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Why We Can All Opt Out of the 'War on Women'

Apr 13 2012
We can all stop using such violent imagery to describe what women face.

"She's never worked a day in her life."

"At least I don't just drop my kids off at daycare."

"She's one of those annoying Attachment Parenting moms."

"She's one of those annoying Babywise moms."

"No kids? And that's on purpose?"

"I'll be praying that God brings a man into your life soon."

Let's face it. We've all been on the giving and receiving end of jabs like these. Most of us just don't have tens of thousands of twitter followers and a national TV audience to catch us in the act.

Though Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen has twice apologized to Ann Romney for saying that the stay-at-home mother of five boys had "never worked a day in her life," her remarks have triggered yet another round of women-at-war stories as reporters, pundits, and bloggers continue to tout the importance of women voters in the 2012 election.

while strategists from the Left have been using the "war on women" narrative surrounding the birth control debate to rally women to their cause, strategists from the Right are hoping this latest spar in the so-called "mommy wars" will draw sympathetic moms to the Romney family and the Republican party.

Frankly, I'm tired of both sides using violent imagery to describe the difficult decisions that I, and my sisters, make every day, and I'm tired of seeing those decisions reduced to bumper sticker ideologies that can be exploited for political gain.

Being a woman is much more complicated than that. The decisions we make—for ourselves, for our families, for our churches, for society—rarely fall into neat and tidy liberal or conservative categories. The boxes we check in the voting booth reflect only a small part of who we are, and like a lot of things, they usually represent something of a compromise.

But the war imagery seems to work, and I suspect it's because it appeals to the same insecurities and impulses that get us gossiping about one another after PTA meetings and lead us to say things as cruel as Hilary Rosen's remarks under our breath or among friends more often than we care to admit. (Unkindness goes both ways. The Catholic League has been criticized for tweeting that "Lesbian Dem Hilary Rosen tells Ann Romney she ever worked a day in her life. Unlike Rosen, who had to adopt kids, Ann raised 5 of her own.")

When I search my own heart, I confess I get a fleeting sense of reassurance when I dismiss another woman's decisions simply because they do not look like my own. Insecurities I have about my decision to delay parenting, for example, are momentarily assuaged when look down my nose at the frazzled young mother of four, struggling to get her toddler to stop crying in the cereal aisle at Wal Mart. "At least I've made better decisions than that," I think.

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Why We Can All Opt Out of the 'War on Women'