Mister Mom

I seriously appreciated Hollows’ articulation of the rivalry we’ve constructed between ‘the feminist’ and ‘the housewife’, as I’ve long been troubled by (some, #notall) feminists who set up similar oppositions by advocating for certain expansions of womanhood yet alienate or ignoring other groups in the process. The most common example I see involves pushing for acceptance of larger body sizes while failing to assure thinner women that their frame is just as welcome. In any case, I think Hollows speaks to an issue that is all-too-often swept under the rug and/or dismissed as a non-issue, and though I found her prose a bit tough to follow at times, I agree wholeheartedly with her concluding point that feminism needs to both re-evaluate and complicate its conception of domesticity.

An expansion to her essay might explore the ways in which popular ideals of masculinity also exclude domesticity and the role of the housewife – er, househusband. I’ll never forget when I watched the 1955 classic Rebel Without a Cause for the first time in high school, and my film teacher explained to our class that the depiction of the father as a weak, apron-clad househusband served as a larger social scapegoat for fifties moviegoers – i.e., that we wouldn’t have so many unruly teens running about if fathers were still strong and authoritative enough to knock some sense into ’em.

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Clearly, no matter your gender, the stay-at-home parent isn’t the most welcomed vocation. Why is this? Did our disapproval of the stay-at-home dad come about simply because housework is traditionally a ‘woman’s job’, and because tend to think of male and female attributes as always mutually exclusive, and always in opposition? Or is it part of a deeper-seated conception of housework as essentially unproductive? I’m sure the answer is a mix of both. In any case, it’s a tricky problem to dissect, and an even harder one to solve, even as we slowly edge toward greater acceptance of the choice to work at home – no matter who makes it.

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