Thinking Aloud: Women-on-Women Action

Subtitle: Don’t Say Mommy Wars

I listened to a podcast today talking about the dust up between Mrs. Mitt Romney and Democratic pundit Hilary Rosen regarding the (taken out of context) comment Rosen made about Romney not having worked a day in her life.

And they kept using the media spin phrase “mommy wars”.

I hate that phrase. It’s so condescending and reductionist. As if women who are parents who make decisions for their families are merely “mommies”.

I have worked at home as a mom, I have been a stay-at-home mom, and now I work outside the home. (And inside the home.)

Women — for the purposes of this half of today’s post, women who are mothers — make decisions, sometimes very difficult decisions, about what is best for them, their families, their children, their marriages (or like relationships). Men usually participate in this decision making.

Women also judge other women — wrongly, I might add, but it happens. It’s a reflex, I think sometimes we do it without even thinking about it. Speaking for myself, when I find myself judging another woman, whether on her looks or about a decision that she is making (a decision that probably has nothing to do with me), I bite that internal tongue and try to get back to my own business.

In my opinion, after having read further what Rosen said and reading some stories, listening to some news about it, I really don’t think Rosen was going after stay-at-home moms. Some commentators and most of the media in general went after her for that, for re-igniting the “mommy wars”.

No. I think Rosen was (rightly) pointing out that Mitt Romney says he listens to his wife about issues that women are concerned about, and Mrs. Romney, who has raised five children, all boys, probably isn’t the best source to turn to for what women are actually worried about when it comes to the economy. Especially given the Romneys’ tax bracket.

Did Rosen phrase her misgivings disdainfully and clumsily? She sure did.

But I think she’s got a point.


However, Mom-101 really says it so much better than I could.


In other news about women and the damage they do to each other, Ashley Judd lashed out about public speculation because she dared to show up outside of her home looking less than perfect. One commentary likened her reaction to taking a stand on Mean Girls, but I don’t think that’s it.

To quote from a commentator on that Slate post: “People obviously have been taught that the female body is open to public scrutiny and public discourse.” When did this start? When did it become acceptable? And I don’t mean for the Ashley Judds and other celebrities of the world. While I respect Judd for speaking out about “body snarking” (another dumb media phrase), she’s put herself in the public eye and to a certain extent she makes a living off of the way she looks.

We need to find a new language to talk about girls and women. We need to stop talking about how “pretty” girls are and ask them what book they are reading or what their favorite subject in school is (and not be surprised if their answer is science or math). Yes, Judd has chosen to pursue a career where her appearance is under scutiny, and, yeah, that sucks when she is criticized for looking “puffy”. But it’s ridiculous that the body judgement is extended to smart, famous, and/or powerful women (for example, Hillary Clinton) and other women in the public eye who are NOT basing a career on their looks, and utterly destructive when it trickles down to women and girls who are living their lives completely outside of the public eye. It’s dumb that a size 8 is “fat”.

I really, passionately, 100% believe what I am writing here. Reducing women who are parents to “mommy”, and girls and women to their looks is destructive. We need to change the dialogue, make it less about us and them, and more about how everyone is a person, an individual, and deserves respect. You don’t have to go around agreeing with everyone. But civility will go a long way, and emphasizing just about anything over how a person looks and/or whether she decides to work outside of the home will move women forward in this country.