Men become necessary to family life, in part, through their role as providers. Men work hard to earn a living, which then allows women to raise their children in relative security and comfort. When a woman thinks of her husband as playing a useful role in the family, she treats him with more respect and will do more to keep him attached to family life.
So it ought to be the goal of a society to pay men a living wage with which to support their families. This can be done by setting minimum pay rates; by giving married men with children tax breaks; and by keeping the costs of living, such as housing, to a reasonable level.
But this is no longer the aim of Western societies. The aim instead has been to make women financially independent of men, with the state increasingly taking over the role of provider of financial security.
Tony Abbott is one of the worst offenders. He has proposed a paid maternity scheme which would give women 100% of their income for six months, paid for by a tax on business. Women could earn up to $150,000 for the six months maternity leave.
So it is the state which will end up supporting a woman to stay home to look after her young infant and not the husband. The husband will still be working hard, but will get far less kudos for his efforts.
And now we get wind of another Abbott scheme. He is talking about introducing a "family wage". No, this does not mean guaranteeing men a living wage. It seems to mean the state paying for women to be mothers:
TONY Abbott is working on a plan to provide a "family wage" to help meet the rising cost of living for families.
In an interview with the Herald Sun, Mr Abbott confirmed a family wage "is something that I think is really important".
It could be paid fortnightly to the primary carer for every child until they reach 16 years.
It is unlikely to be means-tested and could be an expensive hit on the Budget.
Options are still being discussed, but it may become the central plank of a "family support" election policy.
It will be especially aimed at single-income families and overcoming what Mr Abbott thinks is the problem with means tests leaving families worse-off if the main income-earner gets a pay rise.
So men are to go out to work, support the state with taxes, and those taxes are then to be used by the state to financially support their wives. The state gets to provide for women, leaving men with an even more precarious position within the modern family.
The scheme might be aimed initially at married women who stay home to raise their children. But inevitably it will be extended to all women. It will come to be thought natural for the state, rather than a husband, to support a woman to raise her children, whether that woman is working or not, and whether she is married or single.
What happens when men are not needed so much as providers? Won't women increasingly select men who aren't as reliable? Won't the male work ethic decline? Won't the rate of single motherhood increase? Won't taxes go up? Won't the cost of housing rise even more when a second wage is guaranteed by the state? Won't men look for an equivalent individualism for themselves? Won't it be even less necessary to maintain real wage rates for men?
Abbott is a statist. A welfare statist. The state is to provide the conditions - the welfare rights - through which the conditions of personal autonomy are met in an equal, universal way. No more of that messy situation in which individual men laboured with varying degrees of success to support their wives. No more trusting men or looking to men to succeed as husbands or fathers. There is to be no failure but no distinctive or necessary fatherhood either. Men are off the case. The state has stepped in to provide, to guarantee women their rights to motherhood.
Will men really not pick up on the change? That society no longer really trusts them to do the necessary work to support their families?