During Women’s History Month, Fox News host and bronzer enthusiast Carlson has been dedicating his program to the overlooked American man.
On Wednesday night, Carlson made a proclamation that was music to every feminist’s ears: he declared the patriarchy dead.
Here’s how Carlson started his segment:
America has changed completely. The patriarchy is gone. Women are winning. Men are failing. Men in America are now far more likely to die of a drug overdose, drop out of the workforce because of an addiction, commit a felony and go to prison. They fail in school much more often than women do. They kill themselves at many times the rate. Overall, they die years younger. Those numbers are not speculative. They are hard data gathered over decades by nonpartisan researchers. You’d have to ignore a huge amount of settled science in order to repeat the pieties of 1970s-era feminism, and yet this is exactly what our leaders continue to do.
Setting aside the clever co-opting of the language of climate change with “settled science,” Carlson is doing what he always does here: intentionally misrepresenting his opponents in order to build a strawman he can set alight. He pretends that radical, second-wave feminism is the prevailing attitude of the day, rather than acknowledging that most feminists today would fall into the category of third-wave, intersectional feminism.
I could talk about the stagnation of equal pay—especially for women of color—or the proportion of white men who comprise nearly every corporate board in America, or run our government at every level. But that would be playing directly into Carlson’s rhetorical trap, pitting women and men against each other in what he calls a “zero-sum game.” Instead, I’d like to talk about why feminists love men, and want men to be happy.
Feminists today don’t want men to suffer, no matter what Carlson wants his viewers to think. Feminists do not want men to die of drug overdoses, or go to prison, or kill themselves. Feminists recognize that when men and women are more equal, that gives more freedom for everyone to feel like they can be their truest self, without doing harm to one another.
Feminism means dismantling society’s toxic ideas about what fatherhood looks like, so it’s socially acceptable for a woman to be the primary breadwinner while a man stays home with his kids. It means ending mental health stigmas, so that men can go to therapy before they feel like they must resort to domestic violence or suicide. It means tearing down rape culture, which hurts women, but often hurts men in more insidious ways, too. Ultimately, it means dismantling gender completely.
Feminists want men and women to be able to live together safely and happily, without the crushing pressure of societal norms. What Carlson does not understand is that feminists want to dismantle toxic masculinity for men’s benefit as much as women’s.
Feminists recognize that a society that prioritizes a toxic, antisocial, and violent form of masculinity drags all of us down in the process. And if you listen to people like Carlson, you’ll eventually convince yourself we can’t do any better than stay down in the muck.