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May 30, 2013 5:34 PM The Misogynist Public Policy Agenda

By Ed Kilgore

By now you’ve probably heard and read about RedState proprietor and Fox gabber Erick Erickson coming out boldly for the patriarchal family model on the air and in his blog. I don’t have a lot to add to the responses of Brother Benen (who took understandable umbrage at Erickson’s shot at “lazy beta-male MSNBC” folk) and of Amanda Marcotte (who had great fun at ol’ Erick’s expense mocking his pretensions of understanding science).

I’d come at the subject from a slightly different angle: If people like Erickson actually do, as they often say they do, believe human civilization itself is being ruined by feminism and its failure to understand that women need to stay home and raise the chirruns, what do they intend to do about it, other than resisting any government initiatives that might make it a bit easier for those rebellious women to reject their biologically determined destinies? I mean, seriously: the private sector can be counted on to provide a pretty significant level of discouragement to those benighted women who “try to have it all,” but it’s not like we’re in the early days of Mad Men; businesses desperately need the full workforce participation of women, and most understand that. So what’s the positive public policy agenda for misogynists these days? Making abortion and contraception as difficult to obtain as is possible is a given, I guess. Maintaining a tax code that offers higher child tax credits and lower (or perhaps zero) earned income tax credits probably also makes sense.

But if you are a conservative misogynist who doesn’t believe in using government to achieve desired social means any more than is necessary, it gets tough after that. After all, many women are in the work force instead of staying home to be “full-time moms” not because they are lacking the beneficent servant-leadership of a man, but because the menfolk can’t earn enough to support a family alone. An economy characterized by high and growing inequality isn’t terribly conducive to large families and stay-at-home mothers outside the very privileged classes. And anyone saying “it used to work” might want to consider the kind of collective bargaining agreements, minimum wage laws, and subsidized housing arrangements we “used to have”—back before we all understood that those items were socialistic and hence un-American. To put it most obviously, you can’t have the family structure of the 1950s without the economy of the 1950s, and few conservatives want that at all. Suffice it to say that for all the bluster, I strongly suspect conservative misogynists (and I use that term precisely, because there are conservatives who aren’t misogynists and misogynists who aren’t conservative) prefer a situation where women aren’t really forced back into the home and men aren’t really paid well enough to support a wife and kids, but where inequality can perpetually be excused and male privilege perpetually exalted—and men feel free to go on Fox News and act like early Mad Men.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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