This article was written in 2007, before the “economic downturn”, before the End of Men. It basically outlines the travails of house husbands and how “fulfilled” they felt they were in just “being there” for their kids.
What I find interesting in this article, and the many more just like it, is the fact that, once again, masculinity is always perceived in the negative. As if there is not a single beneficial quality of masculinity. “Masculinity is bad for you” you’re poisoned by your testosterone. Never is it mentioned that traditional, positive masculinity emphasizes rationality, persevereance, duty, and yes, risk taking behaviors that are necessary elements in daring to be something, or someone more than what your limited expectation might have you believe if all you had taught to you was feminine empathy, security-seeking and self-preservation instincts.
Imagine a world where men are taught not to rush into a burning building to save innocent lives because it’s just too dangerous. A feminine aspect is necessary for empathy, caring and nurturing to be complete, but you cut a person in half when you fail to teach them risk taking, perseverance, rationality, a desire to dominate and win, a positive competitive drive, and yes, a calculated ability to reserve and control one’s emotional reactions – all of these traits serve to make a more complete human being be they male or female.
99% of men in a house-husband capacity are there by economic or personal necessity, not by design. Notice that in every instance the guy is cast in his role due to his wife making more money than he – that was the reality of his situation. Of the guy’s interviewed in this article, you’d be hard pressed to find one who’s life’s ambition was to be a stay-at-home Dad. Most are so because of personal decisions they made and didn’t pan out. Is it any wonder that unemployed or underemployed men would need to find some rationale to give them a sense of pride? They make their necessity a virtue and then pass their failings along to another generation.
How many of these couples would’ve decided to have the father stay home if they both made the same money? How many opt to keep their children in daycare while both work due to economic realities? How many of these men will remain in their role once their children reach a self-sufficient adolscence? How many of these house husbands would still opt for this role (or reverse the role with their spouse) if offered a job that paid half again what their wives were making? You can fluff up the touchy-feely emotionality of it all, but at the end of the day it’s the bottom line that makes the decision, not some self-righteous sense of masculine or feminine purpose.
Paul Haley, 38, a father of two, says women look at him when he walks down the street with his kids. “I think it’s admiration,” he says.
Well I’d guess he’d better hope it is, otherwise it’s just him standing out like an anomally. Something tells me that a 38 y.o., married with 2 kids house husband would necessarily HAVE to interpret it as admiration, even though I’d doubt he has the social skills to recognize admiration from pity considering he’s been socially cut off dealing with diapers, runny noses, cartoons and early childhood development. Once again, necessity is a rationalized virtue.
I think there’s a derivative of Beta Game that men fulfilling a matronly role for their kids like to convince themselves of. They fashion for their egos the idea that since they are more directly involved in their kids upbringing, they share this commonality with women that other men don’t or wont. It’s a more pronounced form of Identification (beta) Game; “The ladies love me (but can’t have me) because I’m already the husbandly ideal they crave – a man who changes diapers, washes dishes, and gets the kids off to school.” As with most identification schemas, Mr. Mom thinks he sets himself apart from “other guys” by being better able to relate with experiences unique to women. By becoming a woman he believes he’s more desirable.
“Masculinity has traditionally been associated with work and work-related success, with competition, power, prestige, dominance over women, restrictive emotionality.”
Oddly enough, this is exactly the world into which women choose to put themselves. By this article’s definition, they are assuming the masculine role, but notice that for women, emmulating masculinity is a positve. If we’re going to go to the absolute and say “masculinity = bad” then professional mothers are the worst offenders of masculinity, because it is also their role to be the examples of feminine virture and nurturing. At the very least, by this logic, we’re expecting women to play both the masculine and feminine equally well. However in this model, we have a woman give birth and then pass off her responsibility of engendering her children with this exclusively positive femininity on her mate (which admittedly he’s unprepared for) while she goes off to engage in the masculine.
My daughter is not at want for anything either positively masculine or positively feminine. When she was younger I combed my daughters hair for her, not because I was “exploring my feminine side”, but because her hair needed combing so she was presentable and we could get out the door and be on time to whatever it was we were doing. I also personally taught my girl to ride a bicycle, even after she’d gone and fell off it numerous times and was scared crazy about it. But she got back on that damn bike, tears and all, and learned how to risk injury for a greater reward. I taught her to swim as well using the same principle. Mrs. Tomassi has a primal fear of deep water and about pees herself when I take my daughter into the waves (and they’re pretty small in Florida) at the beach. But once my girl got over that fear, she learned how fun it is to play in the surf. Both of us do homework with her and teach her along with her schooling, is this a masculine or feminine trait? On occassion, I’ll make her re-do an assignment, even though correct, if she’s done a sloppy job of it. She predictably complains and kvetchs all over, but the “big, mean, evil masculine” Father sticks to this so as to instill a sense of pride in ones work. I’m sure the authors of this article would call me a callous tyrant for being masculine and insensitve, but often enough it takes a masculine man to kick a kids ass because sometimes ‘good enough’ isn’t – not because masculinity is bad, but because I love her and it’s necessary.