What interests me most here is that these remarks came in the context of female breadwinners. I could be misinterpreting here, but from what I understand, Erickson thought that women earning more money meant that women were becoming more dominant.
So the natural follow-up question is: "Does money equal power?"
My answer is this: It doesn't have to, but it can.
Certainly if a woman has more financial resources, she's able to make more decisions. With more purchasing power, she has more freedom to determine the course of her life, and the lives of her children.
When most people were farmers, money wasn't a factor as much as it is today. The household depended on chores--whether that was planting crops or cooking or storing food for winter. For the most part, families didn't really have money. They had survival.
When men started working in the cities, though, all that changed. Suddenly, a man's work had measurable value, and with that value came power. If his work was valuable to the boss, he could change his position in society. He could make a better life for his children.
The woman at home couldn't do much to change things. If she wanted something, she had to work it out with her husband. Since the work was attached to her husband punching the clock, a man could easily see the money as "his".
And if a woman wanted to leave, she didn't have much power to do so, to make a life for herself and her children.
So if a woman gives up some or all of her income to stay home with her kids, is she giving up some of her power?
Possibly. I've heard enough stories from women whose husbands leave them destitute or who can't afford to buy clothes to replace the ones with holes in them to know that many women are desperate. They don't feel like they have the ability to make decisions because they don't have the power that money would give them.
But I've also heard from other women who feel empowered as SAHMs--that they have time to give their children opportunities and learning that would be much scarcer if they were working full-time.
And of course, there are many who don't have many choices at all, for whom both money and time are scarce.
If one earns more money than the other, though, it doesn't have to mean that the earning spouse gets to make all the decisions. Some men seem to be threatened by the idea that women making money means that men lose their dominance (to be fair, I don't think that's usually the case).
In some countries where women don't have many rights (or none at all), women who are given microloans to start their own businesses are often given a new level of respect by their husbands once the money starts coming in. Maybe one reason some men are so afraid of being out-earned is because they don't want women abusing their power the same way men have abused their power for decades. But it doesn't seem to be going that way. For the most part, women tend to spend more of their money on their children's well-being than men do.
It's dangerous to assume any kind of role without discussing its implications first. If one parent is going to stay home, how will that affect that parent in the immediate future, five years from now, ten years from now? If one parent is going to earn all or most of the money, how will financial decisions be made? How can each partner trust the other? What will each person give up, and what will each person gain?
Less money means a sacrifice, to be sure, but it doesn't have to be a reason for one spouse to control the other.