The loudest voices in the Republican echo machine – those Fox News Network heavy hitters who routinely and consistently blame everything on President Obama, from the Boston Marathon Bombing to the IRS scandal, to the unusually bad weather in the heartland – recently shouted themselves into a place where the president became the poster boy for working mothers. When the dust settled over which gender is dominant (naturally) and which is inferior, the conservative women voices held up President Obama as the standard bearer for equality. Again, as is so often the case when conservatives discuss Mr. Obama, it’s “damn if he is and damn if he isn’t!”
It was a fresh Pew Research Center study which found that more than 40 percent of women are now the primary breadwinners in American households with children that triggered the latest chaotic episode in conservative circles. Led by the network’s prime time pulls – Lou Dobbs and Erick Erickson, with conservative-commentator-of-color, Juan Williams in tow – the crossfire hinged on a difference of opinion as to whether or not working women threaten the very basis of the traditional American social order. The hair on the necks of the women – Megyn Kelly and Greta Van Susteren – rose noticeably as the men argued that the ideal American family is a stable two-parent one where a (dominant) man is the primary breadwinner and the woman stays at home and nurtures the children – anchoring a positive home environment.
The nostalgic position of the male talking heads in this very heated fracas has its roots in the Norman Rockwell-like image of the American family as depicted on the 60s era show, “Father Knows Best.” Kelly and Van Susteren, who are usually modest head bobbers when the likes of Dobbs, Erickson and Sean Hannity take the mike, instead took womanly hands-on-hips offence: “What makes you dominant and me submissive and who died and made you scientist-in-chief?” Kelly said to Erickson. Van Susteren chimed in, asserting not only that her masculine colleagues had lost their minds but would next take back the right of women to vote.
As the loudest climax point approached, these self-absorbed opinion leaders wrestled with ideas ranging from the success potential of children from single, female-headed, or gay households to the link between the divorce rate and whether or not the family roles of men and women are interchangeable – all data points on the way to the future of America.
When Dobbs, in his customarily derisive and patronizing tone of voice said, in effect, that women were different, if not inferior to men, Kelly, eyes-a-blazing, told the men that 50 and 60 years ago there was a wide belief in society that the children of interracial marriages were inferior.
“They said it was science, and it was fact,” she said. “If you were the child of a black father and a white mother or vice versa, you were inferior and you were not set up for success. Tell that to Barack Obama.”
I can imagine if he weren’t in polite company listening to this exchange, President Obama probably said, “Well, I’ll be damned!”
Educator William Turner is a Texas-based freelance author with strong Winston-Salem ties.