Conservative Freak Out (Update)

It was this itty-bitty little graph that caused conservatives to absolutely lose their minds last week. Basically, a study from the Pew Research Center revealed that there are a lot of women who are the sole breadwinner or the major breadwinner in their households. For those of us who live in the reality-based world, we’ve recognized for some time that the “Leave It to Beaver” or “Father Knows Best” male-dominated models of the household simply don’t exist to the extent that they did back in the 1950s in the United States. This changed for a variety of reasons. Yet, conservatives simply want to blame women for this trend. Oh, let me correct myself. Conservatives would like to blame “liberated” women for this trend.

If you want to blame someone, there’s plenty of blame to go around. First of all, and my blame list is in no particular order, one of the glaring facts that springs off the page when you read this study is the fact that women get paid less for doing the exact same job as men. Why is this? This is simply a fact of gender discrimination. From my personal vantage point, as a physician, I’ve seen nurses’ salaries stagnate and even regress over the past 20 years. It is clear that there are more women who go in the nursing than men. Nurses, outside of California, have yet to band together to demand higher salaries. Instead, what we see in the nursing profession is that nurses after five, 10 or 15 years will leave a hospital because the work load is too hard, the hours are too long and the salaries are too small. So, nurses will move to doctors’ offices for better hours and a decreased workload in exchange for… wait for it… most the time, lower salaries.

Conservative Freak out (Lou Dobbs, Eric Erickson and Megyn Kelly)

I think it is interesting that, when they look at this data, conservatives don’t ask why men are getting paid more. I believe that this data also show, or at least suggest, that men performing traditional labor-intensive work simply don’t get paid as much as they did 30 or 40 years ago. This is why in so many cases a single income cannot support a household.

Conservatives love to point to the divorce rate in the United States. They would like to blame that on “liberated” women. For some reason, they never want to turn this data around and look at men. When I look at this data, and when I look back over the last 50-60 years, I see that women had to put up with abuse and abusive husbands decades ago. If an abused woman turned to her friends, neighbors, even to her pastor, everyone told her to stay with the abusive husband. Now, that’s different. Women can pack up and go. When I look at this data, I see the men who are inflexible. I see men who have not adapted to the changes in our society. No longer is it okay to go to work and simply come home and sit on the couch and drink beer, day after day. Now you need to help. Since both the men and the women are working, each needs to do their part. Then again, maybe I’m wrong. 😉

Update: A friend of mine sent me a very nice article written by Nancy Anderson, President of New Perspectives, Inc. She is also an Assistant Professor of Finance at Mississippi College. Here is part of that article

Now Gov. Bryant suggests our education problems in Mississippi are because women fled the home in droves for the workforce. Well, I guess that lets him off the hook for underfunding education and for failing to find ways to help children and families succeed. If he’s right, then all we need to do is “git” those women back in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant, and magically, our children will regain genius status.

Poverty, undereducated parents, poor family structures, addiction, poorly funded schools, poor quality educators… these are just some of the issues that are part of the complex puzzle of why our education system in Mississippi is so bad.

My daughter is a stable and successful contributing member of society. That is due, in large part, because of the example I set through my own work life. To suggest that working women undermine the education of their children is simple-minded and just plain ignorant. We’ve come a long way, baby! And our baby daughters have come a long way.

Governor, I’d like to propose another reason for the poor education of our children. Old men. Specifically, old men in leadership positions who can’t adjust to a new world. If we could just get more women in office leading the charge for our children, for our families, for our country, what a wonderful world it would be.

Educated children. Stable families. Who knows? Maybe even peace on earth.

Of course, she is right. The problem isn’t women in the workforce. Conservatives love to blame minorities and women for everything.

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.


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