I’m effing sick of this “My husband is an idiot! Isn’t that hiLARious?!” mentality. Actually, I’ve been pretty sick of the whole male-bashing idea of feminism for a while now, but, in my new life as a domesticated housewife, I’ve become increasingly aware and appalled at this “My husband blows; let me tell you why…” societal norm that allows women to publicly bash the spouse they specifically chose for themselves.
First of all, it’s exhausting and boring to listen to women talk about how their husbands screw everything up all the time or snore or fall asleep watching the game or fall into a thousand other male stereotypes women seem to love dredging up ad nauseum. Secondly, it’s degrading as shit, really, and makes the housewife doing the bitching look like an uncreative, ungrateful, whining cow. And thirdly, it makes women in general look like we can’t pull our heads out of domesticity and quit bitching about men’s inevitable quirks even though really, they as a gender made a lot of progress in the last few years.
Alright, maybe this tradition started with housewives of yore who were sick of being stifled and bitched amongst themselves in whispers while their husbands went out and held jobs and voted and owned land, etc. And I can understand that sort of passive resistance to an extent. But the last hundred years have shown a massive amount of change for the ways that women have been accepted as equals into a male-dominated society and I’d like to think that women’s mentalities would have shifted into a little more gratitude, at least on the homefront. In American society women are allowed to vote, we’re allowed to start and own businesses, we’re allowed to sue a guy for telling us we look nice, we’re allowed to get raises above men if we deserve them, we’re allowed to do pretty much whatever we want to do and yet here we are whining and bitching at the poor grandsons of the ones who actually made us feel repressed in the first place.
We get it; American husbands are burpy, farty, car-loving, beer-drinking, sports-watching, tits-appreciating, nacho-eating, tool-wielding creatures who are gloriously unaware of what to say to appease women and sometimes fall asleep after ejaculating. We effing know, okay? And, with the success of shows like Tim Allen’s Home Improvement and Comedy Central’s The Man Show, every man is aware of it, too, and even invited to accept and celebrate it. Mind you, this early-90′s “I’m a MAN, dammit!” movement never condoned abusing women, never supported dishonesty or infidelity, never advocated developing a drinking problem and dropping out of life or becoming a belligerently violent sonofabitch. This movement simply acknowledged the dynamics of men in today’s society and celebrated the various avenues of the masculine mystique. And that was perfectly okay.
But women had to swoop in and argue that somehow it wasn’t okay to just be different, just be a man. To watch such situation comedies (that are effing awful, ohbytheway) like Everybody Loves Raymond and The King of Queens (both of which I still cannot understand the appeal), we’re inundated with the idea that because men are sometimes selfish (who isn’t?), sometimes awkward (again with the “who isn’t?”) and sometimes misguided (again…) that gives their female spouses the right to publicly criticize and humiliate them for the sake of comedy. These emotionally taxing, painfully relentless shows pictured women berating their husbands (both of whom were really pretty good guys in the grand scheme of things) for having basic human flaws and the husband just sitting there and taking it in hopes to just shut their wife up for two seconds.
Um, this is normal? And nobody’s cited this as the cause of our rising divorce rate?
The thing is, nobody seems to worry about whether or not a man’s feelings have been hurt. If a man accidentally mentions that his wife or significant other may have put on a few, he must spent weeks groveling, but if a woman makes a degrading comment to her group of cackling friends about her husband’s beer gut, he’s expected to sit there and take it. “Like a man.”
Something seems very very wrong about that.
And it’s everywhere, and shockingly accepted in popular culture as well. If I go into a little women’s boutique, inevitably there will be some dishtowel or coaster or tiny decorative housesign dedicated to perpetuating some male-bashing stereotype like “Soap! It’s a man-repellent!” On my drive to the library, there’s a sign for some Tool Warehouse that advertises itself as “Daycare for Men!” It’s just this whole social undertone that screams “HAHA! Isn’t that hilarious!? Men are so incompetent that we can’t leave them alone for five minutes without giving them something to occupy themselves! They’re completely clueless about everything and we have to herd them like cattle or they’ll never get anything done!”
We call this normal. Some call it feminism. I call it sick.
