Women from one side of the globe to the other forlornly console one another “that’s just how men are”, referring to the burden of housekeeping and mothering. Men don’t help with the kids or the dishes, they all leave dirty socks on the floor next to the laundry basket, they don’t understand or attempt to comfort an emotional child OR wife, and so on and so forth. But many men DO, and those that don’t are getting a free ride because of the low expectations we pass around, and the fact we often blame women for male laziness.
Contrary to the Oppressed Woman’s Urban Mythology Compendium (ok, I made that up, no such thing exists) men are NOT stupid, or blind to mess. They are not juvenile when it comes to expressions of emotion, they’re perfectly capable of being competent parents, and they can cook and clean just as well as the women they cohabit with. They may choose not to, but that doesn’t make them incapable, just lazy.
Often we blame their mothers for not raising them to participate in the daily tasks of running a household and raising a family. But whilst it’s true that boys should be shown how to be competent fathers and partners in childhood, studies have shown us that children emulate the parent of the same sex. If boys grow up with fathers who sit on the couch watching football while their mothers provide beer and sandwiches, it probably falls squarely on the father’s shoulders.
Another way we blame women for the laziness of their partners is to make sweeping statements about how “I wouldn’t put up with that” when a woman complains about her husband’s lack of participation. It’s important to remember that by the time a man is a legally recognised adult, his behaviour is his responsibility. If he drinks and drives, he will be arrested for it, not the woman who brought him beer and sandwiches. If he doesn’t wash dishes or change nappies, his wife isn’t responsible for his inertia.
Still another way we excuse lazy husbands is to claim that women whose partners DO help out are “lucky”. It’s lucky to win the lottery, it’s lucky to be rescued if you are lost at sea. It’s not lucky to have a partner who can operate the washing machine and read a story to his children. It’s NORMAL to have a man who is responsible for his household, belongings, and the family members who live with him. It’s NOT normal for a grown man to expect that the woman he lives with will wash every pair of underpants in the house, and see to everyone’s physical and emotional wellbeing.
People have long claimed that feminists hate men, but it isn’t feminists that believe men are useless and unable to cook, clean and parent! Feminists express anger at men for NOT participating in those jobs, knowing full well that men are 100% capable of pulling their weight in their homes and families.
Each and every time we dismiss a man’s capacity to contribute to household chores and parenting, we rob him of the chance to be a fully functional, appreciated, husband and father. Saying that “that’s just how men are” or “you can’t expect any more of them, they’re not like women” or any other variation of the above, merely excuses adult men from doing what adults the world over do every day. Mothers and wives are not responsible for lazy sons and husbands, only those particular men are, because there are a growing number of men who want to be equal contributors in the raising of children, and are adept enough to see that this involves more than ticking and rough housing, it involves soothing woes, cooking meals, and sorting socks. When you think about it, those men must be rather tired of being put in the “all men are useless” basket. Perhaps they should raise it with their lazy mates.