The XX Factor

Scott Brown as Revenge of the Angry Man

Of all the global meanings that have been laid on to Republican Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts, here is one I have not heard discussed yet: Brown as the angry man’s revenge against the rise of the working woman. Remember that great Pew study released yesterday, called the “Rise of Wives ?” The study quantifies how women are increasingly outpacing men in college degrees and even outearning their husbands in many cases. This phenomenon is especially stark in the white working class, where women tend to be better educated and have higher salaries than their husbands.

Jessica, you drew out of that study the notion that men are getting more out of marriage than women these days. But I read between the lines to see the growing resentment of men at being overthrown from their traditional roles, and looking forward to only bleaker times ahead.

Scott Brown is a man’s man. He is clearly the head of a thriving household of women. He had a tough childhood which made him a ” jerk” and a thief , he’s said. He often says un-PC, inappropriate things about women and gay marriage. A mini campaign scandal involved a video in which Brown, seen campaigning with his coat open in the cold, possibly nods when someone in the crowd yells “Shove a curling iron up her butt”-referring to a sexual abuse case Martha Coakley was accused of not prosecuting aggressively enough.

Coakley, meanwhile, is the poster girl for that Pew report: more educated, accomplished, and prominent than her husband. She is a longtime prosecutor with political ambitions married to a retired police superintendent. They have two dogs but no children. During the campaign, she complained about the cold and couldn’t even get her Red Sox facts straight.

The press has analyzed Brown’s victory entirely in political terms, about its implications for health care reform and as a referendum on Obama. But given the dismal state of the economy, it’s possible those are entirely too arid concerns for the average Massachusetts voter. It seems just as likely that the voters see the rise of wives like Coakley, and they don’t like it.