Boomer women who lived through the “mommy wars” a couple of decades ago were probably surprised to see that old conflict resurface on the campaign trail this week. The good news is that the skirmish was short-lived, and there seems to be bipartisan agreement that being a mom is … duh … hard work.
The dust-up started Wednesday night when Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen, speaking on CNN, criticized Mitt Romney for taking advice from his wife on women’s job security and other economic issues, saying Ann Romney, a mother of five, “never worked a day in her life.”
Within minutes, Twitter and blogs were ablaze with accusations that the Democrats were diminishing the value of the labor involved with raising kids. And within hours, Mrs. Romney made her Twitter debut with this tweet: “I made a choice to stay home and raise kids. Believe me it was hard work.”
Rosen ultimately issued an apology, but not before countless others weighed in, including President Obama, who said, “There is no tougher job than being a mom.”
It’s likely that all this will fade from the headlines within a day or so. But wouldn’t it be nice if the candidates started talking about the real issues around women and economic security?
If they really want to support motherhood, for example, maybe the candidates could address the question of why those hard-working moms pay a price when it comes to Social Security benefits.
Motherhood is often cited as the biggest risk factor for poverty among older American women. Women 65 and older are more likely than men to fall below the poverty line. Small wonder: Their median number of years in the workforce is 12 years less — in large part because of years they spend raising their children — which contributes to the smaller average Social Security benefits they earn.
Perhaps the candidates could discuss their positions on a proposal for closing the disparity in Social Security benefits by treating time spent providing unpaid care as time spent in the workforce.
Instead of talking about the silly mommy wars, that’s a conversation worth having. — Mary C. Hickey