Did Mitt Romney Insult Stay-at-Home Moms? (UPDATES)

UPDATE II:

After the firestorm generated by Hilary Rosen’s remarks on stay-at-home moms (See post below), and after the deep and — and sincere — umbrage taken by Ann Romney and so many others, Mrs. Romney over the weekend said this about that:

It was my early birthday present for someone to be critical of me as a mother …That was a really defining moment, and I loved it.

Now, on this one, I will just report and let you decide — jut like Fox.

But, should you wish to read additional details and more subjective opinions on this, please click here and here.

CODA: I did have to add the “satire” tag with this update.

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UPDATE I:

Sara Mead at the Washington Monthly provides a different perspective on “Mitt Romney and the Cult of True Womanhood.” If you have had enough on this issue, it may be worth your while — when you are at the site — just to click on the link, “this video,” to see John McCain grimace and squirm while Romney gets ready to offer his “dignity of work” view.

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Reacting to a statement by Mitt Romney that Ann Romney had conveyed to him the economic concerns of women, Hilary Rosen said: “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 women in this country are facing.”

All hell broke loose, here and everywhere else on the planet, accusing Rosen — and Democrats — of maligning Mrs. Romney personally and stay-at-home mothers in general.

While I do not believe that such was Rosen’s intent — OK, it was a poor choice of words (we all have them) — Mrs. Rosen and Democrats have paid the price.

But, as it turns out, Romney himself has not been so kind to stay-at-home moms — it would seem.

We read in the Washington Post today that in January of this year, Romney appeared at a town hall event in Manchester, New Hampshire, where he said:

While I was governor, 85 percent of the people on a form of welfare assistance in my state had no work requirement. I wanted to increase the work requirement. I said, for instance, that even if you have a child two years of age, you need to go to work. And people said, “Well that’s heartless,” and I said “No, no, I’m willing to spend more giving daycare to allow those parents to go back to work. It’ll cost the state more providing that daycare, but I want the individuals to have the dignity of work.’

Just as it has been reported ad nauseam that Rosen said, “His wife has actually never worked a day in her life,” I could write that Mitt Romney said, talking about stay-at-home moms, “I want [stay-at-home mothers] to have the dignity of work.”

Or I could quote part of the Washington Post’s piece:

Read that again: “I want the individuals to have the dignity of work.” And by “individuals,” Romney means “mothers.”

To understand this comment, you need to understand that there’s no such program as “welfare.” There’s only “TANF”: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. And the key word there is “families.” Welfare is not now, and never was, a program for poor people. It’s a program for poor mothers.

So what Mitt Romney was saying, in other words, was that he believes poor mothers should go out and get jobs rather than to stay home with their children. He believes that going out and getting a job gives mothers — and everyone else — “the dignity of work.”

As I just did.

But I do ask you, if I may, to read the entire piece at the Post in context and then decide for yourself whether Romney was insulting stay-at-home moms.

It would be nice if we all took a deep breath before enlisting in the War on the War on the War on Women — or in any other war.

Author: DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

91 Comments

  1. NO………………………

  2. Did he make a case for “the dignity of work outside the home’ for his own wife?

  3. AR was not in the assistance program, hence the dignity of not taking a “handout” is a mute point. Some people, resist any “assistance” equating it with welfare and being a failure.

    I know my mother, a single mom, would have died rather than accept a dime of “welfare”. I’m not saying that people like her are right, indeed they may be wrong, I’m saying that some have that attitude.

  4. “But I do ask you, if I may, to read the entire piece at the Post in context”

    Nice try. Remember this the next time someone on the right makes a comment and part of it would make a wonderful soundbite for the lefts cause!!!

    Hard to resist the temptation isn’t it????

  5. Turnabout is fair play.

  6. OK, I’m lost, what are RP/CS talking about.

  7. Did Romney insult stay at home moms?

    I think the better, and broader question is:

    Isn’t this whole argument insulting to women?

    One of the other articles today on TMV regarding this subject was by a conservative commentator who bemoaned the Democrats “true disdain for traditional roles for women.”

    As with the dust-up a few months ago regarding birth control, I can help but think “hey, didn’t we already have this discussion?”

    I don’t want to diminish the decision of the many women who choose to stay at home and raise children (my mother included), but at the same time it strikes me as odd that here in the 21st Century one party is trying to hold that up as the superior ideal, and the other party seems to be helping, at least inadvertently.

    The Republicans – through Romney – are basically saying that the preferred role for a woman is home raising the kids. That’s the “traditional” job for a woman. The Democrats – through pandering – are saying “hey, we think stay at home moms are awesome, too!”

    This strikes me as a step backward. Ann Romney, dutifully staying at home and raising the kids while her husband works, is NOT the ideal. Not anymore. Not for at least a generation now.

    Yet the undercurrent of the backlash against Rosen for her admittedly inarticulate remarks is that the traditional role of women as a homemaker cannot be questioned.

    That seems a bit insulting to the women who have been fighting for so long to break out of that mold.

  8. Dduck- i’m saying that gotchas have a way of coming back to bite you. If it was insulting to Ann to suggest that childrearing isn’t work, then it can also be said to be a similar insult to suggest that mothers who need govt aid aren’t doing meaningful work by raising their children.

    You pointed out another aspect to the dignity comment, and i think that’s a valid point….plus, poor women probably aren’t well served by becoming dependent on govt rather than having a path to self sufficiency. It is truly a different situation than being financially dependent on a spouse who is a commited father.

    So i’m not necessarily agreeing with Romney critics on the policy…just saying that rhetorically this is the flp side of last week’s fracas and it’s a fair enough point to say that he also implied that mothering isn’t “real work”.

