One 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.