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Tempest in a Teapot Begins Candidates’ Uneasy Courtship of Women

Dear Democrats, We don't need your "help." Thanks, anyway. Sincerely, Women

[Editor's Note: This is the first installment of "Patch Back," a new opinion column written in response to our .]

Microphone on, insert foot. Sleep, rinse, repeat.

So began the latest tempest in a teapot, with Democratic adviser and President Obama administration supporter Hilary Rosen proclaiming that Ann Romney, wife of Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, hadn’t worked a day in her life.

Never mind that any reasonable adult knows that raising five children and keeping a home is tiring labor, requiring endless reserves of energy, mental stamina and resourcefulness, regardless of income. Never mind that extraordinarily successful men often point to their wives—employed or not—as the biggest reason they were able to achieve that success in the first place. And never mind that unlike what the media and politicians would have us believe, the reality of public opinion is far more nuanced than the views expressed by Rosen, former Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum or anyone else whose future depends on soundbites and headline journalism.

What’s more interesting—and discouraging—is the amount of time that media outlets and politicians spend defining and assigning the values and priorities they think “women” want. And the more time they spend pandering to what they assume are women’s attitudes toward working, family life, reproductive rights, the ethics of medical research techniques and a host of other issues, the more foolish they look.

These latest transparent attempts to drum up enthusiasm for a supposed “war on women” are absurd. Feminists want to stay relevant in an era when women are achieving more than any other time in human history (in the United States … we’re not talking about Afghanistan). And Democrats, experts at the backhanded compliment and anxious to carry over the Occupy Wall Street wave of populism into the election, are using women as pawns in a nasty election year class warfare battle. 

As a lifelong Republican and hybrid stay-home-cum-working mom, I find that insulting. Women have already defined their own unique roles because of the feminist’s favorite word: choice.

How much longer are we going to allow our political parties to hijack common sense? For example, I challenge you to find anyone who disagrees with the following statements:

  1. The government shouldn’t spend more money than it takes in.
  2. What goes on in your neighbor’s bedroom is their own business.
  3. Our tax laws are unfair, labyrinthine and punitive.
  4. The sooner we rid ourselves of our dependence on oil, the safer we will be.
  5. The U.S. Congress should subject itself to the same rules as those they govern.
  6. Welfare is a not a reasonable lifestyle choice, and it's sometimes abused.
  7. Set goals and work hard. And if you fail, work harder.

When we let Hilary Rosen’s ill-considered comment become a national conversation, we are losing focus on the issues that really matter, and not just to women. Newsflash: Women have already decided for themselves how they feel about the issues of the day. We don’t need Hilary Rosen or Rick Santorum or anyone else to elucidate our own private views.

As many Fairfield County women already know, finance is a demanding career and that's why financial executives earn more on average than most other professionals. Why aren’t we celebrating the fact that Mitt and Ann Romney made sacrifices early on in their lives so that she could stay home full time and raise their family? Regardless of income, staying home by yourself at night with five kids while your husband is traveling, finishing up a big deal or entertaining a client is isolating, hard work.

Successful families—such as the Romneys and the Obamas—work as a team. We should be pointing to them as examples of what can go right when hard work and personal choice meet in the greatest country in the world. We should not be whining that Ann never worked and Mitt is a child of privilege and oh my God, Republicans are going to make abortion illegal and put women back in 1955!

Spare us the rhetoric, please.

The women I know don’t have time for this nonsense. They're figuring out how they can get themselves and their families ahead. They spend their free time encouraging their kids to study, volunteer, play sports and develop relationships in the communities in which they live, so they can earn the respect of others and become high achieving adults. It doesn’t matter if you live in Weston or Detroit or East Podunk, Arkansas.

Kids, spend your time doing worthwhile activities instead of partying and perhaps one day it will be you that’s part of the 1 percent. It’s just that simple. Let’s keep the discussion focused on how we can help kids become successful, productive adults, as opposed to how we can maintain an unproductive class warfare battle. Because that’s why people hate politics.

And if you read this and you’re a woman, I bet you knew that already. And you’ll move on with your day, because you have miles to go before you sleep.

