What Hilary Rosen Wishes She Had Said – 2012 Decoded

What Hilary Rosen Wishes She Had Said

By Jackie Koszczuk

April 12, 2012

Step on board the 2012 time machine. First, we’re debating whether women should have combat roles, next, whether they should have unfettered access to birth control and now, whether they really “work” if they shun the traditional workforce to stay at home to raise children. But, as I was reaching into the back of my closet to see if I could my locate my old white bell-bottoms and the jacket with the Indian fringe on the sleeves, it dawned that this newest political hot button – touched off by Democratic operative Hilary Rosen’s comment that Ann Romney “hasn’t worked a day in her life” – is not the 1970s throwback that it appears to be at first blush.

During the daylong fallout from Rosen’s remark, Salon’s Joan Walsh was among the commentators wondering aloud why we are once again this election season debating a question that has been asked and answered decisively since the feminist movement radically altered working lives for both sexes. But, on reflection, the quandary of work-versus-home touches a nerve for women that is still quite raw in some ways, despite three bygone decades of well-intentioned government actions intended to guarantee a level playing field of choice.

How many women who have chosen careers, while also having families, have not experienced the anguish of the unknowable emotional deprivations they fear they’ve inflicted on their kids?  And how many women who have chosen to stay home have not experienced pangs of remorse for the under-utilized graduate degree or the unrequited dream of becoming a cop. And how many more women would just kill to have the choice? How many are dropping off kids at day care on their way to punch a clock at Walmart because it’s a job, not a career, and they didn’t choose it, they just need it.

It’s the latter problem for working women today that Rosen was hoping to illuminate this week, before getting sidetracked with an ill considered swipe at Ann Romney about whether she “works” or not. She wrote in her blog today, “I admire women who can stay home and raise their kids full time. I even envy them sometimes. It is a wonderful luxury to have the choice. But let’s stipulate that it is not a choice that most women have in America today.”

Romney is a wealthy woman, and she in fact enjoys the luxury of choosing between the workplace and raising her five kids. For that matter, Rosen is a sought-after and well-compensated political communications strategist who gets to make the same choice. Chances are, if cooler heads prevailed, neither would deny the other those very personal decisions. It’s just a lot tougher to know what to do about the Walmart women, who want choice too, but can’t afford it. That’s where the debate ceases to be about an old social issue and becomes a very relevant and current economic one.


There would be nothing at all anachronistic about the Rosen flap if it succeeds in prompting a debate in 2012 about ways to more evenly distribute the wealth of having the ability to choose.

What Hilary Rosen Wishes She Had Said – 2012 Decoded.

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