January 24, 2010

"There is an issue for men of: ‘What is my value here if I’m not bringing in money?...'"

"'... I understand you want a communicative, empathic guy who does housework and parenting, but how much pride can I take in that?'"

53 comments:

Brian Sorgatz said...

Now we'll just be sex objects. There are worse fates.

peter hoh said...

Squishing bugs.

jamboree said...

I have that same issue. Nor am I terribly butch. So does my sister. Well, she's kind of dom, but she's the one who is the housewife. Point being, it's not as much of a gender thing as people like to think.

Freeman Hunt said...

Stay at home dads are more socially isolated than stay at home moms, but perhaps they don't mind.

EDH said...
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rhhardin said...

She pointed to herself as an example. “In my marriage, I have more education and, because he’s retired, more income,” she said. “I picked him not because I needed a meal ticket, but because I liked the fact that he respected me and had no problem sharing the responsibilities of daily life with me. More and more women now are able to make those choices.”

It's important above all that a woman impress her girlfriends.

Chris said...

Looks good in a tux. Entertaining raconteur. Good with kids.

Big Mike said...

Are we going to see some book targeted at house husbands modeled on The Total Woman? Will the husband of the future be expected to greet his wife at the door wearing nothing but some Saran Wrap?

Being serious for a moment, consider that the ratio of women to men in college is rapidly approaching 60:40. That means for every three women in college there are only two men, so right from the start 1/3 of all college-educated women are going to have settle for marrying men who have not received a college education. Or go unmarried (but then there's that pesky "biological alarm clock"). Or move into a lesbian relationship.

African-American women have it even worse -- according to Reason magazine the ratio of African women in college to African-American men is 5:2.

This would be interesting for some competent sociologist to study, but my own impression is that no one dares to get into root cause analysis, much less the implications of the trend.

For instance, for any number of years the women on the strident wing of feminism kept insisting that high schools discriminate against women. Some still push this line even though the numbers I've seen tell a different tale. Is discrimination against male students, particularly against white male students, a factor in the college gender imbalance? As the father of two white males, I saw discrimination against them up close and personal, but I don't know to what extent this is endemic in the modern K-12 educational system.

Is the male-female imbalance at universities least partly to blame for the modern "hook up" culture we find there? Is bed-hopping a sign of modern female empowerment? Or is it a sign of ever-increasing competition between women for well-qualified* males?

Interesting questions -- and there are others -- but I don't think there are any easy answers.
________________
* And, no, I'm not going to define this term beyond suggesting that perceived socio-economic status plays at least as large a role as physical attractiveness.

Chris said...

My brother has a knee jerk hatred of stay at home dads. I wonder what other working fathers think about men stay at home (I don't have kids so I'm off the hook.)

lyssalovelyredhead said...

Can someone expand on Chris's question about the opinions of working men of stay at home dads?

As a wife with a law degree who's husband is planning to stay at home, I'd like to explore it.

(As a side note, my impression is that working women have a pretty poor opinion of stay at home moms, which mixes envy and distain quite colorfully.)

Eric said...

First I missed "free love". Now this 60/40 stuff is happening after I'm long out of school.

Damnit.

Jimmy said...

Meade? Ouch!

Robin said...

lyssa, it occurs to me that there's very little societal respect for women who stay home; why should men be viewed differently for doing the exact same thing?

Maguro said...

It's because they start to pee sitting down. What kind of man could respect that?

Freeman Hunt said...

The quote about the woman being married to a retired man was strange. By using the word "retired" rather than "unemployed" it sounds like he already made plenty of money to live on. So... what's the point? That doesn't really sound like a career woman, stay at home dad situation.

Marcia said...

Lyssa said: "(As a side note, my impression is that working women have a pretty poor opinion of stay at home moms, which mixes envy and distain quite colorfully.)"

My impression is that SOME stay-at-home moms have a pretty poor opinion of working moms, which mixes smugness and insecurity quite colorfully.

Seriously, I do have some envy for stay-at-home moms, while at the same time I know it would drive me crazy.

I could just do without the "I don't want my kids raised by strangers" brand of contempt.

Flexo said...

"they are more likely to pick men who support a more egalitarian relationship"

Whether or not it is a "more egalitarian relationship," it sounds like it is still a predominently utilitarian relationship -- still viewing each other as objects and how useful they are, what you can get out of the other.

One of the tragedies of the modern world is that oh-so-few people have even the faintest clue as to what "love" is.

matthew said...

The question assumes that there is no difference between men and women. That the only thing a man adds to a relationship is a paycheck. Whether or not a man is providing the paycheck, he should be providing the male side of the relationship.

El Pollo Real said...

Squishing bugs.

Catching live bats and putting them in the freezer.

Freeman Hunt said...

That doesn't really sound like a career woman, stay at home dad situation.

No, my wording was poor there. Imprecise. Incorrect. I should have typed:

That doesn't really sound like a breadwinner, non-breadwinner situation.

Marcia said...

Flexo -- I agree with you up to a point. But I don't think people should lose all ability to reason when it comes to the choice of a spouse, perhaps the most important decision in life.

