We Haven’t Really Come a Long Way, Baby

The current ‘war between women’ pitting Hilary Rosen against Ann Romney is deflecting attention from the true ‘war ON women’ and distracting us from the real question—Who are we voting for?


[Editor's Note: Please keep an eye out later this week for "Patch Back," a new feature from Lisa Bigelow that will serve as response piece to certain installments of Heather's "Patch In."]

The question isn’t whether Ann Romney ever ‘worked’ a day in her whole life, but: Does her husband Mitt truly give a rat’s ass about anyone—especially women—in the 99 percent?

This made-up battle between working moms and stay-at-home-moms is causing people of every gender to lose focus on more important issues—namely whether politicians are advocating stripping rights from women (like reproductive health choices) or finding ways to penalize them and hold them back (withholding equal pay) or simply having a double standard when it comes to lower- vs. higher-income women (Romney’s welfare mom requirement to work).

Pitting women against other women is demeaning, yet it’s a trap many women fall into themselves. —if you believe the stereotypes. Devoted PTA moms judge worker-bee women who are disconnected from their children and lack any maternal instincts. Or you have smarter, working women with a better sense of themselves and who still use their brains, who look down upon the frustrated, spoiled Stepford wives.

Whoever is doing the judgment making, it’s harsh, no matter the politics.

I recently went to a screening of the fabulous documentary, “Miss Representation,” about the portrayal of women in media and how those images work to undermine women politically, intellectually and societally. The movie shows how women are portrayed as creatures who only merit recognition based on physical beauty and attributes, and how unreal they seem to be in advertising. 

Narrated and produced by a former actress who is seen on screen throughout, she’s a media-friendly, typical ‘beauty’—tall, leggy, blonde and well-dressed. Judging by her looks, she certainly would never have been cast as the stereotypical, bookish academic, which perhaps disarmed the audience.

In the discussion period afterward, about how the audience could relate to the movie’s themes in their own lives, it only took to the second comment before the audience—made up largely of progressive women—started commenting about how distracting it was that the filmmaker was ‘attractive’ and ‘too pretty.’ The message had fallen flat for even this audience of aware, conscious women, who had fallen prey to their own misogynistic judgment. 

Hilary Rosen learned that lesson about being judgmental when she criticized Mitt Romney’s wife Ann for being a stay-at-home-mom last week. Rosen, a widely seen democratic pundit and CNN commentator, characterized Mrs. Romney as someone who “had never worked a day in her life.” She later apologized, especially after getting rebuked by President Obama himself.

Far be it from the left to take all the heat. Shortly after Rosen’s blunder, Fox News analyst Keith Ablow hit the other extreme, criticizing working women as anti-gender and who ‘despise themselves’ for rejecting their ‘femininity and … [natural] capacities to nurture.’

What this polar mischaracterization does is just push women too many steps back—no matter what role they, as is their right, choose to pursue themselves—and it allows those determined to reverse advances women have made in the last 40 years to further their efforts that set women backward.

Long-won reproductive rights?  Those are squarely in the crosshair targets. Single mothers receiving welfare benefits? They’re criticized as in need of the “dignity of work” by Romney, despite his later flip-flopped defense of his wife’s hard work staying home with their kids. What about trying to even up the playing field a bit with equal pay legislation? Only seven GOP U.S. representatives and senators voted to support the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

I could care less whether Ann Romney stayed home and worked hard raising her sons (regardless of the help she could afford to have); it didn't mean anything to me that Michelle Obama had a career outside of the home and earned more than her husband had before he was President.

What I'm looking into is where the candidates stand on the issues I care about—not what jobs their spouses had or didn't have.

I sure hope that other women try to pay attention over the distracting noise, and make up their own minds too. A poll at the beginning of April saw President Obama with a 19 percentage point lead in his approval rating over Romney with women voters. A CNN poll out just this past Monday, indicates that women are continuing to see through the misleading manufactured muck and sticking with the candidate they view as more favorable to women’s issues: Obama is still strong with a 16-point advantage.

