Domesticated

#Culture

Thu, Jun 8th, 2000 02:00 by Jester ARTICLE

I want to be a house-husband. Or homemaker. Whatever you want to call them.

You heard me. The more I run the rat-race, the more this rodent wants to stay home and be a baby factory and scrub toilets, while the Mrs. goes out and becomes the breadwinner.

Some people might mistake this for an advanced form of what's known as "Being Pussy Whipped," defined as when the male is so enamoured by his female partner that he prefers Diane Keaton movies over Sergio Leone and John Woo, doesn't mind making trips to the drugstore for feminine hygiene products, won't laugh at blonde jokes anymore, and worst of all, doesn't mind the woman taking initiative in the relationship.

What I'm talking about is not that at all, although for the record let me state that being Pussy Whipped is a highly under-rated condition. No seriously, try it some time.

But to return to the topic at hand, I want to be a house-husband. I want to make breakfast for my wife in the morning, kiss her goodbye while she goes off to work, do laundry and clean the house, and have dinner waiting for her when she comes home. If there's any time left in the day, I'll spend it writing or watching soaps.

Why, you might ask? Well, I don't think a career is particularly rewarding. I am tired of working my soul out just to raise the price of somebody else's stock. I have no desire to wear a suit. I don't want to live in a cubicle and be accused of being unprofessional because I have more than two pieces of paper and a coffee mug visible on my desk, I mean, plywood counter. I don't want to go to meetings and talk about paradigms and synergies and other meaningless bits of babble that make as much sense as when they talk about reversing the polarity of quantum anaphasic warp bubble on Star Trek.

Women on the other hand have spent quite a long time breaking into the business world after decades of being locked out, and now that they're in it, many of them are determined to succeed at it. I know some very accomplished women. One runs her own landscaping business. Another is a scientist. If women want to make a career the focus of their lives, I say go for it.

But it is hard to have a career and keep up on other aspects of your life, like getting the laundry done. That's where I come in, ladies! Let me stay at home, give me the budget to run the house, and I'll do the cooking and cleaning, massage your shoulders when you come home, and mix you a martini or whatever you like. I'd even be barefoot and pregnant if I could.

But you ask, what about my ambitions? What about my job satisfaction? Well, there's no reason why I can't take satisfaction in running a good house. To tell you the truth, that impresses me far more than the brain embolisms I've seen companies produce lately. No, I will not be able to design an operating system while I am busy clipping coupons and watching Martha Stewart for cooking tips. On the other hand, the US Justice department is unlikely to slap me with a lawsuit charging me with cleaning toilets unfairly and driving everyone else who needs to clean a toilet out of business. Different strokes for different folks kiddies. Some people get a sexual thrill from feet. Some people jump off bridges with a thin cord around their ankles for kicks. I could never be happy as the CEO of Pepsi, no matter how disgustingly rich I was. But I think I could be happy as the stay-at-home half of a couple.

You might think that nobody can be happy in a career not directly related to their interests. In my experience the opposite is true. As soon as you get paid to do something you like, watch the joy drain out of it like patrons in a movie theater drain out of a Tom Arnold movie. My personal writing output dropped through the floor once I actually landed a job as a pro writer. Author George Orwell loved books and bookshops. Many people do. He was cured of his love for books by working in a bookshop and then by reviewing books. So trust me, if you love to cook, preserve your love it by becoming a road construction manager. Ten minutes of restaurant work will have your ordering pizza for dinner for the rest of your life.

If I were a clueless moron who couldn't teach a real subject, I mean, a guidance counselor, I would not try to interest high school kids in an education or career path relating to their interests. It's for their own sanity, because few things are sadder than the death of a much loved hobby. If a kid told me that he liked being outside, liked physical work and was good with his hands, I wouldn't tell him he might consider something in the forestry industry, I'd tell him to become an accountant. Sound cruel? Nope. It will only make his desire for his interests stronger. Being cruel is getting a painter a job painting. Whatever he or she is required to paint will just be a watered down version of their real love. Can a creative painter be happy with a job where they paint office walls with Institutional White, Hospital Green or Soul-Crushing Beige? It would be like curing a bird of its flying habit.

You see, I have no desire to clean toilets or do laundry. Not many people do. But it is so far removed from what I like doing that it will only make me appreciate it more. And since what I like to do is write, I spend more time observing things, so I can write about them. Instead of just writing on one narrow focus all the time.

Unfortunately, this dream scenario is pretty unlikely. While gender roles have changed quite a bit, there are still lots of old conventions governing the way we interact with each other. Women by and large still do not ask men out for example. If a woman is interested in a man, she can only hint aggressively and hope the dope is smart enough to pick up on it. Very few women feel comfortable enough directly saying "let's date." It does happen though. It happened to me once, and although things sadly did not work out, having the woman ask me out was extremely flattering. My head was so swollen I had difficulty getting into the cab.

The other reason that it's unlikely to happen is that it's very hard to run a home on a single income. Especially if you want to have children. Unless one partner makes a lot of money, and I do mean a lot, then it's impossible for either man or woman to stay at home, never mind who wants what. In fact, I did know of one woman who didn't mind the idea of being a housewife, and didn't particularly care to pursue an education or a career. Not a popular view these days, but that's what she said she wanted. And really, if that's what honestly makes her happy (I have no idea if she still holds these views today) shouldn't she have her way? Unfortunately, it's not likely to work that way.

When a political movement succeeds in changing laws or viewpoints, there's often a side effect that makes things worse in another way. I'm not saying feminism should be blamed for the fact that most families must be two income. That's a lot like saying that black poverty wouldn't exist if the institution of slavery had never been abolished, because they at least would have been fed or sheltered.

My point is that when one group can no longer be exploited, a new form of exploitation takes its place. The sad truth is that women were finally given the vote and a better position in the work place not because the powers that be realized that it really was unfair. It was done because they were tired of the negative publicity. Then somebody noticed that if women had a steady career, they could be taxed more and double income families could suddenly cough up more money for rent...

On the plus side, if a woman could support a house-husband, she's probably really well off. Maybe I could be a kept man. Now that would be cool. Single women of the world, how about it? I'm a decent cook and I know to separate lights and darks when I do the wash. Oh yeah, and I don't like football. My mother says that guarantees me a successful marriage. Now taking applications at [email protected]

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