Paul Jacob

Sometimes men should shut up and be good listeners. Especially when the issue is about women. What do men know?

Look, I’ll be the first guy to plead guilty for my gender, that we don’t know anything about women. Zip, zero, zilch. Moreover, we’re listening-challenged — though that, arguably, is a species-wide malady.

Nonetheless, we males still know something about the issue of working mothers versus stay-at-home mothers. After all, some of our favorite mothers were and are working or stay-at-home moms.

We’re sensitive, too — and a tad squeamish — when we see the scab picked off that Superwoman scrape, as happened last week, when Hilary Rosen, a Democratic strategist, charged that Ann Romney, a stay-at-home mom for five boys and best known as the better half of presidential candidate Mitt, had “never worked a day in her life.”

Mothers who are homemakers and rearing children were outraged. And had every reason to be. Their husbands, as I can attest, were offended as well. As were many others.

Stay-at-home mothers work. Hard. And long hours. So, there!

Hilary R’s off-hand and out-of-mind comment echoed a similar statement from another Hillary R. Back in 1992, Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton told reporters, “I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession, which I entered before my husband was in public life.”

Does anyone believe it harmful for a mother (or father) to stay home to rear the children, rather than to work?

It would be hard to make that case, not if staying at home was a personal choice rationally made.

So, why the condescension from Hillary and Hilary? Mrs. Clinton is too well-schooled these days to repeat her gaffe, and one can easily bet that Hilary Rosen will do her level best to avoid stepping on this land mine again. But do they still harbor the view that mothers who stay home to rear children are second-class, unaccomplished women?

To me, it’s not just that oven-baked desserts taste really good. From a political standpoint, I’d like to know whether someone who seeks to have a finger on so many buttons considers the job of stay-at-home mom to be important. President and candidate Barack Obama was quick to side with his likely opponent’s spouse and come out decisively in favor of motherhood and the baking of apple pies — if not (due to recent food policies imposed on him in his own home) chocolate chip cookies.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.