Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Job Of A Wife, According to Dennis Prager

This is worth looking at, despite the original source being from 2008, because Prager, a conservative talk-show host,  is co-hosting a fund-raiser for Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

What Prager stated in 2008:

Prager has penned a number of op-eds for conservative publications like and National Review that outline his views on feminism, which he’s said has produced an “awful legacy” for women, and sexual relations in marriage, which he’s argued is one of a wife’s “mutual obligation[s]” to her husband.

Writing on in December of 2008, Prager compares a man’s obligation to go to work, regardless of his “mood,” to a woman’s obligation to have sex with her husband.

“Why would a loving, wise woman allow mood to determine whether or not she will give her husband one of the most important expressions of love she can show him? What else in life, of such significance, do we allow to be governed by mood?” he writes.

“What if your husband woke up one day and announced that he was not in the mood to go to work?”

So in Prager's view marriage is a heterosexual labor contract where the female spouse provides sex, childcare, meals, laundry services, house-cleaning etc. and the male spouse pays for those services.   Once you understand that definition of marriage, Prager's views become crystal-clear:  He believes that the workers are failing in their duties if they don't provide sex on demand, given that they are being paid for it. 

Those views also reflect, I believe, one of the major problems among many/some conservatives:  This is their definition of marriage, and it drives several of the socially conservative policies they support, their obliviousness for the need of labor rights for women, their opposition to daycare or pregnancy leaves and so on. 

That view has at least two major problems.  First, the majority of wives in the US work in the labor market, earning money, and Prager's patriarchal marriage doesn't acknowledge that aspect at all.  He just waves a magic wand, and suddenly paid work is all male.  If we decided to keep the interpretation of marriage as a labor contract, the fact that the wives also have earned incomes would mean that they, too, are then buying services from their husbands, right?  But in Prager's world the husbands owe their wives nothing but financial payments.

Second, Prager assumes that sexual services are included in the job description of wives.  That definition means that marital sex is paid sex work.  An interesting interpretation from a conservative anti-feminist.