Thursday, May 01, 2008

Penelope Trunk: Where to Start?

Thanks to Joeprah, I just read Brazen Careerist Penelope Trunk's bizarre/unfair/sad post, provocatively titled: "Guest post: What life’s really like for a stay-at-home dad."

I'd summarize it here, but I just can't do it justice. You'll have to read it. Suffice it to say that for the first time, Penelope hands her blog over to someone anonymously, and that at-home husband proceeds to out himself as:
  • An adulterer
  • A chauvinist
  • A guy who has been repeatedly propositioned as a SAHD
  • Pretty self-centered ("I can pretty much do what I want to do")
If I had to pick four traits of the at-home dads I've encountered in my life (and that's a pretty big number), these are probably the four *last* traits I'd list. Also suspect: the kids are mentioned only in passing. But Penelope praises this guy for "because he is more honest with me about his life than any other stay-at-home dad I know."

In response to what was a firestorm of criticism in the comments section, Penelope then tried to dig herself out of her hole by pointing out the questions the piece was supposed to raise, but this only gets her in deeper. Among the queries:
  • "Is being a stay-at-home dad any different than the life that Betty Friedan and Sylvia Plath worked so hard to get away from?"
  • "Is the world really ready for stay-at-home dads? Will the world ever be ready?"
  • "Why is the world not talking about the downside of being a stay-at-home dad?"
  • "Do women respect their stay-at-home husbands? ... respect takes a huge effort and a lot of mental tricks."
  • "Why do women hit on stay-at-home dads?"
Knocking these questions down, point-by-point, would be a wonderfully cathartic exercise for me, but a 2,000-word waste of time for you, the reader.

In short, these are all bogus questions that are clearly born of a hostility toward at-home dads. In the blogosphere, I try to refrain from ad hominem attacks, but you can't but wonder, given Penelope's high-profile divorce from her at-home dad husband, coupled with her dim view of the impact of the arrangement on their marriage, if this post was more a personal vent than a reasonable exploration of the topic.

[Full disclosure: I happen to love Penelope's blog and her sometimes-contrarian thoughts on work and career, and I have swapped various e-mails with her on the topic of at-home fatherhood. (Though I have never said "interview me" and in fact have cautioned her "at-home gig -- despite what it may seem from reading my blog -- isn't for everyone.") I honestly wish her the best of luck with her family and her career.]

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