  9. Cjack, why does one situation or the other have to be “ideal”? It’s not a step backward to say that each choice is equally valid and should be equally valued by society.

  10. “It’s not a step backward to say that each choice is equally valid and should be equally valued by society.”

    Yet I don’t think they’re saying that. It is worth noting that Ms. Rosen is also a mother, having adopted two children, but this is not being presented as one mother criticizing another.

    No, this is being presented (by the right, at least)as an attack on “traditional roles for women.”

    I’m all for saying each choice (including stay at home moms and non traditional families like Rosen’s) is equally valid and should be equally valued by society, but the underlying theme as I see it in this debate is that some choices are more valued than others.

    Again I refer back to the dust-up over Sandra Fluke. Her choice was to get an education, become an activist, and (apparently) delay motherhood through the use of contraceptives.

    For her choice, she was labeled as a “slut.”

  11. Wile i concur that the insults to Fluke were completely uncalled for, i disagree on the rest of your comment. You are saying that liberal women value motherhood as evidenced by working mothers who value it- but that’s not the point. It’s that the specific choice of being a full time mother is rarely shown respect by those on the left and often there’s an expression of disdain. My experience isn’t that women like Rosen think motherhood is unimportant, it’s that they don’t relate to women who would choose motherhood instead of career and don’t thonk it matters much if they marginalize SAHMs.

  12. I’d say millions of so-called ‘liberals’ and ‘conservatives’ respect sahm because they are. The ten loudest mouths in the press from either side, dont seem to know this.

  13. I’ve watched a lot of politicians over the years but Mitt has more trouble formulating and sticking to a message than any I’ve seen.

    “It would be nice if we all took a deep breath before enlisting in the War on the War on the War on Women”

    Amen brother.

  14. CStanley says:

    “It’s that the specific choice of being a full time mother is rarely shown respect by those on the left and often there’s an expression of disdain.

    Just to make things clear, as I tried to do, which contributors or commenters are you attributing this lack of respect and disdain for the choice of being a full time mother?

    Thanks

  15. Dorian, i’m sorry but i don’t understand your question.

  16. CS, thanks, I guess I couldn’t see the forest for the gotchas. Too me this is just a lot of hollering in a sand storm, all noise and obscured shapes.

  17. CS: he wants you to cite, preferably with links, specific instances where ‘liberals’ are dissing sahm’s.

  18. Dduck- re: forest for the trees, here’s my take on it…

    Both groups, liberal women and conservative women (an oversimplification since many are also in between) see “trees” representing their concerneps which are made into “forests” by politician in order to support those concerns. When we’re arguing about what kind of forest we are dealing with- whether or not the trees are of one type or another, our interests are being exploited. I say we should stop arguing and assume that other people might legitimately have concerns that differ from our own.

    Woody Allen had the line that “just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you” and similarly i’d say that just because politicians are using rhetoric to stoke emotions doesn’t mean the issues they exploit aren’t real.

  19. Rcoutme- seriously? I guess i’ll wait for Dorian to respond because i don’t see the point of doing that. I’m mainly referring to my personal life experience and although i’m sure i could dig up a lot of writings by the leaders of the feminist movement, I’m also sure that anyone who doesn’t believe that this hostility exists or persists will find reasons to discount anything i could link to (as in…”oh, that was just the first wave feminists”, or “that’s just so-and so, no one really listens to her”, etc.)

  20. Gotta run soon but first i wanted to comment that i think it’s instructive that roro, who is a woman who’s much more liberal than i am, wrote in another thread a comment that indicated an understanding of the divide between mothers with careers and those who choose to stay home.

    Part of it involves the fact that one choice seems to invalidate the other; a working mother’s reasons for choosing career come across as a diss on full time motherhood (women should seek employment in order to be part of the real, adult world, and in order to fully develop their intellect ) while the arguments for the choice of motherhood as a full time vocation sound as though we’re saying that our children’s well being depends on our full time presence in their lives (so it sounds like we’re bashing the maternal competence of employed moms.)

    The trick is to see that it’s individualized- just because my situation, in my opinion, requires my full time presence at home doesn’t mean that’s true for other women. And on the flip side, working moms can acknowledge that their choice of career isn’t the only way to fulfill goals of i tellectual participation in society,

  21. “It’s that the specific choice of being a full time mother is rarely shown respect by those on the left and often there’s an expression of disdain.”

    Hi CStanley, I just wanted to say that, except for the comment above, I’m very much right there with you on everything you’ve said on this thread. The only bone to pick is that I’m not actually convinced that those on the right are any more respectful or less distainful of sahm’s. My reasoning is that the divide created between women is created by an overall mentality that women don’t really belong in the workplace, because they are less competent at being workers, and are more suited to raising children. It’s also created by traditional gender roles — women belong at home, and men must be the breadwinners — meaning that men with traditional values are more likely to want their wives to stay home with the kids, in part because being able to provide is wrapped up with masculinity in weird ways. (I find traditional masculinity much weirder than traditional femininity…) This attitude is not so much “respect”, and certainly contains an amount of distain.

    So yes, those on the left have a lot to learn about being real allies to women: respecting their choices as valid, even if they are different from the personal choices women on the left tend to make for themselves, and being supportive of those choices and the individuals who make them. However, I think those on the right likewise have a lot to learn about allowing different choices, even if it threatens traditional gender roles for both men and women.

  22. Hey CStanley — thanks, and I agree, with some caveats (of course). I’ve got a lot to say, but despite the best efforts of the mods over the weekend, it looks like I’m still being kicked out as spam.

