‘Breadwinner Wives’ Misses the Mark

My name is Aaron Gouveia, and my wife makes more money than I do.

Wait. This isn’t a support group for losers? Are you sure? Because after reading Hanna Rosin’s Slate column about “breadwinner wives,” I just assumed it was my lot in life to huddle with the growing number of financially castrated husbands whose pitiful paychecks are causing marital strife.

Rosin started off with an interesting topic, which she approached evenhandedly, citing census data and Pew Research Center surveys. And as a member of the 22 percent of American marriages in which husbands make less than their wives, I was intrigued to learn more.

Until Rosin’s article took a very wrong turn and inexplicably careened off a cliff.

Some couples seem to ease into the dynamic naturally—the woman is a born workaholic and the man lives at a slower pace, picking up contract work, savoring his afternoon coffee. One mother at our preschool can’t stop bragging about her stay-at-home husband—although I am still startled by the sight of him hanging around the school, helping the teachers make handprint T-shirts.

It’s the word “startled” that really threw me. I re-read it several times to see if I was just being oversensitive, but each time I went back it leaped out even more. Quite frankly, its use here is baffling: I can’t fathom any scenario in which a father taking a positive and active role in his kids’ lives could be construed as a bad thing, not to mention alarming or frightening.

Rosin goes on to talk about the women she knows in her life who are currently dealing with this issue.

One woman I know never seems to run out of ways to call her husband, who works as a part-time airline mechanic, a loser. Another complains about the small things: Why does he spend all her money on dress socks if he hasn’t had a job interview in over a year and why does he have to subscribe to every damned sports channel and why will he never clean up after himself? In a couple of cases I know of, the disparity never felt natural and the couple got divorced.

Let’s keep the recession in mind. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, seven out of 10 workers who lost their jobs are men. So wouldn’t it stand to reason this guy should consider himself damn lucky to have any job at all? Not to mention the man is an airline mechanic, which is a highly trained and specialized field. It hardly sounds “lazy.”

But even more confounding is why Rosin even bothered to include the husband who allegedly doesn’t know how to clean up after himself. Isn’t this a story about income disparity? What does his level of cleanliness have to do with this? Rosin’s last comment that these people are getting divorced really strikes me as no surprise—I wouldn’t want to be married to someone constantly calling me a loser either. But that has more to do with civility and respect, and less about the marital wage gap.

Truthfully I was disappointed to see this coming from the intelligent and forward-thinking folks at Slate’s DoubleX blog. Suppose I had written, “One father at our preschool can’t stop bragging about his working wife—although I am still startled by the sight of her hanging around the office, helping to broker multi-million-dollar business deals.” I have to believe I would’ve been taken to task. And rightfully so.

I’ll admit, I had issues with the fact that my wife out-earned me at one point by approximately $40,000 a year. But she works in finance and my heart and soul is in print journalism, a notoriously low-paying field. And after a while, she showed me that what I lack in the paycheck department I make up for in other areas. I’m the communicator, the social director, and the primary caretaker of our son. I still work full-time, but I cook most of the meals and perform the majority of chores—because those things are just as important as a padded wallet, if not more so.

In the end I realized it doesn’t matter if I make less money than she does. And while the issue caused some arguments, it was never something that was going to threaten our marriage. If two people break up because of something so arbitrary, I’d argue that their relationship had far more problems than an income disparity.

But I guess the important thing is that I don’t show up at my son’s school. I wouldn’t want to startle anyone.

—Photo via SoFeminine.co.uk

About Aaron Gouveia

Aaron is husband to a woman far too beautiful to have married him, and father of two sons far too perfect to be his. After nearly a decade as a Boston-area journalist, he decided to actually get paid and became a content manager. When he's not griping about his beloved Boston sports teams, he's detailing life as a dad at The Daddy Files. You can follow him on Twitter (@DaddyFiles) and Facebook.


  1. courage the cowardly dog says:

    So I googled the term “Breadwinner husbands” and much to my chagrin and surprise I came up with no articles decrying the fact for the better part of 2000 years or more men have borne the burden of being the primary breadwinner. No articles complaining about how lazy and burdensome the wives of Breadwinner husbands were, no articles sounding the alarm as to the signficance to society that such a long lasting trend has had, no articles at all . . . in fact what I did come up with were articles relating to breadwinner wives and the complaints they have about their secondary earning/caregiving husbands.

    Now how do you explain that!!!!!!

    • You said above that

      “I find it “startling” that anyone would bitch about being the primary breadwinner. As primary breadwinner you are endowed with control and power that the secondary breadwinner/caregiver does not have.”

      Now you call breadwinning a “burden”….When for quite a lot of the time you mentioned, women were not allowed to work because it was assumed they weren’t smart enough, or talented enough–

      Which is just as stupid as thinking a man isn’t caring enough to be a good parent. Stereotypes are stupid no matter who does them…Let’s not rewrite history.

      • courage the cowardly dog says:

        It is a burden, but it is a burden with certain benefits. Nothing in life comes without a price. As the primary breadwinner you carry the burden of financial responsibiity for others and in return you are entitled to certain control over how money is spent. Women have historically opted to cede financial control (to a certain extent) to their husbands in return for being relieved of the burden of breadwinning. Through the manipulative use of love and affection women have been able to obtain from men the resources to get the things they want without having to carry the burden of earning the means for obtaining those things.

        I am not rewriting history and if you had any sense of history, you would understand that.

