Erick Erickson makes it worse

Pro-tip: When accused of sexism, don’t reference your opponents’ "panties"

Topics: Sexism, Erick Erickson, CNN, Red State, Gender Equality,

Erick Erickson makes it worse (Credit: Wikipedia)

Erick Erickson, the conservative blogger and Fox News personality, became the most hated man on Twitter today after responding to a much-discussed Pew survey on female breadwinners by saying that science says that men should dominate women (to be fair to Erickson, Juan Williams and Lou Dobbs expressed equally retrograde sentiments on the very same segment, but have largely escaped the drubbing).

Erickson tried to clear things up with a blog post this afternoon, but only made matters worse by showing how much he doesn’t get it. The missive started off poorly, with some whining about how feminists and “emo lefties have their panties in a wad” (pro-tip: when accused of sexism, don’t reference your opponents’ panties while mounting your defense) and only got worse from there.

First there was a science lesson:

I also noted that the left, which tells us all the time we’re just another animal in the animal kingdom, is rather anti-science when it comes to this. In many, many animal species, the male and female of the species play complementary roles, with the male dominant in strength and protection and the female dominant in nurture.

There are also species where males castrate themselves before sex to avoid being eating alive by females. Perhaps Erickson would like to experience that — you know, because science?

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Erickson goes on to equate all female breadwinners with single mothers, and then to assume that the outrage directed at his comments was about some kind of politically correct effort to destroy families:

But we should not kid ourselves or scream so loudly in politically correct outrage to drown the truth — kids most likely will do best in households where they have a mom at home nurturing them while dad is out bringing home the bacon.

Here he shows he just doesn’t get it. What upset people about Erickson’s comments had less to do with single mothers and the decline of marriage rates than about gender roles. It was his notion that women should always stay at home and tend to the kids and that men should always be the breadwinners and dominate women — because that’s only natural.

But almost 40 percent of the female breadwinners identified by the survey are married mothers who have a higher income than their husbands. Married women “are more likely than before to be the primary provider in the family,” growing from 4 percent in 1960 to 23 percent in 2011. That’s faster than the rate single mothers have grown. Married women have gained because they’ve had better education and employment opportunities — in other words, more equality.

But Erickson says that breadwinning is not the woman’s role anyway — it’s the “female who tames the male beast.” His worldview, as even better expressed in his blog post than his comments on Fox News, fundamentally rejects the notion of gender equality. How can men and women be equal if one is not supposed to work outside the home and the other is supposed to dominate it?

He goes on to say that his notion is backed up by three-quarters of people surveyed in the Pew poll. But at the same time, the vast majority of Americans — 79 percent, according to the survey — “reject the idea that women should return to their traditional roles.” The polling data is often contradictory, but it’s clearly not on Erickson’s side.

And as Irin Carmon wrote this morning, this is an issue for men to take up too, and one as much about economic realities as anything else. “Whether they like it or not — whether you like it or not — the numbers show these shifts are inexorable. When it comes to working or not working, for the vast majority of Americans this is less about individual fulfillment than it is a matter of survival,” she explains.

What’s so shocking about the Fox News clip and Erickson’s blog post is not the ideas themselves, but how transparently they’re presented. He comes off like a liberal’s caricature of what conservative men think — except this time it’s real.

Alex Seitz-Wald
Alex Seitz-Wald is Salon's political reporter. Email him at aseitz-wald@salon.com, and follow him on Twitter @aseitzwald.

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