I had been thinking about writing on this topic for a while, but I felt the time finally came when an article titled “Hardwired to Disappoint? The Crushingly Low Expectations of Men” came flowing down my Facebook news feed. As I read along, I found myself generally agreeing with most of what was said. I will say that it did take an odd turn towards the end when the author started comparing mans ability to curb rape habits to mans ability to be “exciting, reliable, and emotionally aware life companions.”
The author was trying to make a larger point that women are changing and becoming more dynamic creatures while men, ever content with our own primal tendencies, refuse to be much more than ape-people, “hardwired to be emotionally obtuse, needy, and disappointing.”
I found that to be a bit hyperbolic. I mean I guess this is what I get for reading an article on Jezebel. Still, I think this article itself confounds the problem it’s meaning to confront. What good is it to ask men to be better creatures via a blog whose reader base is 95% women? What the author is actually doing is reminding women that men need to get better or women can be done with them.
“If we want to get past this maddening dichotomy between romantic happiness and professional success, we need to do more than teach young women emotional self-defense. We need men to change.”
I don’t bring this up to show spark up this debate again about confused women in today’s dating atmosphere, or even to attack the article. I bring this up because of a recent conversation I had with some of my best, most career driven, intelligent, and successful female friends. I suggested something that made them both get the DeAndre Jordan thizz face and burst into laughter. I suggested that I could see myself being a stay at home dad.
“A Stay At Home What?”
Let’s take this story back a bit, shall we? It was the summer of 2009 and I had just met this dude named John. Today John is one of my best friends (check my youtube for evidence), but back when I first met him, I asked him what he did and what school he went to, etc. He said he used to play pro hockey, but his dream was to be a stay at home dad. We all laughed as he explained that he would just really like a sugar momma to take care of him so he never had to work again. He was clearly joking, but the idea stuck with me a bit. I wondered why it was so funny, really? It wasn’t funny when women said things like that. I was now intrigued with this notion.
Fast forward. I’m on this Google Hangout (basically Skype for cool people) with my homegirls Renee who is in the top 5 in her class at Boalt Law School, at Berkeley, and Kristina who is a Sr. healthcare consultant, working on policy analysis and program design for CA’s new health insurance enrolment programs. To sum them up: bosses.
So I’m on this Hangout and somehow the stay at home dad thing comes up. I think I brought it up. I don’t remember. I had already told Kristina about it before, so I think she was silent because she wanted to see Renee’s face and hear her out so they could both laugh at me. That’s exactly what happened. Renee accused me of joking, and BSing, and generally just being me. She also accused me of not acknowledging how tough it is to be a stay at home parent. I explained that someone in my position who has the ability to work from home (writing, photography/film and editing, etc.) could potentially make the choice to stay at home, and that could be cool. Also, raising a family isn’t easy on anyone, and yes it would be taxing, but does that mean I’m not equipped? I did add some jokes in there about how if my kids were boys we’d go around putting Mentos into Pepsi’s, and causing a ruckus like “Where The Wild Things Are,” but overall I was trying to make a point and I think it fell on deaf ears.
I know the reason, and the Jezebel article kind of touched on it, but fell short on specifics. Women are attracted to powerful men, successful men, motivated men, and intelligent men. Women want someone who they feel is at least their equal. The idea that a man would want to stay at home would be a turn off for her first and foremost, and secondly for her friends and family who would show her no mercy for choosing such a “loser.” I understand that. The idea of financially supporting some guy who is at your house all day seems odd.
It’s no secret that the modern career driven woman is put in a tough position of not only choosing between family and career, but even just finding the time to have a serious relationship and still climb the ladder. By writing off a man who would potentially support those goals, she eliminates a potential solution to the problem.
“Say that on a first date,” Renee suggested at one point while I was explaining my rationale, “and good luck.”
She rolled her eyes, but she’s the perfect example of the modern woman who I’m sure would never sacrifice her career for a family. In fact she’s said before that she’s unsure if she even wants children (I presume because her aspirations won’t allow it). But she also wants a man who does all the traditional courtship hoopla. She wants dudes to be at least as successful as she is, as motivated, to pay on the first date, to make the first move, etc. To put it plainly, she’s the least “traditional” woman I know, yet expects more “tradition” than most. She’s creating her own conflict because she may be truly happy with someone who may not be as career driven, but would support a family and her goals. That man won’t get past step one of her criteria.
So the article suggests that in order to support women like her, men need to change. I contend that men have changed. Well, at the very least, we’re beginning to change. While we haven’t come full circle, were hiring female CEOs, casting women as bosses and breadwinners in TV shows, accepting two income households, and some of us even think we could be decent stay at home dads. For realzies.
No I’m not saying it’s been without the work and determination of many women who have fought to inspire us to change. I’m saying men created so many social and economic blocks that really it’s on us to continue to remove them and truly make the sky the limit for our women. It’s happening either way as more women are put into the positions that make those decisions and propose those laws.
So, in my very bold opinion, women are the ones who are having a tougher time changing. Why can’t I be a stay at home dad, then, if a woman should expect me to be content with her earning more? For so long men didn’t expect anything out of women but to raise a family. Why then can’t this be reversed? If a man isn’t hardwired to be primal rapists who try to impregnate everything moving and move on to the next, only staying long enough to hunt and protect, then why are we consumed with the converse idea that men are 100% hardwired to be unable to run a household, take care of children, etc? Why is it always the woman’s burden to choose between work and family? Besides the movie “Love and Basketball” (spoiler alert – but really if you haven’t seen it by now you never will) where Omar Epps retires from the NBA and raises the baby girl which allows Sanaa Lathan to join the WNBA, I have personally never seen a movie or TV about a straight, married, stay at home dad that wasn’t a comedy. Well guess what? That situation needs to be much less laughable if women are to continue to rise to positions of prominence.
Men can’t be criticized or thought of as losers if some just want to be a trophy husband who loves his wife and raises her children. Trophy wives were cool for all of eternity before a generation or two ago. So I say, if both parties are cool with it, there’s no reason a dude cant be on some successful woman’s mantle. There are TONS of services that place women with wealthy males, so I assume there will soon be similar services in reverse. Just let it happen, girls. It’s what you wanted.