There’s a lot of ground and time to cover before the elections next November. I wonder how many more “woman vs. woman” stories we’ll get to hear before we get there?

dleighg April 19, 2012 at 04:13 PM
Francis, he didn't "seal" his school records. He has not authorized their release. It's a bit different. Everyone's school records (much like health records) are considered private information, and the school will not release them without specific authorization. He hasn't done so; I don't really care what his reasons are. Maybe he just thinks it's nobody's business to go wondering why he took one class or another. Is it an established fact that all other presidents have released their school records? Point me to those stats please. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard. Sounds pretty good to me. Looking for a conspiracy under every rock gets a little old.
Vince Gram April 19, 2012 at 05:08 PM
@ Watchdog was that a accurate? Granted I don't speak from the Democrat side of the fence but If you actually think what she said was correct, First you must have been a only child in your upbringing, Second if my first part is correct then you have no idea what a Parent goes thru raising multiple children. And, if you thought that phrase was correct then why has she been revising and changing the original comment.
JOHN CONNORS April 19, 2012 at 05:14 PM
actually,if you believe Snopes,you are letting a Mom and Pop outfit,both of whom are Registered Democrats,tell you what is and isn't true.They show a considerable liberal bias and have,on occassion,actually lied about facts.
dleighg April 19, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Honestly, Francis. What do YOU know about childbirth pain either? I've had two kids (the usual way, through pregnancy and delivery) and while childbirth is hard, the next 18 years are what really defines "motherhood". It's a bit insulting to mothers to imply that the hardest part of it was the first 12 or 24 hours.
Elizabeth Stein April 19, 2012 at 05:31 PM
I enjoyed this column, and I think you are right. I am a feminist, liberal, highly-educated woman, who ended up giving up a career to raise three kids, support my entrepreneur husband, and run my household; I do work hard, but I also appreciate very much the fact that I am my own boss. I make no apologies or explanation for my choices, but I understand that they were choices that not everyone could or would make. I had the luxury of choosing--the vast majority of households in this country do not have that luxury, so the SAHM vs. working mom is, like so much in this political market, a complete sideshow. The Republican party thinks that the world pre-women's movement was superior to this world we live in now: the rules they try to inflict on us reflect that--e.g., the refusal to adopt same-pay laws (one reason they resist them is the lingering and outdated idea that men are the breadwinners, and thus obviously need more money than women, who are working as secondary income providers. Another reason, of course, is that they don't value women's contributions as much as they do men's). The contraception issue is another way to make women bear (literally!) the brunt of the cost to society of having children; it is completely cock-eyed to insist that women have children when they don't want and can't afford them, and then insist that the women are responsible for the cost of raising them.
Elizabeth Stein April 19, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Women, mothers or not, know that the "economy issues" that Mitt claims Ann can so competently interpret women's views on, are not gendered, except insofar as women, as the group that gets stuck with most of the care-giving burden in this society, are generally more realistic about the nature and expense of that burden, and are not so likely to overlook the significance of decent healthcare and the kind of education that leads to better jobs for their kids, as well as regulations to prevent disasters both environmental and financial. These are the issues that will matter, when women vote, and they will vote for the candidate who addresses them straight-on.
Vince Gram April 19, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Maybe that's why she can't understand being a Mother who started from scratch where Hillary had her's delivered to the front door. I'm sure they weren't new borns so what does she know about getting up in the middle of the night for feedings or just to hold the baby when its teething or when they don't feel well like they have gas causing their stomach to hurt. Child Birth is a major start to get that connection and that's when a lot of woman decide to stay home and raise their children and not send them to daycare of some for of babysitter!!
