Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Men doing dishes? Stop the presses.

So, I trudged through a six-page article in Newsweek magazine called – I love this part -- “Men’s Lib: To survive in a hostile world, guys needs to embrace girly jobs and dirty diapers. Why it’s time to reimagine masculinity at work and at home.”

I kept waiting for the article to say something, as I listened to the steady, distant tick tick tick of my life go passing by.

And then finally, on the last page, in the last paragraph, there was this little nugget, “Ultimately, the New Macho boils down to a simple principle: in a changing world, men should do whatever it takes to contribute their fair share at home and at work, and schools, policy-makers, and employers should do whatever they can to help them.”

Oh, thank you Sun Tzu. Whatever did we do without your infinite wisdom?

See, this is the kind of shit that pisses me off.

The impetus for the story is this: more men than women have lost jobs in the bad economy. Further, researchers believe that when jobs do come back, they will be jobs historically held by women. So, Newsweek put two intrepid reporters on the case – charged with unlocking the mystery of exactly how men are expected to face this impending tragedy. Which makes me wonder – in 2010 – do people really need a news magazine to say that if one isn’t working, one should help out by, oh, I don’t know, CLEANING THE FUCKING HOUSE?

This is not about men. Or men vs. women. I love men. And a larger number than I care to mention will attest to that.

What bothers me is a willingness to accept that men changing diapers or emptying bedpans is some sort of novel idea. Plus, the rallying cry, “and schools, policy-makers, and employers should do whatever they can to help them,” that makes me want to stand on something really, really high and scream, “ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS?”

We need policy-makers to tell us it’s only fair to share housework? That’s right -- because we don’t have things like hungry children to take care of in this country. We should dedicate resources to the Get Off Your Ass and Load the Dishwasher Committee. Or the Are Your Damn Arms Broke Committee.


Back in 1979, my Mom was the only Mom, it seemed, who traveled on business. She left me and my dad home alone a lot. Dad was a construction-worker-grown-old (they are like athletes that way.) He took blue color work, but his primary responsibility was taking care of me. In 1979.

I’ll admit, it was not a Martha Stewart household. Dad cooked truck stop fair like fried bologna and macaroni and cheese. Flowered tops without question matched polka-dot pants. Cowboy boots went with everything. Hair did not always have to be combed. Fishing came before homework, and rightly so.

Back then, it wasn’t an easy life for Dad – always the only guy at Girl Scouts and the PTA – and a big, burly, rough-looking one at that. But I have never heard him complain. Sometimes, he asks me if I can remember what he packed in my lunch every day – and of course I remember – ham and biscuits.

My point is, when my Mom’s career took off, my Dad stepped in without question. I’m baffled why, 31 years later, we’re still surprised by such a suggestion – so, surprised, in fact, it’s called news.

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