Saturday, April 21, 2012

Ann Romney And Controversy Over Gender Roles

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.  


  1. Allison, I think this is a very interesting question your brought forth, should stay-at-home mothers be regarded highly for making the decision to not work and merely raise their children? I feel that in today's society, stay-at-home mothers are often looked down upon if it was not a norm in the city that you grew up in, whereas, there are some areas within the country that a majority of the mothers are simply stay-at-home.

    My own opinion, is that I have to agree with those questioning Ann Romney as a powerful woman, I feel that it is okay for women to stay home for a while, especially if they have very young children, but when their children grow up and leave to college, then there is no reason to not work, or at the very least volunteer or do something a bit more productive with one's life.

    I, definitely agree that in today's society and especially in the television and media, often times the strong female is portrayed as an independent woman, and I think this simply mirrors the thoughts of many individuals today.

  2. I disagree, Inez. I think that it is fine for a woman (or a man) to stay home and take care of their children. If they are financially stable, it does not deduct from their strength as an independent woman to be a homemaker. I'm happy that in society today, a woman is expected to be self-sufficient and have a job. However, I don't think that there's anything wrong with a woman being a homemaker. A woman should be able to decide what she does in her life, and if she chooses to stay home to take care of her children, she should not be called weak. Instead, a woman's strength should be measured by her character, not how she chooses to lead her life.

  3. Personally, I feel that this issue is trumped up for no reason at all. Rosen made a statement that I feel she had the right to make,even though I don't like how it was made. I can't blame Ann Romney for not wanting to work when she has a rich husband, but I can't stand it when she tries to equate being a stay-at-home mom (especially one who has access to any help she can acquire) to a being both a mother and a worker simultaneously.

    We expect women to work now, not only because of women wanting to assert their independence, but also because many families now need money that the women makes. Income has gone down over the last couple of decades, and without the wife working, more families could slip below the poverty line. Ann Romney has never had to worry about slipping below the poverty line. She could stay at home even with her kids being grown up and having kids of their own and it wouldn't be detrimental to the family.

    I believe that Ann Romney is a very strong women for raising 5 boys. Raising kids is very hard work. I'm also not blaming her for not working because that's her own personal choice. I will be interested though in how she will go about explaining her choice to women who had no choice.

  4. I think it is unfair that people try to defy societal gender stereotypes by now “expecting” women to have jobs and become self-sufficient. By just using the word “expect”, a different stereotype is then created—fostering a new societal expectation for women. If women, and men also, were given the true independence we say that all people deserve, their life choices should be well respected. Because of the feminist movement, women were given the choice to be able to participate equally in the workforce alongside men—a wonderful thing. However, even though this option is now available, women should still have the right to exercise this choice without losing respect if they and choose not to work because they have the means to do so.

  5. Such a heated debate! I must agree that no one should expect women to do anything, whether that is choosing to work or stay home and take care of children. By the mere act of "expecting" brings forth another stereotype, because that is essentially what a stereotype is: expecting a certain person, place, or thing to act in a specific way.
    I found it interesting that the person accusing Ann Romney of being incompetent about the economy is another woman, HIlary Rosen. I am not trying to suggest that Hilary Rosen should "know how hard it is to take care of children" because I don't know if she has children or ever plans to. Still, wouldn't you think that she'd be more understanding of why Ann Romney chose to be a stay-at-home mother? Besides, why does being a stay-at-home mother mean that she is incapable of understanding how the economy really is? She lives in America along with everyone else. She sees the gas prices, the grocery store prices, etc that she is probably well aware of when she drives her children to school/practice (an assumption, I know, but just trying to make a point,) or when she buys the food to cook for supper. I mean, she is married to a rich man, but its hard for me to believe she only sits around the house EVER, and never goes out into the real world to purchase anything. Yes, her family may not be low on money, but when some prices rise, I'm sure she is aware of it.
    Thus, being a stay-home mom doesn't mean you are cut off from civilization.


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