has hired help. FALSE! I think any woman who is vested in her children whether she is a billionaire or pauper finds that it is challenging to parent effectively. Are there differences? Absolutely! But who are we to say that it is more or less difficult. I think that is a slippery slope that we would be wise to avoid. In my opinion, this is the same perspective as saying, “I’ll take your rich problems over my middle class/ poor problems any day.” People only say that when they have no idea what it’s like to have rich problems.
3. SAHMs are not only ‘wealthy’ women who have the ‘luxury’ who choose to stay-at-home. If by wealthy you mean above poverty, maybe. But you seems to think that you represent a demographic who doesn’t have the choice to be a SAHM but women of Ann Romney’s means can. Some women give up large salaries and/or choose to live a different standard of living in order to devote more time and energy to their families. This idea that SAHMotherhood is just the domain of the wealthy is a fallacious argument that completely dismisses the sacrifice of thousands of working class and middle class women who forego fancy restaurants, new cars, vacations, bigger houses, etc. to be present for their families.
4. Your comments offended me and probably millions of other women. You should apologize and stop doubling down on your statement. There is a whole world of motherhood that you clearly don’t understand. I get the larger point you were trying to make, but I believe you really are missing part of the picture. I would be more than happy to help give you a different perspective. Hit me up on Twitter or here on the blog.
But to those who would try to paint President Obama as being of the same mindset, I reject that assertion out of hand. Hilary Rosin does not work for the White House or the DNC. She is not an official spokesperson and she was not on CNN in any official capacity. She doesn’t represent Democrats any more than the Quran burning pastor represents Americans. Which leads me to my last point.
5. Hilary Rosen does not speak for President Obama.
That is all. As you were.