  2. I, too, was shocked and dismayed by Hanna Rosin’s choice of couples to highlight. I see a lot more nuance in the world than that; and a lot more fathers helping out, be it preschool, elementary, or high school. I know so many couples in which the woman earns more than the man that it’s not even worth enumerating them — there’s the CFO whose husband works part-time and volunteers at school, there’s the bike shop owners where the wife worked for years in technology to save up money to start their business while the husband stayed home with their little boy and tinkered with his bikey inventions, there’s the couple around the corner where both the wife and husband work very part-time, but the wife’s the one who pays the rent and the dad’s the one who plans the birthday parties, there are the two freelancers who wrote a book together so the wife could demand a higher hourly wage writing grants while the husband followed his heart and art working on a variety of highly technical and not-very-lucrative projects.

    yes, there are situations where the high-earning wife resents the low-earning husband, but I can find a lot of reasons for that (one or both of them are insufferable for reasons entirely not connected to their annual wage), including, maybe, that one of them places an unusual value on money, while the other, doesn’t.

    for most of our relationship (in fact, most of our lives), I have made more money than my husband. whatever our problems, this has never (for me) been even a facet of our relationship. we have always considered together who would do what work, for what money; now, he is working for the Army in Kuwait, making four times what I’m making, and while I sometimes resent time to myself I never resent the money. I happily spend it, rarely for dress socks, always for the mortgage and groceries; I’ve never heard him once complain about my spending habits in the way the women in Rosin’s piece do. while there are many things he has spent money on, of which I disapprove, in our time during which I was the primary breadwinner — I surely never attributed it to his laziness or relative stature in the columns of our tax return.

    it seems that individual relationship problems, as well as our culture’s obsession with earning power and its link to inherent personal value, are being attributed to the relative paychecks of men and women collectively. I hardly think this is fair or scientific. surely, the work that each of us does, does not need a dollars-per-hour value to be assessed in a relationship. (and, if one is being true to one’s heart, I believe one would not be measuring chores and hours chauffeured and words of bedtime books read out loud in comparison, either.)

    we may be living in an unusual time with regards to the relative earning power of men and women. this should not mean (even if it does, to many people) that men and women change in relation to one another — unless, truly, all that matters to any of us is that line #37 on our individual tax return.

  3. courage the cowardly dog says:

    I find it “startling” that anyone would bitch about being the primary breadwinner. As primary breadwinner you are endowed with control and power that the secondary breadwinner/caregiver does not have.

  4. courage the cowardly dog says:

    You’re in my opinion, teaching your kids to do exactly what your ex did. Choose a career over a family. Am I misinterpreting this?”
    Yes you are. The fact is after we separated the “good” doctor with whom she cheated on me with while we were married moved in with her. She has since left full time employment and is only working part time. The “good” (and rich) doctor pays her mortgage and property taxes. When she faced career setbacks, like a lot of men have, instead of soldiering on, like most men do, she sought a more lucrative ship to anchor her boat to and she bailed on me after I had acquiesced to her career aspirations at the expense of my own career. While she was a “career” woman early on in our marriage, she now would prefer to be a “kept” woman, a role that the vast majority of men neither want nor have the opportunity to avail themselves of. It is a matter of control. If you cede the primary breadwinner role to your wife you cede control and the fact is most women would prefer to be provided for and are willing to give up that control. Something like 30% of all households have the woman as the primary breadwinner, but there is a lot of media hand wringing and analysis of that dynamic, but what of the 70% of households with men as the primary breadwinners? You don’t see articles or studies on that. Why? Because that is the natural order of things. That is the way most women would like it to be. Women would much rather be home with their babies than carrying that Feminist clap trap. We men in the interest of peace and fairness have allowed it to happen. We need to throw down the gauntlet and give no quarter to a conflict between you own career aspirations and those of your wife. Make her choose early on in the marriage, because if you don’t you are headed for trouble. You are not serving your family well by acquiescing to accommodate your wife’s career aspirations. You duty is to your family and you can best fulfill that duty by aggressively pursuing your career aspirations unencumbered by whatever your wife’s career aspirations might be.
    Had I followed the advice a I have put forth here, I would be living with my kids on an acre of land, in a 5 bedroom house, with a swimming pool in the back yard, on a cul-de-sac, 13 miles from the beach earning a helluva lot more money than I am now and we may not be married, but neither I nor my kids would have suffered the way we have. I have one life. I gave up a part of that life out of trust and love to afford my ex an opportunity of a life time and she paid me back by cheating on me. She now lives in a million dollar home, while I live far from a place I loved in a rented apartment.

    • I should have read the rest of your comments before I responded. Then I would have known to avoid engaging you because your outlook makes me sick.

      You are saying that 1) the primary breadwinner of a family is the one with power and control and 2) the “natural order of things” is for men to have that power and control over their wives, which is totally okay because 3) women want to be controlled by their husbands.

      Making career sacrifices for your family and your spouses more lucrative career, finding out your spouse is a cheating asshole, and getting a divorce and being way behind the curve with your career because of the sacrifices you’ve made is not a fun experience for anyone, man or woman. The fact that you went through that yourself and are now advocating for a more traditional paradigm which places women at great risk of the exact same thing is just fucked up. I mean, how bitter and hypocritical does one need to be to think like that?

