Do women need to wait on men hand and foot in order to avoid loneliness? No.

By Amanda Marcotte
Tuesday, July 8, 2014 12:03 EDT
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Not mandatory.

It’s so, so telling that Fox News has no compunctions about putting people that are clearly bonkers on their TV shows without much fear that their audiences are going to notice. Case in point: The continued reliance on Susan Patton, who has no qualifications or expertise in anything beyond being the platonic ideal of a crank who writes embarrassing letters to the editor regarding shit she doesn’t understand and maybe only has heard about through heavy sitcom viewing. Fox brought her on again recently to scold women about how we need to regard ourselves as servants and supplicants and, if we don’t, we will pay dearly with a lifetime of loneliness. From the Think Progress description:

The controversial author criticized today’s women for “acting like such an entitled princess” and prioritizing careers ahead of their families. Men, Patton told the Fox hosts, must be appreciated and respected, perhaps with a drink at the end of a long work day or gratitude and kindness. After all, should a woman alienate her husband, she’ll spend the rest of her life searching for a suitable replacement.

“If you are in your mid-30s or older the idea that you’re going to find yourself another husband, almost impossible,” Patton predicted. “And if you don’t believe me ask your maiden aunt, she will tell you when she’s done feeding the cats.”

Patton has only one note to sound, what Kristen Schaal satirized by saying, “Men are terrible creatures. Get one as soon as you can!” I honestly don’t know how you can do a whole segment portraying men as whiny little babies who are incapable of regarding a woman as equal and will basically throw you out on your ass the second you dare suggest you have as much value as he does, and then conclude that women should be able to do whatever they can to invite such a monster into their homes. If the choice is sitting at home with cats and Netflix and sharing a bed with some imperious asshole who treats you like an unpaid servant, Netflix sounds like a clear winner.

Of course, in the real world, that’s a false choice. Plenty of women hold out for real love between equals and plenty of women find it. More to the point, the idea that women are the ones who get more out of marriage and therefore should put up with any shit a man dishes out in order to keep one is just plain silly. It’s not just that women file for divorce more, though that alone should tell you that it’s not true that men are eager to bolt from marriage at the first sign that a wife is growing a spine. Research also shows that men generally are more positive towards marriage and even divorced men were quicker to say they’d remarry than divorced women. Marriage is great for men’s salaries, but it negatively impacts women’s, at least if they marry young. Some research shows that marriage increases the number of hours of housework women do, while it decreases men’s, suggesting men who marry are able to foist off some of their chores onto wives. It seems that if any gender needs advice on making marriages more pleasant, it should be advice aimed at men who need to do a better job pleasing women.

Of course, it’s important to understand that Fox News isn’t actually speaking to young women, married or not, with this “advice” on dialing back your career in order to spend more time on your hands and knees to provide a human ottoman for your husband. Most of their audience is older and past retirement age. This segment is about riling them up so that they’re shaking their heads about how “girls these days” have all their priorities screwed up and smugly assuring themselves that all these young women who think it’s okay to have a career and, god forbid, some self-esteem are going to pay for that assumption dearly. It’s also about assuring anxious conservatives that men will always have the upper hand. The fear, which I think is justified, is that if women start to stand up for themselves, men will actually be the ones to adjust, learning to give up more power and do more of their fair share of the housework rather than go without marriage or female companionship. By claiming that men have no real need of female love and attention and that therefore they can always set the standards for relationships—even if those standards are openly degrading to women—they can assure audiences that this whole “feminism” thing will blow over and women, chastened, will return to our “natural” roles as supplicants. But there’s no real world evidence to suggest that’s the way things are headed.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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