The combination of love and good sense gives the best chance for long-term happiness.

Lawgiver said...

I wonder what other working fathers think about men stay at home (I don't have kids so I'm off the hook.)

That sounds like womanthink to me.

Women seem to care a great deal more about how people perceive them and their mates than men do. Why is that?

Freeman Hunt said...

I wonder what other working fathers think about men stay at home (I don't have kids so I'm off the hook.)

The reactions I've witnessed to the subject have been more of a "That's bizarre" nature than a "That's bad" nature.

Jimmy said...
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Jimmy said...

Ann, is this your not to subtle way of telling the hubby to get off his butt and get a job?

Freeman Hunt said...

Why do so many people on this blog assume that they know what Meade does?

Chris said...

@lyssa: My boss is a lawyer who's husband stays at home. Is is pretty obvious that it really bugs her on some very deep level and she flirts with her big internal clients. On the other hand, of all the kids in the office, hers are the best behaved, and best at creating at least an illusion of intelligence. It seems that her family made the best choice but they still need to confront deeply held gender stuff.

Synova said...

The context of feminism is that what men do is valuable and what women do is not, thus women must be able to do all of the things that men do, including self-destructive things. You've come a long way baby.

"I could just do without the "I don't want my kids raised by strangers" brand of contempt."

Unfortunately it's impossible to say that something is important without actually saying that it is important. Getting out might be necessary for sanity but devaluing taking care of children and domestic chores means less opportunity to get someone else to take up some of that responsibility.

Like the quote.

HKatz said...

"Women seem to care a great deal more about how people perceive them and their mates than men do. Why is that?"

Is it really a great deal more for women than for men? In general men care a great deal about their reputation, for example. They also care about what their spouses/partners look like for instance - and what appearance they themselves project to the world. They care about their status and reputation in society - their standing in their community, what their house and possessions (like their car) say of them, whether other people are making more money or doing better career-wise. Whether they're respected.

This is a human way of thinking, not "woman-think". I think the degree to which it's important to people varies more by individual and by a person's particular value system than by gender.

RLB_IV said...

"Why do so many people on this blog assume that they know what Meade does?

Meade is most likely independently wealthy and is retired.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

FH said: "The reactions I've witnessed to the subject have been more of a "That's bizarre" nature than a "That's bad" nature."

A large part of the reactions I've seen from my law school former classmates is "That's great" with the unspoken reaction appearing to be "but I'd never do that."

Most of my female law school collegues gave off the impression that they would never "marry below their station." (My husband never grad'd college, but does very well at retail management, something which hardly requires a degree.)

Lawgiver said...
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Synova said...

Perhaps I know more stay at home men because I've hung out with homeschoolers. Even the homeschool dads who supported the family financially saw the home and children part as more important than what they did, and the men who stayed home while their wife brought in the money didn't seem to think they had lowered themselves.

They did say it was uncomfortable to go to the park because stay at home moms tended to be distrustful of any man with a child.

Jimmy said...

"Meade is most likely independently wealthy..."

While tenured UW law professors make really good money, they don't make that much! But yes, Meade hit the financial jack pot with his marriage to Ann. Who else do you know who can go on vacation every other week and stay in swanky $300 a night micro hotels?

Lawgiver said...

Is it really a great deal more for women than for men?

I think it is. And you will too once you join Meade and I at the pinnacle of the self-actualization pyramid.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

Marcia said: "My impression is that SOME stay-at-home moms have a pretty poor opinion of working moms, which .... I could just do without the "I don't want my kids raised by strangers" brand of contempt."

Thanks for answering, and you're not wrong on the idea that some SAHMs look down on the idea of working moms, I'm sure.

But,

I hate the sensitivity that some people have towards the idea that one person doing something because they believe it is the better choice somehow can't express why they made that choice.

Of course SAHMs (and dads) don't want strangers raising their kids; that's why they stay home. You think that strangers (or at least non-parents) raising kids is the better choice for your situation, for whatever reasons you have. Defend that choice, or say your situation is different. Don't just be insulted by the fact that someone else thinks it's best to do things differently.

knox said...

Why do so many people on this blog assume that they know what Meade does?

Pretty sure it's really just one or two, posting under various names.

knox said...

lyssa, well said.

The SAHM issue is a minefield.

I started freelancing as soon as we could afford it, so I could choose my hours and be at home with my kids. As they say: they're only little once. Then there's that other cliche: No one ever says on their deathbed I wish I'd spent more time at the office.

But as much as a working mom might find that judgmental or self-righteous, so do I find the "Staying at home would drive me crazy!!" argument annoying. SAHMs are not brain-dead dopes. They need stimulation and adult interaction, too. They've just decided to sacrifice that (to some extent) for a few years for the payoff of being with their kids.

As I said, a minefield. : )

Jason said...

The story says hubby is "retired."

If he was truly a successful real estate agent, so successful that he made enough to retire at 36, then he can continue to earn a substantial income even staying at home with his children.

If he wasn't a successful agent, then he isn't 'retired' at all, but either a failed agent or unemployed.