  23. Let’s see if I can get something through:

    CStanley – People (well, men) on both sides of the aisle have a very real incentive to make us women complicit in our own oppression; and it is very often quite tempting and comfortable to give into that pressure. I know that to someone as dead-set against movement feminism as you are may, this may come off as some man-hating hoopdie-doo, but I assure you I do not hate men, and it seems like you do understand the truth here at some level. But this division between women who work outside the home and women who do not is just one more way in which this plays out. It’s not the individual women who make their individual choices who create this atmosphere of competition, it’s the societal pressure that says that women do not belong in the workplace because they are only suited to childrearing, which should be insulting to both those women who work outside the home and those who do the hard work of childrearing. As women who have never really had a place at the “big-boys” table, it is quite tempting for women who work outside the home to pretend to the be the “exceptional” women — better than all those other women who “only” raise kids, and we get that validation from the men on the left on that front. Likewise, in order to validate our lives as sahms, women who stay home with their families seek validation that they are doing the correct thing, the womanly thing, the responsible thing, and that women who do not do this inherently don’t care for their kids as much, and are inadequate as women — these women get more validation of their position from men on the right. Either way, we are being played off each other, and being forced into complicity in the structures set up to maintain the status quo. That is, to assure us that no matter what we do, the choices we make as women are not valid.
    For the record, I do know the pressure to make us complicit in our own oppression happens on levels totally separate from the conflicts between SAHMs and women who are members of the workforce. The idea that I either have to laugh at a sexist joke, or a rape joke, that calls out other women as being sluts (“Surely”, they insist, “we can agree that [Britney Spears/Paris Hilton/that girl who got pregnant in HS/whomever else] is asking for it and a dirty slut”) or inherently humourous because of their bodies/hair (“Haha black women have giant butts and crazy kinky hair”), and if I don’t think that’s funny, which I don’t, I either have to eat sh*t, often in my own home during times that are supposed to be fun, or risk ruining everyone’s day with my humorless feminazi scolding. We have to constantly pretend it’s a compliment if some guy tells us that we’re not like all those other girls, who are stupid and shallow and humourless or castrating and slutty and whatever else. Even those who love us and are supposed to be our support systems will take a concern like “I’m worried I’m being judged at work on how I look” and tell us that they think we’re gorgeous and beautiful – as if the point is that we’re insecure about our looks instead of the real insecurity, which is that no matter how good or bad we are at our jobs, that will always come second fiddle to our “do-ability” as judged by those around us.

    Anyway, that might be a little further beyond the topic, but I think it ties into the real problem brought to light by the Rosen-Romney dust-up.

  24. Dr E — Any chance you could try again to pull my comments out of spam?

  25. Hi roro,

    Since it was my post you were commenting on and I did not see anything that would break the commenting rules, I took the liberty of “Unspamming” your comments.

    If I go to jail for this, I hope you’ll pay me a visit :)

  26. I will of course visit you — and bring you a file to boot! :) However, they are still showing up as awaiting moderation.

  27. I stuck my neck out again and “unmoderated” them. It this is an even bigger offense, visit me at Arlington.

  28. Haha! Thank you so much, Dorian.

  29. This may be a rather cynical view on my part, but all of chest pounding on Ann Romney becoming the banner mom for this ‘stay at home mom’s’ seems a bit unsettling to me.

    Yes, she stayed at home, yet my cynicism asks; how typical of a ‘stay at home mom’ is Ann Romney? I would like to know how much domestic support she had in the home? In no way is that wrong, but is Ann’s Romeney’s experience representative of most lower and middle class Americans women that stay at home to care for their children…are these not Romney target votes?

    Looks more like another example of ‘pimpery’ politics…dressing up his wife in a costume that does not quite fit.. anything for votes…

  30. eek what happened to the correction options, i always correct after i post… giggle

  31. “but is Ann’s Romeney’s experience representative of most lower and middle class Americans women that stay at home to care for their children” – OS

    Nope. Not even close. And this is why she evinces so little credibility on the subject. She and her husband both are both disconnected from mainstream America to an almost ridiculous degree, and yet they want to be the deciders! (Mittens does anyway)

  32. (all our edits are imaginary now ;-)

  33. “but is Ann’s Romeney’s experience representative of most lower and middle class Americans women that stay at home to care for their children” – OS

    Nope. Not even close. And this is why she evinces so little credibility on the subject. She and her husband both are both disconnected from mainstream America to an almost ridiculous degree, and yet they want to be the deciders! (Mittens does anyway)

    Is there a certain amount of money you are allowed to have before before money is the only thing you are qualified to talk about? honestly it\’s like since Mitt had the audacity to get rich we should ignore everything about him and just make fun of him and call him names. How grown up of us. Lets ignore the real background of the man. Ignore that he was married for 20 years before really getting rich. Pay no attention to the truly massive amount of time both have spent doing charity and volunteer work. It’s more fun to call him mittens and to ridicule him for being successful.

  34. Z, all of this still reaks of partisanship. The people who wouldn’t vote for Romney under any circumstances, are finding ways to criticize AR for the “sins” she has commited because they dislike Mitt’s creds, demeanor, positions, and policy announcements.

    AR, appears (so far) to be an intelligent person, who may very well have some knowledge of economics, even of the the poor working mom variety.

    Many of us on TMV think of ourselves as masters of all sorts of matters and certainly seem to have intelligent opinions, so why can’t a person who has never worked a day in her life, like Eleanor Roosevelt, with five kids, for example, have valuable opinions. Or are we just spouters of inane rhetoric, on many subjects, if we don’t have direct experience on that particular subject.
    Just askin.

