The discussions we have had related to gender roles have special relevance right now, considering the recent controversy surrounding Ann Romney. For those who have not been keeping up with this debate, Ann Romney is the wife of Mitt Romney, a politician running for the Republican presidential ticket. The controversy began when a democratic news pundit Hilary Rosen commented that Ann Romney has “never worked a day in her life”. After this comment, a debate arose over whether a stay-at-home mother has a right to comment on the economy.
While defending herself, Ann Romney claimed that raising her five boys was a full-time job and that was her career choice. She stated that this was an attack on women and their freedom of choice when it comes to their careers. The entire dispute has been termed a “war on women”. The role of women and what is an acceptable part for them to hold in society has been brought in to question.
Much of the controversy has been focused on how it will effect Mitt Romney’s female voters, but I also think it brings up valuable topics related to this class. If women are attacked for being stay-at-home mothers in modern times, then this may mean that women are now expected to hold more independence in their lives. If so, I think this debate highlights progress that women have achieved in becoming more equal members of society.
The debate over Ann Romney’s role also shows the lack of respect given to females who do not take advantage of the greater equality that is now available. In contrast, television characters like Buffy take full advantage and garner respect for it. Buffy even takes it one step further by showing physical strength and power along with her independence. In The Hunger Games when Katniss’s mother checked out and stopped providing for her family, she was portrayed as weak. Instead, women like Katniss and Buffy who can take on greater responsibility and support themselves are much more respected.
This entire controversy has caused backlash from women who are offended by the actions of stay-at-home mothers who allow their husbands to be the stereotypical “breadwinners” while they hold a more passive role. However, I think that this actually highlights the fact that women are changing these stereotypes and no longer rely on the men in their lives. Furthermore, the supporters of Ann Romney who claim that being a stay-at-home mother is a tough job within itself help to grow respect for women, no matter the role they have in their own lives. In the end, it seems that this controversy that began by insulting the choices of some women has now made gains in gender equality more obvious.