Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.
Writer Stephanie Coontz posits that presidential candidate Sen. Rick Santorum's views about women come straight from the ultra-olden days in an opinion article on CNN.com on Tuesday. Her story got thousands of comments.
The most-liked comment was about women's rights and ambitions, which many of our readers said could be in danger under a conservative president.
abcdef54321: "Conservative women make me sorry that American liberals worked so hard for so long to give women the vote, to allow them to own property, to allow them to wear pants, to give them equal pay, to protect them from sexual harassment at work, to give them access to abortions, to allow them to use birth control, to encourage them to seek advanced education, and to allow them to serve in the military. Conservative women vote every November for men who would pay them less than men, outlaw abortion, outlaw birth control, perhaps outlaw divorce, repeal child nutrition programs, repeal child health programs, repeal laws protecting them from sexual harassment, make it harder for them to get a college degree, and close public schools. Go figure."
But then, here's what a reader identifying as one of those conservative women had to say:
not1not99: "Well, I was an American liberal and I am now an American conservative. I am college-educated, I have a good job, I've never been on welfare and my husband loves me as Christ loves the church. I am not oppressed, beaten, ignorant, or chained to the kitchen (actually I love to cook!). I have my own ideas, thoughts, and opinions that are not my husband's but conclusions based on facts that I research on my own. The people I associate with are other college-educated moms who have made the choice to stay home, raise and educate their children instead of leaving that responsibility in someone else's hands (public school system, day care). They respect my choices, I respect their choices. However, in retrospect I would have rather have stayed home, and raised and educated my children.
"Our choice is our choice. Not out of ignorance or some distorted or perverse sense of 'obedience to our husbands.' Husbands that choose to dominate their wives come from all sorts of different backgrounds, conservative and liberal. So stop being childish, pointing fingers and playing silly stereotyping games."
Several commenters talked about the many difficult challenges involved in staying home with the kids.
JustJen: "If you actually tried staying at home you would find it is the most brutally exhausting job on Earth to be home taking care of young children 24/7 with no break ever. There is no quiet time in the car on the way to work. No water cooler breaks. No civilized lunches eating in peace or chatting with co-workers. I'm all for women having choices, and I personally chose the much much harder job of staying home rather than returning to my infinitely more gratifying job as an engineer. Why did I pick the least gratifying, most exhausting route? That's simple. It's better for my kids. My career can wait. Kids are young for a short time. I think we all have a right to plan our families as we wish, but I'm sure sick of the denigration of moms who are staying home with their children. I could go on but I have to get back to the kids now."
BelgianWoman: "I did exactly the same: gave up a nice career to stay home and take care of my three kids myself. I'm happy with it and it doesn't feel like a 'sacrifice.' If it did, I would immediately go back to work. I would never have considered an abortion. So maybe Santorum would think of me as a 'good' woman. But I utterly detest Santorum's views. I hope this guy never becomes president of the U.S.! Although I would like to see how he handles meetings with [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel (a woman!) and our own PM (a gay man!)."
There were a lot of other people who talked about women's achievements and challenges. Readers also debated Santorum's electability in some other popular exchanges.
BernardWebb: "Santorum is way too extreme for 90% of the country to stomach. I hope they nominate him! Obama would win in 45 states."
me138: "Santorum and Obama need to go."
msacks: "Oh wow, Bernard, you are so out of touch with what percent of the country couldn't stomach him and his extreme viewpoints. Somewhere between 30-40% of America would think Santorum's social views are the same as theirs, or at least perfectly reasonable. He's in the minority, but not by a 90/10 margin by a longshot."
One thread connecting many of the discussions was a question of who wants to control whom. There were several readers who tried to draw parallels between conservatives' faith in America and religious beliefs in other countries.
drp146: "Little Ricky Santorum: Wants to make his religious beliefs into law, just like the Taliban. Give me freedom from religion."
kevin456: "It's the other way around. Leftists are trying to impose their values on others."
Finally, in a somewhat related note, reader stubby1 asked in a thread if we had talked about contraception issues, including the use of birth control for health reasons. We indeed had covered that angle - and several others - in a post a few days ago, and we welcome your further thoughts.
What do you think about Santorum and women's issues? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.
Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.