Not since Hillary Clinton's infamous remark during the 1992 presidential campaign -- "I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas" -- has a prominent Democratic woman so insulted full-time homemakers. Speaking on CNN Wednesday, Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen said that Ann Romney has "never worked a day in her life" and, therefore, can't understand the struggles of most women.
Rather than apologize for sticking her thumb in the eyes of millions of American homemakers, Rosen doubled down when critics responded. "This isn't about whether Ann Romney or I or other women of some means can afford to make a choice to stay home and raise kids," she said. Talk about a "war on women"; this sounds like a war on work-at-home moms. In Rosen's view, they're either lazy or privileged.
Nothing about Rosen's comments surprises me. I know her slightly -- we are both frequent panelists on PBS' all-female public affairs program, "To the Contrary" -- and she's a perfectly nice woman. But she's also a hard-core feminist -- and that's the problem.
Feminism as ideology eschews individual choice. Women must fit a certain mold; if they don't, they're either deemed in need of having their consciousness raised or dismissed as frivolous ninnies.
Ann Romney, who raised fives sons, has defended herself against Rosen's accusation by saying Rosen should have come to her "house when those five boys were causing so much trouble. It wasn't so easy." Frankly, Romney would be better off not dignifying Rosen's attack by responding.
Anyone who has spent a day caring for a toddler -- much less trying to handle five boys at one time -- knows that motherhood is hard, full-time work. The fact that many mothers choose to work outside the home, as I did, does not mean that those who choose to stay at home are taking the easy way out.
Nor is it true, as Rosen and other feminists assert, that most mothers "have to work." Certainly, most single mothers must work to support themselves and their children, which is why their labor force participation rates are higher than those of married mothers, 75 percent compared with 69 percent. But many married women work primarily because they want to. There's nothing wrong with that, so why pretend it is out of necessity?
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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