Women's Work

So as the Ann Romney v Hilary Rosen “debate” continues, and as the “Mitt is cruel to dogs while Obama eats dogs” inanity occupies our attention during this silly season of politicsless politics and a campaignless campaign, I find myself struck by the language that suffuses the issue of women in the workforce. In particular, I am struck by the use of the word “choice” in describing how and why Ann Romney did not enter the paid work force, while many other women do.

Several things hit me about this–most of them wrapped up in the issues that have been addressed in numerous blogs and comments over the days since the Romney-Rosen kerfuffle broke out. But one dimension of the issue I haven’t seen addressed is this: no one ever thinks about men’s work as a “choice.”

Hang with me here: don’t flame me yet. What I mean by this is: it never, ever occurred to me at any point in my male, middle class American life that I was supposed to anything other than get a job and work for the rest of my life outside the home (at least until/if retirement). Instead, the only question was: what job would I get? Fortunately, by a process of experimentation and hard work, I ended up in a job for which I am well-fitted, fairly happy, and in which I have a remarkable degree of freedom and security. But the underlying question was “what job will I get?,” not “will I work?”.

What strikes me about this is the assumptions embedded in the notion that women “choose” to work. That notion rests on a very ancient attitude: that women live in the home in which they are raised until they get married, at which point in time they are cared for by their husbands. Work is “chosen” only in the sense that a woman might work for a while before her marriage, or before she has children, but the underlying assumption is that she works until marriage or children and then either quits or “chooses” to work.

More recently, of course, society has acknowledged that many women are raising children or otherwise living on their own–something that has always been true but not publicly admitted. Thus many women “have” to work. But again, the logic is “have” or “choose”: women wouldn’t or shouldn’t work, and only do so because some external factor “makes” them.

What is missing from this discourse is the sense that women might work because they want to: because they have skills and talents that can only be expressed and developed in exchange with colleagues and professionals. Work outside the home is, for such women, an expression of their identity. It is as much who they are as it is who I am.

It’s time to stop talking about women “choosing” to work or “needing” to work. It’s time to talk about how work outside the home is part of life, just as work inside it is. That’s what a discourse of equality looks like.

Ann Romney never had to participate in the wage market and so cannot identify with people who have, is all Hilary Rosen was saying

She wasn’t indicting her work ethic or dismissing the massive amounts of effort involved in motherhood, she was responding to a question about how effective Ann Romney’s advice to Mitt about women in the workplace would be. Her answer stands up to critical scrutiny. 


Aside from the following two moments, which were frankly more than warranted - if not adorably under reactive - Rachel Maddow displayed such an admirable mastery of restraint, of respect, of courtesy and moral strength, it is simply staggering. Though not altogether surprising, considering the person she is and continues to be.

Flawless. Attentive and courteous. Underestimated.


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If ever there was anyone who needed a frying pan to the back of his head more than this fool…


“Well, I think the economic issues matter a lot, obviously to everybody. And we’re going to talk about whether tax cuts affect women more, and men more, and how women are faring in the facts Rachel just talked about.” -H.Rosen


Sneaky snark and confident intellect. Rational women made a good show today on Meet the Press. 

Everyone else go home.

In regards to the Ann Romney/Hilary Rosen kerfuffle
  • D: Wow I didn't realize this story was such a big deal.
  • Me: Me neither. Cause it's dumb.
  • D: No, I didn't hear about it, BECAUSE I WAS WORKING.
  • Me: HA! Yeah, I missed this story completely. Because I have a job.
  • *But seriously it's not about stay-at-home-moms vs. working moms. It's about rich people who don't have to sweat the mortgage vs. everyone else.
Mommy Wars: Collision Over Roles of Women

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A NY Times article reports on a much-debated topic in the working-mother realm, and now the presidential race.

The campaign for the White House spilled into the politics of motherhood on Thursday as a combative back-and-forth involving a Democratic strategist and Mitt Romney’s wife quickly revived a deeper, decades-old cultural debate about the roles of women in and out of the workplace.

Click here for the full story.

Hilary Rosen Was Not Attacking Stay at Home Moms

By Chijioke Ebbis

Hilary Rosen, a Democratic Strategist, was shown last night criticizing Mitt Romney for claiming that his wife helped to give him insight into women’s economic issues. Media outlets and other people are focusing on the “she’s never worked a day in her life” portion of the comment without considering the entirety of the comment as well as it’s context.

Here is the full comment:


The conversation was in reference to women as well as economic issues and Rosen pointed out that Ann Romney’s experience, or lack thereof, disqualifies her from understanding the situations of working women in America.

Let’s look at this logically. Ann Romney is a child of wealth. She was raised in one of the wealthiest communities in America (Bloomfield Hills, Michigan) and is the daughter of the late Edward R. Davies, the former president of Jared Industries, a company dealing in heavy machinery for marine use. This is a far cry from the low and middle income women (married and single) struggling to make ends meet while also serving as political scapegoats for opportunist politicians emphasizing social issues. It would be a stretch for Ann to give Mitt any kind of insight on the economic issues important to most working women.

To be fair however, Ann Romney did technically work while she was a missionary in France. But even that experience is far from one that would lead her to being able to even come close to understanding or serving as a reliable source in regards to women’s economic issues.

Ann Romney responded with this statement:

“I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work”

Ann fails to see the point of Hilary’s comment. There are millions of hard working women in America who receive 70 cents to man’s dollar in 2012, pull double duty as a hard-working homemaker as well as a full-time out of home worker, and many of these women are FORCED to do this without the help of a husband, especially one as wealthy and well-connected as Mitt Romney.

These women don’t have the luxury to choose to stay home and raise their children the way Ann Romney did. Hilary Rosen was never trying to devalue the work of homemakers or the choice to stay at home and raise kids. We need to consider context in this situation.

And remember, don’t get caught up in the hype. The Romney Campaign is going to milk this controversy for all it is worth and try to paint liberals as out of touch with women’s issues. It’s bad enough that the Obama Campaign threw Rosen under the bus as a political move to avoid the controversy.


This whole thing with Hilary Rosen and Ann Romney has made me hate democrats even more than I already did. Fuck Ann Romney. She shouldn’t be making comments about the work force if she hasn’t even worked before. How the hell is that a controversial statement? It seems like the most obvious thing in the world but I guess it’s not since most democratic politicians are pussies who don’t know how to play politics at all.

Obama & Dem are Wrong on Hilary vs Ann

Hilary Rosen was absotively right for questioning Ann Romney’s economic credentials. What does a woman who has never worked, who’s husband is independently wealthy and can provide for their family without question know about what it’s like for the average woman in America? Yes she is mother, and that can be a tough albeit rewarding job. Arguably the most important duty a woman can fulfill in her life. What does that have to do with the price of gas in Britain?

Exactly. We’re all concerned about the economy and providing for our families, so what else is new? It’s hard out there for a pimp. Saying she knows that it’s hard doesn’t contribute to a solution for the problem, nor does it demonstrate she has the background with which to identify with that segment of the population. She has never had to decide between gassing up the car or feeding her family for the rest of the week. She doesn’t need to worry about she and her children having adequet healthcare. So, Romney asking his wife about the struggles of the average woman/mother in America is like asking a neurosurgeon about a heart condition- he/she knows what a heart is but they won’t be lecturing anyone on the finer points of a triple bypass.

How the hell does pointing out that little fail-gem equal an attack on mothers? The asininity needs to stop. Obama and the Dems too often let the idiotic right wing nuts define the conversation. Let’s talk facts and truths, let’s work solutions, and leave the bullshit in the pasture. Thanks.