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Does the role-reversal stigma still exist?


YPestis

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There is a stigma for women that work and for women that don't work, but men seems to suffer from only one form of stigma: that of being a nonworking spouse. I've observed this in all its forms. I've seen this in a chronically unemployed husband of a friend. I see it in a self-employed husband who was perceived as lazy as compared to his physician wife. I've seen this in a boyfriend who struggled with finding a job (who hasn't?) while his wife was a fulltime med student. I've even seen it in a fully employed guy whose wife just happen to have a "higher prestige" job than him. In all these cases, I've heard negative comments about the men. They must be lazy or unambitious or stupid. Why else are they unemployed and their wives the primary breadwinners/ambitious career women?

I'm not seeing this same attitude towards women that struggle with employment, or who stay home. We've come a long way, baby....but is there still a stigma for men who don't work or make less? Is it easier, maybe acceptable, for the girlfriend/wife to stay home but not for the man?

My own mother, an old school feminist of the 1960's variety, cannot abide by a man who is unable to hold down a job. She even looks down on a man who is far less accomplished than his wife. She used to fret that I'd end up with a man who was "less accomplished" or "less ambitious" than me. It was with a sigh of relief (for her) that I married a man who had the same career and education "pedigree" as me. I feel her attitude, far from being a baby boomer affectation, is still shared by mainstream society today. I even see that in my enlightened husband who tells me he'd feel lazy if he made less than me. It's strange to hear this since his own mother has a brilliant career and he hopes to emulate her (and not his dad). I've also read that men are more likely to be depressed when unemployed as compared to women. I'm not sure how true that still is amongst today's young couple.

My view is that our society still view a man's worth through his wallet and a woman's value through her looks. I feel when boys grow up with this type of expectations, their ego is entwined with their job. Still, it's surprising to hear this old fashioned attitude espoused by people I perceive as socially progressive.

What are the experience of the FJites? Do you think there's still a huge stigma for nonworking or less successful husbands? Did you receive snide comments when your husbands were unemployed or making far less than you? Were you a husband who struggled with self-esteem after a job loss? I wonder how far along we've come with gender roles, if men still entwine their self-worth with their salary?

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I've actually noticed more of a stigma / attitude that men MUST work outside of the home with people in my kids generation ( 20's ) than in my generation.

Which is odd, because the recession hit far harder for traditionally men's jobs, and the vast amount of unemployment is among men.

Also, mainstream commercials seem to have increased the number of household / childrearing products ads aimed at men/fathers. So it seems like it would be more acceptable.

But the young parents I know now, are insistent that the father should have a job, even if it makes more sense financially / temperment wise for him to stay home. Of course in most cases both of the parents are working and usually trade off on childcare -so they are both doing both jobs - but "stay-at-home dad" seems like less of an acceptable option in their minds than when I was raising kids. While "stay-at-home mom" is seen as a status symbol.

Maybe it's just the people I know.

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I grew up in a mixed ethnic neighborhood. Regardless of the ethnicity or social class, it was absolutely, positively unacceptable for a man not to be working his ass off outside the home. In my own immigrant subculture, it is still absolutely, positively unacceptable for a man not to be working his ass off outside the home. A male friend who grew up in the same neighborhood stayed at home and took care of the two kids before they went to public school. His wife worked outside the home. It was a very rational decision based on their circumstances and temperment. His father stopped speaking to him for almost a year because as far as he was concerned, his son had turned "lazy". Oh yeah, there is still a HUGE stigma around men who are not traditional providers.

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I only know one person who had a stay at home dad. He was offered a large package during the early 90s recession & took it. My friend has been a medical doctor since she was 24. So any argument against men not being good at doing the majority of child raising is absolute BS.

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I think some of it depends on where you are (and I suppose some of that is class-based).

I often read articles online or in national publications by people bemoaning the fact that they're /someone they know is the only man in the playground at chucking-out time. One day I counted the adults in our playground, and it happened that that was one of the days when the men outnumbered the women (and only a few were grandparents).

I think people are more likely to think a man wants to be working - but we're still in the throes of multigenerational unemployment up here so the social stigma is less.

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In the UK something like 1/3rd of women earn more than their partners (IIRC). This is the case with me and DH, and he worked part time while our kids were little while I did a full-time job. This is still relatively unusual here but I don't think he ever got any negative comments.

I'm going to stick my neck out here and say that the reason that men *may* be judged lazy when they stay at home isn't *totally* irrational - many men (I'm sure not all) do a hell of a lot less cleaning etc than a woman would while at home. Sorry, but I've seen it in action.

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There is, and it really all comes down to women being less valued than men, so a man doing "women's work", like staying at home with the kids or nursing, is debasing himself, while a woman doing "men's work", like being a doctor, is elevating herself.