      • courage the cowardly dog says:

        Steve, I don’t know how old you are, but in your lifetime how many articles have you seen, how much media has been dedicted to the voicing of complaints of men who are primary breadwinners. You have seen none and I challenge you to google the topic because you will not find any. You will find a plethora of articles about Breadwinning wives. The gist of most of these articles are complaints, put downs of the husbands and the marginalization of men. I don’t like it. My ex sought out a better earning man at the expense of my life, my kids lives, the lives of her paramours’ children and wife. It is wrong. In order to keep this from happening again we need to take control and we should avoid women who aren’t willing to give. In light of the dissatisfaction that you are seeing in these articles about breadwinning wives I expect you will see a lot more women willing to give up that control .

        • courage the cowardly dog says:

          just by way of correction–

          We should avoid women that aren’t willing to give up that control.

      • courage the cowardly dog says:

        Did you read Hanna Rosin’s article? It was a put down of men, in general. I heard a lot of that during 15 years of marriage and apparently it is not uncommon. You may willing to endure that kind of abuse, but I am not. Any man that wrote about women the way Hanna Rosin did would be vilified, raked over the coals and if he had a journalistic career, it would be over.

        You sound too young and idealistic to really understand, so I won’t be offended by your insults.

      • courage the cowardly dog says:

        Steve: Infidelity is never right regardless of the gender of who commits it. Had I refused to move with my wife to accommodate her career opportunity, no one would have faulted me for it and no one would have so much blinked an eye. I believe that had I protected my own career and refused to move she either would have turned the offer down or come crawling back after it failed so miserably especially since I would have had custody of the kids. And had I done that I would have been the PB and my career would have flourished. But I didn’t do that. Out of love I threw my own career under the bus. As result when she saw my diminished paycheck she saw a diminished man and went out and sought a man who could allow her the opportunity to be a stay home mom. The man she found would not have done for her what I did and he in fact did not do any such thing for his own because she was a stay at home mom for virtually their entire marriage. Unfortunately, in the process my ex destroyed our marriage, damaged our kids, destroyed the family of her paramour including his wife and his kids. Early on in the marriage she was a “career” woman, but when she realized the responsibilities of that she wanted no part of it. Men don’t do that. Men don’t bail when things get tough. If you are a PB you can’t do that. If you do people’s lives get damaged, if not destroyed. These women who are bitching about having to be PB’s are really annoying. If they want to be treated equally then they need to not bitch about the responsibilities that come with equal treatment.

      • courage the cowardly dog says:

        The fact that you went through that yourself and are now advocating for a more traditional paradigm which places women at great risk of the exact same thing is just fucked up.

        Have you read these articles by women complaining about being the primary breadwinner? If you don’t like that role don’t do things that are likely to place yourself in that role especially if the things you do are likely to impair or impede your husband from having that role. I am simply saying that men have to basically establish boundaries that will steer women in the direction that they really want and it is best for the family. If they were completely comfortable with the primary breadwinning role you would not seek articles like this written by women. Google “breadwinning wives” and you will find a lot of articles on the topic and they all sound the same general theme. They articulate discomfort with the role of being a primary breadwinner. It is a little hard to take when you have sacrificed your own career to achieve a goal that your wife ostensibly aspired to only to discover that is not what she wanted at all. Can you understand that?

  5. Fleurdamour says:

    I don’t want a dominant man. I really, truly do want someone with whom I am equal. Please don’t try to speak for all women, you are way off base.

  6. Courage, I feel you dude. You obviously had a touch go at it. But I have to ask if you mean what you say or is this just the open wounds of a recent and painful divorce?

    “Jealously guard your career opportunities. If I could do it over again, I would say to my wife when she suggested we move to accommodate a career opportunity for her would be “that’s nice honey that you have a job, but I have a career and nothing is going to impair that, so if you want to leave go for it, but the kids and I are staying right here.”

    You’re in my opinion, teaching your kids to do exactly what your ex did. Choose a career over a family. Am I misinterpreting this? There is no career worth your kids. Never. There is a happy medium between a fulfilling career and a fulfilling home life. It’s finding it that is the real problem.

    • courage the cowardly dog says:

      I work 60-80 hours a week trying grow my practice and make up for the time I lost acquiecing to my wife’s career aspirations. She in the meantime enjoys the luxuries that come with being a kept woman. The women bitching about being the primary breadwinners should shut up, hunker down and move forward, like men have done for more than a milennia.

  7. courage the cowardly dog says:

