Ink Paper Words' Profile

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Pacific Northwest, United States
In elementary school, I desperately wanted my mother to order books for me from those flyers Scholastic hands out to kids. She refused, citing the "perfectly good library down the street." I exacted revenge by becoming a card-carrying ALA accredited reference librarian. Ha! Take that!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Feminism, SAHM's and the "Dignity of Work"

Much has been made this last week over Hilary Rosen's comments regarding Ann Romney and her role as a "stay at home mom." Somewhat tactlessly, Rosen said that Mrs Romney had "never worked a day in her life," drawing the ire and umbrage of SAHM's across the country. If only Rosen had written that Romney never had to work a day in her life, much of the resulting flack might have been avoided.

As it is, however, accusations of class warfare and the denigration of the role of mothers (although I prefer the non-gender-specific "parents") continue to fly about the Interwebz. This is not necessarily a bad thing.

No one can deny that parents have a tough road in front of them. Some parents make huge financial sacrifices in order to take care of the home and to be able to devote more time and attention too their children. All good. But on many forums, time and time again I've seen working mothers castigated for loving money and "luxuries" so much that they are willing to trample on their family's well-being to attain it. Working mothers (interesting how this is never applied to working fathers) are demonized and blamed for all of society's ills.

Clearly, the situation for every family will be different. Some enjoy the luxury of being able to be with their children all day, some work because they want to be able to pay rent and utility bills. I don't see why any family's choice needs to be distilled into either "if you work you don't love your kids" or "if you stay home you demonstrate that education isn't necessary for women." Why have we, as a society, not risen above such petty, bifurcated thinking by now?

Ironically enough, as recently as January Mrs Romney's husband Mitt declared that people receiving TANF funds ought and need to work to feel the "dignity" that comes from working. I certainly agree that earning a living is vastly superior to deal with social service agencies, many of which care little how demeaned their clients feel. Besides, one often gets the impression that between requisite hoop-jumping and correcting their mistakes, one might as well be working.

Frankly, I don't believe the Romneys can have it both ways. Of course, "Flipper" has never really been known for staking out a position and sticking with it, but he can't both insist that one must work in order to feel a sense of worth and defend his wife for finding her sense of worth in the home.

The bottom line for me is that Mrs Romney enjoys a standard of living that few will ever know and due to her many blessings in life, is not a qualified or appropriate spokesman for the struggles that ordinary Americans face. I'm glad that Mitt "looks up" to his wife -- that is as it should be. However, I cannot look up to her as I do many other women. My mother and grandmother, for example. Both are\wereamazing women who not only worked outside the home, but in it as well. I thank both of them for giving me the blessing of knowing how to economize and get by on little. In a later post, I will highlight Yale nursing professor Margaret Moss and explain why she is a woman that anyone can, and should, admire.

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