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Linda Chavez
Linda Chavez
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Feminists Limit Women's Choices


Not since Hillary Clinton's infamous remark during the 1992 presidential campaign — "I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas" — has a prominent Democratic woman so insulted full-time homemakers. Speaking on CNN Wednesday, Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen said that Ann Romney has "never worked a day in her life" and, therefore, can't understand the struggles of most women.

Rather than apologize for sticking her thumb in the eyes of millions of American homemakers, Rosen doubled down when critics responded. "This isn't about whether Ann Romney or I or other women of some means can afford to make a choice to stay home and raise kids," she said. Talk about a "war on women"; this sounds like a war on work-at-home moms. In Rosen's view, they're either lazy or privileged.

Nothing about Rosen's comments surprises me. I know her 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.

Feminism as ideology eschews individual choice. Women must fit a certain mold; if they don't, they're either deemed in need of having their consciousness raised or dismissed as frivolous ninnies.

Ann Romney, who raised fives sons, has defended herself against Rosen's accusation by saying Rosen should have come to her "house when those five boys were causing so much trouble. It wasn't so easy." Frankly, Romney would be better off not dignifying Rosen's attack by responding.

Anyone who has spent a day caring for a toddler — much less trying to handle five boys at one time — knows that motherhood is hard, full-time work. The fact that many mothers choose to work outside the home, as I did, does not mean that those who choose to stay at home are taking the easy way out.

Nor is it true, as Rosen and other feminists assert, that most mothers "have to work." Certainly, most single mothers must work to support themselves and their children, which is why their labor force participation rates are higher than those of married mothers, 75 percent compared with 69 percent.

But many married women work primarily because they want to. There's nothing wrong with that, so why pretend it is out of necessity?

When you factor in the actual costs of working outside the home, it might not make great economic sense for a mother of young children to work. Out of her wages, she must pay for child care, transportation, a work wardrobe and work lunches, plus the extra cost of convenience foods or eating out when she doesn't have time to prepare family meals, not to mention higher family taxes. Those expenses add up and, for some lower-income women, might outweigh the financial benefit of the extra paycheck.

Even if working outside the home is not born out of necessity or particularly remunerative, many women still would choose to do so because they find it personally rewarding. And our economy has benefited greatly by having so many more productive workers added to the labor force. Almost no one today argues that women shouldn't have the right to seek employment outside the home.

The same can't be said about attitudes toward women who choose to work at being mothers and homemakers. For the Hilary Rosens of the world, these women are fair game to be sneered at, insulted, demeaned and belittled. Their achievements raising children and being supportive wives, good housekeepers and community volunteers are dismissed.

Feminists believe that the only legitimate role models for young girls are women whose lives mirror their own. Feminists don't want to expand choices available to young women so much as they want to limit the options to feminist-approved categories, and full-time homemaker clearly isn't on the list.

Linda Chavez is the author of "An Unlikely Conservative: The Transformation of an Ex-Liberal." To find out more about Linda Chavez, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



2 Comments | Post Comment
Linda said:
Women must fit a certain mold; if they don't, they're either deemed in need of having their consciousness raised or dismissed as frivolous ninnies.
Are you trying to speak for me? I consider myself liberal and moderately feminist, I believe evey women should have the choice as to how to lead her life, it is arrogant and ignorant of you to claim that liberal feminists don't want women to have a choice, everyone I know believes the same thing. Who are you to speak for me?
As to Rosen's actual comment, before the right wing whack jobs took it out of context:
Rosen said:
"Guess what?" asked Rosen. "His wife has actually never worked a day in her life. She's never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school and why we worry about their future."
Rosen mis-spoke, she was completely wrong to say that mothers who stay at home, caring for children are not working. Raising children and caring for the family is incredible hard work. We all know that. But that wasn't her point, as in all political arguments, both sides take four words out of context and turn them into 15 second sound bites, that's what is so disgusting about the political TV ads. Her point was the remainder of the quote, this isn't about liberals vs. conservatives, feminists vs. stay at homes, that waitress in a dirt town in Oklahoma could care less about politics, she is working two jobs with two kids to feed. She has a child care subsidy so she can work, if she loses that, her paycheck will equal her childcare. She doesn't care about intellectual arguments, she cares about feeding her kids, she's not a sponge off the system, she's a hard worker who is trying to do the right thing by her kids. Maybe she's on Medicaid, with a job with no benefits, maybe one of her kids has diabetes or is autistic, she needs help. She's one step away from losing those boots with the bootstraps all the right wing keep telling her to pull herself up by. That was the point Ms. Rosen was trying to make, Ann Romney, although she's a good Mom and works hard for her children, (although I would like to see the amount of household help she has, nannies, maids, stable keepers, and other assistants who keep her going, while she travels the country waving and giving that adoring smile at her husband), has never had to worry about her next meal, how to get a Dr. to see her kid, how to pay her rent, or how to get her car fixed so she can get to work. The GOP wants to cut all the services that give people a leg up so they can make it, it's the compassion impaired party with a budget that cuts social services and gives the 1% tax breaks. That was Rosen's point, women like Ann Romney have never had to walk in that waitress's shoes, never had to worry about paying her rent, feeding her kids, getting Medical care for her kids, or how to pay $200.00 to get her car fixed so she can go to work tomorrow, when there is $67.00 in her checking account. I am sure Ann is a good Mom, but everything I have heard from Romney is that he is compassion impaired, he has no empathy for or guilt about all those families he destroyed in his years at Bain. I came from a corporate environment, your only obligation is the next quarter's profits, and people are just names on a computerized list from HR, lay offs were made with a highlighter according to salary, employees being laid off were expected to train new hires that would replace them, with no experience and were hired at half the salary. A bitter pill that the laid off employees were expected to swallow if they wanted their severence contract. My friend who worked at a local company was laid off, had to train his replacement, and after twenty years with the company was made to clean his office out with a security guard observing him while he packed and walked out of the building. They were afraid he would steal a stapler. He was made to walk out of the office with a guard, carrying his box of belongings in front of twenty members of his team. I am sure Romney never had to suffer this humiliation, and I am sure Ann never had to beg her landlord to give her one more week to pay her rent.
This was Ms. Rosens's point, the slash of Ryan's pen is no different than that lay off highlighter in the board room, there is no recognition that these are people, real people who are effected, they do not live on a velvet cushion like Ann Romney. This whole issue has nothing to do with feminists vs. liberals, women not having choices, it has to do with a candidate who has no regard for anyone who isn't like him, the 1%.
Conservative Mantra: I've got mine, screw you
Comment: #1
Posted by: Bloom Hilda
Fri Apr 13, 2012 2:19 PM
So Bloom you admit that both sides take sound bites out of context. So would you also be willing to admit that Romney's "fire people", and "etch-a-stetch" comments were also soundbited and taken out of context.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:17 AM
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