Snarktastic, that reminds me: I read an American study once that said that for families in which both parents worked full-time the women still did significantly more childrearing, cooking and cleaning than the men. That said, in my experience the perception is that stay-at-home-fathers are lazy isn't because they aren't doing enough work around the house, but because the only work they're doing is housework and childcare; this work is acceptable for women, but men should be doing MORE.

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The lazy call where I have observed it has nothing to do with how well a man would be able to keep up a home. The perception is that if your wife works outside the home and you don't, you are some kind of moocher taking advantage. The perception does not work in reverse in these cases. It's not logical or rational. Your worth as a man/husband/ and father are solely tied to your being able to earn to provide food/shelter/clothing/education/medicine. It is the secular version of the "only correct way to be a man", much as the fundies have only "one correct way to be a woman".

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Yes, I've seen the stigma.

13 years ago, hubby got a ton of it from his family and colleagues when he took parental leave for 3 months (as he was entitled to do).

More recently, my BIL got some comments when he quit his job to stay home for a year.

Neither of them was lazy. They were working hard (as many SAHMs do) - it's just that the work was with their own family. My BIL, for example, resigned from a job working with clients with autism, so he could have more time with his own young children, one of whom has autism.

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I think part of the stigma is from those men that don't work yet still do nothing are the house to support the family.

I think that if a man chooses to stay home and does the majority of the housework, takes care of the kids, makes the wife feel like she can come home and not have to worry about doing all the chores after work then it works. (btw I felt like a schmuck writing this, just don't know how to write it less chauvinistically)

It doesn't matter who is the bread winner is as long as in the end both partners are happy.

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Oh, yeah, the stigma is alive and well. I used to get crap about my husband not working- he was disabled by MS and couldn't walk across a room. But he wasn't a "real man" because he wasn't working.

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In my experience, this is changing.

When our older son was born five years ago, we wanted my husband to take a few months of parental leave (we are Canadian- here, fathers/co-parents are legally entitled to take up to 35 weeks of parental leave, and their job is held while they are gone. This is offered under the same program that is usually called our one year of maternity leave). Some of the older guys at his work were blown away, as he was the first person to take more than a week or two. Some even suggested that he would be fired, and refused to hear that he was lrgally entitled to this leave.

Fast forward four years, when our second son was born, and no one batted an eyelash when he submitted his forms for parental leave- and no one seemed at all surprised when he later had that leave extended by another month. In all, he took four months off, but by that time several of his male coworkers had followed his example and went on leave for the births of their kids, and one even took the entire 35 weeks available to him.

My husband has an unusual work pattern- he only works twice a week, but in 24 hour shifts. As such, we don't need much daycare as my husband is usually home during the week. I used to get all kinds of comments about how lucky I was to have a husband who was willing to stay home with the kids while I was at work. Now, no one seems at all surprised when I say that my husband is home with them much of the time that I am at work.

Totally anecdotal, but that is my experience.

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Snarktastic, that reminds me: I read an American study once that said that for families in which both parents worked full-time the women still did significantly more childrearing, cooking and cleaning than the men.

I believe there are studies that show women still do more housework and childcare even in a two-income household. This was years ago, but I remember a report that came out highlighting the housework double standard. It said when only husbands worked, the wife commonly did ALL the childcare and housework. But when the situation was reversed, the wife still did a significant (~30-50%?) amount of the housework on top of working fulltime! There was surprise and dismay because people assumed gender roles would naturally correct itself. This was years ago so I'm unsure how true this holds for young couples today.

My mother's attitude towards nonworking husbands probably stems from her generation's experience of unemployed men who struggled in the nonworking role. I think it's easier for women to segue into this housewife role because society accepts non-working wives. For women, staying home is seen as a lifestyle choice. But for men, there a underlying belief that he failed in his duty as husband.

I'm said this before, but I also feel, whether nurture or nature, men still have lower hygiene standards than women. I feel women see a clean and pleasant house as a reflection on themselves more so than men, and correspondingly have higher standards of a clean house. This opinion is only anecdotal and based on observations by, and of family and friends. If true, it could cause conflict if the working spouse has a higher standard of cleanliness and come home to what they perceive to be a pig sty. However, that's no excuse for looking down on at-home husbands. I believe anyone can be taught to cook and clean proficiently. There's just a persistent belief that men make poor housewives---that they will keep a slovenly house, perform minimally with childcare and you (wife) will end up cleaning up after him despite working.

I think the key to solving this dilemma lies showing the positives of having good housecleaning skills to both genders. If we can stress to little boys that they can cook and clean the way we stress to little girls they can become CEOs and lawyers, perhaps society will finally remove that stigma of a househusband.

