I dislike them down to their expensive dirty drawers but I give Mitt and Ann Romney and their Republican party credit: they’re masters at turning non-issues into politically expedient grenades—the kind that expertly explode any unified stance women, mothers and the middle class might take. No such thing was more true than the ridiculously big deal the Romneys made out of Democratic talking head Hilary Rosen’s assertion that Ann Romney, an uber rich stay-at-home mom of five who raised her kids on her husband’s millions, “never worked a day in her life.” Enter: stay-at-home moms vs. working moms, a.k.a. The Mommy Wars Remixed, Reloaded and Blown Totally Out Of Proportion.
Somehow, Rosen’s charge that the stinking rich Romney, who raised five now-grown sons in her many houses with her husbands many millions, probably isn’t the best person to advise anybody, much less her stinking rich husband, about the economic concerns of American women, got turned into a referendum on how Democrats have contempt for stay-at-home moms. Romney, backed by a rabid gang of conservative pundits and a bunch of emotionally distracted stay-at-home moms, made quick work of setting up a Twitter account to tell the entire world that raising five kids is work.
Of course it’s hard work to raise children—whether you do it full time at home or with a full-time job out of the house. But really, are we supposed to think Ann Romney can identify with and help shape policy for mothers in this economic climate—mothers raising children while struggling to find cash for food, clothing, housing, education and transportation? I don’t care if Ms. Ann was on her knees scrubbing her kitchen floors every other day and changing all of her kids’ dirty diapers on her own: when you have MILLIONS in the bank, your worries are NOT the worries of a mother struggling and juggling on an every-day woman’s salary (still significantly lower than men’s—about 68 cents for black women for every dollar a white man makes, to be exact). A millionaire wife/mother’s worries are NOT that of a married stay-at-home mom paying bills with her man’s common, every-day salary.
The millionaire mother does not have to walk on the edge, wondering what will happen if a venture capital firm like Romney’s Bain Capital comes along, dismantles her boss’s company, eliminates jobs and makes paychecks—livelihoods—disappear…
The millionaire mother does not have to study the bank account and wonder how she’s going to scrape up the rent, pay the light bill, buy the babies a $2.98 gallon of milk and fork over $4 a gallon to fill up the broke down car to get to work and the kids’ doctor appointments and after-school activities on nothing but pennies and a desperate prayer to sweet baby Jesus…
The millionaire mother does not have to let her baby wear the same wet diaper all day and into the evening because she’s got to make that expensive pack of diapers last…
The millionaire mother hasn’t a clue what it’s like to have your phone ring off the hook from sun up to can’t see with bill collectors threatening you with foreclosure and electricity shut-offs and phone disconnections and credit score decimation…
The millionaire mother has no idea what it’s like to get sick and have to stay that way because you can’t afford a simple doctor’s appointment to figure out what the hell is wrong with you in the first place, much less the health insurance you need to fix whatever ails you or your babies…
The millionaire mother can’t begin to fathom what it’s like to say to your child, “I know you want to play soccer, baby, but mommy doesn’t have the registration and uniform fees,” or, “I know you want to go on the school field trip, but mommy doesn’t have the $12 you need to go to the museum” or “I know your tooth hurts but mommy doesn’t have the money for the dentist this week,” or “I know you want to eat three meals a day but I need you to eat really good at school because I don’t know when I’ll have money for breakfast and dinner”…
Yes, being a stay-at-home mom is work, but the true heavy lifting comes from minimizing the physical, mental and emotional toll of raising babies without benefit of knowing where your next dollar is coming from, or even if your guaranteed dollar can stretch far and wide enough to make ends meet—something Ann Romney knows NOTHING about.
That’s all to say that Rosen’s comments weren’t about working moms vs. stay-at-home moms; Rosen was talking about a woman married to a multimillionaire who had the benefit of choosing to stay at home to take care of/enjoy her children without a care in the world about how she’d feed, clothe, educate and house them. Turning her words into a War on Women/stay-at-home vs. working moms argument is, while politically savvy, realistically out-of-touch with the masses.
I will say this much: Romney, who just last week was trailing President Obama by the double digits amongst women voters, was genius for seizing on this mock “controversy” to pit women against each other, raise money for his presidential bid and mask the fact that most people with vaginas and half a brain cell can’t stand him and his political party right now because of their stance on reproductive healthcare, birth control, abortion, the economy and the dismantling of the very safety net that means the difference, literally, between life and death for poor children.
But are we women really this politically naïve that we’d toss our valuable vote into the ring of a man who neither understands nor gives two crap-filled diapers about what mothers want? What mothers need? Are we really so politically stupid that we’d let this man, his rich wife and their equally rich-and-out-of-touch cronies distract us from the real issues while we bicker and get all emo over who works harder—women who work solely in the home vs. women who hold down full-time jobs outside the home? When, exactly, do we mothers come together and demand politicians—whether Republican or Democrat, rich or poor, black or white—get down to the real issues that affect us mothers? When do we stop arguing over stupid shit and start exercising our political might to affect real change?
Please understand: Rosen vs. Romney is not a real fight. The back-and-forth is silly, and we mothers—our children—can’t afford to be distracted by it. Aside from it being disingenuous, it’s incredibly insulting that the Romneys and the GOP would think we could be so easily tricked into taking our eyes off the political ball—a ball that, up to this point, we’ve been watching incredibly closely, for our own sakes. For the sake of our babies. We’ve been politically smarter than we’ve ever been; let’s not get dumb and numb now.
Here’s a challenge: forget about what Hilary Rosen said or what Ann Romney tweeted or how much money Mitt Romney raised when he scratched up The Mommy Wars by pitting stay-at-home moms vs. working moms. Instead, tell me in the comments section what you would like your next president to deliver to women—mothers—over the next four years. Tell the world what we women and mothers need and how our next president can get it to us. Let’s take this election seriously—and, as the majority of this country, have our say.
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2. If Mitt Romney Doesn’t Care about the Poor, He Doesn’t Care about America’s Children
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4. Atlanta Diaper Relief: Helping Mothers and Babies When They Need it Most