Last week, a panel of men on Lou Dobbs' show had a collective, public, patriarchal panic attack on air. It has to be seen to be believed. Sometimes, people just open their mouths and the ugliness tumbles out, as if from an overflowing cornucopia of ignorance and arrogance. The catalyst for their on-air meltdown was the news that that more than 40 percent of American children are growing up in households where women are the primary breadwinners.
It goes without saying that no one mentioned the fact that these women make substantially less than their male peers, what it means to have a sex-segregated workplace and our obscene wealth gap have to do with anything.
To summarize the findings, just because it's so good... working mothers are:
Really, go watch it again. It's so worth it.
I have no idea what these people will do when they learn that male assistants sometimes carry female politicians' purses, you know... in the assistant-y kind of way that assistants do things. They probably have a bunker, for that.
It is entirely possible that we do indeed live, all 7 billion of us, in parallel worlds that overlap in multi-dimensional space-time. However, I'm going to go with the idea that this is a conservative all-male panel with media power expressing ridiculous opinions about topics they choose to either distort or not understand particularly well: modernity, economics, women's health, science and reality just to name a few. If you would like to hear what a person who has studied and written whole books with words big and small about work and sex and gender for entire life has to say, you might want to check out Stephanie Coontz's piece, "The Triumph of the Working Mother," in yesterday's New York Times. She explains, with intelligence and rigor, her conclusions after decades of studying the societal and cultural changes that have taken place during the past half century. Fair warning, though, her article says nothing about how to take down sabre-tooth tigers with sharp-tipped spears or use flint to light twigs on fire so that bears won't eat you in the night.
Usually, I would say don't respond to people who say things that these men are saying. But, what they have to say isn't just benighted, it has consequences for millions of people.
As president and CEO of the Ms. Foundation, Anika Rahman, explained in launching a petition asking Fox Business Network to cancel Lou Dobbs Tonight:
"With women currently earning only 77 percent of what men do -- and the numbers even bleaker for women of color -- we need public figures that support equal opportunities for women rather than perpetuate harmful gender stereotypes. While CNN and MSNBC hosted all-female panels to respond to the research, the Fox Business Network obviously learned nothing from the extensive criticism of the all-male congressional panel on contraception last year."
It's not enough to simply say, ignore them anymore. You have to Name It to Change It. There is even an organization dedicated to doing just that. In the meantime, fair pay? Desegregated workforce? Ever widening wealth gap? Pshaw! There's a dust bunny on the floor by your left foot, woman, see it?
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