Tempest in a Teapot Begins Candidates’ Uneasy Courtship of Women

Dear Democrats, We don't need your "help." Thanks, anyway. Sincerely, Women

[Editor's Note: This is the first installment of "Patch Back," a new opinion column written in response to our weekly .]

Microphone on, insert foot. Sleep, rinse, repeat.

So began the latest tempest in a teapot, with Democratic adviser and President Obama administration supporter Hilary Rosen proclaiming that Ann Romney, wife of Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, hadn’t worked a day in her life.

Never mind that any reasonable adult knows that raising five children and keeping a home is tiring labor, requiring endless reserves of energy, mental stamina and resourcefulness, regardless of income. Never mind that extraordinarily successful men often point to their wives—employed or not—as the biggest reason they were able to achieve that success in the first place. And never mind that unlike what the media and politicians would have us believe, the reality of public opinion is far more nuanced than the views expressed by Rosen, former Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum or anyone else whose future depends on soundbites and headline journalism.

What’s more interesting—and discouraging—is the amount of time that media outlets and politicians spend defining and assigning the values and priorities they think “women” want. And the more time they spend pandering to what they assume are women’s attitudes toward working, family life, reproductive rights, the ethics of medical research techniques and a host of other issues, the more foolish they look.

These latest transparent attempts to drum up enthusiasm for a supposed “war on women” are absurd. Feminists want to stay relevant in an era when women are achieving more than any other time in human history (in the United States … we’re not talking about Afghanistan). And Democrats, experts at the backhanded compliment and anxious to carry over the Occupy Wall Street wave of populism into the election, are using women as pawns in a nasty election year class warfare battle. 

As a lifelong Republican and hybrid stay-home-cum-working mom, I find that insulting. Women have already defined their own unique roles because of the feminist’s favorite word: choice.

How much longer are we going to allow our political parties to hijack common sense? For example, I challenge you to find anyone who disagrees with the following statements:

  1. The government shouldn’t spend more money than it takes in.
  2. What goes on in your neighbor’s bedroom is their own business.
  3. Our tax laws are unfair, labyrinthine and punitive.
  4. The sooner we rid ourselves of our dependence on oil, the safer we will be.
  5. The U.S. Congress should subject itself to the same rules as those they govern.
  6. Welfare is a not a reasonable lifestyle choice, and it's sometimes abused.
  7. Set goals and work hard. And if you fail, work harder.

When we let Hilary Rosen’s ill-considered comment become a national conversation, we are losing focus on the issues that really matter, and not just to women. Newsflash: Women have already decided for themselves how they feel about the issues of the day. We don’t need Hilary Rosen or Rick Santorum or anyone else to elucidate our own private views.

As many Fairfield County women already know, finance is a demanding career and that's why financial executives earn more on average than most other professionals. Why aren’t we celebrating the fact that Mitt and Ann Romney made sacrifices early on in their lives so that she could stay home full time and raise their family? Regardless of income, staying home by yourself at night with five kids while your husband is traveling, finishing up a big deal or entertaining a client is isolating, hard work.

Successful families—such as the Romneys and the Obamas—work as a team. We should be pointing to them as examples of what can go right when hard work and personal choice meet in the greatest country in the world. We should not be whining that Ann never worked and Mitt is a child of privilege and oh my God, Republicans are going to make abortion illegal and put women back in 1955!

Spare us the rhetoric, please.

The women I know don’t have time for this nonsense. They're figuring out how they can get themselves and their families ahead. They spend their free time encouraging their kids to study, volunteer, play sports and develop relationships in the communities in which they live, so they can earn the respect of others and become high achieving adults. It doesn’t matter if you live in Weston or Detroit or East Podunk, Arkansas.

Kids, spend your time doing worthwhile activities instead of partying and perhaps one day it will be you that’s part of the 1 percent. It’s just that simple. Let’s keep the discussion focused on how we can help kids become successful, productive adults, as opposed to how we can maintain an unproductive class warfare battle. Because that’s why people hate politics.

And if you read this and you’re a woman, I bet you knew that already. And you’ll move on with your day, because you have miles to go before you sleep.

Norcott Pemberton April 19, 2012 at 02:47 PM
Republicans across the country are trying to pass laws limiting women's access to birth control, abortion, mammograms (Planned Parenthood), and eliminating their protection for equal pay. No Democrat agrees with Ann Rosen's comment about stay- at-home mothers, but the Republicans won't let it go because it is a smoke screen for what the rabid members of their party are doing. And no, we should not have such a self-perpetuating extreme inequality in income in this country. This allows the super rich to control the political system and cancels the whole idea of freedom, liberty and democracy.
Dr. Alfred C. Whitehead April 20, 2012 at 12:02 PM
You have your "facts" somewhat skewed... Republicans don't want to prevent access to birth control for women. They want those who seek it (men as well as women) TO PAY FOR IT THEMSELVES." Inequality of income...how do you explain Ophra Winfrey's success? Maybe she's just smarter than you. "Freedom, liberty and democracy" provides the "opportunity" for one's sucess... it doesn't guarantee it. I am not a Republican nor a woman basher, but find it moronic when someone like yourself speaks out using "talking points" rather than facts!
Norcott Pemberton April 20, 2012 at 02:38 PM
Access to birth control is limited for poor women when it is not covered by insurance. There is a big difference between the copay and full pay. If you read Tom Friedman's article in the Sunday N.Y. Times, extreme inequality of income severely skews democracy and even portends the failing health of a nation. And can you write comments without being insulting?
Dr. Alfred C. Whitehead April 20, 2012 at 04:52 PM
Birth control should not be the responsibilty of our government (that's what Hitler believed). There are many non profit and social organizations that provide birth control, counseling, etc. without taxpayers having to foot the bill. Subsidizing a college student in Law school for birth control destroys your argument and the spirit in which you make your case. You can't have it both ways. You mention "co pay" and "full pay." Government subsidized birth control is "NO PAY" for the recepient and full pay to the taxpayer. Is that faIr? Our government can not be everything to everyone. It was never meant to be that way. Look what has happened just in the last three years... $5,000.000,000 dollars more of debt... and climbing. Giving birth was once considered a miracle. Today it's being treated as a disease. New York Times.... Hmmm? Now there's a newspaper that will give you a "honest and balanced" point-of-view. Tom Friedman is extremely liberal in his views and represents only one side of the discussion. He is not infalliable because he writes for the Times. I've cancelled my subscription to it (like many others) because of the slanted and inaccurate views it has on many of its news articles. You may be forced to find a new "newspaper." The readership is so low with the Times that there is talk that they may go "belly up!" It is not my intention to insult you or anyone else... but it does make me take issue with someone who overlooks the facts.


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