As anyone who has read GetReligion over the last three or so months might have picked up, I occasionally disapproved of the way many media outlets took serious concerns that some folks have over Planned Parenthood or religious liberty and turned them into a non-stop meme regarding a “War on Women.” I was pretty subtle about it, but you may have noticed me bringing it up once or twice (OK, two dozen at last count).
This was going very well for Team Planned Parenthood until a few days ago, when top Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen misfired in her attempt to disparage the presumptive Republican nominee’s wealth. She said that Ann Romney, a cancer-surviving woman with multiple sclerosis who successfully raised five boys, had “never worked a day in her life.” She then went on to bash apple pie. Just kidding, but her comments suggesting that stay-at-home mothers (such as myself, I should disclose) don’t work went over like a lead balloon.
Now, you could say fair’s fair, and we should expect a good three-month-long deluge of mainstream media coverage filled with deliberate misrepresentations of liberal viewpoints, ignoring of their actual concerns and other shenanigans. Something tells me that probably won’t happen. In fact, already the coverage over Rosen’s remarks seems to have died down (after what I gather was a pretty crazy day or two). We probably won’t see repeats of any of the problems I highlighted in those two dozen example-packed posts on the Komen/Planned Parenthood/religious freedom issues. And having endured the last three months of non-stop media misrepresentation of some of the values I hold most dear, I am thankful for this. I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.
I’m neck-deep in taxes right now so I haven’t had a proper chance to survey coverage as much as I’d like, but I wanted to highlight one piece at the Washington Post that took what I thought was a pretty interesting religion angle to the story, headlined “Ann Romney ‘stay-at-home mom’ debate: Mormons react“:
The public dust-up over Ann Romney and stay-home mothers played out in a particular way in Romney’s own community of Mormon women, who are twice as likely to be housewives as non-Mormons.
Mormon culture and preaching is strongly protective of distinct gender roles, with church members more likely than Americans of any other faith group to say it’s better for women to stay home and men to work outside the house.
On Thursday and Friday, with reports flying about a Democratic pundit’s comments that Ann Romney had “never worked a day in her life,” Mormon social media outlets were bustling. The vast majority of Mormons lean Republican, but even some liberal and self-described feminist Mormons felt defensive of the candidate’s wife.
“These are people who have a lover’s quarrel with the church, and were upset to a person that such a comment could be made about a stay-home parent. It seemed to undermine women’s work,” said Jana Reiss, a Mormon writer and religion professor. “Among all Mormons, feminist or not, they identify with the primacy of the family, and this seems like a comment that just dismissed the family as an appropriate calling for anyone.”
Isn’t that an interesting angle to take? We get lots of color about what was going on at the Facebook page of Mormon Feminist Housewives. Women weren’t just concerned about the disrespect shown to stay-at-home parents but also whether this wasn’t a harbinger of what the general election attacks on Mormonism will be like.
The article goes on to describe some of what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has said about women working outside the home over the years and how that has changed. This was just a blog post so I don’t want to nitpick but while the article did mention at the top that most Mormon women aren’t liberal, it only really highlighted those who are.
All discussions about women’s role in the home are likely to involve religion ghosts but did you see any particularly good or bad coverage of this topic that dealt with religion in particular? Let us know.