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Friday, March 7, 2008

Helping out with housework does NOT make you whipped

I wrote a blog post last year called The Shortage of Real Men, based on Kim du Toit's Pussification of the Western Male essay. Here's some of what I had to say:
I don't want a man who doesn't know anything about sports, cars, and guns. I also don't want a man to sit there and blather on for hours about his "feelings" -- I'm the woman, not you, and that's my department (although any kind of smart woman will try to reserve those conversations for other women only). As much as I may joke about it, it isn't really exciting to hear about a man watching Sex and the City, or wanting to go see the latest Jennifer Lopez chick flick.

Men and women are different. If I wanted to date someone who was sensitive, emotional, stylish, cuddly, and always prepared to talk about "feelings", I'd be a lesbian and date a damn woman. I, and I'd be willing to say most women (real women, anyways), want a real man. When I get married, my husband will be the head of the household, because that's where he should be. It doesn't make my thoughts or opinions any less valid or worthwhile, but he should be the one running things. Ultimately, he's the one who should be in charge.

Real men understand honor, loyalty, camaraderie, duty, valour. They understand the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, and will stand up when needed to simply because it is what's right. They won't care about what the rest of the world thinks about it, because they know they're doing the right thing. Real men are honest, respectful, and loving, but that doesn't mean they aren't a little rough around the edges. They're respectful, and I'd be willing to bet don't want a doormat for a wife or girlfriend -- a strong man will want a strong woman who can understand him.

There's a reason men like Clint Eastwood and John Wayne have timeless appeal with men and women alike. It's because they're real men, men who do tough work, who get sweaty and dirty, who stand up for what's right, who can be menacing and hard, but kind and loving at the same time. They aren't ashamed of being men, most importantly.

We need more men in this country. I have a good feeling you could find a lot of these men in the military, and that's probably why so many women are attracted to the man-in-uniform bit. Soldiers, firefighters, police officers -- that the uniform is sexy is not because of the clothes. It's because of what that uniform represents, and what it signifies to us.

We should be encouraging boys to be boys, not trying to feminize them (sorry, Gloria Steinem). There's a shortage of real men in this country, and I'm lucky enough to have found one of them. We need to start encouraging men to be men again, though -- otherwise, we could end up with a bunch of European girly men... like, say, in France. And that's an ugly thought.

I look back at this post because today, Debbie Schlussel points to a study that she says shows that men are more whipped than ever by -- gasp!! -- doing more housework, which leads to more sex:
American men still don't pull their weight when it comes to housework and child care, but collectively they're not the slackers they used to be. The average dad has gradually been getting better about picking himself up off the sofa and pitching in, according to a new report in which a psychologist suggests the payoff for doing more chores could be more sex.

The report, released Thursday by the Council on Contemporary Families, summarizes several recent studies on family dynamics. One found that men's contribution to housework had doubled over the past four decades; another found they tripled the time spent on child care over that span.

"More couples are sharing family tasks than ever before, and the movement toward sharing has been especially significant for full-time dual-earner couples," the report says. "Men and women may not be fully equal yet, but the rules of the game have been profoundly and irreversibly changed."

...

Joshua Coleman, a San Francisco-area psychologist and author of "The Lazy Husband: How to Get Men to Do More Parenting and Housework," said equitable sharing of housework can lead to a happier marriage and more frequent sex.

"If a guy does housework, it looks to the woman like he really cares about her — he's not treating her like a servant," said Coleman, who is affiliated with the Council on Contemporary Families. "And if a woman feels stressed out because the house is a mess and the guy's sitting on the couch while she's vacuuming, that's not going to put her in the mood."

The report's co-authors, sociologists Scott Coltrane of the University of California, Riverside and Oriel Sullivan of Ben Gurion University, said they were addressing a perception that women's gains in the workplace were not being matched by gains at home.

"The typical punch line of many news stories has been that even though women are working longer hours on the job and cutting back their own housework, men are not picking up the slack," Coltrane and Sullivan wrote.

They said this perception was based on unrealistic expectations and underestimated the degree of change "going on behind the scenes" since the 1960s. The change, they said, "is too great a break from the past to be dismissed as a slow and grudging evolution."

Debbie replies to this survey with a:
Is this blurring of the gender roles a good thing? Only if you want your men to be women and your women to be men.

I'm a woman who likes my man to be a man (which he is -- just FYI). And I thought Kim du Toit's essay was genius. And I thought Debbie Schlussel was just way wrong on this one.

Men, you should be manly by all means. However, helping out with the housework does not make you whipped, feminine, pussified, or any other adjective to indicate you're becoming a woman.

I normally get pissed off when I hear about feminists blathering on about eradicating gender roles. My response is usually Who cares?! I don't see how it matters in the least which person in the relationship does the dishes after dinner at night.

Now, in my relationship, I am the "woman" 99% of the time. I do the cooking; I do the laundry (from actually washing the clothes to folding them and putting them away); and I do the cleaning. But you know what? Most nights after dinner, Michael would get his ass up out of his chair and wash the dishes for me. I never asked him to do it; he just does. And I am appreciative every time. I usually don't feel like cleaning after I've just cooked, and it doesn't make him any less manly. When he pitches in and helps with the laundry, it doesn't make him less manly. I'm all for it whenever he helps me with housework, because it makes it go by faster. So then, it can be done and we can get on to more important stuff.

No, it does not mean he's whipped or womanly or that the "gender roles" in our relationship have been switched. It's not a sign of a masculinity to be unwilling to help out your wife or girlfriend with housework; it's a sign that you aren't much of a man. A man who derides housework as something he shouldn't do because it isn't "manly" isn't much of a man, in my opinion. Yes, it is my opinion that the housework is mainly my job in my relationship. That does not mean it is a bad thing when Michael comes and helps me out. It doesn't make me "manly" when I go to work on the car with him or shoot his rifles and shotguns, and it doesn't make him "womanly" when he's helping me with the cooking or cleaning. Relationships are about equality, and someone claiming they're "above" housework is very small to me indeed.

And yes, boys, helping out with the housework probably will get you laid more often. Women often complain about having too much on their plate; help her clear some of that stuff off of her plate and she'll not only be incredibly appreciative, but she'll now have the time for the fun stuff. Does this mean you'll be "whipped"? I don't think so.

Men doing more housework does not mean that they're becoming women. Using your exfoliator, mud mask, moisturizer, and body wash does. To think that various household chores need to be boxed into "his" and hers" categories is a small way of thinking, indeed. How about men and women just do what needs to be done? I promise, guys, it doesn't make you whipped. It just makes you lucky.

4 comments:

Rachel Lucas said...

Spot on, Cassy. In fact I think I'll write a post about this myself. Maybe it's just me, but one of the MAJOR things that attracts me to a man is if his house is clean. It shows that he is not a pig. Pretty simple. And why he'd suddenly get a pass on that just because he lives with a woman is beyond me. Hmph.

RB said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RB said...

You are right. Nothing wrong with a man helping to clean up around the house. I, being a responsible man, keep my apartment clean. My roommate is somewhat of a slob. Does it make him more manly? Nope - a douchebag.

As for using exfoliator, I can think of only one man who didn't become more of a woman by doing that: Patrick Bateman.

"Do you like Huey Lewis and the News?"

Dave M said...

You kind of pulled a Naomi Wolf here.