We talked earlier about a Pew Research Center report, which found that women are now the sole or primary source of family income in 40% of U.S. households with children. The revelation led to an odd Fox segment yesterday, featuring Lou Dobbs and his panel of all-male guests, who didn’t respond well to the news.
Of particular interest, Erick Erickson said those who think there’s nothing with this social dynamic are “very anti-science.” Why? Because according to Erickson, “When you look at biology, look at the natural world, the roles of a male and female in society; in other animals the male typically is the dominant role.” Women, in Erickson’s mind, can play “a complementary role.”
And apparently this “scientific” analysis has led the Republican pundit to believe there’s “a war on women,” as evidenced by so many American women proving income for their families.
This has since caused a bit of a stir, leading Erickson to respond on his far-right website, since, as he put it, “feminist and emo lefties have their panties in a wad.” (Erickson is always a class act, is he not?)
“In many, many animal species, the male and female of the species play complementary roles, with the male dominant in strength and protection and the female dominant in nurture. It’s the female who tames the male beast. One notable exception is the lion, where the male lion looks flashy but behaves mostly like a lazy beta-male MSNBC producer.”
Wait, am I the lazy beta-male MSNBC producer? I’ve been called so many things over the years, but “lazy” is a new one.
In any case, Erickson went on to say:
“Men can behave like women, women can behave like men, they can raise their kids, if they have them, in any way they see fit, and everything will turn out fine in the liberal fantasy world. Except in the real world it does not work out that way.”
I should probably mention, for the benefit of those who aren’t familiar with Erick Erickson’s work, he’s not kidding. This isn’t satire or a parody of Republican pundits. He didn’t publish this in a deliberate effort to make conservatives appear foolish, but rather, his missive is entirely sincere.
His piece went to argue that there’s “nothing wrong with mothers having jobs” – there’s no end to Erickson’s graciousness when it comes to explaining what women should be allowed to do – but he’s nevertheless outraged by mothers being the sole or dominant breadwinner in a household.
Indeed, that was the key takeaway from the all-male Fox panel Erickson participated in: men, they said, should be economically dominant in American society. To disagree is, in Fox’s Doug Schoen’s words, to invite “catastrophic” consequences that “could undermine our social order.”
For Erickson, it’s just “science” – it’s not his fault the facts are so misogynistic. “Reality,” he argued, shows that his opinions are “the truth.”
Right about now, some of you might be wondering whether Erickson has a professional and/or academic background in biology, zoology, or anthropology that encourages him to speak with such authority about the nuances of gender roles in “animal species.” As it turns out, Erickson has no scientific background in any of these fields – he just likes to make stuff up because it makes him feel better. After all, perhaps if he just throws around unsubstantiated claims about “science,” those “feminist and emo lefties” who have “their panties in a wad” will cower in the face of his dubious intellect.
But to borrow a phrase, those of us “in the real world” should remember that Erickson has no idea what he’s talking about, and his fears about the consequences of women becoming more economically powerful are ridiculous. Amanda Marcotte’s piece on this rings true:
Erickson must have [learned] this nifty scientific “fact” by studying the animals in the well-known academic text, The Berenstain Bears, which clearly shows Papa Bear going out and earning the money while Mama Bear stays at home and cooks the food for the cubs. Of course, in the actual natural world, bears don’t make money – plus there’s a lot of diversity in how animals raise their young. (In case you’re wondering, outside of the two weeks of maternity leave mothers take to nurse their babies, foxes embrace a fairly egalitarian approach to child rearing where both parents go out and get food for their young.) One thing, however, is certain: Other primates besides humans mostly shun the male-dominated monogamy that Erickson prefers, with most species living in large bands with lots of kinky partner swapping.
Needless to say, the utter destruction of social stability that these men predict from the growth of female independence is not borne out by the facts. The divorce rate is actually declining. The abortion rate is roughly what it was pre-Roe and is mostly in decline, in part because of all those women opting into the sole breadwinner lifestyle…. It’s true that these new breadwinner stats are not all good news, but the real problem is that men earning less means less money overall for the average American home. What’s really hurting Americans isn’t female equality, but growing income inequality between the rich and everyone else. Pitting men against women is simply a distraction from the real economic issues facing us all.