In the wake of Democratic operative Hilary Rosen’s recent accusation that Ann Romney has not worked a day in her life, my thoughts drifted back to my days as a Women’s Studies minor at Penn. (Finally, this is my chance to show that I really learned something!)
Among the canons of feminist writing that I consumed at school, there’s one body of work that is particularly relevant to this debate: Arlie Hochschild’s classic study, The Second Shift. In this work, Hochschild reveals that women who work outside of the home are also disproportionately affected by then having to complete their domestic labor.
And this is why I am upset that Democratic heavyweights like David Axelrod would come out in defense of Ann Romney’s choice not to work. I don’t blame Ann Romney for marrying a man who’s salary and family wealth made it such that she didn’t have to work. I also don’t blame her for choosing to raise her kids without working.
(Both parties have failed American women by not understanding the realities of a society where the gap between rich and poor has risen considerably, forcing more middle class women into the workplace, but I will save my CEO compensation over-time analysis for a future article.)
However, I do blame Ann Romney, Axelrod, and everyone else who has tried to imply that women who are housewives, domestic engineers, or whatever other in-vogue term they are being called today, work as hard as women who for whatever reasons (financial need or personal ambition) work outside of the home.
Why is Hilary Rosen being skewered from both the left and the right for stating the truth, that it is more difficult to work a paying job in addition to carrying out domestic duties? Let’s face the facts America, more women are working than ever before, and women are becoming educated at higher rates than men. Let us also remind politicians on both sides of the aisle, as well as the mainstream media, that we are not out of the recession just yet. And one thing that this recent recession showed us is that women were the backbone of our economy during these tough times, oftentimes working when men did not.
As the son of a woman who worked while raising me and the grandson of two more women who worked, I am shocked by how this conversation has taken such an anti-working women turn. Why are both Democrats and Republicans insulting the many millions of women who will be voting in upcoming elections? Someone needs to step up and say, “We know how hard you work out of the house and in the house.” And that someone is me. I hope others join my chorus.