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The Wages of Motherhood

“How thick is your bubble?”

This au courant question acknowledges that many, many people, including — or is it especially? — politicians, operate on the assumption that everyone else shares their warped perceptions and mistaken suppositions. One false assumption regularly trotted out by progressives, and which underlays most mistaken feminist ideas, is that in the old days, before many women worked outside the home, wives and mothers hung around the house doing little of real value. Tradition-minded folks know better, of course, but the myth persists. When Democratic pundit Hilary Rosen said on CNN that Ann Romney, wife of the presumptive Republican candidate for the presidency, “has never worked a day in her life,” she gave notice that the myth is alive and well in all the predictable places. By doing so, she unwittingly kicked the Obama campaign in the shin: Rosen’s a hotshot public-relations executive and a business partner of former Obama communications director Anita Dunn. Her comment gave Republicans the chance to paint their adversaries as haters of wholesome motherhood, and to decry what they perceive as the Democrats’ “War on Mothers.”

What’s amusing is that Rosen and the rest of the chicken-little feminists who’ve staked all their beliefs on “reproductive rights,” and lately feel them threatened, have long been decrying what they perceive as a Republican “War on Women.” So now we get to hear these selfsame sirens call the countervailing accusations of a “War on Mothers” a “manufactured controversy.” The pot called the kettle black.

Both so-called wars, the product of political strategists and pundits, are mostly unedifying for the electorate. But they do reveal biases that drive whole parties and White House administrations. Courtesy of candid, unrehearsed comments, we occasionally get glimpses behind the carefully managed sound bites and learn what party operatives really believe. To his credit, Obama immediately distanced himself from Rosen and flatly contradicted her, but the episode compounded the impression given by Sebelius, Pelosi, Clinton, et al., that the President is surrounded by a cabal of feminist diehards.

As the Rosen-Romney flap showed, some loud and powerful people have no sense at all of the vital role of stay-at-home mothers, and regard the occupation as some sort of luxury item for people who don’t live in the “real world.” The real world, however, begs to differ. In the world of real business (where all people vote — with their wallets) one major player understands the value of women’s work. Procter & Gamble, the planet’s largest advertiser, is laying down loads of cash to woo mothers. The consumer-product colossus’s latest, and biggest ever, campaign, tied to the London 2012 Olympics, is called “Thank You, Mom,” and focuses on thanking mothers of Olympians and would-be Olympians around the world. The New York Times (Apr. 16) calls it a “global serenade to mothers.” The international campaign, which includes digital media, print and television ads, and even a mobile-phone application, features mothers nurturing their young athletes: feeding them, getting them off to practice, then returning home to do laundry, wash dishes, and make beds.

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