Glenn Reynolds, aka “Instapundit”, is one of the biggest voices out there trying to integrate “men’s rights activism” with mainstream conservatism. Not that mainstream conservatives have any love for feminism, of course, but the MRA hyper-focus on blaming all the world’s ills on the fact that women won’t meekly submit to male authority as MRAs want them to is a bit much even for some of the biggest anti-choice misogynists on the Republican side of the aisle. But Reynolds keeps pushing and his latest entry, for USA Today, is about accusing feminists, in collusion with Obama, of stealing good jobs from working class men.
So if Democrats want to win back the white working class — and they kind of need to, if they want to win elections, because it’s an enormous demographic — maybe they need to start thinking about honoring and encouraging work, rather than talking about race or class. One person who has some ideas in this direction is Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who suggests that the government invest heavily in infrastructure, which would create a lot of blue-collar jobs.
That was actually an original part of Barack Obama’s stimulus plan, but it was derailed by feminists within the Obama coalition who thought it would produce too many jobs for men. Christina Romer, then-chair of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, reported: “The very first email I got … was from a women’s group saying ‘We don’t want this stimulus package to just create jobs for burly men.’ “
The entire piece is a breathtaking work of bad faith, but this might be the worst of it. If anyone in this equation was against government spending to create jobs, it wasn’t the feminists. It was conservatives like Reynolds. Reynolds hates the stimulus package he pretends to defend against the evil, man-hating, job-stealing feminists. But he will pretend to support it in order to attack feminists for mounting a basic criticism of it.
On top of that, and there’s no nice way to put this, he’s lying about what happened. As Scott Lemieux writes:
If you look at the linked piece, however, you’ll noticed that while feminist groups were (rightly!) concerned about gender equity in stimulus spending, they did not oppose infrastructure projects or get any stripped from the ARRA. Women’s groups wanted additions, not subtractions, and got them. The idea that women’s groups, rather than conservative Republicans, are the reason for the lack of infrastructure spending is risible bad faith even by Reynolds’s standards.
What’s interesting about this lie is it’s far more MRA thinking than mainstream conservative thinking. Most mainstream conservatives aren’t stupid or simple-minded enough—and that’s saying a lot!—to think that it’s a zero-sum game and that every woman who has a job is stealing it from a man who “deserves” it more by virtue of what they wrote on his birth certificate when he was born. That kind of childish zero-sum thinking is pure MRA bullshit, as is Reynolds trotting out imaginary “good” women who valiantly wish only for their “burly” husbands to get all the jobs. The reality is not every working class woman is married and even those who are tend to need their jobs just as much as their husbands do. Putting money in both men and women’s pockets is going to do a lot more to stimulate the economy than arbitrarily restricting most of the money to men. There simply is not a struggle between equality and prosperity like simple-minded MRAs would like to believe. After all, the five poorest states in the country are five of the most hostile to women’s rights. If pushing women down was enough to lift men up, you wouldn’t see statistics like that.