J April 19, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Francis and Vince - I would like to flag both of your comments as inappropriate. do you consider yourselves educated civilized people? I hope there are no adopted children out there that will see your comments! Giving birth does not MAKE you a mother. What you both said was very very hurtful to many children, their mothers, and families.
Francis T McVetty April 19, 2012 at 07:58 PM
J, This is what I wrote [She didn't even have to go through child birth. What does she know about pain?] Show me where I am hurtful. Do you go through childbirth when you ADOPT a child? NO! Your statement [Giving birth does not MAKE you a mother.] is absolutely right. And also just because you adopt a child doesn't make you a good parent either. I think you should grow a thicker skin. You aren't living in the real world with your comments either.
Vince Gram April 19, 2012 at 08:01 PM
How do you figure that J? Hillary Rosen made a comment that would only make sense to a woman who has NO IDEA what a Mother went thru raising a child. If you have that same feelings then I don't know if your Mother was a stay at home Mom But in Retrospect I know mine was and I know with 6 kids my Mother worked her ass off especially with 4 boys. So for this Woman to say this proved she has no clue and if maybe if she would of put her career on hold and had a Child maybe she wouldn't have been so disrespectful to All Mothers all over the World. And you are correct giving birth to a child doesn't make you a Mother but 8-10 are. I would like to know how I've been hurtful to Children, Mothers and/or Families - Their is no one I hold higher in regard.
J April 19, 2012 at 08:18 PM
I was not speaking to Hillary Rosen - I was speaking to Vince and Francis. I read exactly what you wrote and felt it need a comment. You have good and bad parents with both birthmothers and adoptive mothers. so don't make a statement that someone does not know how to be a mother if she chooses adoption over child birth. That is not your argument. Or is it? I hold all good Mother's in high regard - single, married, working or stay at home. I know many mothers who fit in each category. Francis you seem to be a very angry person to attack me on just one comment. I live in a very real world, one of which I have no time for this silly discussion. Sorry I ever responded. The real world is getting hot. Will any of this matter when you don't have any food or water to nourish your children or grandchildren?
Abby Normal April 19, 2012 at 10:12 PM
What's wrong with our society. I remember when being a mother or father for that matter was a blessing, not something to complain about. Sure there are tough times but there are beutiful times, funny times and times that you just need to cry but a blessing, not a sentence.
Francis T McVetty April 19, 2012 at 10:15 PM
J, the real J comes out.[The real world is getting hot. Will any of this matter when you don't have any food or water to nourish your children or grandchildren?] You drank Al Gores KoolAid. You also seem to have a very thin skin. That is what this is all about. Discussing differences of opinion. If you are going to take any criticism personally then don't post. If you still want to post, then stop complaining about the responses to your posts.
dleighg April 19, 2012 at 10:17 PM
John Connors: what about urbanlegends? Or politifact? http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2010/jul/30/chain-email/e-mail-claims-obamas-college-transcripts-reveal-in/ Discount as much as you like based on the source, but what about the *fact* that the facts aren't there? Or do you have some real references that show these records were actually released, and that they show something? All I saw was essentially just a bunch of chain letters when I did some looking on the web.
Dan Seidel April 19, 2012 at 11:03 PM
http://fellowshipofminds.wordpress.com/tag/alexandra-hill/ http://obamareleaseyourrecords.blogspot.com/2011/05/attorney-dr-herb-titus-born-in-hawaii.html OKAY STUDENTS: read, listen, dig and make some interim conclusions...which may or may not change before election day. Obama is not legally qualified to hold the office of POTUS. Nor may Marco Rubio should he become Veep and then have to ascend to POTUS - both his parents may not have been citizens when he became one. Interesting twist this "natural law" stuff.
Walden Macnair April 20, 2012 at 12:57 AM
Dan, why don't you actually read the constitution. It's pretty clear it says anyone born in the united States or one of it's Territories is a Natural Born Citizen and adds that someone born in another country but of whose parents are American Citizens is also a natural born citizens. That's why Romney who was born in Mexico is also a Natural Born Citizen and why children born of parents who are tourists or even illegal immigrants are also citizens. I know you were probably a birther, but that's over so let's move on.
Vince Gram April 20, 2012 at 02:37 AM
