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Dear Conservatives: Ozzie and Harriet Are Dead

Are women who make more money than their husbands a threat to a stable marriage?

by
Rick Moran

Bio

June 6, 2013 - 12:04 am

The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, the longest-running live-action situation comedy in television history, debuted on radio in 1944 and ended its TV run in 1966. Such longevity in the entertainment business is remarkable and a testament to the creative genius of Ozzie Nelson, a former band leader who married singer Harriet Snyder in 1935. The couple decided to appear as a team so that their separate careers wouldn’t keep them apart. This led to the radio incarnation of their show and, finally, their successful TV run.

As with all the 1950s and early 1960s family-themed sitcoms, the shows featured a strong, loving father; a doting, submissive mother; and usually one or more precocious children whose everyday problems became the plots for most of the episodes. They all lived in neat suburban houses, with comfortable but not ostentatious furnishings. The children were well-fed, always wore clean clothes, were respectful of their elders and authority figures, and rarely misbehaved.

The key to Ozzie and Harriet’s popularity, as well as that of series like Father Knows Best, Leave It to Beaver, and Make Room for Daddy, was simple: TV was portraying the ideal family, in an ideal setting, with ideal characters, living mostly idyllic lives. Those shows are skewered by modern-day critics, who scoff at the portrayal of the family in such a positive, unrealistic light. But the fact is, many millions of Americans saw themselves being portrayed by those TV families and they embraced the values that were illuminated by the characters every week.

But we all know it wasn’t really like that. Daddy may have had an affair with his secretary and sometimes beat his kids. Mom may have been a closet alcoholic and a psychologically abusive witch. The teenage girl occasionally had sex and got pregnant. And the teenage boy might have struggled to suppress his attraction to the same sex while failing algebra and getting in trouble with the law for going joyriding in a neighbor’s car.

The problems of the “traditional families” in the 1950s weren’t really much different than problems faced by families today. Except that the families today don’t look much like the Nelson family. It’s just a pity many conservatives apparently don’t see that, or refuse to accept it.

The essence of America is change. It is the source of our greatest strength as a society — our ability to right wrongs, adapt to new situations, and reinvent ourselves. We can alter the course of history if we work hard enough and believe strongly enough.

What we can’t do is turn back the clock. But for some on the right, this simple, physical law is ignored, and the political and social ramifications of this inability to deal with the massive structural changes in our society are threatening to make conservatism irrelevant and the Republican Party a memory.

Pew Research recently released a rather startling survey which showed that 4 in 10 American households with children now feature women as the primary breadwinners. The internals of the poll are fascinating: 37% of those women are married and make more money than their husbands. But 63% are single mothers. Perhaps it’s not surprising that most of the married women are white and most of the single women are black and Hispanic — a sad commentary on the effects of poverty on the family.

Pew offers a logical explanation:

The growth of both groups of mothers is tied to women’s increasing presence in the workplace. Women make up almost of half (47%) of the U.S. labor force today, and the employment rate of married mothers with children has increased from 37% in 1968 to 65% in 2011.

Erick Erickson, appearing on Fox News along with Juan Williams and Lou Dobbs, showed why Josh Barro was right when he wrote, “Erick Erickson Shows Everything That’s Wrong With The GOP”:

I’m so used to liberals telling conservatives that they’re anti-science. But liberals who defend this and say it is not a bad thing are very anti-science. When you look at biology, when you look at the natural world, the roles of a male and a female in society and in other animals, the male typically is the dominant role. The female, it’s not antithesis, or it’s not competing, it’s a complimentary role.

Erickson saved himself from complete ignominy by using the word “typically” to describe sex roles in the animal kingdom. That may be true. But there are enough examples of females being dominant — especially among primates — to question his scientific acumen.

And, of course, humans are a little different than the rest of the animal kingdom. As rational, self-aware, thinking apes, we have the ability to rise above purely instinctive behavior and make choices based on the notion that, while there are many differences between men and women, we are possessed with equal levels of intelligence, ambition, and innate ability.

But Erickson’s beef is not with nature (one can never be sure, but one hopes he accepts the above premise), it is with the choices that women make and how those choices are affecting the family. They are not the choices that Harriet Nelson would have made, nor many women from the 1950s. But is Erickson saying that the choices women make today are illegitimate if they don’t conform to an ancient and outmoded idea of the “traditional family”?

For single mothers, there is no choice. More than 8.5 million women are forced to work outside the home to support their children. Almost 30% of single mothers live in poverty. With absent fathers, who are likely to contribute little in the way of child support or alimony, support structures for single mothers are nearly non-existent. What choice does Erickson want these women to make? Find a man and marry him? If only it were that simple.