I used to subscribe to it, too. Because of the married women I’d watched during my upbringing, I thought it was okay to publicly “pick on” my significant other about his faults. I thought telling a room about my lover’s shortcomings for the sake of a joke was perfectly okay, even admirably comic. I never stopped to consider that if I was with a man who wasn’t affected by this sort of passive emotional warfare at all, maybe he wasn’t the kind of person I wanted to be with in the first place. Maybe I wanted to be with a man who was sensitive to feelings of mine AND his. Maybe I wanted a man who stood up for himself when he was publicly emasculated. Maybe I wanted a man who was assertive enough to tell me to back the fuck off when I was hurting his name, even if it was within a group of my friends. I never ever stopped to consider that I wanted someone who wouldn’t tolerate inequality from my side, just like I would from his.
The reason strippers are so appealing is obvious: they’ve got great bodies that they’re willing to gracefully show off. But the reason strippers can stay in business with one man or another far longer than just one dance is because they know that men want to feel wanted. This seems like a basic enough principle, but when a man is belittled and emasculated by a nagging wife who doesn’t listen, it’s very tempting to pay someone a little money to make him feel attractive, funny, clever, intelligent, and important again. Most of these men realize they’re being played by the dancer for his money and conversation per song (and the ones that don’t can be found scouring the Craigslist “Missed Connections” ads looking for that stripper who inevitably fell madly in love with him right back… poor guys), but apparently the need to feel appreciated is just that powerful. It’s obviously not about the sex so much and, sometimes, it’s not even about the looks on the girl. Many many lonely, unappreciated men flock to strip clubs to feel like they’re worthy of the attention of an attractive woman.
Now, I’m not advocating men leaving their wives and children every night to sit and chat with exotic dancers, but it seems to me that women would work to understand a little better why men seem so drawn to such a torturous, expensive place where they pay hard-earned money to get teased and not get off. I mean, if it was all about looking at beautiful women’s bodies, there are far less expensive ways than sitting in a smoke-filled nudey bar with a bunch of horny guys. Obviously, the human interaction must have something to do with it. And most women would be floored to learn how many men go to strip clubs and pay for access to the Couch Room, only to sit and talk with a stripper until his wallet is empty. The numbers are staggering.
The truth is, everyone needs to feel appreciated. Women love to publicly whine about how underappreciated they are but don’t stop to consider that maybe they’re actually fueling the problem with their own man-bashing. Women love to point fingers and make excuses about how “He started it with his [fill in the blank-itude]” and “Well if he didn’t [fill in the blank] then I wouldn’t feel this way.” but the truth is, I’m sure it started a long time before that. In each couple the lack of respect needed to belittle the other started with one person or the other and varies, but the all-encompassing mentality that it’s NEVER okay to talk shit about your wife but ALWAYS okay to do the same about your husband is stagnant in the social consciousness.
Feminism originally was women fighting to be seen as equals; so how in the hell do we expect to achieve that if we won’t treat men like our equals? I mean, even if we were to believe that men really are inferior (which I don’t), shouldn’t we at least be teaching them through example? We’re busy teaching our kids that it’s okay to be different. And men and women are allowed to be different, too; that’s what heterosexuals tend to enjoy most, actually. (And what homosexuals have learned to appreciate as well.) We’re allowed to have different interests and differing opinions and differing sexual fantasies and different habits of cleanliness (… or not. It’s really everyone’s personal prerogative.)
But blanket statements made toward the men of America are just as backward-moving and ignorant as those outdated chauvinist assholes who still make them about women. Period. And speaking ill of one’s male counterpart is just as offensive and intolerable as a man slandering his wife publicly. Period. (Just because men don’t want to start arguments in their defense doesn’t make these things untrue.)
Why do women assume that talking about how stupid or ill-equipped their husbands are makes them look more intelligent or powerful? If anything, a woman bringing out her spouse’s faults makes her look like more of an imbecile for choosing and staying with such an obvious moron in the first place. Additionally, it gives the appearance that she is perfectly happy with stagnation and living with someone she doesn’t respect and appears to despise. How delightful!
It’s far past time to stop these WASPily hateful comments and to start encouraging women to speak well about their husbands/significant others if they want the same in return. Not that a woman can be blamed for her husband running off and having an affair, but it certainly makes a bitchy, emasculatory woman seem like less of a convincing victim when it happens to her.
Mark my words, if I ever become a sex therapist, the first thing I’m going to have every couple do is dress up like a stripper and a strip-club patron and have her pretend to be interested in his every word, maneuver, and cheesy line without so much as a twinge of disgust. If that doesn’t light some fires, I’ll close my practice.