I flipped through a current issue of Working Mother magazine over the weekend, and as expected, I found the obligatory article addressing how to get your man to share in housework and caring for your children. These articles are always written in a hyper-upbeat, borderline condescending tone, and they are based on two premises: (1) women are too passive, meek, and people-pleasing to simply tell someone what they need or want, especially a man, and (2) men are too lazy, dim-witted, useless, and/or helpless to realize on their own that half the responsibility of child-rearing and maintaining a household is theirs.
The advice dished out to women is essentially to treat the father like he is an overgrown child. The flowery tips from Working Mother include buying household appliances loaded with fun gadgets so your man will confuse them, presumably, with toys or video games, and flit about the house with the vacuum cleaner, so enthralled with its attachments that his not-so-nimble mind won’t even catch on that he is actually cleaning!
Oh, and make sure you preface all requests for help with a bolstering compliment, as in: “Honey, you are the supreme man, and the ultimate lover, and the father of the year. You are great at everything you do! But I’ve noticed that I do the majority of the (fill in this blank with any household or childcare task). Let’s talk about how we can make some minor adjustments to this, so long as it is not inconvenient to you!”
Whatever. I find advice like this in damn near every women’s magazine, and the premise that I should treat Gary like a child makes me gag. It’s insulting to him, and it assumes that his male ego is so fragile that it will be irreparably devastated by the mere suggestion by me that he help me with something.
How is this for a premise? How about we assume I won’t be getting naked with a man who needs me to coddle him like I just gave birth to him?
I read part of the article to Gary, who made a face. Apparently a gadget-y vacuum cleaner wouldn’t pull the wool over his eyes. Thank god Gary is not one of the men that article is geared toward. Gary enjoys being a father, enjoys time with them, helping them, playing with them, cooking for them, teaching them to cook right beside him, and takes pride in helping to keep our home clean and nice-looking. I don’t have to remind him to be an adult, and he doesn’t have to remind me.
Something else that rubs me the wrong way about these trick-your-man-into-being-a-responsible-adult articles: why are they always in women’s magazines? Even if I was in a relationship with a man who couldn’t get his head out of his ass long enough to lift a finger around the house, how is it my responsibility? Why isn’t it his? Why not publish articles like “Stop Being a Lazy Bum” in men’s magazines? The concept that, as a woman, I am fully responsible for (1) me, (2) the kids, (3) the household and all of its chores, and (4) the man in the house, is presposterous, outdated, sexist, and idiotic.
How about less articles with the expectation and assumption that I lack the self-respect to choose a partner who respects me, is mature, loves his children, takes pride in our home, and doesn’t need to be tricked into, flattered into, or manipulated into being a genuine partner with me?
Am I really the minority? If so…how truly sad.