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

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91 Comments

  1. Oh no! Comments stuck again…

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

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

  4. “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.

  5. “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..

  6. “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.

  7. “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.

  8. 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.

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

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

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

  16. 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.

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

  18. 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.

  19. “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.

  20. “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.

  21. “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.

  22. “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.

  23. 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.

  24. “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.

  25. 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.

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

    How do you know that?

  27. 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…

  28. So you assumed it. OK.

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

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

  32. 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.

  33. Noooooo! Stuck in spam again!!!

    DDW? Big hugs and kisses to you…

  34. 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.

  35. 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.

  36. 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

  37. 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.

  38. 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,”

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

  40. OK…………………..

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

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