I written several times about how catty feminism can be, and sadly I am proved right yet again. Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen recently said that Ann Romney has “never worked a day in her life” and, therefore, can’t understand the struggles of most women. First, what a bunch of manure. Second? I don’t think Rosen has spent any time with Romney or as an at-home mother, so she can’t really weigh in on this topic.
The reason this quote bothers me is it landed Rosen in an article in which the writer states, “I know her (Rosen) slightly — we are both frequent panelists on PBS’ all-female public affairs program, “To the Contrary” — and she’s a perfectly nice woman. But she’s also a hard-core feminist — and that’s the problem.” No, the problem isn’t that she’s a “hard-core feminist,” it’s that people perceive a personal opinion from a woman to be a blanket statement of feminism.
I recently watched Angelina Jolie, who is a mother of six, on 60 Minutes. She was asked which she liked better—making a film or being at home, and Jolie said “I prefer being at home with my children” when the interviewer said, “Many parents would kill to be out making a movie,” to which Jolie responded, “Well of course, it’s easier.” That’s right—making a major motion picture in which you have the weight of a 120 million dollar budget hanging over your head is easier than raising kids.
Where did this myth come from that being a stay-at-home mom is an easy job? First of all, kids are time-sucks. They are demanding, selfish, self-centered, all-consuming jam-handed CEOs. Say what you will, but kids rule the roost. You sleep when they sleep, you eat when they want you to eat and if you do not give them their way, watch them rain down the holy terror of tears and temper tantrums (which is a lot like some editors and CEOs I’ve worked for, hmm …). You also never get rid of them: I know two people in their 30′s that just moved back into their parents’ house. This is a lifetime job. I still call my mother (who was not a stay-at-home mom) to ruin her day because I’m in a bad mood … shameful, I know, but whatever, right? That’s my job as a kid and her role as my mother. I always call to apologize, but the fact is she is the Joan Harris to my Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce (that’s a Mad Men reference for all of you who have lives and don’t spend your days living through your TV) remains. For some reason my mother will always be the person that has all the answers, despite the fact that she lives 2,000 miles away and has never worked in the industry which I’m currently in.
Stay at home moms are amazing. The patience it takes to spend all day with kids is one trait to be admired. To say that Romney doesn’t understand the struggles of modern women just goes to show that Rosen doesn’t understand women—period. Women as a gender are generally empathetic and most mothers have a knack for putting themselves in others’ shoes and knowing how to navigate uncharted waters. They are selfless and give up their own lives and freedoms to ensure better lives for their children.
Moreover, single mothers should be admired and revered, because God knows I couldn’t do it. You can say that a stay-at-home mom doesn’t know what it’s like to be picked over for a job, or be fired, or know the stresses of having a deadline. But they do know what it’s like to be picked on and looked down upon for their choices by people like Rosen, and they know the stress of having to be responsible for another human being, knowing that every decision they make might end up being discussed ad nauseam in therapy one day. Also, they will never be fired because they will never stop working until they die. There is no retirement here, there will never be a raise, or enough thank yous. They may not know the pressure of a deadline, but they do know the pressure of being the one place that their kids feel safe and the pressure of having to protect them and be there for them even when they’re 2,000 miles away. I’d rather have the pressure of a deadline, a boss that screams at me who I can leave at the office, and the knowledge that when I’m 65, this is will all be over than to deal with the uber-responsibility of being a stay-at-home mom.