  35. Roro, not surprisingly i disagree with a lot of your now disembargoed comment.

    There’s a lot to unpack there and i’m short on time, so i’ll focus on the core argument that men make women complicit in our own oppression.

    I am completely certain that you don’t mean this to imply a conspiracy (Augusta National is not an enclave for men to meet and plot how they’ll continue to keep the wimmenfolk in their place, right?)

    But i assume you feel that men generally have a natural inclination to try to preserve their positions of power and that this plays out in different ways for conservatives and liberals. Conservatives more directly affirm the traditional gender roles while liberal men endorse women in less trepadtional roles that infringe on their traditional power structure, but they only do so on their own terms. Am i interpreting you accurately so far?

    Part of the reason that you and i will likely never agree is that you see this strictly as a struggle to get a dominant group to accept the demise of its power structures, but to look at it that way brushes aside the biologically determined gender differences. If men really are gemerally more hard wired to seek power and women generally more hard wired to seek security, then the equilibrium you seek will never happen without allowing for that.

    IOW i agree (if I’m understanding you correctly) that men’s anxieties play a part but i would address that in a completely different way by affirming that they have reason to feel that anxiety. I think by maximizing choice, by affirming that the traditional family model is a fine choice when both spouses are agreeable to it, men’s anxieties might be greatly decreased. I think by insisting on complete acceptance by men of women as equals in the workplace and as shared breadwinners in the home, there’s been an even greater channelling of men’s need for power into the sexual realm. And initially the signals sent to men was that this worked out fine because women too were embracing nontraditional sex roles… But for men it justs ends up being a fantasy realm to play out the power roles since the traditional family route option was taken off of the table.

    I’m not saying that all men and women should be encouraged (and certainly not coerced) into returning to the 1950s stereotypical roles. I’m just noting what i feel are unintended negative consequences of the overly negative pressure away from those roles. What’s wrong with man wanting to be the main provider as long as he finds a woman who wants to be the orimary nurturer? And most of all, i think most men resent the fact that they don’t really have that option (or will be open to a lot of criticism for it) and they don’t have all the options in between because it’s considered piggish of him to not allow his mate to make the decision unilaterally.

    I don’t have all the answers to how to make it happen, but in my mind the ideal situation would allow maximum flexibility and would allow couples to make these decisions in a mutually satisfying way. And i doubt that you oppose that but i think many of the methods of feminism that you endorse run counter to that goal and tend to exacerbate men’s anxieties instead. And your last paragraph indicates that even you see the problem with trying to accomplish your goals by “enlightening” which comes across as nagging. Whike you see that that’s not working, i think you accept a false dichotomy between scolding or doing nothing. I’ve learned from difficult oarenting issues that I’ve faced that there is a third way, which is to seek out the reasons that behavior is occurring and address the antecedent instead. I’ve also realized that this applies to adult interactiins as well as parent-child ones.

  36. Oh great…just wrote a longish reply to roro and now MY comment isn’t showing up!

  37. Dduck- it’s funny how often our ability to relate to rich people coincides with whether or not they are useful spokespersons for the ideas we embrace. I don’t think on the individual level that is a calculated thing, but just that the people who say they believe in the same things we do are the people we relate to, and then we find artificial ways to screen out the people whose belief system is different than ours.

  38. About Mitts statement. Is it an insult or hypocritical to believe in the validity of a womens choice to be a SAHM but not think that the role of SAHM is so valuable that the taxpayers be required to fund that choice? And what of the children ans society in general? Is it better for children to have a SAHM but is totally dependent on public assistance or a working mother providing for them? I think right or wrong there is a stigma to receiving public assistance and the concern of the cost to society when such assistance is so common that it’s starts being taken for granted. Unfortunately I think these are bigger, complicated issues that don’t lend themselves to election rhetoric.

  39. Eelis, as i mentioned earlier too, i think there’s an issue of dependency created when the policy is to support women with children without requiring paid employment. Some would say that SAHMs are also dependent on their husbands, but the diffference is that it’s reasonable to presume that the husband in most cases doesn’t see an incentive for his wife to be economically disadvantaged (not in today’s society where institutionalized gender discrimination isn’t what it used to be.) the same isn’t true for a depency on govt…the govt doesn’t have a personal relationship with indivduals and the incentive runs the wrong direction since elected officials benefit from dependent voters.

  40. “just wrote a longish reply to roro and now MY comment isn’t showing up!”

    The powers that be have an incentive for us not to be able to talk! If two women on far sides of the political spectrum can get together and find things in common, they’re DOOMED!!!

    I’m kidding. Mostly. :)

  41. Some would say that SAHMs are also dependent on their husbands

    In some cases I’m sure they are but I would hope, and it seems to me that the ideal would be, that a couple would be partners regardless of their roles in the household.

  42. “The people who wouldn’t vote for Romney under any circumstances, are finding ways to criticize AR for the “sins” she has commited because they dislike Mitt’s creds, demeanor, positions, and policy announcements.”

    dduck, you know that this is pretty easy to fix, right? If AR has street cred on the economy, and on women, have her tell us what that is. Having Mitt pretend that Ann is the only woman in the world, and deferring everything having to do with women to her, doesn’t go too far to convince me of your theory that she could very well have all the chops. He can’t come up with an intelligent answer on anything gender or woman-related except to say –>I’m with her. If that’s going to be his answer, either she needs to get talking, or he’s full of it. Since he’s full of it on most everything else, that does tend to be my suspicion on this one. If I’m wrong, let her prove it.

