Ronnie Polaneczky: Ex-state aide's sexually dysfunctional views

Posted: January 19, 2012

IN ROBERT PATTERSON'S Ozzie-and-Harriet world, we women would all be stay-at-home mamas, whelping litters of babies and having lots of condom-free sex with our husbands.

Which would lead to more exhausting whelping. But at least we'd be cheery. Not because changing diapers is such a party, but because, Patterson is thrilled to tell us, semen contains mood-lifting chemicals that are Mother Nature's answer to Zoloft.

And here we thought hair mousse was the only secondary use of male ejaculate!

(If you haven't seen the movie "There's Something About Mary," you'll have to trust me on this.)

Until Tuesday, Patterson was a special assistant in the state's Welfare Department, where he helped set policy for welfare recipients. But he resigned after the Inquirer began asking about his side gig as editor of The Family in America. It's a quarterly journal of the Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society, which advocates for the "natural human family . . . established by the Creator."

So, to hell with single mothers, gay families, divorced people and married moms who work outside the home. What the Creator wants, the center says, is "child-rich" families whose stay-at-home moms eschew birth control and whose dads pay the bills.

That point of view is reflected in Patterson's essays, some of which are quite misogynistic. Presumably, this is why he left the state Welfare Department, whose clientele he must detest.

Exhibit A: Patterson opposes certain proposed changes in Social Security because, he wrote in his journal's spring 2011 edition, they may "encourage more mothers to betray the home and join the full-time labor force."

Note that Patterson doesn't think that fathers "betray" the home by working. Just us treasonous moms do.

So, forget that, say, famed inventor and NASA scientist Barbara Askins, also a mother, used her brain to improve photographic technology used in space, which was later adapted to improve the clarity of X-rays.

Forget the lives that Askins has saved. Forget the role model that she is to her children for how to use your God-given gifts to do something incredible for your fellow man. In Patterson's world, Askins would have been better off at home with a glue gun.

Exhibit B: Patterson refers, in another essay, to a study that says that kids of single mothers are more likely to be overweight because the women don't have the time or energy to fix a decent meal and play with their children.

His solution?

"Perhaps it is time for American health officials trying to combat our national epidemic of childhood obesity to look for ways to get mothers back in the home," he writes.

Yeah, because God forbid the dads of those chubby kids should fix them a fresh salad or toss them a Frisbee.

Exhibit C: The sperm cure! Patterson trills about the therapeutic effects of sperm, which, when it makes contact with women (genitally? orally? as a face cream?), allegedly elevates mood and self-esteem and improves concentration.

But you know what else lifts a woman's mood? A belly-shaking laugh with a best friend. Self-esteem? A fear, bravely faced. Concentration? Fresh broccoli.

And none will leave you with a pregnancy you didn't choose.

Ah, choose.

In the view of the Howard Center, and the journal that Patterson shepherds for it, nothing could be worse than a woman who wants to choose how to live her life.

A full life, a serious life, one that calls upon her to make complicated choices - including whether to marry, whether to parent, when to parent and how to parent.

It's hard work, this business of forging our path in the world, but it's our own work. No one has the right to dictate our choices. That's our responsibility - and our privilege.

So I am glad that Patterson is no longer in a position to craft policy that could force women to choose what he thinks they should choose.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that Patterson should keep his nutritious sperm to himself.

Email or call 215-854-2217. For recent columns: Read Ronnie's blog at

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