Ann Romney’s SAHM Work Is Confirmed By All Corners Of The Universe As ‘Work’

Ann RomneyOne of the biggest — and perhaps one of the longest — causes of consternation among feminist circles is that “women’s work,” or rather work that is commonly delegated to women, is not considered “real work.” It’s an ugly and demeaning notion culturally held that raising children and “running the small country of home” as novelist Allison Pearson once said, is somehow not challenging and trying. And in the wake of Hilary Rosen‘s gaffe about Ann Romney having “never worked a day in her life,” the assertion has resurfaced. But luckily — she appears to be alone in this slip up that SAHM aren’t “working.”

President Obama announced that “there is no tougher job than being a mom,” describing his own experiences of watching Michelle Obama raise their two girls and memories of his single mother. Michelle Obama tweeted yesterday that, “Every mother works hard, and every woman deserves to be respected.” Meghan McCain also tweeted in solidarity, writing “Saying Ann Romney ‘has never worked a day in her life’ when she has raised 5 sons is such a sublimely ignorant statement, it’s daunting.” Vice President Joe Biden told Ed Schultz, “My response to that is that’s an outrageous assertion.” David Axelrod, senior strategist for the Obama campaign, described the comment as “”inappropriate and offensive.” Rosen herself has since apologized for her “poorly chosen” remarks, alluding to the silliness that is often times the Mommy Wars:

“I apologize to Ann Romney and anyone else who was offended,” Rosen said in a statement. “Let’s declare peace in this phony war and go back to focus on the substance.”

Former First Lady Barbara Bush reportedly said that those offended by her comments should “forget it,” citing her own class privilege — the context of Rosen’s comments — in her own choices as SAHM:

“Life is good,” Bush said on Fox News today. “Women who stay home are wonderful, women who go to work are wonderful. Whatever.” Bush, who worked at home raising seven children, one of whom would go on to become the 43rd president, said she was lucky to have had the luxury of staying home. “I was lucky my husband worked very, very hard,” Bush said. “I realize that was a luxury and Ann does, too. She’s a very good friend of mine.” The former first lady added, “I’m not critical of Hilary, but I’m just sorry that she took a knock at those of us who chose and were able, I must confess, able is a very important part of that, to stay home and take care of their children.”

Even among our own commenters, the debate seems — well — not even debate-worthy. One of our readers named Emily commented:

I can’t fathom why any woman would criticize another about her work ethic, whether she opted to stay at home or work full-time, whether she had a choice about the matter or not. We (all women) are doing a disservice to ourselves by even continuing the debate. There is no one solution that is right for every woman or every family.

Another reader, coincidentally named Ann, wrote in response:

Well said, Emily. Women (whether mothers or not) need to start supporting each other regardless of our choices, especially those that are personal in nature.

But that respect for the unique choices of mothers seems to have caught fire, as everyone from our readers to Michelle Obama seems to have responded to the assertion of a SAHM not working “a day in her life” as ludicrous — as well they should. However, the question of Ann “reporting” to her husband Mitt Romney on economic issues that face commen women — not the richest of the 1% — still seems to have some in an uproar.


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  • The Mommy Psychologist

    I want to steer clear of the heavy politics surrounding this debate. This is most definitely a classist problem. However, it has ignited the age old Mommy War of “Whose job is the most difficult?” It is the stay at home mothers versus the working mothers. I talk more about this war here:

  • Katia

    I agree with bush, forget it ! Rosen has clarified her remarks as a response to mitt using Ann as an expert on the economy. Mitt is the sexist one for bringing his wife into his campaign for female votes. I wish he could just talk to women voters straight without being so phony. And I wish the mommy shaming of Rosen could stop! She is nOT the poster girl for women’s work being not work Koa seriously you are really jumping to conclusions again. Rosen is a woman, has a mother, has a baby, and you think she d

    • Koa Beck

      Hi Katia. Thanks for reading. To clarify, I don’t think Ann Romney is any sort of “poster girl” for “women’s work” not being work. Far from it actually. But I do think that independent of Romney or Rosen, this is a culturally longheld assumption that plagues motherhood, hence why it got such big media pickup.

  • Katia

    …doesn’t know that child rearing and household management are not easy? She has probably done a lot more dish washing, etc than Ann, and by the way working moms have the household mgt and child rearing decison stress just as much as moms who work in the house. Im glad to have nannied/aupaired for wealthy families who had maids plus me, and I know that rich mommies(working or not) stress too, i just wash my own dishes and clean my own floors in addition to the stress. I do believe it was a class issue statement, not a sexist one. Certainly not ‘mommy-shaming,’ jeez! the point is Ann is, short of an apocalypse, never going to pound the payment and beg for an unfulfilling job to feed her babies like many moms today

  • Fabel

    Hilary Rosen was attempting to illustrate how out-of-touch Ann Romney is with the middle-class. This is not about stay-at-home moms vs. working moms, or “real” work vs. women’s work. It’s NEEDING to work vs. being fortunate enough to be able to CHOOSE TO NOT WORK.

    By the way, this was Ann’s full response to this ordeal: “It’s hard work micromanaging a full staff in multiple homes. There were several nannies to oversee, as well as a number of maids, butlers, chauffeurs, gardeners, tutors and private coaches. My struggles were not easy, but neither are the struggles of other stay-at-home moms all across the nation. We need to stick together and not have other women put us down for the choices we make. Not all of us are cut out to work and tend to our children, and some of us prioritize family over a fantasy that we could one day be as successful as a man. I stand by my decision to be a stay-at-home mom.”

    • Another Steph

      Please tell me you read Ann’s reply on The Onion!

      Your first sentence sums up precisely what I’ve been trying to parse for the past couple of days now. No one’s saying that SAHM don’t work – what Rosen was trying to say was that someone who has never had to go out and get a job to put food in their children’s bellies is hardly an expert on the economic issues that the majority of American families have to deal with.

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  • Jen M

    Honestly, I think Rosen did mean to demean Ann Romney. Yes, Ann isn’t the best gage of a struggling working mother or even a struggling stay at home mom trying to make ends meet, but neither is Michelle Obama.

    Honestly, I would rather have a man who has successfully run companies be in charge of this country, than vote for someone because they are “in touch” with the common man (or woman).

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