But it’s those married women who have chosen to pursue a career that allows them to be the primary source of income for the family that are really eating at Erickson and other conservatives. “Having mom as primary breadwinner is bad for kids and bad for marriage,” said Erickson. Oh really? And on what scientific basis is that statement made? The “traditional family,” where the dad works and the mom stays at home all day to take care of the kids, is nearly non-existent. Only 14% of families fit that template today. The overwhelming majority of women work outside of the home — not exactly what Harriet Nelson had in mind, but that’s America. Women make up 47% of the workforce and nearly a quarter of them have more education and training than their husbands. A growing number of fathers — 3.5% — are “stay-at-home dads” and make themselves responsible for child rearing while their better educated, more successful wives go off to work.

There’s much more. When Erickson claims that female breadwinners are bad for children and their marriage, what kind of family is he imagining where the kids are better off and the marriage has a better chance of success? One can have little doubt that Erickson would reply that the “traditional family” is what he has in mind.

But what is a “traditional” family? A few facts on what the family unit looks like in America today:

* Single parents account for 27 percent of family households with children under 18.
* More than two million fathers are the primary caregivers of children under 18, a 62 percent increase since 1990.
* One in two children will live in a single-parent family at some point in childhood.
* One in three children is born to unmarried parents.
* Nearly half of all marriages end in divorce.
* More than one million children have parents who separate or divorce each year.
*More than half of Americans today have been, are or will be in one or more stepfamily situations.

If there is such a thing as a “traditional family” today, it is a blended family — parents and children the result of more than one union that will probably result in divorce and remarriage, further blending the already blended grouping. But there are other kinds of family units that would certainly fall under the rubric “non-traditional”:

* Estimates show that approximately 2 million American children under the age of 18 are being raised by their lesbian and gay parents
* The number of unmarried partner households has increased by 72 percent in the last decade from three million in 1990 to more than five million in 2000. These figures include both same-sex and different-sex couples.
* One-third of lesbian households and one-fifth of gay male households have children.

Studies still show that the optimum situation for children is to have a married, different-sex couple as parents. A child’s chances of success in education, in employment, and in building their own stable, monogamous relationship as an adult increases dramatically if they live in such an environment.

But truly, how many children can live under “optimum” conditions? Do we tell everyone else they can’t have kids? There are a million reasons why families break up, and it is a certainty that women being primary breadwinners isn’t one of them. Blame the ease of divorce compared to 50 years ago. Blame a culture that devalues monogamy. Blame fathers who beat their wives, mothers who constantly bitch about money, or couples who simply drift apart. But there is no basis to blame female breadwinners except an outdated notion of women and the family.

That conservatives consider themselves guardians of the traditional family, and family values is a good and noble thing. But the guardians of tradition, to be effective, must recognize the times in which they live and adjust to the changing realities of the culture and society. It’s no use trying to recapture the Ozzie and Harriet version of the family, or any notion that women will eschew the opportunities that the 21st century is presenting to them because they may end up making more money than their husbands. That kind of thinking has gone the way of the Studebaker and Davy Crockett coonskin caps. Conservatives should concentrate on channeling the changes we are seeing in the family unit into productive outlets that help parents nurture children and empower families to achieve security. Building non-governmental support systems in the community is a good start. This means affordable day care, after-school activities, and perhaps educational opportunities for the parents.Voting for politicians who even vaguely understand the value of a well-ordered free market couldn’t hurt either. A strong economic base is a prerequisite for strong families.

In other words, conservatives must work to strengthen the voluntary community. Not by lecturing women about how much money they make and hectoring them about how seeking their idea of a fulfilling life is selfish and even unseemly, but by welcoming everyone, of every race and, yes, sexual orientation into the circle.

Otherwise, conservatives and their political party will find themselves on the outside looking in.

Rick Moran is PJ Media's Chicago editor and Blog editor at The American Thinker. He is also host of the"RINO Hour of Power" on Blog Talk Radio. His own blog is Right Wing Nut House.

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Top Rated Comments   
Perhaps it’s not surprising that most of the married women are white and most of the single women are black and Hispanic — a sad commentary on the effects of poverty on the family.,/blockquote>

No. It is a sad commentary on the effects of THE POVERTY INDUSTRY on the family. The American Black family was a model of family strength and cohesiveness until it was shattered by The Great Society and War on Poverty. Now it is noteworthy for its lack.

Feel good Liberal policies have built poverty into a vast industry, enslaving millions of Americans.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Mr. Moran once again proves the existence of The Parallel Universe.

The overwhelming reliance on statistics, which can give a false sense of "knowing", is the hallmark of thinking gone dead. Empirical observation is subsumed in an easy, tidy manner, not unlike Mr. Moran's portrayal of the ideal family of the past.

Nobody believed that ideal, and yet Mr. Moran bases his entire ball of thought on that concept. Then shovels on percentages as if they came from a burning bush, and therefore are good.

