Have a problem with women as breadwinners? Get over it

Posted Thursday, Jun. 06, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The good news is that there are plenty of men who don’t care if a woman makes more money. The bad news? According to a 2013 Pew Research study, 28 percent of adults said they agreed it’s generally better for a marriage if the husband earns more money than his wife. Eighteen percent of college-educated adults felt the same.

Fox News contributor Erick Erickson is among that 18 percent. Last week on Lou Dobbs Tonight, Erickson went nuclear when responding to another factoid from the survey, which also claimed that mothers are now the primary source of income in 40 percent of American households.

“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,” Erickson said. “Having Mom as primary breadwinner is bad for kids and bad for marriage.”

The outrage over his comments was swift and loud, even from Erickson’s Fox colleagues. Greta Van Susteren tweeted, “Have these men lost their minds? … Next thing they will have a segment to discuss eliminating women’s right to vote.” Political analyst Kirsten Powers tweeted to Erickson, “I’m sincerely confused.”

But Erickson didn’t back down. The following day, he posted a blog, “The Truth May Hurt, but Is Not Mean,” which just infuriated folks even more. “In modern society, we are supposed to applaud feminists who teach women they can have it all — that there is no gender identifying role and women can fulfill the role of husbands and fathers just as men do,” he wrote.

I, too, am sincerely confused by Erickson and the 28 percent of respondents who seem to share his outlook. What exactly is the problem with women — mothers specifically — being the primary breadwinners and/or earning more than their partners?

If the enduring recession should have taught us anything, it’s that jobs are not secure, especially for men, who were hit the hardest in 2007 to 2009. If a man was married to a working woman who was the primary breadwinner, that family didn’t take as hard a hit as it could have.

Also, salaries ebb and flow. Everyone’s goal is to increase his or her salary, but in the current culture, in which people move from job to job and layoffs seem imminent, sometimes you’re up and sometimes you’re down. The same applies to the salary of your (potential) spouse. And since we’re talking about families, why should it matter who earns more of the clichéd bacon, especially when it’s collectively going to the same household and will be used for the betterment of that family?

It doesn’t make a man any less of one if he’s not outearning his partner. And contrary to paranoid belief, the rise of women who provide the primary income doesn’t mean that women en masse are going to turn around and belittle the lesser financial contributions of men, as has been done to women for so long. Trust. Women have better things to do, like work — hard — because people are relying on us or we don’t want to rely on someone else.

Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor to The Root.

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