Before we move on from the dust-up over Hilary Rosen’s comments about Ann Romney, let’s be clear on what’s really going on here. Neither Ann Romney nor stay-at-home moms were ever the point.
What is increasingly apparent is Mitt Romney’s strategy to rally his base of narrow-minded men who couldn’t care less about women or, worse, blame us for all that is wrong with their lives. Rosen unwittingly gave him a perfect opportunity.
In an interview about Romney on CNN, Rosen said, “His wife has actually never worked a day in her life.”
Minutes later, Ann Romney posted her first tweet: “I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work.” She had plenty of room to add “count me privileged,” but she didn’t.
The Republicans immediately accused Rosen of disrespecting all stay-at-home moms. Rosen soon apologized, but by then, mothers were on trial in the court of public opinion. Or so the Republicans wanted us to believe.
The problem was the messenger, not the message. If a mother working as a waitress in any city in America had said that a millionaire’s stay-at-home wife hasn’t worked a day in her life, most would have nodded in silent agreement. Context is everything.
Of course, we seldom hear a waitress’s opinion about anything other than what’s on the menu. The media have a habit of ignoring virtually all women who are hourly wage earners, except to relegate them to a voter demographic. Thus, we know little about the lives of mothers who work on assembly lines or who mind our babies in day care facilities or who add up our purchases at the local Target.
Mothers who barely are scraping by are invisible to most of us — and by our choice, even when they’re standing right in front of us. So it was only too easy to misconstrue Rosen’s message and stoke an imaginary fight.
There is no war between stay-at-home mothers and those who work outside the home. That battle is long over, and it had no victors. Nevertheless, Republicans tried to pit mother against mother and then did the happy-feet dance over the ensuing firestorm.
Who wants to divide women against women? A campaign that doesn’t care about women, that’s who.