    I drank the feminist kool aide and it destroyed my career, my marriage, ripped apart two families and damaged my children. I married my now ex wife in 1993. I was two years out of law school and working on a budding legal career; she had an MBA from a top 5 business school. At the time we got married she earned more than I did, but not by a significant margin. Seven years and two kids into the marriage I had been a fully supportive father and slightly less equal earner and had managed to nuture a legal career that was starting to pay dividends in the form of partnership potential with a small locally based practice and a piece of fees for business originated when she was presented with an offer that appeared to be a game changer. In 2000 a dot com offered her 100,000 stock options, a six figure salary and an officer’s title along with guaranteed bonuses and slew of other attractive perks. The catch was that it required us to move to a state that I was not admitted to practice in and because my practice was limited to state court practice the move would mean I would be for all intents and purposes starting my legal career over. My wife (now ex) was enthusiastic about the opportunity and because I was supportive of her and the unique offer that this presented I agreed to the move, but not without some reservations. So we moved to this new state and because of the length of my experience and a reciprocity agreement between my old state of residence and new state of residence I could waive into the bar and not sit for the exam. But I knew no one and no one knew me. Consequently, my career took a hit, but being the loving and supportive husband and father, I shifted my value to taking care of the kids and domestic responsibilities. I did find a job, but I took a 25% pay cut from our previous state of residence. Now the gap between my wife’s income and mine had grown considerably and with it I noticed a change in my wife’s attitude toward me. Anyway, about a year into this grand feminist experience the dot com imploded. Suddenly my wife was out of work. I was working but at a much lower income than what I had been earning before the big move. She managed to salvage some of the stock options, but a much lower return than what we had anticipated. My inclination was to return to the state of our former residence, but she ostensibly feared that such a sudden move might adversely affect the kids and the compromise that we struck was that if she did not find a job within 3 months in our new state we would move back. Of course, she found a job, but the offer she received was not remotely close to the offer that drew us down here in the first place, but still more than what I was earning, but not by the margins that the dot com experience had created. I continued to be the primary care giver to the kids and to look for better paying work. In 2003 she lost her job again. This time I was on the phone to all my contacts in our former residence and I received a very nice offer from a firm where I knew one of the partners well. While I was interviewing for jobs in our former residence, she looked for work in the “new” state. Shortly after I was made the offer she received an offer that called for a larger base salary, but my offer afforded me the opportunity to receive a percentage of fees earned in excess of an annual minimum which was very doable. She refused to move. I consulted a lawyer about making the move and getting custody of the kids. I was advised that court would not take custody from a mother especially if she had an earing capacity. I turned down the offer. I slipped into a deep depression as I continued to shlog along in my job earning 25% less than what I had earned 4 years earlier and I tried to be a good dad to my kids. My ex once called me a “pioneer” the realm of social roles. It affected my libido. In 2006 I discovered emails between her and a very successful married doctor who was married to a stay at home wife and mom. My wife was having an affair. I became suicidal. In 2008 she filed for divorce. It was nasty and my kids suffered. The doctor’s wife discovered the affair and she divorced him. They have two kids who also suffered. We sold our million dollar house. I got 60% of the marital assets, 50/50 legal and physical custody of my kids and my ex pays me child support, but no alimony. I took my 60% of the marital assets and left the firm I had been with since we moved here and where I was when I left still earning 20% less than what I had been earning in our former state of residence and I started my own practice. I am now here in the new state of residence where I had been when we moved here. The doctor who my ex moved in with about a year and a half ago has recently moved out. I live in a rented apartment and my kids live with me every other week.

    So what have I learned and what am I teaching my kids. Jealously guard your career opportunities. If I could do it over again, I would say to my wife when she suggested we move to accommodate a career opportunity for her would be “that’s nice honey that you have a job, but I have a career and nothing is going to impair that, so if you want to leave go for it, but the kids and I are staying right here.

    • That’s a long, sad story and I’m sorry you had to go through all of that. Honestly, it reminds me of what a whole hell of a lot of women have gone through. (Making career sacrifices for their family, having a cheating spouse, and ending up divorced and making way less money than they could have.)

      That said, I’m having trouble seeing how it has anything to do with “drinking the feminist kool aide” as you put it. Could you explain what you mean by that?

      • courage the cowardly dog says:

        What that means is at the time my wife informed me of her extraordinary offer I had bought into the feminist philosophy of equal rights and opportunities. Think back to the 1950’s. Would a man move to accommodate a career opportunity for his wife. Not a chance. But I was enlightened and I believed that women had the right to pursue equal opportunity and equal pay and all that other BS. Of course, my wife (now my ex) would have been compelled to choose betweeen her career and her family had I taken a more traditional view and said –“its nice that you have a job honey, but I have a career and you can go pursue that opportunity, but you will do that without me or the kids.” But, regretfully, I did not do that and because I did not do that my wife became the primary breadwinner in the household, a role she quickly learned to detest and a role that created a lot of resentment and ultimately the demise of my marriage and the dissolution of my family. The fact is women don’t like being the primary breadwinner– a role that feminism has by the very nature of their demands lead to. In 1970 when only 4% of households had women as the primary breadwinners the Divorce rate was much lower than it is today. Bottom line is feminism is destroying the basic structure of society. Is it clearer now?

        • SunaDokei says:

          Will you teach all your children to jealously guard career opportunities? Even your daughters? It would be a valuable lesson for them, because your story can and has happened to women as well, it is not a gender-specific thing. I have a close friend who was a successful doctor, who moved for her husband’s career to a state where she couldn’t practice. She became a SAHM, her children no longer respect her because she isn’t working… and her husband refuses to discipline them on that issue. She’s isolated and I’ve never seen her so miserable before. Should she have told him that he was free to leave but that she and the children weren’t going anywhere for his career?

          And why should you not have joint custody if you split up because of the career? It seems unfair of you to expect to have everything you want and leave her nothing….I’d be more inclined to believe in your sincerity if you didn’t seem to think you were entitled to your perfect career /and/ depriving your wife of joint custody.

          She did nothing more or less than ‘jealously guard her career opportunities,’ and you hypocritically hate on her for it.

          • courage the cowardly dog says:


            First of all after moving from a place where my career was starting to take root and grow to a place where it withered on the vine, my ex’s career didn’t do all the well notwithstanding the promise of the offer she was made. When the company she worked for and we made the move for imploded I wanted to go back where my career held greater promise, but she refused and because of the custody laws of this state she held the leverage with regard to the kids, so I was faced with the choice of returning to the place where my career held the greatest promise and loosing my children or not loosing my children, but my career floundering. I chose my children. That is why I get 50/50 custody, because I made the sacrifice for her career that she refused to make for mine. Not only that, after making the move that I did resulting in my career setback, she saw that my career ship was sinking and she bailed on me and started having an affair with a married doctor, whose wife had been a SAHW/M throughout their marriage. What I am saying about these women who bitch about being the primary breadwinner is you’ve got no right to bitch. If you choose that role understand the burdens and responsibilities that come with it and if you demand career sacrifice from your husband don’t expect that he will be able to support you in the manner you may feel you are entitled to in the event you find yourself uncomfortable with the primary breadwinner role further on in your marriage. Suck it up, shut up and carry on, as men have done for a few milennia.

