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/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.

Julie reid April 19, 2012 at 11:29 AM
Thank you! Well written and to the point -- now lets move forward
MJ April 19, 2012 at 12:55 PM
A very nice article, however if Hilary Rosen's comment (and the media frenzy it sparked) is the inspiration for it I'm afraid you (along with the media frenzy) has missed the mark. Out of context I would agree that Hilary Rosen appears to malign stay at home mothers. But that is not what she was saying. Mitt Romney's strategy to become President is to portray himself as an average, hard-working Joe, just like you and me. His wife, the one with "a couple of Cadillacs," is likewise just another average Jane. Hilary Rosen was responding to this strategy. Ann Romney may indeed be a stay at home mom, but to think she is not assisted in her endeavors by a phalanx of maids and nannies is naive, and it is to this point that Rosen said she never worked a day in her life. Ann Romney, honorable as she may be has not lived an uphill battle. She has no clue what it's like to struggle in America.
Marlene Kimberly April 19, 2012 at 02:47 PM
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/karen-teegarden/war-on-women_b_1431796.html I think women and men need to read Karen Teegarden's Huffington Post piece. She is the founder of Unitewomen.org and has valid points about this problem being about the reproductive rights of all women! All the other sound bites from both sides are distractions from this issue!
p April 19, 2012 at 07:55 PM
Just curious about what you mean when you say people should stop whining that Republicans are going to make abortion illegal. Do you think that isn't true? Or do you mean just what you say and that people shouldn't care that they are trying to make abortion illegal? And what do you mean when you say that our tax laws are unfair and punitive? In what way are they unfair? Do you think some people pay too much? And some people pay too little? Who do you think falls in those categories? And in what way is it punitive? Do you mean the way it taxes certain types of income at different rates? This column doesn't really say anything...except that Democrats should stop talking about the things Republicans are trying to do.
Cathy April 23, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Great article Lisa! I agree with you completely.
Lisa Bigelow April 23, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Thanks so much for reading the piece and taking the time to respond with your comments. As this is the first installment of what will hopefully be many more columns (and not always with politics as the subject matter), I'm looking forward to responding in depth to thoughtful notes and questions such as the ones posed here (particularly with regard to taxes). For the record, I don't believe that the Romneys can relate to "regular" Americans (please note that I didn't write that they can) but I don't think they should be punished or mocked for that. The Democrats are very clearly using a class warfare strategy here, pitting the haves against the have nots. Whether women will allow themselves to be whipped up into this frenzy remains to be seen. I don't believe that this conversation is about reproductive rights (which I support, by the way)...that just doesn't pass the smell test. Our political problems are the result of two major issues: the first is a failure to listen, and the second is extremism. I hope this column engenders reasoned and calm debate without the taint of the second. That's my goal, and I hope it's yours, too. I look forward to many more comments! Thanks again -- Lisa B.
MJ April 23, 2012 at 03:55 PM
I honestly hoped you were going to say that our two major political problems were Democrats and Republicans.


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