Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Case of the Feminist Wife

Today Carolyn Hax provides us with a portrait of a marriage circling the drain. Unfortunately, the unhappy husband has written to Hax. Apparently, Hax is a staunch and unthinking feminist. Thus, she berates the letter writer for imagining that his wife, who does not work, should be doing housework. Hax is appalled by his presumption. Why should he, a sole breadwinner, dare to assume that his wife, consumed as she is by her hobbies, should make a home? As best as I can tell, this marriage is childless… if it keeps on this way, it is likely to remain so.

Anyway, the letter writer, poor sod that he is, calls himself “Used.” He's right; he is being used.

Here is the letter:

My wife has been a freelance consultant whose work has dried up. I have a good-paying job and I figured with her work having dried up, she’d take care of the house, bills, paperwork, etc. with her time. Instead, I don’t know what she does, but things are not put away, and if she spent as much time taking care of our house — for which I just paid for a hefty remodel, by the way — as she does defending herself and how busy she is, then there would be no problem. (She is busy with her hobby, when she does it, or seeing friends during the day.)

She cooks, and on weekends I do the wash. But it’s becoming an issue for me and she knows it but nothing changes. I feel used.

So, wife has been liberated from the degrading duties involved in keeping a home. She is effectively making an ideological point. Her husband is right to feel used. And he would be right to find another wife… which is surely going to happen. A lot of women would be thrilled to be married to a man who can provide for them and their children.

Anyway, Hax berates him… for assuming that his wife should be a housewife or homemaker. You will note in her opening lines, the strict gender neuterdom. She is so “woke” and so liberated that she contorts the language to disguise the fact that, traditionally, women have cared for homes. Not only that, women have wanted to care for homes. Women who do not have authority over their homes often feel seriously distressed by it.

Be that as it may, Hax writes:

I’d be angry, too. Seething. A household involves a lot of work and I could not trust a partner who was comfortable leaving most of that work to me.

But that’s not all I find irksome. I also don’t like it when someone “figures” I’ll assume this or that responsibility without checking with me first.

And I don’t like it when the person then gets angry at me for not doing it.

And I don’t like it when I’ve always been X, am liked or accepted for X, embraced as X, and then because someone’s needs have changed I’m expected to be Y.

In short, Hax is taking the woman’s side. She is saying that this failed professional consultant finds it beneath her dignity to do housework. To be more precise, she believes that the limit of her responsibility begins and end with cooking. The wife is making a political point and asserting her power as a professional woman… even though she does not work as a professional woman and brings in zero income.

Hax is disturbed that the man maintains such reactionary expectations… and that he did not sit down with his wife to negotiate the division of housework chores and responsibilities. Really? Yes, really:

So. Did your wife “know this” because you discussed divisions of labor upfront? Or did she find it out only after you 1. just assumed she’d parlay underemployment into more housework, and 2. got annoyed when she didn’t?

Has she ever put things away?

Did you marry her just for the pleasure of her company? Or also to share the load a bit, to have her there for you and likewise be there for her when the uphills start to feel steep? Or was it more transactional than even you’d like to think?

On this last question I don’t judge, since there isn’t one right answer (besides mutuality, perhaps). But it helps to know your answer — wants vs. needs — before deciding how to respond to not getting either of these.

He comes home from work. His wife has been doing nothing all day. He is unhappy that the house is a mess. And the fault, Hax explains, is his. Because he does not love the pleasure of her company sufficiently to ignore the mess that she has left lying around. One needs to mention that quaint but absurd phrase: the pleasure of her company. How many couples marry for the pleasure of each other's company. Today is Valentine's Day. How many women will fly into a rapture for receiving a gift card that says he totally enjoys the pleasure of her company?

Naturally, Hax suggests that the man do more housework. And, yet he does do the laundry… that should win him a place in the feminist pantheon of woke men. He has managed to hold on to a shred of his dignity... after being beat down... and Hax wants him to sacrifice that too.

Hax wants them to have a conversation. Because all feminists believe that more conversation will resolve the problem. Oh yes, and this husband must start acting more like a woman by expressing his feelings. You would think that Hax is channeling Polly, but alas, the ideological contamination is pervasive.