      • courage the cowardly dog says:

        it reminds me of what a whole hell of a lot of women have gone through. (Making career sacrifices for their family, having a cheating spouse, and ending up divorced and making way less money than they could have.)

        Yes and women generally end up with a greater share of the marital property and alimony because of the sacrifices they have made.

  8. Women being breadwinners isn’t the entire problem. What we resent is working all day and coming home to cook dinner, clean the house, and take care of children while paying all the bills. This is more likely all too common, and absolutely ridiculous.
    I wouldn’t be so resentful being the breadwinner if I could come home to a clean house, and have a partner that gave a minimum of 50%. Now, he does work, but it only pays ‘his’ bills..ie, car payment, student loans, etc. He actually works more hours than I do but his income goes to pay nothing but groceries. It’s barely worth it for him to work, but when he was unemployed and I was pregnant, he did absolutely nothing around the house. Nothing. Men have no idea what their identity is and what to do all day if they aren’t providing. So…there lies the problem. It’s not women out earning men, it’s women out earning men AND cooking, cleaning, caring for children and being the adults in the relationships.

  9. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t belittle men in their capacity as parent, be it stay-at-home, or be it a super-involved dad who works, then turn around and cry sexism when the arrogant guys around the boardroom table don’t take you seriously enough.

    I wonder how it would be taken if some CEO said that he was “startled” to find a woman sitting at his board-room table.

  10. candidcutie says:

    You started from a “all women think this way” which is a purely personal argument i.e. all the women I know think this way”. Two wrongs do not make a right.

  11. “Non-traditional”… what does that mean for someone under 30? So many of us have been raised by single parents, divorced parents, in blended families…

    I feel like you’re talking about a nuclear family where the father earns more money and the mother stays home. That hasn’t been the standard for a long time, and that’s not something familiar to a lot of the people who are starting their families at this time.

  12. Thank you for addressing the article… the idea that women are startled to see men involved in school activities, working at a daycare or caring for their own children on a full-time basis is very disturbing. I’d like to hear more about the motives of anyone that feels that way. Why is it startling?

    I am a full-time father (much preferred label than SAHD since I’m actually a very happy guy) and have had no issues with playgroup integration and have enjoyed getting to know many mothers and fathers of children close to my daughter’s age. I think the idea that most women are hesitant to let men into their playgroups is a bit outdated. Undoubtedly, there are some women who feel men don’t belong, but it’s really a discriminatory position to take and one I feel is becoming less and less common. I find when I engage with other open, intelligent and modern parenting peers, differences in sex, race and income levels fade into the background. Perhaps the situation would feel different in certain communities (I am in Chicago), but most of my family and older friends are from the southeast and I have not been chastised or outcast in anyway because of my decision to take care of our daughter. More importantly, I would not continue associating with anyone who had a problem with my life choices. Yes, becoming a full-time father was a choice for me… I left a corporate career and a fast-track ladder of advancement willingly to travel with my wife, who had an even better job.

    “those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter.” ~ Dr. Suess.

  13. I think Hanah Rosen’s message by intent and design is to serve as an agent to empower women. I have neither read nor heard any subtle message that would serve to empower men in their current circumstances. Nor have I seen any gesture that would represent the same. In reviewing her survey questions I notice once again consistent with this approach a method that will gather information by proxy. Which leaves room to massage the results and the message. I think her efforts are that of a good sister to the sisterhood, she is a feminist opportunist divot looking for a place to land. As to the question of a transition of bread-winner status, fewer will survive it than not. As is the case currently. The biggest losers will obviously be men given current legislation. I simply compare the circumstances to the Titanic, coupled with the general social expression of female chivalry in the past five years, which hasn’t existed. Guys govern yourselves accordingly!
    Given the status of the gatekeeper posture and support for the mommy and me spaces, current legislation that provides only a lifeboat to women and the ruse of egalitarian equality, every couple out there should be funding and planning a mutual marital exit contract for both parties. It’s no different than insurance against very destructive forces. Once we are done kidding ourselves about equality then we can ask the real question. Where’s the love? If there is any, now is the time to make that agreement, when caring still exists. For those who feel this to be cynical, all I can say is once we choose to govern our relationships and ourselves responsibly, then we can learn how to tell and make our governments do the same.

  14. The issue here the the inability of most women to let go of the household decisions. When a significant number of women are able to let there husband choose the curtains, furniture and colour scheme of the house I will start to believe in equality.

    Men, in general, are emotionally and sexually dependent on women, while women strive to be independent. This is now becoming the fundamental inequality in relationships today. Because women overestimate male power, they overcompensate by building their power and independence.

    I learnt in HIStory that independent nations can easily go to war while interdependent nations have to be peaceful (because they don’t have the resources for protracted isolation). The more independent partners are in a marriage, the less likely it is to succeed.

    And no, I don’t want to go back to anything, I want to go forward to something better.

  15. @alpha_sahd says:

    Perhaps once less people are “startled” by the sight of a man in a classroom setting spending time with children, more men will feel comforable taking on the role of teacher or primary caregiver.

    Or, perhaps the idea that men and women are truly equal is just a lie fed to us over the last 40 years.

