Thursday, July 14, 2011

We're Coming For Yer Masculinitiez!

So, my friend Steve likes to poke me with sticks sometimes, in the form of horrifically annoying blog posts and news items that he puts on my wall. Yesterday he posted something that is really way too easy to pull apart, but you know what? I am really tired, and it is eleventy billion degrees in Florida, and so this is what we're doing. 'Kay?

So I will probably be quoting most of it here, but if you want to, go read this quick little thing about how, by asking questions about gender equity, the New York Times is trying to turn men into women. Quelle horreur!

Before we begin! I think being a stay at home mom is just fine, and I am not dissing your lifestyle choice [seewhatIdidthere]. But using it as a platform to judge other people who don't stay at home is dumb. Do what you want. I think we can all agree on that, yeah?

Block Quote The First:
First, mothers who stay home have not drawn the shorter straw. The Times treats child-rearing as a career-interrupting inconvenience that complicates the “real work” that evidently occurs in an office building. The truth is that staying home with the kids is a privilege, a short-term job that lasts a few fleeting — yet formative — years. The real question is why more mothers don’t stay home with the children, instead of demanding a two-income lifestyle, business attire, and the way-overvalued “adult conversation.”
Ummmmm okay. Adult conversation may be way overvalued in her mind, but that is probably because she is a pea-brain nitwit who can't keep up with the grownups. And I don't disagree that it's silly to conceive of "real work" only taking place in an office building. I think raising kickass, open-minded kids is work in every sense of the word, really, whether one is a stay at home parent or not. But not everyone considers being a stay at home parent a privilege. I would consider it a slow death. And it becomes clear pretty quickly that she thinks women shouldn't be working in offices, and that THAT is not real work.


Second, men and women are different.

YOU DON'T SAY! Dear Ms. French [have you considered changing your last name since it's so damn un-American?]: Please list the ways women and men are different. Then go ask your grandmother to do the same thing, and some high school kid, and someone from another culture, and a queer person, and your best friend, and that checkout kid at Publix with all the tats. Make a list of what they all say. Are they exactly the same lists? And if not, why not?

What the New York Times really wants to do is challenge gender roles generally.

Well then! The New York Times and I have something in common. Quick, someone cue "Friends in Low Places."

After all, why don’t men take off work to stay home, instead of their over-worked, stressed-out wives? Well, it feels silly to point this out to a panel of experts, but men and women are different.

Uhh you said that already. In the same paragraph. Way to be an eagle-eyed editor there, chief. I'M SORRY if that is too masculine a word for you. And here's some answers to her question:
1. Sometimes men do! It is not unheard of.
2. Because asshats like you are out there telling them that they're not "real men" if they do that, even though I have no idea what that even means and neither do you, clearly. Jerk.
3. Socialize \ˈsō-shə-ˌlīz\ (transitive verb): to fit or train for a social environment.
We have complementary skills and abilities. Women, for example, are the ones with stretch marks and breasts that nourish.

Having stretch marks and boobs is a skill and ability? Wowza. As for that being a woman-only skill slash ability, go tell that to the dudes with stretch marks. And the dudes with breasts that nourish, for another thing. It's like she's never heard of trans* before. See, I'm already fucking with yer list of different skills.

Men cannot gestate a baby, no matter how manicured, effeminized, and metrosexual society tries to make them.
Yes they can! They totally can! Thomas Beatie is on his third already. And he's pretty masculine. I also really love how she's all panicked about making sure we know that just because a cis dude gets his nails filed, he can't get pregnant.

This means that childbirth is harder on women than it is on men. For example, my first two children did not practice “nipple diversity,” meaning I couldn’t drop them off at a sitter with a freezer full of frozen breast milk and a cabinet of bottles.

Of course, sometimes in a challenging economy, moms need to work to put food on the table. Many women, however, work to ensure yearly vacations, drive the best SUVs, or serve some sort of “self-fulfillment.” This causes parents to strain against nature’s order of things by hiring out child-care, breast pumping, using formula, and sometimes asking men to trade their jobs for aprons. No matter how you try to manipulate it, having children is hard on the mother … and it’s not the fault of the father.
So it's okay if a woman works so that her family doesn't starve to death, but not okay if she wants to go on a nice vacation. Or be fulfilled! Ceiling cat have mercy on our souls. Fulfillment is for men, dummies. Women are breast milk machines and daz it. And also, do you sense a bit of "she doth protest too much" in the last line? I'm thinking she has to remind herself constantly that she shouldn't hit her husband over the head with a frying pan just because he knocked her up and now she has to abstain from adult conversation.

PS: Which nature is it, exactly, that dictates that only two adults are meant to have anything to do with child rearing? Animals in nature don't behave that way, lots of cultures aren't arranged that way, it seems to be a lot more difficult. Ohhhhh wait. It's about making sure women are never fulfilled. Got it, got it.

