How Dare He Not Work?

I needed to watch something on TV because I have to create student attendance sheets and that task is too boring without having a TV on in the background. So I finally settled on a show called “Snapped” that analyzes crimes that have been on the news.

In the episode I’m watching, there is a story of a family where the wife worked while the husband stayed at home with their child. All of the relatives, friends, and neighbors are excoriating the husband as a lazy layabout who exploited the working wife and was too much of a deadbeat to look for a job.

Why is it that in stories about stay-at-home mothers we never see this kind of opprobrium heaped upon women who don’t work? Either living off of somebody is exploitative or it isn’t. Let’s just decide already and stop applying this nasty double-standard that vilifies men for doing the very same things for which women are celebrated.

11 thoughts on “How Dare He Not Work?”

  1. Why is it that in stories about stay-at-home mothers we never see this kind of opprobrium heaped upon women who donโ€™t work?

    Yes I am still waiting for the day when this will happen….

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  2. The assumption is that the women who stay at home are actually doing a lot to help generate income, although they’re not salaried. I was educated for this and it takes a lot of skills: garden, home repair, decorating, dressmaking, tailoring, cooking, etc. etc., clothes maintenance for a businessman and personal shopping, plus also the social and entertaining skills you need to give successful corporate dinners; ballroom dancing; piano; the list goes on. Ideally you will also have the skills to do part of your husband’s actual job, to, so that he appears to be almost unhumanly mega productive all on his own. You also help make business deals by negotiating them with the other wives. And then of course you are, at the same time, raising successful children and so on.

    Meanwhile, the assumption is that men do not do housework, so if they stay home then they are doing no work. Unspoken is yet another assumption: that it’s irresponsible because the woman’s job isn’t real or is precarious. It’s interesting to me to watch my parents’ reactions on this, as I have a brother who is a house husband. They are convinced my sister in law’s employment situation is precarious, which it is hardly; they would not be questioning things at all or nervous at all if the gender roles were reversed.

    My brother basically has to stay home because it would cost so much to put the kids in day care if he worked, which they would have to do. Some think he should have a job anyway, just to keep his resume up to date and to have contacts of his own. Others point out that in this situation — his wife makes seven figures — any job he could have would be a mere hobby, and would mean the kids rarely saw any parent.

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    1. ‘My brother basically has to stay home because it would cost so much to put the kids in day care if he worked, which they would have to do. Some think he should have a job anyway, just to keep his resume up to date and to have contacts of his own. Others point out that in this situation โ€” his wife makes seven figures โ€” any job he could have would be a mere hobby”

      -A job is not solely about having money. It’s about not having your world limited to the boring repetitive tasks that bring you no social recognition and rob you of any life of your own. Employers are weary of hiring anybody who has been out of the workplace even for a year, and with good reason. Children have a tendency to grow up, and what does a person who hasn’t worked for all that time do?

      ” And then of course you are, at the same time, raising successful children and so on.”

      -How can one raise successful children if one isn’t successful? It’s like an illiterate raising children to be great readers. Or a deeply religious person trying to raise a bunch of atheists. ๐Ÿ™‚ You can’t teach a skill you don’t have.

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  3. *PS note, in that comment I forgot to say, note how ideology trumps money — in pp. 3 obviously they can afford day care, but it would just be ironic since it’d apparently cost more than he would most likely make (~$50K).

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        1. For me, the most important factor in any job is how much free time it offers me. If somebody expects me to work 50 weeks per year, they can keep their 7, 8, or 15 figures.

          But, of course, everybody has their own priorities.

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  4. “Why is it that in stories about stay-at-home mothers we never see this kind of opprobrium heaped upon women who donโ€™t work?”

    Erm, sign me up to live in the world where we don’t see those comments about women, please. ๐Ÿ˜€

    More seriously, yeah, there is a double standard – people are slightly more likely to think a man must be freeloading if he’s the stay-at-home parent. Of course, this comes from sexist gender essentialism (like so many things); it stems from a pov that women are supposed to stay at home and do housework, so a man who does so instead is transgressing gender roles, and having transgressed in one area is obviously suspect in others.
    Also people extrapolate their own experience over – if you’re inclined to subscribe to gender essentialist roles, you’re going to believe that men ‘don’t do’ housework/childcare, and therefore a stay at home male clearly can’t possibly be carrying his own weight in the household.

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  5. To stay at home- one can- if he can work from home. No matter he or she.
    I mean the 100% time for a housewife’ task is a punishment for whoever. To work or not to work and not to stay or not to stay at home.
    Poor kids.

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