  43. “that a couple would be partners regardless of their roles in the household.”

    I think the implication there was that the SAHM is financially dependent on her husband. Except in the case of the woman being independently wealthy, that’s generally a pretty good assumption.

  44. Roro- lol on your conspiracy theory…and if Dorian doesn’t come to my request i can also posit that the powers that be here at TmV are working to silence conservative women! Your comments being trapped was just a ruse to distract attention from the real conspiracy!

  45. roro, AR doesn’t have to prove anything, except as a campaigner for her husband, like MO and every other candidate’s wife. She can stand there and count the hairs on Newt’s nose, like Calista, for all I care.

    MY point, which I think you made, is that we are biased to find negatives for the people on the other team. “Having Mitt pretend that Ann is the only woman in the world, and deferring everything having to do with women to her…..” sounds a little
    biased unless you have a mole in Mitt’s household.

  46. CS:

    While I am not sophisticated enough to understand all of what you have written, I am an equal opportunity, non-partisan “unspammer” and — as I don’t see any flagrant violations of the rules — I will do my best to free your comments up, although this may be a two-step process. Have patience

  47. “AR doesn’t have to prove anything”

    Then Mittens needs to start talking himself. He can’t say “go to her for all womany stuff”, and then have her not tell what her/his/their policies will be on issues important to women. That’s the problem here.

    Constituent A: Hey Mitt Romney, in what ways will your policies on women’s health be different from Obama’s?

    MR: Well, ask my wife.

    ConstA: Ok, Ann Romney, can you answer?

    AR: I don’t have to prove anything.

    See how that doesn’t work, dduck? If she’s going to be his expert on all things woman, let her talk about what that means. If not, he better start talking himself instead of deferring to her.

  48. Well, I seem to be having better luck now (sorry, looks like the Spaminator 3000 has you in its sights now, CStanley). So we’ll see.

    So first off, as you thought, I am not implying a conspiracy. While I know for certain that things like PACs or what not do talk about how to slice and dice the population and play sectors off each other in much this same way, I hold no dilusions that the entirety of the male population are in on these secret man meetings. And yes, your interpretation of my views is correct.

    Gonna see if this posts.

  49. Ok, success! Now onto the meat:

    “brushes aside the biologically determined gender differences. If men really are ge[n]erally more hard wired to seek power and women generally more hard wired to seek security, then the equilibrium you seek will never happen without allowing for that.”

    Ah, the EvoPsych arguments. First, I’m not actually looking for “equilibrium”. I’m looking for women to have the same choices and opportunities as men. Not all women will want to take advantage of them, of course. Second, nothing at all in my limited 30 years, including huge amounts of research, indicates that these natural tendencies really exist based on gender. Every bit of my experience has shown that when girls and boys are given the choice, there’s a definite difference in the toys they choose to play with, but there’s not any difference in ambition, leadership skills, intellectual abilities (include the magical 3D spacial abilities everyone likes to point to as a real gender difference), or social abilities. It’s definitely the case that the spread among members of the same gender (spread among all women, or separately among all men) is much, much greater in all of these areas than any tiny difference in the means or standard deviations when we take men and women as separate groups.

    Now, I know we strongly disagree on this point, but when you take the inability to control one’s fertility out of the equation, the “natural” need for security kind of…goes away. Yes, it’s been there for a long time, and it’s entirely possible that some amount of that is hardwired, but what we find is that when a large population of women get access to birth control, suddenly they marry much later in life and with different expectations, they get more ambitious as far as their careers, and they become much more financially independent. In other words, the drive for security is extremely diminished, if not eliminated.

  50. Ah! Curses! Comments foiled again… my dear DDW, would you do the honors?

  51. Oh no! Comments stuck again…

  52. Ok, now I’m really really kicked out of the system…

  53. Oh, just kidding, they went to the next page. *blushes*

  54. “In other words, the drive for security is extremely diminished, if not eliminated.”

    To be clear, I mean that the overall group drive for security. Of course, just like men, some will seek security while some will seek adventure. But the man spread and woman spread become much more similar when you’re working with a population with access to fertility control.

  55. “but what we find is that when a large population of women get access to birth control, suddenly they marry much later in life and with different expectations, they get more ambitious as far as their careers, and they become much more financially independent.”

    Hardly surprising that would be threatening to reactionaries – of either gender. Some people really want to go back to the 50′s (they want to keep their iphones and microwaves of course). Heck, there even seems to be a growing number of people who pine for a return of Joe McCarthy – and speaking of pining, maybe even a return of Joe Pyne! Poor youthful fodder of today have no idea how some people used to think back in the day..

  56. “I think by maximizing choice, by affirming that the traditional family model is a fine choice when both spouses are agreeable to it, men’s anxieties might be greatly decreased.”

    Well sure, if that’s what both partners want, then great. There are a couple of problems with this, though. First, what a young person wants at 20 and what she wants at 40 or 60 years old are very often very different things, and sticking solely with traditional roles doesn’t leave a lot of flexibility for these changing needs. That goes for both genders, but moreso for the woman, for what I think are obvious reasons. Being able to execute on changing needs and ever-morphing plans is something that is generally necessary for a happy life. Not for every single person, but for most people in general. The second problem is that while “easing men’s anxieties” is a good overall goal, easing women’s anxieties is just as important. Telling men that they are somehow owed a wife who will live to raise kids and do other homemaking work is just as unrealistic and unfair as women who think they are owed a millionaire with six-pack abs. Neither have anything to do with finding love, certainly. (Not that love is the only important thing in a marriage, but it is definitely an important thing).

