Photo of the day

From a Big Picture gallery of puffins:

Puffins are good fliers. They can flap their wings up to 400 times per minute and can reach speeds of 55 miles (88 kilometers) an hour. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Single moms vs. stay-at-home dads

This week Pew released data showing that a record high 40% of households now have women as the primary or sole breadwinner.  This led to a troglodytic sexist freak-out on Fox News (nicely summarized by Steve Benen):

The clip has to be seen to be believed, but for those who can’t watch clips online, Dobbs said the Pew report is evidence of “society dissolving around us.” Juan Williams said the more women become the “primary bread winner,” the more we see “the disintegration of marriage.” He added, “Left, right, I don’t see how you can argue this.”

Erick Erickson went even further:

“I am so used to liberals telling conservatives that they are anti-science. But I mean this is — liberals who defend this and say it’s not a bad thing are very anti-science. 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, the female is not antithesis or is not competing; it’s a complementary role.”

Erickson added that “reality” tells us that “having mom as the primary breadwinner is bad for kids.” This, Erickson concluded, is “a war on women.”

The third male panelist — there were no women guests on the program — was Fox’s Doug Schoen, who described this “a catastrophic issue” that “could undermine our social order.”

What interested me is how much people were talking past each other and too dumb too even realize it.  There’s too almost totally different issues that are being confounded here.  In some cases, women are making more money than the men they are married to.  That’s what Erickson is freaking out about and his ignorance is just embarrassing.  The idea that women earning more than their husbands will lead to the dissolution of society is facially absurd.

In contrast, I think Juan Williams was actually commenting on the increase in households where women are the sole breadwinner.  In small portion of cases, that means a stay-at-home dad, but for the most part, it simply means a single working mom.  Now, regardless of how much of a feminist you are, it’s pretty clear that’s a bad trend and that both women and children (on average) do better in a home with two parents.

Now, the comments of the Fox guys really are pathetic on so many levels, but I think they (and many of the commentators I’ve read) need to be much more careful in confounding very different social trends which are blurred in the same statistic.

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