The men of Fox News aren't the only guys deeply concerned about new Pew Research Center data showing that working mothers are now the primary breadwinners in 40 percent of American households. Bryan Fischer, host of the conservative radio talk show "Focal Point" on the equally conservative American Family Radio, took a few minutes Wednesday to bemoan the new status quo.
"I know if Right Wing Watch picks up on this, or anyone else, they're just gonna lacerate me for this," he began.
Right you are, Sir.
"From a biblical standpoint, it's very clear that men are designed to be the breadwinners for their families. That's the way God set it up. That's the way He designed it," Fischer continued.
So many issues. Here are some quotes we found especially problematic in the full video above:
"Husbands are to use their stamina and their strength and their brain power -- not that they're smarter than women, I'm not saying that -- but God's given them a brain, and the purpose for using their mental ability is to provide for their families, to use their physical strength to work hard, to work long hours, to use their physical strength to protect their wives and protect their children. The biblical pattern is for a wife and a mother to focus her energies, devote her energies on making a home for her children and for her husband."
Okay, two questions:
1. If women are just as smart as men (glad you're on board with that, Bryan), why is it men's responsibility to use those brains to provide for the family while it is women's to feather the nest?
2. Are male breadwinners whose jobs involve no manual labor and who have never had occasion to physically defend their families living "against the biblical pattern"?
"...and there's another problem is the number of married mothers who out-earn their husbands... I don't think that's a healthy dynamic to have a wife out-earn her husband because so much of his sense of worth as a male is tied up in what he does vocationally and providing for his family. That's his calling."
Now we get to what's really bothering Fischer: The increase in the number of female breadwinners threatens men's sense of identity. That's understandable -- as Hanna Rosin pointed out in her Atlantic article and subsequent book The End of Men, our cultural definition of masculinity has changed very little in the last century, while femininity has been redefined many times over. But the solution isn't to complain about reality, it's to expand our idea of what it is to be a man. Would Fischer tell men who feel "called" to stay home with their kids that they are not real men?
"It's not his wife's job to provide for his family. He knows that it's his job."
Research also suggests that an increasing number of men want to marry high-earning women, indicating that many men actually don't see it as "their job" to be the primary earner.
"And if he has a wife that out-earns him .. It's gonna put some stress on that marriage."
There's probably truth to this. In her extensively researched book, The Richer Sex, journalist Liza Mundy predicted that the rise of the female breadwinner would strain relationships. Change is hard. When women earn more, couples are forced to reconsider traditional marital roles. For instance, if the woman in a marriage earns more, is she still obligated to do as much housework? And in dual-earner families, men increasingly feel the work-life-balance stress women have dealt with since they started working full-time. That can mean twice the amount of stress in a marriage. Couples are certainly in uncharted territory on this -- but the "biblical pattern" Bryan Fischer describes probably isn't going to help them navigate it.