    As for the whole sex bit, I’m not sure I really understand your point. You seem to be implying that all this hippy women’s lib stuff was ok when they were also putting out by porn stars (as if that was ever the case?), but if they’re not, then there’s something off balance? Or maybe the implication is that women who work outside the home don’t like sex as much as those who are SAHMs? Quite frankly, the idea of men feeling castrated or in need of more sexual power because there’s an extra paycheck coming in from a woman paints a pretty rotten picture of men; it’s a picture of men that I don’t hold to. I think that they’re big boys and can treat women as equals without getting all rapey or butthurt because the powerful lady hurt their feefees. At least the ones I tend to hang out with. I’m really not sure where you’re going there, so I’ll wait for clarification of that point.

  57. “And most of all, i think most men resent the fact that they don’t really have that option “

    CStanley, I’m just not following this whole line of reasoning. If certain men resent that sharing their lives with a real person with real needs instead of whatever 1950s wet dream they have in mind, well, frankly, boohoo. I don’t think it’s an unintended negative consequence that now a woman and a mand can come together, decide what their lives will be like, and then go and make that happen. If some men resent that this means that building that plan based on his partner’s needs as well, I just don’t have any sympathy for that point of view.

    Maybe I’m misunderstanding?

    “I don’t have all the answers to how to make it happen, but in my mind the ideal situation would allow maximum flexibility and would allow couples to make these decisions in a mutually satisfying way.”

    Of course, but if the man gets all butthurt if his wife wants to do something differently than his idyllic image of subservient housewife, then that’s not mutually satisfying. The king of the castle model only allows for one monarch, CStanley. If a woman wants to stay home with the children instead of working outside the home, that’s great, but it has to be something that works for her as well as for him.

  58. Looking over the comments (which I helped liberate): Wow! What have I enabled here, ladies? Most of it way over my head, but happy that you understand it all and can even debate it :) Just keep it civil, otherwise my head will roll.

  59. Hey DDW — jump on in, the water’s fine. I hope there’s nothing in there you find insulting or objectionable so far?

  60. roro80 says

    Hey DDW — jump on in, the water’s fine. I hope there’s nothing in there you find insulting or objectionable so far?

    I was just jesting roro. I am sure the water is fine, just out of my depth. But thanks for the invite.

  61. Thanks, Dorian, for freeing up my comments. See, even conservatice women are happier when liberated!

    And i hope you know that my comment about bias was made in jest.

  62. Roro, you keep making my point about AR. You hate/don’t like MR and it spills over to AR, now with a dialogue scene (out of your next movie?) slightly slanted in your point’s direction.

  63. Short on time roro so i probably can only take on a few points…

    “I think by maximizing choice, by affirming that the traditional family model is a fine choice when both spouses are agreeable to it, men’s anxieties might be greatly decreased.”

    Well sure, if that’s what both partners want, then great. There are a couple of problems with this, though. First, what a young person wants at 20 and what she wants at 40 or 60 years old are very often very different things, and sticking solely with traditional roles doesn’t leave a lot of flexibility for these changing needs. That goes for both genders, but moreso for the woman, for what I think are obvious reasons. Being able to execute on changing needs and ever-morphing plans is something that is generally necessary for a happy life.

    Interestingly though, roro, it seems to me that the exact same dilemma is happening to a lot of women who presumed at 20 that career came first (and sexual exploration) and then are either frustrated about the difficulty in finding a suitable long term partner later on, or experience the ticking clock, or find a partner but have infertility issues, etc.It seems to me it’s a universal problem that the choices we make early in life start to narrow our possibilities as we get older, rather than a problem specific to the choice to settle down early.

  64. The second problem is that while “easing men’s anxieties” is a good overall goal, easing women’s anxieties is just as important. Telling men that they are somehow owed a wife who will live to raise kids and do other homemaking work is just as unrealistic and unfair as women who think they are owed a millionaire with six-pack abs. Neither have anything to do with finding love, certainly. (Not that love is the only important thing in a marriage, but it is definitely an important thing).

    Yeah, i’m not sure how you get from “easing anxieties” to the type of entitlement mentality you’re twisting it into. Acknowledging that seeking out a specific type of marital partnership which divides breadwinning and childrearing along the traditional roles is a worthy goal that men and women should be able to engage in without apology isn’t exactly the same as telling men it’s their birthright.

    As for the whole sex bit, I’m not sure I really understand your point. You seem to be implying that all this hippy women’s lib stuff was ok when they were also putting out by porn stars (as if that was ever the case?), but if they’re not, then there’s something off balance? Or maybe the implication is that women who work outside the home don’t like sex as much as those who are SAHMs? Quite frankly, the idea of men feeling castrated or in need of more sexual power because there’s an extra paycheck coming in from a woman paints a pretty rotten picture of men; it’s a picture of men that I don’t hold to. I think that they’re big boys and can treat women as equals without getting all rapey or butthurt because the powerful lady hurt their feefees. At least the ones I tend to hang out with. I’m really not sure where you’re going there, so I’ll wait for clarification of that point.

    Mmm….ok. Somehow i don’t think i’d own up to my insecurities if i was a guy who knew that this is the way you characterize it. You think i’m being harsh but i simply believe that all human beings habpve insecurities and a set of emotional reactions that are fairly primitive and infantile. We (male and female) are capable of rising above it but pretending it doesn’t exist or shaming people so that they can’t express it in any way doesn’t help IMO.