And finally:
“How can we get men to do more at home?” the New York Times asks. They might as well ask, “How can we get men to be women?” Because raising and feeding young children is not a 50/50 proposition — no matter how many experts weigh in on the issue.
A) This makes no sense.
B) What if men want to be women? Or more feminine? Is she the gender police?
3) Does she think women are that terrible that she needed to write a whole column about how only women can lactate to prove that the New York Times experts are undermining America? #internalizedmisogynyThursday
Unicornz) Could raising children be, like, a 15/4/25/5/10/3/2/35/1 proposition? That sounds like my kind of family.

In conclusion, this woman is a straight/cis-privileged white middle class lunatic but I'll bet we all had fun tearing into her today, didn't we? Good.


  1. I just don't even know what to say about this woman. Oh, except that she's (as you mentioned) unfulfilled and wants to convince herself that it's just her lot in life that she has an unappreciative and unhelpful husband.

    And make women who work outside the home feel badly about themselves. It's all the bullier/bullied mentality - if I tear down your way of life, I'll feel better about my own.


    Also - 15/4/25/5/10/3/2/35/1 is a much better representation. It takes a village!

  2. I cannot tell you how bloody sick I am of this whole stay-at-home mom (SAHM) versus "working" mom battle. I am a SAHM mom who spent, oh, eight years or so in early childhood education, teaching and taking care of other people's children while they worked. And you know what? We all have one thing in common: we want what's best for our kids. Sometimes "best" means daycare. Sometimes "best" means staying home. Sometimes it even means job sharing or part-time work. It's not that men and women are different, it's that FAMILIES are different. We all have to do what works for our family. And you know what? If someone decides to work outside the home, that's fine. He/she is still perfectly capable of being a great parent. If someone decided to stay home with the kids, there should not be accusations of being less intelligent or less ambitious. And the idea that we are turning men into women...that implies that there is some set standard for masculinity and femininity, and I'm sorry, but it doesn't exist. And frankly, if a family chooses to have both parents work simply because they do, in fact, want that big SUV, isn't it their prerogative to do so? None of my damn business.
    Ms. French seems to glory in the martyrdom of women, as if men just aren't good enough to do what we do. She needs to get over herself. If her man is an idiot who isn't capable of helping with children and other household business, that is her problem. Men do not deserve a free pass because men and women are "different." I am happy being a SAHM and the knowledge that my husband also changes diapers, wields a mop, and makes a mean chicken marsala. Poor guy. Apparently I'm turning him into a woman.

  3. Right, let me clarify one thing: I don't think all stay at home parents are less intelligent/ambitious. I think SHE is probably an idiot, and would be if she worked outside the home as well.

  4. It as amusing, as French is a writer for the leading conservative journal, National Review, and, you know, does spend a bit of time working outside the home. This is Phyllis Schlafly level stuff here.

  5. For one, women ONLY work to drive bigger SUV's and take vacations? This is news to me, kids or no kids, huge bank account, or living on pennies, I know what I want to do with my life, and it is full of hard work in my career.
    For two, stretch marks and boobs are skills? For reals? Cause I totally need to add that shit to my resume. Think of all the jobs I've missed out on leaving out that information!

  6. Are you sure this Op-Ed piece wasn't recycled from the 60s? That was my first thought when reading it.

    This is a topic I always find fascinating when I come across it in the news because I know so many couples with different and (un)conventional child rearing arrangements. The key to each one's success is that it takes into account the emotional, financial and professional needs of the parents, because let's face it, happy parents are what keeps a family together. If that means taking a year off from grad school, having a grandparent move in, pumping breast milk in the bathroom, having a stay at home dad, a family with one income or hiring a professional nanny - if it's what keeps your family healthy and happy, that's what you should do.

    As a research scientist it would be impossible for me to take a few years off to raise kids without a serious hit to my chances of ever re-entering the workforce where I left it. That said, I personally wouldn't want to leave my child in daycare until they were 3 or 4, which means (1) me, my husband or both of us would have to take time off work to raise our child or (2) I'd have to steal my mom and have her move in with us. In my case, it would be far more likely that my husband would stay home or that my mom would move in than my leaving work. However, if left with no other option, I would 'take one for the team' as it were, and stay home before opting for daycare.

    Bear in mind this has nothing to do with my belief (or lack thereof) in breastfeeding or a mom's duty or any other nonsense. It is how I was raised and what I would feel comfortable doing for myself and my child.

    Would it be a financial/emotional/professional sacrifice? Damn right.

    It's a sacrifice I would choose to make but not one I would EXPECT another couple in similar circumstances to make just because it works for me. And that's what pisses me off about this French chick. Does she really think all moms have the desire or option to stay home with the kids? Or that all dads automatically would opt out? Got news for you, my husband is much better 'stay at home parent' material than I am. She needs a reality check.