Ann Romney's very first tweet, in response to a dumb comment about stay-at-home moms, said, "I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work." Some were skeptical: Didn't this super-rich lady have a little help? A nanny, maybe a maid or two? Nope, Ben Romney, the couple's second-youngest son, wrote on Facebook, Politicker reports. "Growing up, we never had a nanny or a ‘mommy’s helper.’ Never went to daycare," Ben said. An immediate question springs to mind: Why not?!
While it's hard for some of us to relate to the mega-rich, and the Romneys have had their fair share of gaffes reminding people that they are mega-rich, if we were mega-rich ourselves, there are certain things we'd do. Those things are, in order of importance, a beach house and household help. Romney has the first thing (that's where he keeps the car elevator). How could he possibly not have the second thing?
Romney is certainly not unfamiliar with maids. The Boston
Herald Globe reported on April 11, 2002:
The Romneys lived in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., an exclusive suburb outside Detroit, but George Romney, chairman of American Motors Corp., prided himself on not spoiling his children... The children had chores, though they also had a maid, a cook, and a laundress.
And the maids weren't unseen servants, The Boston Globe reported June 24, 2007 that "Mitt's primary exposure to black people had been his family's beloved housekeeper, Birdie Nailing, and an acquaintance named Sid Barthwell who was the lone black in his Cranbrook senior class." And when Romney went on his mission to Paris in the 1960s, he had maids there, too. "In their mission-home living quarters, Romney and McKinnon considered their new responsibilities. The mission home was a four-story mansion, tended to by cooks and housekeepers who needed to be paid," The Washington Post reported December 10, 2007.
And yet, as an adult working in the finance sector, Romney appears to have changed things up when it came to his new family. The Boston Globe reported June 27, 2007, "Mitt eschewed the trappings of wealth. The family had no cook or full-time maid." An anonymous source close to the Romneys told the International Business Times Thursday, "No nannies." While the Romneys financial disclosure forms show they had four housekeepers in 2010, the women weren't paid nearly enough to be regular laundresses. Some of the wages paid were for personal-assistant-type chores, instead of washing dishes.
Maybe we're too quick to judge. Perhaps Mitt Romney did his fair share of household chores unlike most American men. Or maybe there are some who think there is something noble about scrubbing your own toilet. But, to us, the idea of being wealthy and still having to do dishes and sort socks and dust things -- it's worse than a war on women. It might be a war crime: wife torture.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.