She advises:

So: Swap out the topic of conversation from what you expect to what you feel, and ask her to suggest what household contribution she thinks is fair; switch up the chores so you each get more less of what you’re good bad at; reframe her presence in your life as companionship first and gauge whether it helps.

Yes, indeed. This man should tell his wife how much he values her companionship. And then we will see whether she changes her aberrant ways. And, by the way, what about the baby issue. How old are they? Do they want children? Is his wife too busy to care for children? Will she expect that her breadwinning husband share the childcare duties equally?

And, dare we ask, what does the man’s mother think of this arrangement?

Questions, questions. The answer is simple. He needs a new wife. Period. End of story. Why debate and argue? Why negotiate when there is nothing to negotiate? Some things in life do not need negotiation. Some things in life are so obvious that only an individual wearing ideological blinders would miss them. If his wife believes that being a good feminist is more important than being a good wife, she should get what she wants.

Unfortunately, for him, he wrote to Carolyn Hax, who has been so thoroughly contaminated with feminist ideology that she wants him to be weaker and more accommodating, to spend less time earning a living and more time sweeping the kitchen floors.


James said...

I think the guy got what he deserves. What conversations were held in courtship? My daughter was married to an asshole (no kidding, he was on my list of people I needed to kill before I die), but that was her decision and business. As long as it didn't spill over into my life it wasn't my business. Well it did, she was terribly unhappy and complaining to me a lot. Finally I told her "you have to stand up for yourself (don't be a jackass) be polite but firm. Anyway she did and got another guy who I like alot and she seems very happy. The other guy is off the list.

Anonymous said...

My theory is that one in a hundred people (man or woman) is a perfect match. The hard part is finding that match. At least 49 percent of the people are part of the population one could work with although with a little or a lot of work. There is absolutely NO reason to stay with this woman who seems to be on the left side of a bell curve for this man. Far too many good women in the right tail, not meant to be a "double entendre," of that man's possible mates. James is correct that he bears responsibility for creating his on "hell" and makes it even worse by asking an avowed feminist for help. It would seem a life filled with wrong decisions.
My son, God bless him, has what I call the "Wounded Dove" syndrome towards women. He just seems to be attracted to women who have problems. One would think that growing up with two sisters he would have enough experience that he would know better. He saw and experienced what women/girls can be both good and not so good. At the very least he has divorced both of them. Don't get me wrong he has turned into the father and man that I hoped he would become. My wife and I get to see his children in June and enjoy them having fun in the pool, going to Disney World and watching them do things that young children do both good and not so good.

JPL17 said...

Like nearly all radical feminists, Hax confuses the right to act like a jerk with the right to force everyone else to accept you as a jerk.

Despite Hax's insistence, the husband here has no obligation whatsoever to accept his wife's jerky behavior; indeed, in my book, he has an obligation (to both himself and his wife) to call her on it; and if she refuses to change, he has an obligation to disassociate from her.

It's just one of those times when you need to apply (as an old law professor of mine used to call it) "The Rule of Tough".

Ares Olympus said...

It's a good predicament, actually sounds more like the predicaments you have with messy roommates, while its easier to tell off roommates who are not keeping up with their agreements, and easier to send on their way.

And the thing that makes it a predicament is that he didn't start out resentful, but that's where you get when you have expectations you're not willing to speak aloud, until finally you talk to other people, and their advice generally is just like the roommate situation "Kick the bum out."

Another side that is harder to see is why she doesn't have pride in her own house, and so if you look deeper, you'll probably find her own resentment, and perhaps her husband wasn't acting the way she thought a husband should act, and when she tried to speak up, he dismissed her perhaps, and she gave up, and decided that her happiness was more important than a perfect house, and redevoted her passions away from making her husband happy towards hobbies as compensation.

