All across America, women are taking charge, and not everyone is happy about it.
As cited in a recent New York Times article, Pew Research Center found that women are rising as breadwinners across the United States. Unfortunately, the trend also seems to be that women are still burdened with traditional womanly duties. The article notes, “When the wife brings in more money, couples often revert to more stereotypical sex roles; in such cases, wives typically take on a larger share of household work and child care.” So when women make more money, that doesn’t shrug off their burden at home; in fact, the trend shows that it makes it worse.
Perhaps this is why when women are breadwinners they are more likely to be dissatisfied with their marriage and file for divorce. Either way, our friend and trustworthy defender of conservative values Fox News is freaking out. Erick Erickson went as far to say that women in prime earning roles are unnatural and anti-science. He said,
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… We as people in a smart society have lost the ability to have complimentary relationships in nuclear families, and it is tearing us apart.
Could it possibly be that women in dominant roles “could undermine our social order?”
If we are, I’m here to tell you: it isn’t a bad thing. Women historically have been subservient, second-class citizens for most of history. Society should have no problem with women finally taking the lead. Yes, that might mean men have to step up as caregivers, and yes, that might mean that we see a shift in corporate culture, but these changes can only improve our society. Entering the workforce has been empowering for women. Americans have become more accepting of single parents. Women have far more life choices and face less discrimination than they did 50 years ago. I’d argue that’s a pretty great accomplishment.
Not only that, but the benefits of breadwinning women and women in the workforce in America at large are astounding. When the wife is the breadwinner, the total family income is higher. Businesses with more female board members do better than those without. Most importantly, more women in the workforce has increased GDP internationally. An Economist article quoting Goldmann Sachs notes, “leaving all other things equal, increasing women’s participation in the labor market to male levels will boost GDP by 21% in Italy, 19% in Spain, 16% in Japan, 9% in America, France and Germany, and 8% in Britain.”
You know what? After looking at all this data, I’ll admit it: Fox News is right. Women are changing the social order. They are making their lives better for themselves, increasing the value of their companies, and raising the world‘s quality of life. Sure, that might affect marriage. It might even change the “traditional” nuclear family, but the traditional nuclear family is far from perfect, and, dare I say it, women might be able to improve that as well.
So while Fox News might sputter about divorce and the decline of the all-American man, let’s not forget that divorce rates are down in almost every state, and men who help with housework tend to get more and better sex than those who don’t (maybe it’s time for Fox to get on board with this whole “housework for men” thing).
As of now, in 24% of all marriages, wives make more than their husbands; compare that to 6% in 1960. The resultant “change in social order” has been phenomenal for both women and the world. I say let that number climb. The gendered “social order” that Fox News pines for is bad for America. It’s time to move on to a women-influenced world.