    I certainly hope no one is Ever “startled” by the sight of my wife makng decisions in the corporate setting.

  16. I actually think a woman’s career is incredibly important and so take it into account when dating; then again, I live in DC, so maybe that colors my opinion.

    • As a woman in professional school, I have never had a serious relationship with someone who wasn’t at all interested in my career. Maybe had fun for a couple weeks, but it never lasted because I need someone more supportive than that.

      One of the reasons I decided to marry my fiance (no “proposal”, we had multiple discussions and came to a mutual conclusion!) is that, not only am I in love with him, but he is flat-out PROUD of me. Sure, I’ll out-earn him eventually, but I couldn’t do it without him.

      Never underestimate the power and importance of believing in someone!

      • courage the cowardly dog says:

        Oh boy, is that relationship headed for a cliff. When the babies start coming the family’s reliance on your income or a step down in the class strata if you elect to rely on his will only serve as a source of resentment and hatred. Mark my words. It happens every time. Women really don’t want to work (nobody really does) especially once children come along. The guilt and longing to be with your baby is natural for you and you cannot defy mother nature. Good luck in your social experiment, I just hope children don’t end up paying for your experimentation.

  17. Ass much as we say we like the idea of SAHD and bread-winning moms, we still can’t get the old beliefs of men as providers out of our head.

    SAHD still aren’t welcome in this Mommy and me culture, nor at the park gatherings, which are mostly moms. And a SAHM play date at the house of a SAHD? A man and a woman alone in a house with two tots? It’s a page out of “Little Children.”

    Most of the bread-winning moms I know (now all divorced) used to complain that their hubbies didn’t do things right (aka, their way). It’s still hard for many women to let go. And the recession is keeping more men at home and sending more women into the workforce; being “stuck” at home (which I write about for Mommy Tracked, http://www.mommytracked.com/vicki_larson_divorce_recession_unemployment) is different than making a conscious decision to raise your kids.

    Still, we’re a long way from giving SAHD the same weight as CEO, even among men. I hope that changes one day. I imagine it won’t be soon enough.

    • courage the cowardly dog says:

      Still, we’re a long way from giving SAHD the same weight as CEO, even among men. I hope that changes one day. I imagine it won’t be soon enough.

      It won’t happen IMO. Women by a very large margin would prefer to stay at home with children than leave the home and be the PB. Men feel the exact opposite, as a general rule. Men are still the majority of PB’s, though the margins of that majority have decreased. I don’t see a day when women are the majority of PB’s and in fact my bet is that there will be a drawing back in the number of women PB’s in nuclear family households reflecting the preference of women and men. The sad thing is that a number of families have been destroyed along with the careers of many men during this period of social experimentation. “The Feminine Mystique” was a manifesto of social destruction.

  18. I think it ironic that feminists have been bitching for years about not earning equal pay while at the same time mothers have been complaining about men not being involved parents; and so here you have a situation where women are actually making MORE in most cases, and dads are actively involved; and yet these women are not only still bitching about it, they’re berating men because of it. I’ll concede to generalizing here, but really this is just a bullshit smokescreen from these women hiding the fact that they are unhappy with themselves.

    And in my opinion, Rosin represents a small minority of disgruntled X chromosomes, who really don’t know what they want, but in putting others down it makes them feel better about themselves. I’ve already been down this road personally after being misrepresented by Sara Eckel of “Working Mother Magazine” (http://ow.ly/3ZTgj ) who distorted what she heard in interviews to present at home dads in the same negative light. To Rosin, Eckel and those of their ilk I say, stop perpetuating the gender stereotype of women not being able to make up their minds. How do you like them apples?

    • “And in my opinion, Rosin represents a small minority of disgruntled X chromosomes, who really don’t know what they want, but in putting others down it makes them feel better about themselves”

      Eat, Pray, Love?

      IMO, these women are greater in number than you suggest. They also have widespread media coverage.

  19. Dana: You’re missing the point. And you’re wrong on several fronts.

    My son is not yet in elementary school, but he is in preschool full time. And there are a slew of dads there dropping off and picking up their kids. There are also two male volunteers there that act as teacher aides on a daily basis. I also do some work with a local father’s group, and I know for a fact it’s not uncommon at all for dads to be involved at local schools. So I think you’re dead wrong about involved men being “unusual and a bit surprising.”

    And the definition of the word “startle” is “to alarm or frighten.” Therefore Rosin was saying she was alarmed and frightened to see a man volunteering at his child’s school. But you’re right about one thing, I absolutely resent that statement. It’s misguided, hurtful and flat out wrong.

    You also say “Working wives are a lot more likely then a super-involved in school activities Dad.” Yet Rosin’s original article cites statistics that claim the number of working moms is plummeting. You’re only considering the arguments that support your side.

    As I said in my article, Rosin’s article started out fine. It was an honest look at an emerging trend. But there was no reason to take an unnecessary pot shot at stay-at-home/involved dads in the process. Not to mention anecdotal (and completely irrelevant) stories about slovenly husbands which had nothing to do with income disparities within a marriage.

    • It is possible that I’m missing your point. I’ll give you that.

      It’s fantastic that at your sons preschool there are so many involved Dads. I assure you that this is not the norm. It may be more likely in the past couple of years with the economy and more Dads out of work, but it’s definitely not an everyday, everywhere thing. Up until 2 years ago I took my nephew to elementary school and picked him up everyday (he’s in Junior High now), and I can tell you that I almost never saw a Dad. Plenty of single/working Moms, many stay at home Moms, very rarely did I see a Dad. So yeah, if I had seen a Dad it would have been surprising.

