The fact that 40 percent of women are now the primary American breadwinners is a crime against nature, according to a very upset panel of four distraught men on Fox Business on Wednesday night. And it is very much possible that the offense these four Fox pundits are really concerned about is the one threatening their future earnings potential. RedState editor Erick Erickson told host Lou Dobbs that by letting this trend happen, liberals were defying biology:
"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 complementary role."
Dobbs agreed, as did panelist Juan Williams and some other guy. Now, in fairness to Erickson, we all know that he's not really advocating that humans start living like a pack of wolves or lions or proboscis monkeys. That would be terrible. In many animal societies, old and unhealthy beta males are killed by the alpha males, who sometimes also kill the betas' offspring. Good thing we don't emulate them, or Fox Business would never have enough guests to fill its airtime. Fox News would cease to function. According to a Media Matters study, in April, 71 percent of the people on Fox News' evening programming were male, while 29 percent were female. From 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., Fox News' shows are all co-hosted by at least one woman. On the Fox Business network, women host or co-host every show from 11 a.m. until Dobbs' show at 6 p.m. The company that employs Erickson certainly doesn't think it's destroying society to pay women a bunch of money. That's why the most important part of Erickson's malaise speech is not his image of subservient female lobsters or whatever, but his insistence that in nature, females are "not competing" against males. Is Erickson sad all these women are making more money than him?
The reactions of the three other guys were just as hysterical. Dobbs said the data was among a set of "a lot of other concerning and troubling statistics." Dobbs was apocalyptic, saying, "We're watching society dissolve around us." Williams agreed: "You're seeing, I think, systemically, larger than the political stories that we follow every day, something going terribly wrong in American society."
What is going terribly wrong in American society? Crime rates are at historic lows. So are teen pregnancy rates. Worker productivity is high. Dobbs mentioned the high dropout rate, but it's declined from 12.1 percent in 1990 to 7.4 percent in 2010. He said we needed to "teach out kids to read and write," but the literacy rate is 99 percent. Very few people even smoke anymore. America is kind of awesome, actually, despite all these terrible working women.
You could imply, like these guys, that the increase in female breadwinners has something to do with the failure of the culture. Or, you could look at some charts and see that it has a lot to do with the economy. Over the last century, there has been a decline in the amount of muscle you need to work, and an increase in jobs that do not require muscles, like computer science and TV punditry. As the Population Reference Bureau has explained, more women have entered the workforce, in part because, "During the past 50 years, as manual labor required for many jobs decreased and more white-collar jobs were created, a greater number of jobs became available to women."
That's obviously true on the Fox networks. Megyn Kelly and Greta Van Susteren can do Lou Dobbs' job just as well — in fact, they do it much better. (Kelly's daytime show averaged 1.1 million viewers the first quarter of this year; Dobbs's averaged 105,000.) At least, Roger Ailes thinks so. "We have a great relationship. Eventually, we'd love her to stay here and be even a bigger star," Ailes said in an interview about Kelly's contract negotiations. "I like talent. I respect talent. I teach talent."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.