The so-called “Mommy wars” of working women vs. stay-at-home mothers which dominated media coverage for several days last week is a media manufactured controversy.
The phony controversy began with remarks by Hilary Rosen, a former lobbyist and now commentator on CNN who made comments on “Anderson Cooper 360” program that sparked a media frenzy.
Referring to a claim by Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney that he relied on his wife, Ann, to provide him insight into the problems of women, Rosen said, “Guess what? His wife has actually never worked a day in her life. She’s never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing in terms of how we feed our kids, how we send them to school… why do we worry about their future.”
Rosen somewhat awkward remarks were actually an astute comment about social class but it was falsely portrayed as an attack on stay-at home moms by the media and the Romney campaign.
The Romney campaign was eager to seize on the comments because it gave Romney an opportunity to go on the offensive when he had been losing the women vote in the polls to President Obama.
Romney has a real problem in his campaign: the alienation of million of women from the Republican Party due in part to the strident rightwing character of the Republican presidential campaign.
During the Republican presidential debates and throughout the primaries and caucuses, the Republican candidates all sought to appeal to social conservatives in their party with hard-line positions against abortion rights and contraceptives.
While appealing to the extremist base it alienates women voters, moderates and independents who represent critical votes in the general election in November.
Rosen’s remarks gave the Romney campaign the lifeline that it so desperately needed and gave the media another fake controversy to exploit.
The media firestorm that ensued after Rosen remarks resulted in the Obama campaign and several prominent Democrats rebuking Rosen’s remarks. Under pressure Rosen apologized while maintaining that her point was not to offend women who stay at home and raise their children but to point out the fact that most women today do not have that choice and are facing serious economic issues.
Rosen said in a written statement: “Let’s put the faux ‘war against stay at home moms’ to rest once and for all. As a mom I know that raising children is the hardest job there is. As a pundit, I know my words on CNN last night were poorly chosen.”
“I apologize to Ann Romney and anyone else who was offended,” she concluded. “Let’s declare peace in this phony war and go back to focus on the substance.”
American women and their families are facing declining living standards, increasing poverty and drastic cuts to social programs and education.
Instead of the distraction of a divisive decades-old cultural debate about the role of women in and out of the workplace there needs to be a real debate on the real issue affecting American women.