Hat tip to Hadley.
The Faily Heil, a newspaper best known for its 1930s support of British fascist Oswald Mosley and its unceasing efforts to classify everything as either a cause of or cure of cancer, has offered us all an article about househusbands. Is there lulz? Of COURSE there is lulz.
First of all, the Daily Mail keeps referring to the househusband in question as being a good “mother.” Daily Mail, I hate to break it to you, but the word for a man who takes care of children? IS FATHER. You do not magically start identifying as a lady the day you change your first diaper. If so, transition for trans women would be way easier.
Also, you say the following sentence:
Like Richard and James, he feels much of his masculinity and power in the relationship was lost when he gave up his job to become a househusband.
And back it up with the following quote:
“But once I gave up my career, I lost prestige both in society and in the eyes of my wife. It was as if I had no value.”
I don’t think it’s him that thinks he’s less masculine, dude.
Hey, guess what? Large numbers of people look down upon househusbands! They think they’re less masculine for taking care of the kids instead of going out to hunt with a spear the wild, elusive paycheck! Even people who think that they’re above all that kyriarchal shit may still fall victim to the kyriarchal shit, because everyone gets bits of kyriarchal shit inside their heads. (Ask me about my internalized ableism sometime.)
I get the feeling the Daily Mail’s solution is “men shouldn’t be househusbands,” when the actual solution is to get people to start valuing househusbands more.
Part of that, of course, is valuing work that’s done inside the home equally to work that’s done outside the home. Being a stay-at-home parent is work. Taking care of children is work; cleaning is work; cooking is work. Oftentimes it is hard, thankless work. But a lot of people have a hard time conceptualizing that something is work if you don’t get a paycheck for it.
And of course this intersects with a lot of crappy gender norms. Women are expected to do this work, so even if it isn’t exactly Real Work, it’s at least the work that women are supposed to do. They get little credit for their labor (and often, although less and less so, end up working a second shift), but at least they aren’t shamed for it. Men, of course, according to the Success Myth, are supposed to be rich and powerful and generally awesome. If they choose to give it all up and take a job that quite often involves poo and small screaming snotty things, and they’re not getting paid for it… Well. They’re just failing at being men, clearly.
I slightly dislike the phrase “paragons of sensitive modern manhood.” The point is not to replace the gender system with a different gender system where men are socially pressured to stay home and women go to work. The point is to create a system in which men can stay home if they like and that makes sense for their lifestyles, or go to work if they like that that makes sense for their lifestyles, and no one gives them shit for it one way or the other. Guess what? People are DIFFERENT. Their preferred lifestyles are DIFFERENT. You cannot decide what lifestyles people like based on their gender!
I also wonder how many of the divorces are basically standard stay-at-home-parent/midlife crisis divorces, and the Daily Mail is just putting a gender lens on it because things that do not fit the norm disturb and frighten it and it wishes to make them go away.