      I think we both know that what a word means by definition, and how a person uses it, often differs. ‘Startling’ is a word I myself have used – and I bet you have too – to express my extreme surprise at something. If you feel the author used the word in the wrong context and that it gives the wrong impression, I can understand that, but I can’t say that I got the same impression.

      ‘“Working wives are a lot more likely then a super-involved in school activities Dad.” Yet Rosin’s original article cites statistics that claim the number of working moms is plummeting. You’re only considering the arguments that support your side.’ — No that’s exactly what I meant, Wives (and therefore women), have been in the workforce for decades now. It’s no longer an unusual thing. Rosin’s statistics that show the number of working Moms is plummeting doesn’t make it less true that working wives are likelier, or considered more the norm, than involved Dads, it just means there are less of them now than there were.

      I promise you I am not considering any argument, even those that would support my ‘side’. In truth, I don’t have a side. I happened to come across your article, which referenced an article I’ve also read, and we just happen to disagree on the nature and intent of it.

      I truly don’t believe the author meant the term ‘startled’ to be a pot shot. Of course I could be wrong, who knows. As far as the anecdotal stories, it seemed she was just giving examples from her own personal experience interacting with women that earn more than their husbands. One woman that was thrilled to have her husband super involved with the kids and school activities, and one woman who clearly has many, many issues even aside from the her taking issue with her husband buying dress socks, and not picking up after himself. She just sounds like a resentful unhappy person to me.

      Personally I see the whole income disparity thing as a non-issue. Two people get married and either they both work or they decide that one should not work and the other shouldn’t for whatever reason. Whatever money earned is ‘ours’, and you live within your means. People claim they have issues with money, or issues because of money, but the truth is they just have issues. Money is just paper with stuff printed on it. Arguments about money are just the symptom of whatever the issue is – a perceived imbalance of power, dissatisfaction with your mate, or your life, or your job, or whatever.

      • Self serving lip stick politics with about the same depth. Using the term “startling” supports a migrating perception that does not point towards a positive representation. It is no different than an air line policy that prohibits fly alone children from being seated beside a man. Being an apologist for unintelligent drivel is a poor career choice.

  20. Sorry but taking the Slate article and it’s writer to task is really showing your hand. I read the article a week ago and just read it again and it in no way puts down men with less pay than their wives. It’s simply reporting on the growing differences and some anecdotal evidence as to how some women react to being in the situation.

    You take offense to the author being ‘startled’ seeing a Dad at school engaging in activities? Clearly you haven’t been to an elementary school lately. When a father shows up to school activities it’s still, in this day and age, unusual and a bit surprising. It’s just a fact that Mom’s still do the majority of the care giving. The idea that the word ‘startled’ kept ‘jumping out’ at you shows some resentment issues on your part.

    Then you go on to say: Suppose I had written, “One father at our preschool can’t stop bragging about his working wife—although I am still startled by the sight of her hanging around the office, helping to broker multi-million-dollar business deals.”

    You can’t really believe these two thing are in any way similar. Working wives are a lot more likely then a super-involved in school activities Dad. So you’re taking the author to task on her natural reaction to what is still an unusual occurrence.

    It may or may not be true, but it does seem like you may be person with a bit of a button to push in this area. If one has some issues with their partner making more than them, even if it’s unwarranted, (feelings are feelings after all), it can be easy to pick on anything, however slight, that brings that issue to light.

  21. Same here. I don’t want a dominant man. I want a man on equal footing with me. I don’t care who makes more, so long as both of us are happy with our jobs and both of us are happy with each other.

    Sexist pig.

  22. If you have followed Rosin’s recent work, e.g. “The End of Men,” then you know that she not only has been documenting the decline of western men in work and academic standing, but lauding, no, gloating over it. Her position is clearly saturated that of female superiority. Any façade of objectivity she presents is an unconvincing attempt to appear scholarly.

    I was hardly surprised to see the word “startled” and all the implications that come with it. In her perception, a man making less money than his wife is “down.”

    This was just her chance to kick him.

    • I have to disagree as regards the article “The End of Men.” While it is easy to take offense and see it as a gloating over the decline in men in work and academic standing and the perceived decline in masculinity as a whole, it was more about the changes that are occuring and how they change the american familial and sexual social system.

      I’ve read a lot about the ‘decline of men’ recently. A while ago, I postulated that the social mores of the 60’s and previous were destroyed and while they have been replaced for women, men have seen no such replacement, and I still think that’s true. Yet I have to say that there still exists the possibility of maintaining masculinity, it’s just a little harder than it was.

      Your immediate response to the article about the end of men was anger. I get that. But I think that she opened up an interesting point about increasing female power; women think they can live without men. Men have never made the same claim. It seems more important to me that this image of a strong, independent woman, free from all male influence and control, is finally being looked at as what it is; a bit ridiculous.

      • Did you read The End of Men?

        “All you are is a paycheck, and now you ain’t even that”
        ‘Get out of the house, bitch.’ She’s calling you ‘bitch’!”
        “That’s right. She’s the man.”

        “The sociologist Kathryn Edin spent five years talking with low-income mothers… “I think something feminists have missed,” Edin told me, “is how much power women have” when they’re not bound by marriage. The women, she explained, “make every important decision”—whether to have a baby, how to raise it, where to live. “It’s definitely ‘my way or the highway,’” she said.

