Continuing with the war theme, check out the latest round of men don’t do their domestic share from The Nation:
What’s irked me is the continued assumption that this is a women’s issue. The problem isn’t that women are trying to do too much, it’s that men aren’t doing nearly enough…
Dismissing socialization and gender roles as piddling compared to this amorphous idea of “maternal imperative” is part of the reason progress is stalled for family-friendly policies. I don’t believe we must ignore how much we love our kids and want to be with them in order to effectively fight for better parenting policies—but the assumption that women want to be mothers above all other callings in their life directly impacts the way we talk and work on these issues….
This isn’t about wanting “it all,” it’s about wanting fairness and justice—something that’s only possible if we radically change the gendered expectations of parenting. Anything less will keep us talking in circles.
First a point about terms: what is “choice feminism”? For most casual feminists, “choice feminism” is the idea that feminist accomplishments gave us the opportunity to choose our own lives whether it be domestic or professional. This is real feminism. (See here and here for examples of such discussions.)
Intellectual feminists, however, hate choice feminism, and the above quote illustrates why. They want pure equality where men and women do the same amount and types of work. Therefore, they cannot accept any notion of “la difference.”
Feminists only use the language of choice when they want us to feel empowered for the choices they would have us make. See Cherie Blair who thinks it “dangerous” that stay-at-home-moms “married rich and retired.”
So what about the men? First, articles like The Daddy Wars fuel wifely assumptions of husbandly incompetence. “Why can’t you do something right?!” barbs are common and are relationship poison. Second, the evidence is rather murky that husbands are slackers. A Time magazine piece from last fall challenged the notion that husbands do less work than wives. It is an interesting read, so do read the whole thing if you subscribe, but this caught my eye:
But what we weren’t seeing was that there was a mounting body of evidence that women were not, in fact, workhorse wives picking up their husbands’ slack, that there are several variables in the dual-earner equations… So does that mean that my sense of injustice and that of so many other women have all be a result of an accounting error? Thankfully, it’s not quite so simple.
Thankfully? The gist of the article is that men have been slandered for decades, yet the author is “thankful” her sense of injustice was not entirely misplaced? Either men have been wrongly accused and reduced to annoying sperm donors or the evidence shows that men are still sometime slackers. Neither bothers her as much as the horror that she might have been mistaken.
And feminists wonder how they get a reputation for bashing men.
See Leslie’s previous blogs on the gender and family wars