The brouhaha began when a woman connected to the Obama campaign made remarks indicating Mrs. Romney had never done a day's work in her life. Many people were outraged by this remark believing that being a supportive wife and raising five sons to be contributing citizens constitutes "real" work.
The mentality of those comments reminded me of my grandfather who decided his girls should get an education because his sons would get his land. This would serve in case the girls did not get married and so have to support themselves - get a job.
Unrelated to the brouhaha, but timely, a group I am proud to be a part of published a study called the Nexus Index. This Index comments on the status of women in Iowa, including opportunity for education, entrepreneurship education, opportunity, data regarding pay differences, etc. Much food for thought.
I have been blessed with opportunity to make many choices. The supportive wife, the mother of two great kids (if I do say so), the grandmother of four outstanding granddaughters, many jobs, and many career choices. My father worried I could not hold a job and my mother worried that I pursued a career at all. All those choices have formed my opinion on what is important.
What is important is a woman's right, opportunity and ability to choose the role she wants when she wants it. When any of those roles are denigrated choices are limited.
There is no more inflammatory issue than that of abortion. The issue is often labelled the woman's right to choose. This inflammatory issue is only one many regarding a woman's right to choose.
Women's right to choose includes choices in every part of her life. She may or may not choose to marry. She may or may not choose to have children. She may or may not strive for a career. She may or may not be satisfied to have a "job" that allows her to pursue other interests. If she chooses to marry she may or may not choose to work outside the home. If she chooses to have children she may or may not choose to be a stay at home Mom....
All of these choices have consequences and may be the right thing for any individual at any given time.
Damage is done and criticism is justified when society cannot or will not accept that women have many choices in their lives It is true that economic circumstances allow some women to have many more alternatives than others. Perhaps our most important job as women helping women is to be sure women have opportunity to choose their roles.
My point? Women are most helpful to the cause of gender equality when they applaud and encourage all life choices to be valued and fairly compensated. Anyone who attempts to negatively stereotype women as they choose any of these roles diminshes all women.
Jackie Kennedy once said "If you don't do a good job of raising your children, it doesn't really matter what else you do well". Amen! It has been clearly demonstrated by thousands of women that it is possible to do a good job of raising children while pursuing a multitude of roles.
I'm interested in strategies that encourage and broaden choices and reward women who make them.