        “…many of the same complaints I heard from other young women. Guys high-five each other when they get a C, while girls beat themselves up over a B-minus. Guys play video games in each other’s rooms, while girls crowd the study hall. Girls get their degrees with no drama, while guys seem always in danger of drifting away. “In 2012, I will be Dr. Burress,” she said. “Will I have to deal with guys who don’t even have a bachelor’s degree? I would like to date, but I’m putting myself in a really small pool.”

        “But the college has seen more than one male applicant “sit back on the couch, sometimes with their eyes closed, while their mom tells them where to go and what to do. Sometimes we say, ‘What a nice essay his mom wrote,’” she said, in that funny-but-not vein.”

        “Maybe these boys are genetically like canaries in a coal mine, absorbing so many toxins and bad things in the environment that their DNA is shifting. Maybe they’re like those frogs—they’re more vulnerable or something, so they’ve gotten deformed.”

        “Over the years, researchers have proposed different theories to explain the erosion of marriage in the lower classes: the rise of welfare, or the disappearance of work and thus of marriageable men.”

        “The New York Times columnist Gail Collins recently wrote that the cougar phenomenon is beginning to look like it’s not about desperate women at all but about “desperate young American men who are latching on to an older woman who’s a good earner.”

        “MAN’S LAST STAND. But the motto is unconvincing. After that display of muteness and passivity, you can only imagine a woman—one with shiny lips—steering the beast. “

      • “I postulated that the social mores of the 60′s and previous were destroyed and while they have been replaced for women, men have seen no such replacement, and I still think that’s true.”

        Given that 1960 was a single generation from a world war bloodbath, the male psyche was still languishing in violence. Compare barbie to GI Joe, and then look at the toys for children pre-war.
        Cinema was brimming with war movies and propaganda. Masculinity was defined by the military industrial complex. Sacrificing for the family was an extension of sacrificing for country. Men left the battlefield as fodder and taught their sons to be family fodder. The continuity of war, Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crisis, Granada, The Falklands, Iran-Contra, Nicaragua, to name a few. All of this represents a continuity of death oriented psychology and consciousness of masculinity, one level down from social etiquette. The social mores of the 60’s and previous have not been destroyed for men, they have for women.

        • courage the cowardly dog says:

          Its Grenada not Granada and I wouldn’t call that a war. The Falklands we were not involved in at all– it was a war between the Brits and Argentina. The problem is not as complex as you make it out to be. Being the PB is a lot of stress and pressure. Stress and pressure that men have bourne for a thousand years or more. Stress and pressure we accept because we also enjoy the authority and control that goes with it. Women don’t like the authority and control enough to bear the stress and pressure. They don’t like it because it is inconsistent with their DNA. It is that simple. Some feminists-Betty Friedan to name one- started this idea of equality (we are not created equal, contrary to popular belief) and the consequences of that notion have now come full circle. Men have been marginalized and women have inherited alot more than what they had in mind when they declared their right to be equal and they don’t like it. The phrase of the day is “man up”. We have to “man up”. I would like to see more litigation against companies for reverse discrimination. There are multitude of reasons why a company can justify paying men more than women not the least of which is their desire and tendency to “drop out” of the competitive work environment for 5 to 7 years between the ages of 30 to 40. Typically you will not see men do that and the value of steady and consistent service to an employer cannot be overestimated. Men need to become more vocal in protecting their rightful role in society. I am not suggesting that men scream and shout the way women have, but men need to calmly, logically, rationally and persuasively advocate for themselves.

  23. Er, no. Growing up in a “traditional” nuclear household, where my father almost committed suicide from the strain of long hours and my mother was in constant therapy for depression and anxiety, I don’t care about “dominant” or “superior”: I just wanted whoever it was that I would pair with later in life to be happy and *not* stressed by money or status. I had enough of those things when I was growing up to know I wanted none of them later in life.

    At the moment I’m planning my marriage to a public servant who I will out-earn in five or six years time. I don’t care what money he earns, or that you would view him as being “inferior”: I like the person he is and to be perfectly honest, there is not one thing that can be bought that I want that I haven’t already got myself.

    • Perhaps that reflects the nature of people you happen to be friends with. To go along your efforts, I too know of what I speak – my vet sister (earning well over six-digits) teamed up with a teacher and part-time statistician who would just rather watch the cricket. Friends of mine who have postgraduate degrees and good professional jobs are engaged to chefs, security guards and labourers.

      I would hazard a guess that my generation (18-27) is different to yours with regards to these things. Of course there are women in my generation who won’t go out with guys because they don’t earn enough or have jobs with the requisite prestige. But you know what? They’re the ones who brag proudly about how they’re *not* feminists, and that *they* actually love men (while expecting ridiculously unattainable standards of the men they are with).

    • courage the cowardly dog says:

      you don’t care what money he earns now, but when that first baby comes along and you have to trudge off to work as the baby is screaming for you and your husband is staying home taking care of the baby, what will be growing in you then is the red hot poker of resentment, fury, guilty, angst and anger which will eventually boil over and explode leaving a path of destruction.

    • courage the cowardly dog says:

      Really Bec? When you are outearning him in 5-6 years from now and by your income you have established a comfortable lifestyle, nothing extravagant, of course, and that first baby comes along are you going to feel the same way as you leave for work and your baby is screaming in her father’s arms for you to stay or are you willing to move down a social strata or two so you can stay at home with the baby and your public servant husband goes off to work earning far less than you could or were before baby came along and are you going to be supportive in either of those scenarios or are you going to be resentful and angry with your husband?


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