In either case, the premise of the story is nonsense. There's no real sacrifice to him staying home in either case.

In any event, being a loving and loved father and husband is, indeed, something to be proud of. But few men would be content with that alone.

Mark said...
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Mark said...

Bizarre.

I'm a Full Time Dad of twins (I prefer that term, because I do go out with the kids whenever possible) and I've never gotten any feeling that it bothered any men I know. Of course, I'm in my mid-40's, so most of the guys I know have been around the block a few times.

On the other hand, some moms at parks can be a bit aloof, but as that's only a percentage and there are plenty of people to talk to who aren't quite as limited in their acceptance of the unusual, it's not a big deal.

What's laughable is the idea that being a Full Time Dad is in any way an easy out. Prior to the kids' birth I worked as a business and software consultant working in international Trade Finance, so I was used to long hours, grueling travel, and challenging technical and social problems.

And sometimes I really wish I could take the easy way out and go back to it. (The terrible two's start at 18 months, and they can be terrible.) But my wife's earning power was about 50% greater than mine, and with the hole on my resume I'm sure the disparity has increased.

Soon my kids will be ready for pre-school, and when that happens I'll have time to start a business from home, and I'm looking forward to it. But I'm ecstatic that I have the chance to be with my kids full-time and watch them grow.

Big Mike said...

@Mark, write a couple books. They don't have to be best-sellers (or even very good). If you saved some of your presentations and white papers from days gone by it should be a piece of cake while the kids are napping or after you put them down for the night.

Then you put down "author" to cover the "hole," and bingo, no hole.

Freeman Hunt said...

On the other hand, some moms at parks can be a bit aloof, but as that's only a percentage and there are plenty of people to talk to who aren't quite as limited in their acceptance of the unusual, it's not a big deal.

I think most of that has nothing to do with acceptance of the unusual. I think it's the opposite sex awkwardness of it. While my husband is at work, am I going to hang out with another guy? I can make friends with a woman, and she can come over to my house some time with her kids. However, I would feel totally inappropriate having a man over to my house with my husband away. I can make regular plans to meet up with another woman, but that would seem questionable to do with a man.

I think a lot of stay at home moms are used to their stay at home friendships following a certain course that is totally upset by the other stay at home parent being a man. So the aloofness may be more of an unsureness about how to proceed than poor regard.

kentuckyliz said...

Men care very much what others think of their mates--even the fugliest guy thinks he deserves a raving beauty 10. They're all aiming for the supermodel. LOL

muddimo said...

"I picked him not because I needed a meal ticket, but because I liked the fact that he respected me and had no problem sharing the responsibilities of daily life with me. More and more women now are able to make those choices."

Wow, how friggin romantic. What a lucky guy to have been "picked."

Big Mike said...

@kentuckyliz, I am married to a perfect 10 and have been for 35 years. Those stinking mirrors and photgraphs, they lie. I know the truth every time I look at her.

Lawgiver said...

--even the fugliest guy thinks he deserves a raving beauty 10.

Only the stupid ones.

Joe said...

The cynicism of this article--marriage is women seeking a meal ticket--is rather stunning, but reflective of modern intellectual thinking among feminists (which, ironically, is also believed by misogynistic men.)

I did like the quote: "In many ways women are their own worst enemies — we want men to do it, but we want to tell them how they should do it."

Therein lies the answer to why, even in almost all families, the woman does more housework--she chooses to.

Luke Blanshard said...

My favorite part of the article: a magazine editor saying "all of the sudden."

Marcia said...

Knox said: "But as much as a working mom might find that judgmental or self-righteous, so do I find the "Staying at home would drive me crazy!!" argument annoying. SAHMs are not brain-dead dopes. They need stimulation and adult interaction, too. They've just decided to sacrifice that (to some extent) for a few years for the payoff of being with their kids."

Knox, thanks for sharing your perspective. It seriously never dawned on me that "It would drive me crazy" could give offense. I have two sisters in law who are stay at home moms; they both have masters degrees, so I know they're not brain-dead dopes or anything of the sort.

I don't even think of "it would drive me crazy" as an "argument" for going to work in the morning.* I simply mean that my envy for stay-at-home parents is tempered by knowing that I wouldn't like it as much as I sometimes imagine.

I respect stay-at-home parents, of either gender. So I will try to avoid saying "it would drive me crazy" in the future.

I really think this is an issue that every family has to decide for themselves, based on their individual circumstances. And we should be a lot more respectful of people who make different choices than we do.

Lyssa and others -- I don't concede that our day-care provider is "raising" our daughter. She's the babysitter. My husband and I are raising our daughter.

*I could give my reasons for continuing to work at my job, but it's complicated and personal, and this post is long enough.

Kirk Parker said...

Lawgiver,

Ask me if I care.*


Jason,

You're conflating 2 accounts. The 'retired' husband and the '36yo former real estate agent' are two different people.





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* That's with a :-) of course!

Punup said...

Still no answer to the question: why is it wrong to belittle men for being househusbands but perfectly acceptable to belittle women for being housewives?

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