I remember how hard it used to be to convince my wife to join Twitter. About the sixth time during each day that I’d burst into an immature cackle while scrolling through my feed, she’d roll her eyes, and I’d take that as my cue to try and convince her that Twitter was indeed a public good. I’d exalt the virtues of its use during instances of government suppression during the Arab Spring, or point out its real-time efficiency in figuring out traffic issues (people love to tweet about traffic while in traffic), but she knew the truth. I was in it for the nonsense.
Sometimes I wish I hadn’t have taken up the task of persuading her to join the fray. For one, I’d be able to avoid seeing all the Kliff Kingsbury-related tweets she favorites. (Apparently, he’s good looking?) But the biggest reason I regret my wife’s presence on Twitter is that she recently alerted me to a piece of video that has launched me into a tailspin of mind-numbing internal debate and dissonance.
Maybe you’ve seen it, and perhaps I’m just reopening old wounds, but Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson recently let this bit of “wisdom” fly:
“Study after study has shown that when men make less than women, women generally don’t want to marry them. Maybe they should want to marry them but they don’t. Over big populations, this causes a drop in marriage, a spike in out of wedlock births and all the familiar disasters that inevitably follow, more drug and alcohol abuse, higher incarcerations rates, fewer families formed in the next generation.”
Here’s the point that Tucker Carlson was trying to make, summed up. White rural modern families now resemble urban families of the 1980s in that there’s rampant male unemployment, a drug epidemic, and an increased rate of births out of wedlock. And his culprit? Women making more money than men.
“This is not speculation; it’s not propaganda… it’s social science. We know it’s true.” Carlson opined, without citing any of the studies he so confidently referenced.
And who did Tucker Carlson blame for his assertion that poor white men can’t afford to put a ring on it? Rich, married folks.
“Here’s the bewildering and infuriating part. The very same affluent married people, the ones who make virtually all the decisions in our society, are doing pretty much nothing to help the people below them get, and stay married. Rich people are happy to fight malaria in Congo, but working to raise men’s wages in Dayton of Detroit? That’s crazy. This is negligence on a massive scale. Both parties ignore the crisis in marriage. Our mindless cultural leaders act like it’s still 1961, and the biggest problem American families face is that sexism is preventing millions of housewives from becoming investment bankers or Facebook executives.”
I don’t know where to start here. I suppose I’ll define where I’m coming from. I’m a work-from-home dad supporting a spouse whose income at her second job greatly outweighs my primary income. I know that on the whole, there’s little value in anecdotes, so take it for what it’s worth when I say I’m not just content in my complimentary role to my spouse, but that I feel, as much as anyone with four kids can, that we’re thriving. I mean, we’re drowning in life’s unceasing avalanche of responsibility, but as far as drowning goes, I feel like we’re doing a decent job. If we were on a metaphorical drowning talent show, I like to think Simon Cowell would be impressed.
Anyway, I’m happy. So maybe it’s the fact that I can’t relate that causes these comments to fail to resonate with me. Or perhaps it’s that I tend to be on the conservative side of things politically, which is where I thought Tucker Carlson resided. It’s hard for me to place the blame for society’s woes on the fact that women aren’t falling all over themselves to wear a white gown and recite vows across from “Cletus the unskilled laborer,” who grew up residing in a manufacturing graveyard and refused to pivot so he could support himself, much less an eventual theoretical family.
Correlation or Causation?
Is my gender having a crisis? Sure. And we always have been. The fact that some women make some money now isn’t the root of our ills. Correlation doesn’t prove causation. I seem to remember learning that one of the things that historically hyper-accelerates women’s participation in the workforce are the wars we testosterone-possessing Homo sapiens show an affinity for both generating and participating in.
There’s nothing more emasculating to me than Tucker Carlson’s assertion that the L’s that the male gender has been collecting aren’t even L’s that we earned. We’re all just victims in a dark timeline, and the reason we’re strung out on the trailer sofa, playing Xbox, and waiting for the coal mine to reopen, is so that we can at least enter some kind of tunnel since the fairer sex has abandoned us. And it’s all because some well-adjusted suburban couple was busy helping reduce the global malaria death rate 48% from 2000-2015. Those charitable bastards.
Is He Right?
Maybe Tucker Carlson is right. I mean, he isn’t. This is an aggressively anti-woman diatribe that also manages to make America’s men completely dependent on government assistance to get them a job and a partner. But for the sake of argument, let’s say that he at the very least has a point about the fact that women should be attracted to men who don’t make a whole lot of money.
I mean, that’s something I’m not going to spend too much time fighting him on. Especially since it worked out for me. My wife seems to have failed to heed the words of Rozanda “Chilli” Thomas, who once famously said, “Wanna get with me, with no money, oh no, I don’t want no scrub.”
I suppose another option for our gender would be to man up while manning up still implies exerting effort in order to overcome adversity. We could learn and develop marketable skills in order to attract a mate, and help take care of the kids we sire. Maybe we can stop acting like scrubs altogether?
But why would we do that when our TV talking heads are hanging out the passenger side of their Fox News ride, trying to holler that there’s someone else to blame?