What is the real reason for the intense public reaction ignited by Hilary Rosen’s criticism of Ann Romney? Ann Romney is a homemaker. She raised five sons. She worked hard. Is it a full-time job? Absolutely. Does it pay well? For most women, other than Ann Romney, it does not. So as a result, many women must find work outside the home to earn a living.
The reason that this conversation still creates controversy is NOT that “working mothers” and “stay at home mothers” are fighting the “mommy wars”. It is much deeper than that and more about women’s feelings toward society than each other.
Research continues to confirm that childcare remains the primary responsibility of women, not men, in most families. This is true regardless of employment status. In her February 8th Motherlode column, KJ Dell ’Antonia exposes that US Census Bureau counts fathers, but not mothers, as formal “childcare”. This places fathers in the same category as paid babysitters and day care centers. Dell ’Antonia also points out the humorous contradiction that “it shouldn’t be baby-sitting if daddy does it”?
So the intense reaction that we see as a result of Hilary Rosen’s comments reflects the feelings of a few stakeholders:
- Stay-at-home moms who are frustrated by working a full-time job (parenthood) without pay.
- Working moms who are exhausted from juggling primary parenthood and paid employment without sufficient support or credit.
- Select fathers who are not tethered by primary parenthood may feel just the slightest twinge of nervousness that their freedom will some day end.
In some ways, I am thrilled that this issue can create such a stir. But in more ways, I wish that we could better recognize the important and different roles that women adopt to get the job done, whatever that job may be.