Most of the time, conservatives pooh-pooh the pay gap as a result of women’s “choice” to work less and attend to the home more. They’re not against equality, they assure us, but equality just naturally fails on its own because women make it so! That ruse lasted right up until the announcement that four out of ten households with children now have a female breadwinner. So how did Fox News respond? By gathering a panel of all male pundits to explain that, under no uncertain terms, the disappearance of male economic dominance signals the end of life as we know it.
Choice phrases tossed around, including from resident liberal Juan Williams: “disintegration of marriage,” “society dissolve around us,” and “something going terribly wrong in American society.” Then there’s Lou Dobbs, darkly intimating that women’s escape from economic dependence turns them into killers: “And those are the children who survive!” he exclaims at one point, in reference to all those money-grubbing ladies having abortions on their lunch break.
You have to watch the whole video to fully appreciate the man-panic, but by far, the funniest quote is from Erick Erickson, trying to ‘splain to the ladies that “science” says they’re a servant class put here for the benefit of men:
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.
Erickson must have 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. The only man on this panel who got close to the facts in midst of the full-blown panic was Williams, who hinted at how this is more about men’s declining fortunes than women’s growing ones. 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.