June 21, 2004

Happy Father's Day
Love, Whiny Feminists

I've mentioned it before - I'm a divorced single father. Through one means or another, my kids have spent most of the last five years with me - and for the 3-4 years before the divorce, I did the bulk of the kid stuff.

I was listening yesterday, on Father's Day - ever so briefly - to NPR's "Weekend All Things Considered" yesterday, and caught this essay by Chicago writer Gwen Macsai.

And I could feel myself sliding back to 1955. I'd have gotten angry, but I was too tired.

NPR provided the audio for Macsai's piece (you'll need to scroll down a bit), but unfortunately not the transcript. That's fine; the smugness comes through better via audio.

The piece is full of standard-issue feminist dogma-via-Victorian cliches; it's really a classic piece of "trying to have it both ways".

Typical "advice" for new fathers; "don't read the newspaper - your wife never gets the chance", and "don't ask 'what are you doing today' on your way to your intellectually-stimulating job" - that sort of condescending bilge.

Ms. Macsai; when my first child was born, I worked nights. I came home at 2AM, went to bed at 3AM, and woke up with my daughter every morning at 6AM. I stayed home with her all day while my then-wife went to work. I can still feel the fatigue.

So my question for you, Gwen Macsai - what the hell planet are you from? Sexist Seven? Yep, pregnancy and childbirth are both difficult and exclusively-female franchises; duly noted.

But I get the impression that you're a brand-new mother, Ms. Macsai - you have that grandiloquent, self-righteous tone that usually accompanies someone who's still new to the whole "parent" thing.

Problem is, Ms. Macsai, that childbirth and the first year is - this seems obvious, but you seem to have trouble with the notion - just the beginning! You think you're tired now? Wait until you wait up until the wee hours for a teenager to turn up. Wait until you have to deal with the umpteen-zillionth sibling smackdown; wait until you've had to upbraid a few incompetent teachers, try to make long division interesting and compelling, or get a sugar-jacked little monster to clean the mess she just made. None of these are female franchises; in some cases, men have the advantage here. And that's even if you do live in the "Leave it to Beaver" world from your essay!

Which, for most of us, is a dead-and-gone issue; men today are working harder outside the home to make ends meet, and putting more time in at home as well, as our more-egalitarian society and blurred gender roles make the home more of a team effort. As a result - I hope you're taking notes, Ms Macsai - according to Warren Farrell, when you combine work and home the average man puts in 4-5 hours a week more work than the average woman (yeah, I know - eveyone's situation is different; I'm just reporting, here).

So, Ms. Macsai; by the time those kids get into first grade, the fatigue will be more than balanced. Why don't you take off a bit of your whiny edge, relax a bit, and buckle in; raising children is a long haul - and yet far to short to waste on your brand of snivelling one-upmanship.

If it's not a team effort, then either your husband is a jagoff or you're a martyr. Neither is either right or, as it happens, particularly compelling radio.

Best of luck to you, though, Ms. Macsai; you'll need it. Things have changed a bit since 1955.

UPDATE: I'm informed Ms. Macsai is married with three children.

So while before I'd written this off to new-mom zeal, now I have to choose between "oafish husband" and "drama queen".

Posted by Mitch at June 21, 2004 05:29 AM


My particular favorite: "Wait until you have to deal with the umpteen-zillionth sibling smackdown"

I think I am up to Umpteen Gazzillion *laughing*

My first marriage was filled with the Macsai expectation factor; "I've had the kids all day, your turn' mentality, without any acknowledgement I had been at work for 9+ hours. Out of the pan and into the fire. Funny thing is, all I asked for was a half hour 'unwind time'. Seemed reasonable . . . NOT!

Fortunately, for me, I got the marriage thing right the second time. Even in our blended family, we have managed to find a balance in our child rearing obligations (My 11, 12 year olds, her 14 year old; all boys)

I did read Warren Farrell as Will Farrell at first glance. It caused a chuckle!


Posted by: Flash at June 21, 2004 07:53 AM

Re: New Mother

According to her bio:

She’s married and has three kids.

Posted by: PJZ at June 21, 2004 08:28 AM

Then she should know better!

Posted by: mitch at June 21, 2004 08:44 AM

I heard this piece on the radio as well, driving home from My Father-In-Laws house after a wonderful Fathers day. As the piece finished, I flipped off the radio (not turned off, more like, saluted). I am sure it would be quite politically incorrect to let the male oppressors have a day in their honor without helping them to remember what a war-mongering, wrong-headed, paternalistic, mysoginistic blight on the world they are.

I will never understand how the husband and father has come to be seen in this culture as the incompetent, arrogant, idiotic twit of every household in the nation, but we can't seem to escape it.

It seems the pendulum has swung too far the other way. I wonder if it will swing back again.

(BTW, In the interest of full disclosure, 3 kids 15,14 and 12 (2G, 1B) and married to the same woman for almost 17 years. That right there is probably enough to eliminate me from her "right-thinking males" (read; neutered) list.)

Posted by: Kaptin Marko at June 21, 2004 12:32 PM

So I'm reading the Sunday paper (San Jose Mercury News) on Father's Day. There in the sports section is a full page add from some group telling fathers to raise their sons so they don't smack women around. OK, so it was worded slightly better than that. But the Oprahization of America continues apace...

Posted by: Chrees at June 21, 2004 03:07 PM

Kap and Chrees,

Both of your points are part of a piece I've been chewing on for weeks now.

I have to finish it, dangit.

Posted by: mitch at June 21, 2004 03:33 PM

Nothing in it about raising kids. Just a strident how-to for handling cranky, self-centered women. Rosanne-went-to-college sort of thing.

Posted by: dan at June 21, 2004 03:58 PM

"Then she should know better!"

That may be true, however my reason for telling you this is that you may want to update your original post in light of this new information. I'm sure that conclusion doesn't change but it may look a little odd to base part of your argument on the premise that she's a "new mother."

Just trying to be helpful :)

Posted by: PJZ at June 21, 2004 05:45 PM

Don't you know that the woman has all the work and no play? You men GET TO GO WORK and ogle young stenos all day and then cruise the "hot" bars ogling MORE young women before you eventually make it home and demand sex from the 120 hour per week mother. You heartless bastards should have to shop at Byerly's all the time!

Posted by: tim at June 21, 2004 10:14 PM