The Stepford Wife Conundrum by Trula Breckenridge

I think that most north american men in my age group or younger really respect and admire a woman who is educated and has a job, her own money. HOWEVER - they still want her to be the primary caretaker of the children, they still want her to do most if not all of the housework. And they still want to be the primary one in charge of the money regardless of who makes it.

All these things still hamper women in our culture. A lot of women just give up; either on finding a man who won't expect her to pick up his dirty socks or on sustaining a career when they also have to work full-time at home. Even the pseudo-feminist men, the men who say they won't expect or demand that their wife clean up the house still often behave in a passive-aggresive way about house-cleaning by refusing or 'forgetting' to clean up after themselves and the kids or also making the kids clean up after themselves. This is a clever tactic. When the house is a mess and she complains, he says it doesn't bother me and I don't expect you to clean up after me. The woman in this sitch feel stymied; if she doesn't want to live in filth she'll have to clean it up herself...and thereby it looks like she does all the cleaning because she wants to, not because he expects or demands it.

Same thing with childcare. Men often pretend ineptness when none exists. I have a friend who is an architect and not only draws well but also goes high up on construction sites. Yet he claims to be too clumsy to change a diapar. When his wife called him on this bullshit he then changed the diapers all wrong.I read an article about a brain surgeon once who claimed he could not figure out how to fill a bottle. The most common tactic is the way many fathers pretend they do not know how to dress children. Never want your wife to ever ask you again to get the kids ready for school? Send them to school in shorts in the wintertime. Put them in dirty clothes you dug out of the hamper. Send them to school with food all over their face or their hair unkempt. For some men this is not a conscious pretense; I watched another friend of mine once really struggle with putting his daughter's hair into a ponytail...although his own long hair he had no problems with putting in a ponytail. When I pointed that out to him he had an a-ha! moment and promptly pulled her hair in a ponytail with no more struggling.I think that on some subconscious level many American men, of all races/cultures, are having a difficult time adapting to changing social roles and expectations of them as husbands and fathers. This often manifests in hostile, passive but still hostile, acts which undermine the women they love even when in their conscious mind they say they want an independent woman.

If you live with other people and refuse to clean up after yourself that is just plain rude and shows a lack of home training. I'm saying even children past pre-school age are expected to clean up after themselves in most households, right. But if some guy is straight-up a dirty slob from the beginning it is probably unrealistic for a woman to expect him to change.

I have seen this dynamic over and over and over again in the heterosexual relationships of my friends and family, and just talking with other hetero women I meet irl and online. Many men get married and just stop picking up after themselves. and most women I've talked to don't even want or expect the man to do half the housework or his fair share of childcare, they just want him to pick up after himself and occassionally keep an eye on the kids. It is a gender issue and given that most mothers in the states also work outside the home, contrary to popular belief, this places a huge burden on working mothers. It really does.

There is the physical burden of having to do most if not all of the cooking and childcare before and after work in addition to a full-time or part-time job; you have to do that or the kids will suffer. Then there is the emotional burden of not even being able to enjoy your home because your husband or boyfriend`s mess is everywhere. If the woman then complains about it, if he is a pseudo-feminist man he will tell her oh sweetie I don`t expect you to clean up after me. But then he does nothing about his piles of dirty socks and drawers everywhere. So if she wants to sleep in a clean and fume-free bedroom, she has to pick up his stuff. Or become the dreaded nag. Like I said, this is a very, very clever tactic. I don`t think most men do this to be intentionally cruel; rather just as an expression of internalized and often subconscious sexist beliefs they hold about women and the power structure in hetero relationships.

To dump your mess on your partner because she is female is beyond rude, it`s sexist and incredibly mean. Unless of course this is an agreed upon arrangement a couple has mutually decided on. Most often it`s not, and the women just sigh and put up with it, because really, how many women are gonna divorce an otherwise good guy because he refuses to pick up his dirty socks and drawers??? and how many women are going to live in filth because their husband or boyfriend is dirty? Most aren`t, they are just going to give in and do most if not all of the housework. and childcare too, usually. This places a huge burden on working mothers. Talk it out before you get serious with someone, bring it up if he/she doesn`t, because I guarantee you this will come up sooner or later.

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posted by Trula at 10:18 AM 0 comments