I’m so angry at the way the Republicans and mainstream media have jumped all over a comment made by Hilary Rosen about Ann Romney not working outside the home. When women say “she hasn’t worked a day in her life,” we mean she hasn’t worked outside the home, earned a paycheck, fretted over how to pay the mortgage all by herself and basically been the sole bread winner for a family. Women know that women who raise kids “work.” Duh. No one said they don’t.
I was a stay-at-home mom back when we were called housewives. I never knew how much my husband paid for the mortgage, insurance, utilities, cars or vacations. I DID know a little about how much we spent on groceries and clothes, but that’s all. It never occurred to me to ask because it was his job to pay the bills. That’s what it means to “not work a day in our lives.” I have a friend who married a doctor right out of college and has never had a paycheck. I say she has “never worked a day in her life” and certainly don’t mean that raising her three sons wasn’t work. Raising kids is a lot of work, but it’s not the same as answering to an employer who is unreasonable or too “touchy-feely” and being afraid to complain because you need the money to pay the rent and feed your kids.
Women who have enough income, either from a husband or an inheritance, to stay home with their kids, go to all their school events, sit with them when they are sick and generally live every day of their lives with and through them are very lucky indeed if that’s what they choose to do. How many women do I know like that today? None. For the average family, it takes two incomes to pay the bills because the Republicans have rigged the system in favor of the super rich who can afford to stay home with their kids.
Ann Romney is probably a wonderful person, and there’s nothing wrong with being super rich and letting someone else pay your way in life. But anyone, male or female, who has never had to answer to an employer or a company that views employees as interchangeable parts to be replaced or removed at the company’s discretion hasn’t a clue how precarious life can really be.
Ask anyone who works for a paycheck these days if their definition of “work” is the same as staying home to raise kids and I suspect there will be a whole slew of opinions much like the woman who commented about Ann Romney. Republicans have a lot of nerve complaining about such an innocuous comment when they are the ones who have made it damned near impossible for one parent to stay home with the kids and who have cut all the funding for decent, affordable daycare for parents who have to work outside the home.
It’s like the filthy rich woman sitting in first class on an airplane complaining about the screaming toddler back in the economy section and asking why the mother didn’t leave the child home with the nanny. The rich don’t have a clue about how the rest of us live.
Susan Cunningham is a retired teacher of American history. She lives near St. Louis, Missouri.