  65. Phew, I agree with DDW, way over my head.

  66. Dduck- i do get roro’s point i think…to me she just seems to be saying that she personally won’t be inclined to take Ann Romney seriously unless she sees evidence that she’s got something serious to add to the conversation- and i think that’s a fair enough point. And i also get her point about the way Mitt has handed off the conversation to her…it’s been godawfully stiff and awkward…so it seems like it’s going to be up to Ann to redeem the tactic (there ought to be something more there then just, “see, she’s female so she must be able to connect with you!) I think AR may ve up to the task but we’ll see.

  67. No problem, CS. I agree, even conservative women can jest .. :)

  68. CS, I seriously doubt that Roro will agree with you about your interpretation of her point.

    I gotta laugh, if AR turns out to be a terrifically knowledgeable person, and make it difficult for the lefties to make fun of her.

    I agree: “And i also get her point about the way Mitt has handed off the conversation to her…it’s been godawfully stiff and awkward.

    Tough noogies, that is his _________ to bear, not hers.

  69. “I seriously doubt that Roro will agree with you about your interpretation of her point.”

    No, CS correctly interpreted what I was saying. Like, exactly. Perhaps your anti-roro bias made you think I was saying something else.

  70. “make it difficult for the lefties to make fun of her.”

    My point is not to make fun of her at all. She is very likely a bright person and an excellent wife and mother. My point is to get an understanding of what Romney’s policies on issues important to women would be. Every time he’s asked, he points to Ann, who then says nothing about policy. Or, more often, she’s not even standing there — he says “Ask Ann”, who isn’t even there at the same location to take the question he’s bunting off to her.

  71. “it seems to me that the exact same dilemma is happening to a lot of women who presumed at 20 that career came first “

    Sure, of course, there are always trade-offs. But isn’t it better to be able to be in charge of those trade-offs, instead of being pressured by stale gender stereotypes? At least in the cases you’re talking about, the choices belonged to the people they affect. It’s not just “well you’re a girl, so you may choose among your very limited options and sorry if that doesn’t work out for ya…”

    “You think i’m being harsh but i simply believe that all human beings habpve insecurities and a set of emotional reactions that are fairly primitive and infantile.”

    I don’t think you’re being harsh, really, but I think we can teach our boys not to base their ideal of masculinity on whether or not they’re the bread winner. If you’re taught your whole life that men do this and women do this, and if you don’t do those things there’s something wrong with you, then yeah, things can get weird. We all have insecurities and ingrained lessons from our childhoods that get in the way of our happiness, but that doesn’t mean those insecurities are somehow genetically necessary. And yes, when we love an individual, we will of course work through issues with patience and love, sexual or otherwise. But when we decide as a society that a woman should be expected to give up her goals in life to ease some masculine sex-related insecurities based on bringing home bacon and whatnot, what kind of solution is that? Individuals of both genders often have sexual hang-ups, but deciding on the ideal family structure for society as a whole based on those insecurities? I can’t get behind that.

  72. “type of entitlement mentality you’re twisting it into.”

    Not so long ago, CStanley, men in general did most certainly feel entitled to these things. I know my own grandfather forbid my grandmother to work, even though I think she would have been infinitely more happy doing something other than sitting on a farm cooking all day. It’s not a stretch, and I’m not twisting anything. I’d like to point out that you’re holding up the traditional family roles as an ideal here. I’m saying that they might work for you, personally, but they definitely aren’t ideal for lots and lots of other people. This is evidenced by the fact that once society eased the “rules” a bit, women did go get educated, they did get jobs, and the traditional roles have fallen away to a great extent. If the model was so successful, it would have been preserved to a much greater extent than it has been, in my opinion.

  73. I mean, I thought that you yourself was a successful vet? I might be making that up, so by all means ignore that if I’m recalling incorrectly.

  74. “Somehow i don’t think i’d own up to my insecurities if i was a guy who knew that this is the way you characterize it.”

    No, it’s not how I characterize it, although I have met a number of men who had insecurities like that. (See, if I married the first guy I slept with, I’d be utterly miserable…) I don’t understand what point you were trying to make, and particularly why you think the conservative or traditional view solves those problems, so I threw out a bunch of options that I thought you might be driving toward (with my usual colorful language), and then asked for clarification on what you meant.

  75. Roro said: “No, CS correctly interpreted what I was saying. Like, exactly. Perhaps your anti-roro bias made you think I was saying something else.”

    Glad to hear you agreeing. Actually my anti-Roro bias didn’t come into play since as I said above, this debate is over my head.

  76. Roro said: “She is very likely a bright person and an excellent wife and mother.”

    How do you know that?

  77. I don’t, but her husband and children seem to think she’s a good wife and mother, anyway. As for being a bright person, she’s got a degree, and one doesn’t usually simply luck into marrying someone with the education and status of a governor’s son. She probably has something going on in that noggin of hers…

  78. So you assumed it. OK.

  79. Roro, we’re going around in circles a bit because you’re responding as tough (and at one point you even incorrectly stated my premise explicitly this way) that I’m holding up the traditional model as ideal for everyone. That’s not what I’m sayong…instead, i’m sayong that it is ideal for some people and feminism hasn’t supported that as an equally valid choice (i mean i KNOW you must be familiar with some of the currents that are downright hostile toward this…) and even the faxt that you can’t stick to discussing it as just one of many good options, to me is validation of my pint (because you seem to need to push back.)

    See here what I’m talking about….i brought up the fact that early life choices limit our later choices no matter what, and you said, sure but isn’t it better to be able to be in charge of the tradeoffs instead of having to stick with the limited choices of traditional gender roles…but i was only talking about the fact that there are tradeoffs in both instances so I’m actually arguing for greater flexibility, not lesser.