I've long wondered how we can hold other people accountable and I've come up with 2 conclusions: (1) We can hold people accountable to the agreements they've made. (2) We can hold people accountable to their own conscience. The first is the weaker one since every agreement can be renegotiated, but you have a right to ask what the new agreement should be when the old one has ended. The second is trickier because generally it means your job is merely to show they're being hypocritical, setting one standard for how they want to be treated, and another standard in how they treat others. So the goal has to be to engage their conscience without replacing it. As well, when you try to call someone else out on their transgressions you'll likely get back a litany of your own that they've been silent about. So you have to make sure your own conscience is clear before you can safely challenge someone else's.

And most strangely it does seem like many couples who stay together, it isn't because they've successfully raised their standards, but because they've lowered them until their partner wasn't the bad guy. Anyway, we all can agree its good if this couple avoids having children until they can sort out their issues, and maybe divorce is the simplest answer for such cases, and then you can start over and do things right from the start, and not let things slide into resentment again.

Jack Fisher said...

freelance consultant = not employed, not employable, the BA in poetry studies didn't woke I mean work out.

Hax is right about one thing. these two need to sit down and start talking to each other. that "having a conversation" is now an execrable libtard phrase does not excuse husbands and wives from talking to each other about these issues instead of writing to advice columnists and getting ridiculed on the internet.

James said...

"these two need to sit down and start talking to each other."
You're darn right and honestly too. Something apparently neither one of them has done with each other.

Jack Fisher said...


adult life for these people is high skool with ashtrays.

Trishapatk said...

Some people are just prone to messiness and it's not a character defect or a way of disrespecting one's spouse or family. Some people truly struggle with it no matter how hard they try. And they DO TRY!!!! And they DO CARE!!!
It's very hard for people who don't have difficulty with it to understand how that can be.
If she were single, she would probably be just as prone to disorganization, clutter and what appears to be a lack of concern for the situation.
I have no doubt that it is very frustrating for her husband and I hope she is trying. I also hope her husband will talk with her and figure out ways to help her take care of the basics and get on top of it.
It is probably quite apparent that I have a problem with this stuff too - I work from home as a freelancer and I am forever trying to stay on top of housework and clutter and balance work with that. Sometimes I have less work and you'd think it would get better - sometimes it does but it's marginally better.
It's a problem that probably exists regardless of whether she has work or doesn't have work - it's frustrating for a naturally organized, neat, clean person to be married to a "messy" person. Please don't turn it into so much more. She might actually be trying and could use help with a system, with structure and with an extra dose of compassion. ( forgive me if that sounds too much like "Empathy" )

Sam L. said...

I gave up on reading Hax some years back. I don't even see Polly, except extracts here.
You're a stronger man than I am, Stuart.

whitney said...

Because of my work I know a lot of housewives married to wealthy successful men and they all take great care of their husbands. But whenever it comes up and they mentioned how their arranging everything so their husband doesn't have to worry something or how they wake up to get him breakfast every morning or whatever they always say it's sheepishly. They're embarrassed. I always say that sounds like a perfectly reasonable thing to do he's giving you a great life huh. They're relieved I get it. I think it's sad how much shame is part of being a good wife now

Jack Fisher said...

Mrs Fisher is a trophy wife/eye candy and in Total Control of the household.

in other news, Lieawatha Warren just doubled down on her claim of being a Native A in a pow wow with real Native As. How.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I still think that the dog that didn't bark in this story is the question of having children. Will she be a responsible mother?I suspect that her dereliction is more purposeful than stylistic. I know that we all have been told that people can always have meaningful conversations about these matters. But I suspect that they have done so already and that they simply decided that she would cook and he would do the laundry. Apparently, that isn't working out very well.

Jack Fisher said...

They talk, they just don't make eye contact.

Sam L. said...

Ares wrote, "(2) We can hold people accountable to their own conscience. "

I disagree. We do not know what their conscience tells them they should do, and we cannot know. We cannot read their minds. Only THEY can hold themselves accountable to their consciences.

I think they need a long conversation about their wants, desires, dislikes, and the things up with which they will not put.

Anonymous said...

Stuart Schneiderman @February 14, 2018 at 10:49 AM:

I agree.


Anonymous said...

Sam L. @February 15, 2018 at 4:51 PM:

I agree.