By Beatrice Nielsen
Democratic pundit Hilary Rosen made a word choice mistake last week. Ann Romney, wife of Mitt, has been called by his campaign the “Ambassador to Women.” Mr. Romney has said “My wife has the occasion, as you know, to campaign on her own and also with me, and she reports to me regularly that the issue women care about most is the economy.” During an interview on Anderson Cooper 360, Ms. Rosen discussed the fact that Ann Romney has very little in common with the average woman—and in an unfortunately-worded statement, said that Ann Romney has “never worked a day in her life” because she’s been a stay-at-home mom.
This comment opened the floodgates—women across the country have expressed their anger or dissatisfaction on one side or another. Ms. Rosen has since apologized for her remark, but has not retracted her opinion that Ann Romney’s economic status prevents her from being a true ambassador to women. She’s had the privilege to stay home. It’s not that I disrespect or don’t value moms who stay at home–it must be very hard work! But in this day and age, most American women do not have the economic security required to be a stay-at-home mom. The luxury of choosing between staying home and working is not often on the table.
In his typical fashion, Mitt Romney has managed to make this issue into a mess. At an event in Palm Beach, Mr. Romney spoke about mothers who receive unemployment benefits. “I said, for instance, that even if you have a child 2 years of age, you need to go to work. And people said, well, that’s heartless. And I said, no, no, I’m willing to spend more giving day care to allow those parents to go back to work. It will cost the state more providing that day care, but I want the individuals to have the dignity of work.”
What?! So, Ann Romney, because she is financially well off, has the choice between working and staying home, but poor mothers need the “dignity of work”? Not only is that argument bogus, but it also reflects Mitt Romney’s complete lack of understanding about 21st century American women (and social structure!). The debate surrounding Hilary Rosen and Ann Romney is less about the choices women make, but more about the presidential candidate’s out-of-date notions of society. By bringing up issues that have been, quite honestly, addressed in the last decade (stay at home moms vs. working moms, the existence of Planned Parenthood and its benefits), Mr. Romney, millionaire and owner of several houses, has further alienated himself from the average American—exactly the opposite of what his campaign professes to represent.