    And yeah, i’m a veterinarian and the saga is pretty long…the main reason my career has taken back burner is special needs kids but that probably got me thinking aboutnthe fact that career was just assumed in my generation and it all worked out for me but i also know women who probably would have been happier if they’d just admitted to themselves and others,mor been encouraged to think through and realize, that motherhood was really their vocation. Some delayed motherhood for careers they didn’t really want and then had to go through IVF to get pregnant (i realize they may have had trouble earlier but there’s no doubt fertility is negatively correlated with age- though i am an exception with a child born a eeek before my 45th bday lol)

    Anyway…it’s complicated and there’s no one size fits all approach. Economic situations are different and even if a lot of couples did decide to marry and have kids earlier it is harder to live on one income than it used to be and even more so if the guy is still in school. I’m not saying either that this kind of choice should be encouraged for women who oppose it or are ambivalent- clearly choosing to parent at a young age is a huge commitment but believe it or not there are people who are as ready for it at 20 yrs old as other people are in their 30s.

  80. Oh my… Sorry about the gibberish from autocorrect…I am in a hurry though so i’ll have to keave it there and hope that some of that is legible.

  81. No worries on the spelling errors — I think up there somewhere I said “I thought you was a vet” or something equally appalling…

  82. OK. ladies, i am rescuing this one without even reading it –just scanning, looking for “expletives” (just kidding on the last bit) — trusting you, don’t let me down :)

    I don’t know why the spam detector picks on you two.

    Begin of comment:

    “That’s not what I’m sayong…instead, i’m sayong that it is ideal for some people and feminism hasn’t supported that as an equally valid choice (i mean i KNOW you must be familiar with some of the currents that are downright hostile toward this…) “

    This may or may not come to you as a surprise, CStanley, but I’m only a feminist insomuch as they tend to fight for things I agree with. My mother’s generation of feminism (“2nd Wave”) certainly had a lot of ideas that I strongly disagree with. On the whole, that generation of feminists decided that feminism was for white working women, focusing almost exclusively on reproductive choice and workplace equality. These were both important fights, and I am extremely grateful that they took them up, but 3rd Wave feminism has a lot focus on different things as well. Race, gender (meaning the spectrum, not the two-gender system), the many many aspects of sexuality, poverty, disability, fat activism — these are all big parts of 3rd Wave thought, because my generation of feminism sticks a lot more closely to the idea that leaving large groups of women behind isn’t what we’re in this for. And that does include SAHMs.

    Now this: “even the faxt that you can’t stick to discussing it as just one of many good options, to me is validation of my pint “

    I’m hoping you can tell me where I did this, as I will most likely need to apologize if that’s the case; it was certainly not my intention. I do think of it as one of many valid options, which I’ve tried to make clear many times on this thread and others. I just think that when we base our society around the idea that that set-up is ideal (or that ANY family structure is inherently better for everyone than another), you have a system where you’re doing harm to all involved, even those who are in the position to choose that option. Same reason I think gay people should be able to get married and have kids.

    You do need to realize, though, that since it really was the ONLY option for most women for much of history, and since there are still strong lingering attitudes about women in the workplace, for those of us who do work outside the home, there are a lot of battles still to fight on that front. If that comes off as dissing or putting down those who make different choices…well, we’ve been through the long and the short (mostly long) of that discussion already. It does happen fairly often. I try to refrain, and sometimes I fail.

  83. Noooooo! Stuck in spam again!!!

    DDW? Big hugs and kisses to you…

  84. Roro, meant to call you out on this earlier (too fascinated with your spam wars): “As for being a bright person, she’s got a degree, and one doesn’t usually simply luck into marrying someone with the education and status of a governor’s son.” Hm, that’s not sexist, racist, what is it. Possibly elitist, as in he would never marry the downstairs maid and she has a degree (so did Bush who many on this site called an idiot or worse).
    Just saying that if that remark were about a Dem., someone on this site would have raised the sword of justice.

  85. Fine dduck, I mean that she’s obviously an idiot.

    But really, even though I think Romney is an out-of-touch dinosaur who only has this nom due to the extraordinarily sad state of the Republican mess they call a party, he’s obviously a smart man, and of course he was born into incredible status. Maybe he married a stupid woman only as a trophy wife and a maid and nanny for his kids. My guess is that he did not. Sorry if you find that pretty reasonable conclusion somehow sexist or racist (?). I’d love to know your logic behind either. Especially the racist charge. I’ve been wrong before, so go for it.

  86. Roro, try reading my comment again “Hm, that’s not sexist, racist,” I said.
    No, your remark was an other. The point is you called her intelligent because she was married to a governor’s son, so she must be smart female (stereotype)or a trophy wife. A nice average woman (like a maid) would not have been good enough for him, therefore my allusion.

    Anyway, an out-of- touch dinosaur can marry anyone he wants, and she/he can still be a confidant (just wish he were more artful in mentioning it).

    BTW: his main confidant is a woman named Beth Myers:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04.....earch.html

  87. It’s not elitist to notice that powerful rich men rarely marry the maid, dduck. And the thing is, I didn’t say she wasn’t a maid, or wasn’t “normal”. I said she’s probably bright, which neither indicates nor excludes maids or “normal” people. It’s possible, as I have said, that intelligence wasn’t something he was looking for in a life partner, but it is something most smart people do look for.

  88. Alas, Roro, you also put down some people including maids that don’t have a degree.
    “As for being a bright person, she’s got a degree,”

  89. Logic dduck, logic. If A then B does not imply if not A then not B.

  90. OK…………………..

  91. Anyway, CStanley, I’ve really enjoyed our conversation, thanks.

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