Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Women's Health: Men Are Hopeless

If you were to try to define the five top social trends in the last two decades, you'd be hard-pressed not to cite the changing role of men in the household. No matter how you slice it, we're doing more cooking, more cleaning, more diaper changing and spending more time with the kids than ever before.* We've done a great job debunking the idea that household tasks and childrearing is something that only women can do.

Enter Women's Health, which this month published a doozy of a piece that says that men don't set up double-dates, don't do yard work (really), don't plan vacations and don't cook. The portrait of men could have come from 1978. Or 1968. Or 1958. The only thing that makes it seem modern is a helping of pseudoscience: for most of men's shortcomings, the author cites biological differences between men and women.

We don't arrange double-dated because of high testosterone levels, we don't tend the yard because "women out­perform men at spotting altered or out-of-place objects," we don't plan getaways because our hemispheres aren't as connected, and we don't cook because "most guys grew up with moms who cooked for them, so now they see the kitchen as foreign territory."

I don't know which set of incorrect assumptions is more offensive: the idea that men are basically loutish layabouts or the contention that there's almost nothing that can be done about it because we're helpless prisoners of biology.

* This is a topic of much debate in the RebelHousehold. RebelMom believes deeply -- and with good reason -- that U.S. society has a loooong way to go before we get to anything approaching parity in the domestic sphere, and celebrating whatever incremental gains men may have made in the past 20 or 30 years just papers over the fact that there remains a huge gap between what women do at home and what men do. As usual, RebelMom makes an excellent point.

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