J what does that mean? "The real world is getting hot. Will any of this matter when you don't have any food or water to nourish your children or grandchildren" If you're comment is talking about Global Warning - Let me tell you we'll all be dead our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren will be dead before we have to worry about global warming!! Tell Obama to stop flying around the country on Air Force One spreading all that Carbon into the atmosphere. I will tell you something that I believe to be true, if we continue on this spending spree we will become a third world country and then food and or water will be hard and expensive to get a hold of for your children and/or grandchildren!!
Vince Gram April 20, 2012 at 03:04 AM
@dleighg - What does Obama have to hide? What President or Canididate has ever denied to supply School Records and as far as his Citizenship the form he provided was proven to be false and I saw the records for myself and I compared them to an actual one that, that hospital gives out and you can see that changes and it also shows that the dates were changed as well as other changes. So don't dismiss questions with Liberal Urban Legend and Snopes because all that information has been slanted to the left.
SRT April 20, 2012 at 10:00 AM
Walden, Walden, Walden - There is no moving on for birthers, they are here to stay as can be seen by Vince's comment. You see, Vince actually saw the records and being an expert he has determined that that they are fakes! Face it, even if a photograph emerged of Obama's Mom giving birth on the beach with Pearl Harbor in the background, guys like Vince would still be screaming "FAKE!". It is really sad for our country how facts just don't seem to matter anymore in discussions like this.
Dan Seidel April 20, 2012 at 10:18 AM
Morning Walden, with all due respect, real Constitutional scholars make more sense and explain the law differently - the term "Natural born" applies when BOTH parents ARE Citizens BEFORE the candidate is born. For the position of POTUS, one needs BOTH parents to be Citizens at the time of birth - special rules that do not exist for any other position. O's dad never was an American Citizen. I read the Constitution a few times a week (I teach it - and the law) - it's not that long or hard to understand. I also took the time to read the case law surrounding the subject. POTUS Obama is not legally qualified to sit in the chair - "natural law" jurisprudence. The Constitution NEVER defined "natural born" - one has to look at extrinsic docs and cases and law. POTUS Obama should be in jail for high crimes and now felonies - fraud, impersonation, etc. It's that simple. Have you read the case law? doesn't sound like it.
Issy April 20, 2012 at 10:59 AM
Hey, if we are STUDENTS (and I assume from that, that you see yourself as our teacher,cough), then I want my tuition back. If you, like many right wing hacks, do your digging in the garbage,then all you can expect to find is trash news, not worthy of a rational mind. Stop dumpster diving for your news. No Charge for the education.
Walden Macnair April 20, 2012 at 11:19 AM
I can't help but wonder how this Country is successful as it is when we have people who won't accept facts. The Birther issue reminds me of the Sasquatch legend. There's no proof or reasonable argument for either, but some people just can't accept it and keep wandering around the forest looking for a sign . As to some of this stuff, I'd like to ask, when was the last time that a President's birth certificate was asked for and produced other than President Obama. When were student records asked for in the history of the United States. I don't recall anyone asking for transcripts of Kennedy or Eisenhower or either Bush for that matter. After watching this theater from the right for the past four years I am coming to a very sad conclusion? It appears to me that most of the problems from the right regarding this particular President are based upon the color of his skin and that is heartbreaking. They will tell you that he's a socialist, a communist or the newest Hannity/Limbaugh word Statest but they never attacked our other Liberal Presidents the way they attack him. I never heard them call Clinton any of these things and he was probably more liberal than Obama. So tell me, if it's not racism as I suspect, what is it that drives the far right and what makes them believe that this President wants to destroy the Country. The left hated Bush, but the one thing they never accused him of was wanting to destroy America.
SRT April 20, 2012 at 11:26 AM
"So tell me, if it's not racism as I suspect, what is it that drives the far right and what makes them believe that this President wants to destroy the Country." Too many lead paint chips as children?
Bjorn Olsson April 20, 2012 at 12:26 PM
