Lou Dobbs and the boys over at Fox News are simply beside themselves today over the news that a new PEW study shows that four out of ten American households with children have women as the sole or primary breadwinner.
It’s the devil’s work, I tell you! If God had intended women to work, he’d have made them men.
FOX’S LOU DOBBS: “Something we don’t usually do, I want to turn to a study from PEW Research, a study showing that women become the breadwinners in this country, and a lot of other concerning and troubling statistics…”
First off, note how it’s just presumed that women becoming breadwinners is per se “troubling.”
LOU DOBBS: “But our society is being torn in so many directions right now, this stuff is really at the margin when you watch the Republicans and the Democrats, this president, his scandals, and the appropriate investigation by the Republicans. When we’re watching society dissolve around us, Juan, what do you think?”
So now, an increasing number of women being the primary breadwinner in families is evidence of “society dissolving around us.”
And who else to turn to for an opinion than a man? You’ll note the number of women on the panel:
Juan Williams thinks it’s a sign of the “disintegration of marriage, “something going terribly wrong in American society and it’s hurting our children.”
Well, actually, those children would be a lot worse off if mom weren’t making money. It’s not like the family sat there and said “hey, dad could make more money, but let’s have mom work instead and make less!”
And of course, leave it to GOP blogger Erick Erickson to mansplain why it’s so bad having the women-folk working:
I’m so used to liberals telling conservatives that they’re anti-science. But liberals who defend this and say it is not a bad thing are very anti-science. When you look at biology, when you look at the natural world, the roles of a male and a female in society and in other animals, the male typically is the dominant role. The female, it’s not antithesis, or it’s not competing, it’s a complimentary role.
Fortunately, Erickson spared us a discussion of how the big stick fits into the small hole, a discussion anti-gay neanderthals tend to love to have when explaining why “nature” has made clear the appropriate gender roles for men and women.
But if Erickson wants to talk animals, let’s talk animals. I don’t know about him,, but I don’t model my life after animals. Call me a crazy liberal, but I like to think that one of the good things about mankind is that we’re able to do more, be more than animals (well, some of us, anyway). That, in principle at least, we have bigger brains, a soul (at least a more developed one, though I’d put this dog against Erickson any day), and that one of our strengths is that we can do more, and be more, than simple animals (though I love animals).
So I have to laugh when I hear Republicans talk about how human beings have gone beyond their animal role models. Yeah, ya think?
I remember learning in law school about the “feminization of poverty.” The concept was that society was engineered in a way that left women holding the economic bag when things went wrong. Women are paid less than men, were (and perhaps still are) permitted to work in fewer fields than men), and the law was rigged against women, especially inheritance law, though that’s improved nowadays (in the way past, women couldn’t even inherit). At the same time, women were expected to take care of the kids, which is awfully tough when you’re divorced and can’t get a job, or an equal-paying job, as the guy you divorced – and he doesn’t have to worry about leaving work early to get the kids because, according to the monkeys, it’s “your job.”
Thus women were either stuck in bad marriages – since if they left, they’d have a hard time earning equal pay – or they left those marriages and became poor. So, one could argue, the fact that women are serving as primary breadwinners almost as often as men, is not necessarily a bad thing. It simply means society’s gender stereotypes are starting to diminish.
Now, much of the conservative horror at this data is probably based in the notion that women should stay at home and take care of the kids. Well, perhaps the boys should have thought about that one before they helped get that woman pregnant, rather than after. If they’re so worried about the parenting, let them stay at home.
Of course, note how unequal pay helps set women up for even more discrimination since it’s often likely the husband will earn more than the wife, all things being equal, so it’s one more argument for why women should stay at home with the kids, simply reinforcing the old stereotypes.
Now, it should be noted that it’s possible the increased number of female primary breadwinners is evidence of family dissolution. Maybe more women are having to earn the money for their families because they’re divorced. Yeah, and? It’s hardly just the women’s fault that they got divorced. I’m guessing the guys had a role in the marriage going bad, too. So are Republicans suggesting that the answer is to have men and women stay in bad marriages? I’m not sure how healthy that is for parents, let alone for the kids. Yeah, it sucks having mom and dad divorced. But I wonder how much it would suck having mom and dad stay married and fight every night for 20 more years. Not a nice thing for a kid to witness.
And finally, it’s also possible – dare we admit it – that maybe some men are opting to let the wife bring home the bacon while they fry it up in the pan. And what’s so wrong about that? My friend Johan in Sweden took 18 months paternity leave to take care of his newborn child, while his wife worked (gotta love Sweden). And? The locusts didn’t descent from on high (well, okay, yeah they did), and last time I checked, Johan’s kid didn’t end up with three heads.
I get that the Fox News crowd is upset that America isn’t the way it used be, treating women as chattel and blacks as cattle. But most of us are pretty happy with the way our country has turned out, warts and all.