No need to "go back", but take a look around, is it really better for the culture to continue down a path lined with all this failure?
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Whoops! For a minute there I thought I was reading the Huffington Post.

What a good thing it is that more conservatives are virtually indistinguishable from leftists. I am sure that will work out great!
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (184)
All Comments   (184)
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It has been no secret in conservative circles that since the 1960s the country has been going to hell. Columnist Rick Moran evaluates the current state and informs us that we've pretty much arrived. Agreed. Now he's telling us what we need to do differently if in hell we are to remain in charge.

The situation may indeed be hopeless; if we embraced hell in an attempt to cling to power, what exactly would that accomplish?
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Moran disappoints me. I always though it was just liberals who were in love with their childhoods. Ozzie and Harriet are indeed dead, and so is the use of that metaphor for conservative values, one I might add that liberals always use pejoratively, but that few conservatives rarely use, if ever at all.

It is a very dead trope and a weak writing crutch. What Moran actually does is expose his immaturity. The blistering rage that liberals have directed at Ozzie and Harriet for decades neatly betrays their disappointment over the fact that art imitated life rather than replicated it; they believed everything they saw on television, haven't gotten over it AND PROJECT THE DISCONNECT ON OTHERS. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

In terms of communication, what good is a dead metaphor when more than half of the public doesn't understand the reference? He accuses conservatives of not getting with the times, but then does it himself, so to speak. And "Studebakers and Davy Crockett coonskin caps?" Moran might as well have thrown in such equally antiquated metaphors as Horatio Alger and Dick and Jane when trying to make his "point." Shame on Moran for using a dead cliche, double shame on Moran for being a hack bore.

I am gay and I am conservative. And I don't believe in gay marriage. I don't want the government spending what little money I have on all of the stupid things Moran recommends. Isn't that the point of voting conservative?

And the minute the Republican party starts welcoming "everyone, of every race and, yes, sexual orientation into the circle," is the exact minute I register Independent or Libertarian. I don't vote because of those very silly and superficial things. I vote based upon spending.

And as for conservatives ending up, "on the outside looking in," so what. As a gay conservative, I am accustomed to it, and folks, it ain't that bad. I've always preferred that to being part of the ignorant mob, unlike Moran, who is desperate to be loved, by someone, anyone.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Rick's point is straightforward and not difficult to follow, I thought.......

The current voting demographic has moved away remarkably from the Conservative Ideal and the first step in addressing this problem is to acknowledge it. Then you have to craft your message to be able to talk to and communicate to those voters, or you have nothing to say to anyone. OR.... the party and the movement can play mustard seed which has ancient precedent, wouldn't guess on how well it works in RL though....'>.........
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
MR Moran is a Moron to think that people don't know better. Progressives have been planning to control things since around 1900 and establish Marxist tyranny. Once a healthy economy and adequate technology allowed the degree and scale of prosperity and therefore stability for individuals and families that we saw by the end of the fifties, the Progs sought to limit their prosperity. The dumbing-down of the kids began in school in the 50's, equal rights lowered the pay for all, instead of raising it for women. Free love, birth control and easy divorce lead to enslavement to our passions on a gand scale. ("Everybody's doin it, man, don't be so uptight man, hey have a toke...)

Government gradually became bigger, more controlling and more taxing. When people were paid to be single mothers and poor, thats what we got more of.

And Republicans have been part of this, unfortunately.

45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Most of the conservatives you are dissing, Rick, have lived through the era from the 50's to today, and they don't need television to tell them when life was better! Most of them also don't buy the line that when rape is inevitable, you should just lie back and enjoy it! Every new generation thinks that their problems are so different, so much more complicated, and so much more unsolvable than "the past", until someone comes along to lead them to a better place!

Your article is a reminder that someone who believes in nothing will fall for anything! Keep on defining deviancy down - you've got Zeke's vote!
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think Mr. Moran demonstrates a genuine lack of understanding regarding the Ozzie and Harriett thing. He seems to think conservatives really believed that ideal as formerly Mr. Lucky has already noted.

The reason why shows such as Ozzie and Harriett and other similar gender were popular, was never because they were viewed as possible. What they did represent was an ideal to aspire to. In other words, it was a target to aim for. Essentially, it was an encouragement factor, or, a challenge to rise above the norm.

Today, the exact reverse is true. Today, the TV media encourages people to be less than they should be instead of more than they can be.

And, the result is evident.



45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, Mr. Ricky, you have once again skillfully magnetized a post to suck in all the radical extremist ReligiousRight/MoralMajority (socons) from their thrones on high to come down to earth and attack and beat up on a lowly little earthling. What a lovely bunch of angels you attracted this time! :)
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Founders of our country, men much better and more intelligent than any politicians today, were extremists.

For all the "extremist" conservatives here on PJMedia we thank you for the flattering comparison.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Mr. Moran and another idiotic, sanctimony-ridden op-ed.

