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Homemakers vs working women? Give me a break.

 

Last week, the U.S. media circuit was abuzz after Hilary Rosen, a prominent Washington insider and well-known adviser to many members of the Democratic Party, made an insensitive statement in which she said that the Republican Party nominee Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, “had never worked a day in her life.” 

This statement effectively  – however unintentionally – marginalized stay-at-home moms. In a matter of seconds, Rosen set off a social-media bomb on Facebook and Twitter. Prominent conservative voices immediately hopped on the bandwagon, denouncing her words as an attack against all mothers across the United States.

I have to say, I don’t get it. The obligatory division of adult females into one of two groups – stay-at-home moms and working women – absolutely baffles me.

We all know the stereotype of your typical soccer mom: a woman who spends her day chauffeuring her kids, is submissive to her husband and does not dare, or care, to have an opinion of her own. Pop culture reduces these women to baby-making, dinner-cooking, man-pleasing machines. 

Working women, on the other hand, have a drastically different (but equally negative) stereotype. They are either stone-cold, ruthless women bent on moving forward in their careers, or sirens content to skate by on other people’s coattails until their husband comes along.

Society’s idea that we must fall into one of these categories completely disregards the fact that most women do not fit into this cookie-cutter, polarized view of gender roles. On the contrary, we live in a society in which non-traditional roles are quickly becoming the norm. 

Many women find themselves in the gray area between these two groups: single moms, working mothers, etc. Hilary Rosen herself has two children.

Women feel pressured or even obligated to self-ascribe to one of these labels as if there were no other option. To make matters worse, the palpable animosity between the women of these two “factions” is much more than commonplace.

As Rosen’s slip-up so eloquently demonstrated in front of a national audience, working women are stereotyped as looking “down” on stay-at-home moms, insinuating that they chose the “easy,” submissive route in life and couldn’t possibly understand the mental stress of a career. While I am sure that women who harbor this belief do exist, they are certainly in the minority.

I, for one, find the entire situation ridiculous. I know plenty of strong, independent women who are stay-at-home moms, businesswomen and everything in between. Few women would openly argue that motherhood is anything less than a full-time job, which makes the Hilary Rosen “scandal” even more ludicrous. Rosen herself said in a CNN follow-up column that being a mom was “the hardest job she ever had.”

I view this whole debacle as nothing more than a sensationalized ploy to distract American voters from more important, big-ticket issues that pertain to the November presidential election. One would hope that a single Washington insider’s op-ed would be enough to convince female voters across the United States that the Democratic Party is anti-stay-at-home moms.

The idea that working women like Hilary Rosen are against homemakers is just as ridiculous as the idea that all feminists must be bra-burning man-haters. If women are to protect their rights in the future, we must prove that our issues are more than a political football to be kicked around and manipulated by politicians and the media.

Lexi Thoman is junior international studies and Spanish double-major from St. Louis, Mo.