MPM April 19, 2012 at 12:51 PM
How are we going to be safer if "we rid ourselves of our dependence on oil"? Contrary popular opinion, only a very small percentage of our oil comes from the Middle East. Petroleum and its derivatives are in everything we use and touch everyday - tires, cosmetics, band aids, you name it. What we need to do is improve infrastructure (pipelines, not roadways) and increase refining (19 refineries have closed in the last year). Only an increase in refining will reduce the price of gas. We could have sourced more of our oil from Canada, one of the most politically stable nations on earth, but no. We're going to let them sell their oil to the Chinese. Meanwhile, crude oil is moving by train from N. Dakota into storage facilities in Penn. and NY State because there is no other way to move it and the refineries are full up.
MPM April 19, 2012 at 04:03 PM
How does ridding ourselves from dependence upon oil make us safer? Derivatives of petroleum products are in everything we do and touch - tires, roads, plastics, cosmetics, fire retardants, etc. Contrary to common thought, the US gets most of its petroleum from South America and Canada, not the Middle East.
Go Rams April 19, 2012 at 10:17 PM
Lisa, while I agree with your 7 bullet points, I do want to defend Hilary Rosen's comment in the sense that it was not an attack on the stay at home mom nor Ann Romney's abilities as a mother; she was simply stating the fact that by virtue of being a very wealthy woman, Ann Romney has never had to work for an INCOME in her life, while many mothers do in fact, in addition to raising their children, just like Ann, they also have to worry and /or work to help pay the bills; that is a huge distinction.. I think her point was simply that for those mothers who are raising children, AND working for an income, and not by choice but simply because they have to, do bear a greater burden than those mothers such as Ann Romney, who never have to worry about finances and how to pay for all the expenses that go into raising children today... it's a very valid point to make. And as far as Ann working "hard" in raising 5 kids, that was certainly HER choice to have 5 kids.. that was her choice to make and hopefully she has been happy with her choice, and not disappointed by all the "work" involved in it; we all work hard to raise our children, no matter the number, but those of us mothers who also must work to bring in an income, I say, we do work at least a little "harder" than someone like Ann Romney.
Ty Webb April 20, 2012 at 12:39 PM
Go rams, Your thinly veiled bitterness is nauseating. Stop begrudging others hard won success and/or good fortune. Attitudes like yours are poisonous to this country and our children's work ethic. I'm sure you work very hard, congratulations. You are not the only one.
Go Rams April 20, 2012 at 01:21 PM
What's nauseating is women who choose to have 5 children and then expect sympathy for how "hard" they work to raise them. You can call my sentiments whatever you like, the fact is, what Hilary Rosen's statement was trying to convey was that it is hard for most working mothers to have empathy for a woman like Ann Romney who has never had to feel the pressures of not only raising a family but also to bring home "the bacon" to also feed and clothe that family. There is a big difference. As well, am not looking for any "pats on the back" or Congratulations, just pointing out that to deny there is a difference between these very distinct groups of mothers is pretty ignorant on your part.
Ty Webb April 20, 2012 at 01:47 PM
You're embarrassing yourself lady, and you're late for work. Please be sure to the mrs. Romney when she picks up your kids from soccer for the 900th time, too.
Go Rams April 20, 2012 at 02:11 PM
No worries Ty, am never late for work, and my kids don't play soccer, so you don't have to worry who is picking them up on my behalf either, but thanks for your concern.
Glen K Dunbar April 20, 2012 at 02:34 PM
I support Women who want to have Kids and as many Kids as SHE wants. There are programs out there to help Women who need it. I also support Women who want to work. I just want to remind all Men and Women alike..."It is not what you know in life that counts...but WHO you know"
Lisa Bigelow April 23, 2012 at 04:29 PM
Thanks to everyone for their comments. I appreciate the time you all spent writing in. As far as Ms. Rosen's comment goes, in my view it's not worth debating. Everybody got her point. I don't believe that the Romneys can relate to "regular" Americans. I just don't think they should be mocked for having more money than most other people. Mitt worked hard, so did Ann, and they achieved success. Don't we want our best and brightest running for President? Finally, I am looking forward to writing more about energy in a future piece, but for the record: yes, I am aware that we get most of our oil from Canada & SA, and yes, I am aware that refining is a huge problem (never mind the pipeline). Nevertheless, Americans are trendsetters. When alternate energy becomes the norm here, it will become the norm everywhere. And unlike those who only see oil as an environmental issue, I also see it as a security issue. Eliminate the big stick that countries such as Iran carry and watch how quickly they grow quiet. And yes, I know we don't buy oil from Iran.

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