Yo Rick, and I'm commenting as a career white collar type - when the XY chromosome is AT LEAST the magic percentage you and ahem 'progressives' pimp and push, the '47%' statistic are in the SKILLED labor workforce and accomplishing said-job(s) ON THEIR OWN then your, 'You knuckle dragging Conservatives' speech is as tired and opinionated muck as former PJM contributor Ruben Navarrette Jr.

The ridiculous government-created EEO/ AA program.. an unneeded albeit forced 'moral compass to right past wrongs' has proven to be a complete bust.

Rickster, do tell how this awesome, what do you call it.. oh yeah, supposed 'diverse workplace' improved any and every facet of America's places?

EVERY article I've read, from reputable op-eds (Sorry, that doesn't include yours Hoss) to actually educated periodical contributors like Scientific American Mind have ALL exuded the same sentiment and come to the near-identical finding: A 'diverse workplace' hasn't/ doesn't improve/ increase/ work performance.

In many findings the social experiment of 'All colors of the homo-sapien rainbow' work teams have fared worse.

Call me 'crazy' but I believe the best employees, regardless of race, religion, gender makes for a more than likely greatest outcome. Yep an 'Outside the box' I am.. !

I've read, heck witnessed armchair Rino's/ 'progressives' of all walks of life in many arena.

1 example/ instance which stands out for me is while in the USAF and partaking in a winter survival course in WA's Cascades.

Our team of 11 consisted of pilots, weather, combat controllers and aviation support from 3 services. 2 of those being USMC females.

We'd been given 1 MRE apiece only for a 3-day hike into the newly 6+ inches of fresh snow Cascades.

Burning the type of energy we had while humping a good amount of gear in our packs required us to eat grubs, wild berries and trap wildlife.

The 2 USMC females, and they were tough from a female's standpoint bitched, moaned and begged me and others constantly to carry their packs, find them berries & grubs, give supplies, our very own dry socks etc.,

We'd all refused. Adamantly. For me THAT was 'EEO', progressivism.

Though in your and other folks' melons believe putting someone, a supposed victim to the front of the line is 'progress'.

Pathetic, Rick. This coming from a lifelong white collar type.

Nonetheless thanks for your nonsensical spin and 'statistics'. Hahahaha
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Mr. Moran strikes me more as a libertine than libertarian. He seems to be in favor of "unconditional surrender" to the leftists, and has no compass bearing on "wrong from right"! It is truly a shame the PJMedia wastes it electrons on such leftist pablum. Not that it isn't difficult to raise children to have traditional values in the current "rush to the bottom" media. Not trying to take too many bows, as I have failed in certain respects with my three children, however they all have married, to husband and wives with similar values. All are productive, good citizens and all have presented thir mom and me with a combined 7 grandchildren and one great grandchild, all of whom are demonstrating similar values. Three are in college and one will start on her medical degree this fall, the hear year younger brother follow her into pharmacology in a year.

Now it wasn't easy for my wife and I, nor are children and their spouses to get to this point, considering the distractions in school and in the media, however, only a coward would surrender the high ground of tradition American value for the slime of the swamp created by liberal and libertine icons!
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
While I'm at it, you're slagging illiterate, low-employment men. I live in the neighborhood you're saying can't have marriages and parents. I'm right next door to a project. There's a park where kids go after school to play. I see what you're saying is impossible.

Illiterate fathers can hold jobs, not thrilling jobs, but jobs. Their wives work, too. They work as convenience store clerks on the late shift, factory workers, milk processing plants, bread delivery route drivers, auto mechanics, grocery store produce clerks, fast-food employees, lawn-care and tree-care workers. They are men. They work their way up the ladder, if they can. If they can't, they stick and find dignity in being good employees and good fathers. They get their dignity from their sons calling them sir, from their wives, from their churches. Who do you think fills the chairs at store-front churches?

Their kids flourish. Any kid who can answer "Who's your daddy? Who's your man?"---- that kid is going to do fine. I've seen it. I watch it, now.

I go to a wealthy church. One woman there sponsors an immigrant family. The family has kids barely graduating high school, functionally illiterate. One girl, she's looking for a job. The woman says fast food is beneath her. Well, she's just degraded my son's friend's parents. They feed and shelter two flourishing young boys on Jack in the Box pay. The parents work hard, the kids are very respectful, and they are good, decent people. It's not beneath my neighborhood.

A man can have steady pay as a security guard, as an orderly, as a fast-food clerk, as a barber, as a check-out clerk. If he's a good dad, his kid will think he's the greatest man in the world, and go do better to make him proud. My husband has worked his whole life to prove to his dad- a high school dropout, mechanic, truck-driver- that he's half the man he is.

Those men are valuable. If a woman can lay down with him to make a child- she needs to stand up in front a judge or in church, to keep him the man in her life.


45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
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