Here is the most unbelievably patronising article about men I’ve read in a little while. (Just a little while, you understand. Patronising articles about the supposed innate inferiority of the world’s 3 billion men are hardly a rarity, after all).
This article (written, of course, by a woman) addresses men’s supposedly growing failure in education and wider society. But don’t worry – it’s jolly upbeat about the fact that there are a growing number of ‘househusbands’ in the UK.
Ok, great, I agree. But imagine a Times article, written by a man, pompously contemplating the educational and career ‘failings’ of women and celebrating the fact that they can always fall back on a life as a home-maker. The paper would probably be shut down within a week.
Since men’s IQs are equal to women’s, if they are underperforming women, it means they are underachieving. And an education system with half its students underachieving needs fixing. Is the solution really for men to just not bother with education and career because they’re ‘not good enough’ at it? Isn’t this what oafish male chauvinists used to say pre-feminism? Now it seems it’s OK to say it about men – and you can even pretend to be on their side when you say it!
Even if a wholesale conversion to ‘house-husbandry’ were the solution to boys’ education-deficit, this will remain an act of insanity until family courts treat men equally. As I’ve blogged before, the head of the family court, Lord Justice Thorpe, set the precedent that MOTHERS will be given custody when they request it, even if the FATHER has been the primary carer for years. See here.
A Times article recently also quoted a family lawyer mocking men who attempt to win spousal support from higher-earning wives on divorce – he was quoted as saying something along the lines of ‘they keep trying, but they never succeed’.
So, while female primary carers can expect custody AND spousal support, househusbands can expect neither - even when they have sacrificed their careers, sabotaging their future earnings potential in the process. Women in that situation recently won the right to compensation for that sacrifice, in the widely publicised MacFarlane case, where a woman who gave up her career for her kids was granted, in her settlement, what she could have been expected to earn had she not done so. Talk about having your cake and eating it! You get to quit the rat-race and watch your kids grow up, AND walk away with the money you’d have made if you’d chosen to actually work for it!
Well, OK. But if women can do this, please tell me, why not men? And until they can, this proposed ‘solution’, whereby the supposedly educationally inferior male can simply opt for the kitchen and the nursery instead of a career, will remain an act of madness.
There are far bigger problems facing boys anyway, that are crying out for a mention in this article. No word on the fact that boys in our education system kill themselves four times as often as girls, for instance. What action is the government taking on this? I asked my MP a few years back. Answer: nothing. What does this author have to say about it? Nothing. C’mon – they’re only boys, who cares if they kill themselves? Now, if it were girls killing themselves at four times the rate of boys then, sure, we’d have a problem. But boys? Who cares?
Oh - and finally: Do look at the section entitled "Beta Blokes", which lists a whole lot of statistics supposedly illustrating men's 'beta' status. Among them. "The number of men looking after their family in July 2009 was 206,000." "62% of fathers believe they should spend more time looking after their children." "Men spend 53 hours a week on household chores and childcare compared with just 34 hours in 2005."
Someone tell me why, exactly, this makes these men "Beta Blokes"?