Dan, what do you base that claim on? It seems most definitions of Natural Born hinge on birthplace. Where do you find the rule that requires both parents to be US citizens?
LaMigra April 20, 2012 at 12:35 PM
> > A gallon of regular gasoline the day Obama was inaugurated was > $1.79 on average in the U.S. Today that price is $3.59, a 100.6% > increase. The number of food stamp recipients has risen since Obama > took office from 31,983,716 to 43,200,878, a 35.1% jump. Long term > unemployment soared 146.2% during the same 34 month period from 2,600,000 to > 6,400,000. Staggering hope and change isn't it? > > American citizens living in poverty have risen 9.5% from > 39,800,000 to 43,600,000, and the number of unemployed has jumped almost 25% > from 11,616,000 to 14,485,000 as of August 31, 2011. The number of > unemployed blacks has risen from 12.6% at the end of George Bush's term to > 15.8% today, a 25.4% increase, and finally, our national debt is up 43.2% > from 10.627 trillion to 15,022 trillion. > >
Vince Gram April 20, 2012 at 01:21 PM
@Walden you are wrong every President gives up their Transcripts. No again The Left demonized Bush because of the war in Iraq. You really think that the color of his skin is driving this? The is also the problem - Because he's Black - its hands off/watch what you say because if you don't - its RACISM - I say GET A LIFE who gives a shit what color he is and for that matter of him being a Socialist - Open your eyes and see what's being changed and then do some research and look how the countries that are Socialist, how they became Socialist. You will find that we are starting down that path. This is America, Not France, England or Canada, we will in a Capitalist Society and if you work (and you should unless you are disabled) then you work. I don't know I was raised with the adage, your parents try and give their children a better life then they had. What happened to that? @SRT - You're just a moron - The Racism Card is being pulled out at every little thing over the past 3+ years - Well you know what happens when you cry wolf all the time? People won't believe you when its actually happening!! Like I said I don't give a shit what color a persons skin as long as he's doing the job at hand!! PERIOD!!
Bjorn Olsson April 20, 2012 at 01:27 PM
La Migra, if your point is to somehow blame the current president for the financial crisis, you are either uninformed or disingenuous. That $1.79 gallon of gas was more than $4 six months before the inauguration and just under $4 on election day, so bu your logic you might just as well argue that Obama, just by being elected lowered your gas prices to under $2. You'd still be wrong, of course. All the numbers you cite are due to the mortgage crisis of 2008, not some gigantic, sudden presidential mismanagement. People lost their jobs, which led to more poverty. Fewer people working means more people need assistance while at the same time tax revenue goes down, so you'll see increases in both food stamps and debt. Could we argue if whether Obama could have done better trying to catch this falling knife? Sure. But let's stay honest, shall we?
dleighg April 20, 2012 at 02:19 PM
I don't think ANY candidates have explicitly authorized their school records to be released. It is true that quite a few have been leaked, but that's different. And McCain (who graduated at the bottom of his class at the Academy) explicitly refused to authorize their release. http://www.nysun.com/new-york/obamas-years-at-columbia-are-a-mystery/85015/
LaMigra April 20, 2012 at 02:42 PM
First President to preside over a cut to the credit rating of > the United States. First President to violate the War Powers Act. First President to be held in contempt of court for illegally obstructing oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. First President to defy a Federal Judges court order to cease implementing > the Health Care Reform Law. First President to require all Americans to purchase a product from a third party. First President to spend a trillion dollars on shovel-ready jobs and later admit there was no such thing as shovel-ready > jobs. > First President to abrogate bankruptcy law to turn over control > of companies to his union supporters. First President to by-pass Congress and implement the Dream Act through executive fiat. First President to order a secret amnesty program that stopped the deportation of illegal immigrants across the U.S., including those with criminal convictions.
Walden Macnair April 20, 2012 at 05:31 PM
LaMigra, Let's do an exercise. Take just one of your allegations and give us the details and the facts. Easy to say lots of things, but, can you prove any of them. When you pick one and give us all the details then post it. If not stop just repeating what you here on Fox News. Being a parrot doesn't take much intelligence and quite frankly, its boring.


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