Last week, Democratic strategist Hillary Rosen provoked outrage from the Right when she suggested that Ann Romney is not qualified to speak about women’s economic concerns because “she’s never worked a day in her life.” Many Democrats, the president, First Lady, and vice president among them, moved quickly to distance themselves from these sentiments, declaring Rosen’s comments out of line. While Rosen dismissed the kerfuffle surrounding her comments as an overreaction and politics as usual, her offhanded, mean spirited remarks about Ann Romney reveal a troubling problem at the heart of mainstream feminist ideology.
While most feminists would insist that they support any and all life choices for women, Hillary Rosen’s comments reveal a certain hypocrisy when it comes to a woman’s “right to choose.” Her dismissive comments about Mrs. Romney indicate that the only value she assigns to women’s work is the dollar value determined by the marketplace. No credit or value is awarded for the care and nurture of children or the support of a husband who is laboring away in the workforce. It’s almost as if women who embrace these traditional domestic vocations are viewed as second-class citizens by their “enlightened” feminist counterparts.
Rosen’s comments also ignore the enormous difficulty of the homemaker’s work. Unlike the average professional environment, which is fairly predictable, orderly, and easily navigable, the typical American home today is a case study in barely controlled chaos. Cooking meals, cleaning house, changing diapers, giving baths, ironing clothes, gardening, helping with homework, and maintaining the family’s schedule is exhausting work. So exhausting, in fact, that many women prefer the professional working world, where they receive financial compensation and formal recognition over and above the merely psychological and emotional rewards of homemaking. It is precisely because housework and raising children is so hard that many prefer to work outside the home and subcontract their domestic responsibilities, including the raising of their children, to others. Of course, many women (both married and single) are forced to juggle both domestic and professional responsibilities with little to no outside help or assistance, a Herculean feat to say the least.
Another element at play is the popular feminist assumption that homemaking can never truly fulfill a woman at the deepest level. Sure, motherhood is a wonderful thing, and there can be enjoyable aspects to presiding over the home (especially if you happen to occupy a high rung on the socioeconomic ladder). At the end of the day, however, the truly empowered woman – the feminist who recognizes the overwhelming challenges that women have overcome in pursuit of equality – recognizes that a life devoted to serving others can never achieve the kind of personal actualization so critical in today’s self-centered culture. Today’s feminist rejects the notion that the preservation and advancement of society depends largely on the contributions that women make to their families. She ignores the overwhelming evidence that women’s mass exodus from the home and the denial of their unique gender differences have helped contribute to the disintegration of the family and the breakdown of our culture.
The Biblical view of the woman who devotes herself to the welfare of her husband and children is very different from Rosen’s and the feminists’ view. Proverbs 31:10-31 reflects a profoundly high view of a woman’s care for her household and family. Where Rosen and her feminist cohorts might see a naïve, subjugated Stepford Wife or the kind of spoiled, self-indulgent diva popularized by the “Real Housewives” reality series, the Proverbs woman’s children and her husband rise up and call her blessed. Thank God for women who are willing to bear the burdens of the household and who recognize the inestimable value of the contributions they are making, even if the marketplace and doyens of mainstream feminism don’t.
Ken Connor is an attorney and co-author of Sinful Silence: When Christians Neglect Their Civic Duty. He is also chairman of the Center for a Just Society.
Publication date: April 18, 2012