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Froma Harrop
NationofChange / Op-Ed
Published: Wednesday 18 April 2012
“As an apologetic Rosen tried to explain, Ann Romney’s lot differed dramatically from that of women raising kids and clearing tables at Arby’s. Point taken.”

Women, Work, Jobs and Time

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To quote "Adelaide's Lament" from "Guys and Dolls," "You can feed her all day with the vitamin A and the bromofizz/ But the medicine never gets anywhere near where the trouble is." That's the sense one gets from the recent tone-challenged courting of women voters.

On the Sunday talk shows, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner called "ridiculous" Republican Mitt Romney's assertion that most of the jobs lost during the Obama years were women's. The statement may have been true, but it ignored the bloodletting of mostly male-held jobs in the gruesome last months of George W. Bush.

Meanwhile, Democrats were finishing the week trying to recover from an offensive remark by a high-profile adviser. Hilary Rosen said that Mitt's wife, Ann Romney, "never worked a day in her life." Ann raised five boys. Of course, her husband's fortune bought many a domestic service, freeing untold hours of housekeeping. But anyone who has actively overseen the care, education, and social development of children knows it's about much more than mopping the kitchen floor. Many stay-at-home wives are up to their triceps-bathing children when their "Mad Men" providers are on their second cocktails.

As an apologetic Rosen tried to explain, Ann Romney's lot differed dramatically from that of women raising kids and clearing tables at Arby's. Point taken. How most single mothers do it is beyond me. They have no time for civic participation, for normal cooking or doing their nails. At the end of the day, they collapse in front of a TV show exalting a surgically altered celebrity.

But Rosen is herself a top-paid lobbyist and can also hire others. For all the working-class melodrama of her delivery, Rosen's remark was a stab in the sensitivities of educated women who stay home with their children rather than use their degrees to make money elsewhere.

It is oblivious to where the trouble is.

We're talking about women with the luxury of options. They have some control over the balance between work at home and work outside. What they don't have is time, and time for them takes several forms.

— Biological time. Medical technology can stretch the childbearing years, but the easiest and healthiest time to give birth is in one's 20s and 30s. These are also the career-building years.

— Career time. Of course, women can take a quick parental leave — and if they have the money, hire nannies to cover their toddlers. But they can never get back the time they could have spent having lunch with their 3-year-old and passing on their values.

— Female beauty time. All cultures value female beauty, but our Hollywood-ized version boots women out of Eden after the second blush of youth. It's unfair, but comely women more often get the promotions, even in gray corporate offices. And look at the daytime cable news anchors. The man is a mature voice of experience, and the woman, as the industry saying goes, is a "blonde half his age."

I talk to women-with-options all the time. Those who stay at home often speak sadly of lost opportunities and pain over a perceived lower status of not having a "real" job. They may feel guilt at not having used their education in the larger world. I remind them that given today's life expectancies, they have time to have children and then later build careers. But when they worry about advancing in a profession they won't enter until age 40, I don't know what to say.

Even under the most comfortable circumstances, time is not on women's side. For women, paying jobs are but one piece of a much bigger puzzle. Getting a job is often the easy part.


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ABOUT Froma Harrop
Froma Harrop’s nationally syndicated column appears in over 150 newspapers, including The Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle, Seattle Times, Denver Post and Newsday. The twice-a-week column is distributed by Creators Syndicate, in Los Angeles. Harrop has written for numerous other publications, ranging from The New York Times and Institutional Investor, to Harper’s Bazaar and Metropolitan Home. Previously, she covered business for Reuters Ltd., in New York, and was a financial editor for The New York Times News Service. A Loeb Award finalist for economic commentary, Harrop was also honored by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Over the years, the New England Associated Press News Executives Association has named her for five awards.

Typical Republican knee jerk

Typical Republican knee jerk over-reaction.Romney is just degrading his wife by turning Hilary Rosens remarks into a political issue. He's so desperate for womens vote he would crucify his own wife.!And there is more to come before election day. Any woman who would vote for this anti-woman GOP needs to get out of the house.

I would never defend the

I would never defend the Romney clan, but how stupid can a Democrat get?Does no one remember the trouble Hilary CLinton got into as a candidate when she said staying home and baking cookies was NOT enough for her?This was a huge gaff and the response whould have been foreseen.Shame on the Dems shooting themselves in the foot always.

Teejay Parks's picture

I don't understand why

I don't understand why everyone is apoplectic about Rosen's statement. It was neither inaccurate nor unkind. For the majority of us, work is "how we make a living." Ann Romney's HUSBAND says that stay-at-home mom's need to work outside of the home in order to gain the dignity of work. So, by the words of Mitt Romney (who decries the suggestion from a Democrat that Ann has never worked a day in her life,) Ann Romney has never gained the dignity of work. Or, to put it another way, even Mitt thinks Ann has never worked a day in her life.

My wife worked outside the

My wife worked outside the home until the birth of our first child then she became a full time mother and child care expert. She worked at being the best mother she could and spent a great amount of time assisting at the children's schools right from primary through the end of high school. She was there for all the important childhood occasions, good and bad, the awards and the chicken pox you name it she was there. She drove them to all their games, their social events, their sleepovers. She taught them right from wrong. She introduced them to Christianity and monitored their progress in understanding what it meant spiritually, emotionally and socially. She did what mothers have been doing for generations. Yes, we didn't need her second income as many would but even if it would have helped, I wouldn't want her to have worked outside the home when the most important business was there to begin with.

Horsefeathers. Rosen was

Horsefeathers. Rosen was speaking specfically about Ann Romney, not some generic figure. And Romney, like her husband, comes from wealth and was staying home while hubby Mitt was accumulating wealth of his own. Ann Romney is not symbolic of the typical stay-at-home mother. She's definitely not connected to the economics of single working mothers or working mothers. To upbraid Rosen for her remarks is to miss the whole point entirely.

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