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My cousin and his wife were both studying engineering way back when, and my aunt assured everyone that "Of course he'll do the REAL work, she's just biding her time until she can stay home with the children." Fast forward a few years and my cousin's wife is a partner in one of the biggest engineering firms in Canada while my cousin is perfectly content to be home with the kids. My aunt hasn't stopped seething since, and I think there's a tendency in the family to "feminize" my cousin, ie mock or diminish his manliness, as well as sort of imply that his wife is "unsexing herself" to put it in old-fashioned terms. They seem perfectly happy, but some people just can't leave them alone. It's gross.

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I've seen it in my own family. My father (who I can't stand) regularly berates my brother for "not being a real man". Now, my brother IMO does have a hard time holding down a job because he is somewhat of an arse, but what works for them financially is to have my SIL work full time. They have a son that is autistic and often my brother has to go get him from school because he has caused too much disruption. They looked into hiring a caregiver to help with this but the cost of a care provider that is trained to work with children like my nephew would not be what my brother can make. So he works a few nights at a restaurant, goes to college the other nights, and my sister in law holds down a full time job that covers their expenses.

It is what works for them and to hell with what the old man thinks.

At the same time, I have a better education than my husband and a good job with great benefits (which I am at right now, on freejinger instead of actually working). While I love my kids, I honestly don't think I could make it as a full time stay at home mom. I have heard many time from my siblings and father "when is your husband going to get a real job and let you stay home". What?! First of all, "let" me stay home? And, whoever said I wanted to stay home?

They also have a lot of racist things to say as I am white and my husband is not. Such lovely people. We try to avoid them as much as possible.

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I've seen it in action. My husband has a part-time job (15 hours/week), which was all he could find until now (he's been out of school for 10 months and hasn't been able to find anything more). When we have a child, he'll keep working part-time and stay home with the baby the rest of the time. He's good at cooking/cleaning/keeping house, so it makes sense. But he gets a TON of crap from people about it (and I get a ton, too, for "emasculating" him or whatever).

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I believe there are studies that show women still do more housework and childcare even in a two-income household. This was years ago, but I remember a report that came out highlighting the housework double standard. It said when only husbands worked, the wife commonly did ALL the childcare and housework. But when the situation was reversed, the wife still did a significant (~30-50%?) amount of the housework on top of working fulltime! There was surprise and dismay because people assumed gender roles would naturally correct itself. This was years ago so I'm unsure how true this holds for young couples today.

My mother's attitude towards nonworking husbands probably stems from her generation's experience of unemployed men who struggled in the nonworking role. I think it's easier for women to segue into this housewife role because society accepts non-working wives. For women, staying home is seen as a lifestyle choice. But for men, there a underlying belief that he failed in his duty as husband.

I'm said this before, but I also feel, whether nurture or nature, men still have lower hygiene standards than women. I feel women see a clean and pleasant house as a reflection on themselves more so than men, and correspondingly have higher standards of a clean house. This opinion is only anecdotal and based on observations by, and of family and friends. If true, it could cause conflict if the working spouse has a higher standard of cleanliness and come home to what they perceive to be a pig sty. However, that's no excuse for looking down on at-home husbands. I believe anyone can be taught to cook and clean proficiently. There's just a persistent belief that men make poor housewives---that they will keep a slovenly house, perform minimally with childcare and you (wife) will end up cleaning up after him despite working.

I think the key to solving this dilemma lies showing the positives of having good housecleaning skills to both genders. If we can stress to little boys that they can cook and clean the way we stress to little girls they can become CEOs and lawyers, perhaps society will finally remove that stigma of a househusband.

Part of the issue is that housework, and to some extent child care, tend to be somewhat invisible, and some tasks are discretionary.

Hours at work and money take home are more tangible, and expectations are clearer.

Cleaning up, though, is something that happens behind the scenes. My husband was raised by a mother who simply kept everything spotless, and he wasn't really tuned in as to how that magically happened. He had only the faintest idea of what was even involved with housework (plus a visual-spatial disorder that made him particularly bad at it).

Now, I don't pick up much of the slack, since I can tolerate a fair amount of mess and hate housework too. I do, however, know women who NEED to always have everything in order, and some of them aren't particularly good at delegating. They will feel the stress of doing it all, but won't want to invest the time and effort into teaching their spouse to contribute. You do have some men, like my father, who will compulsively clean and organize because they cannot feel comfortable if they are around a mess. Some housework equality will mean learning how to share and delegate - and teaching new skills, or accepting that beyond a certain point, extra cleaning is a personal choice.

Cooking is a bit easier to share - it's more tangible, and you get appreciation for your efforts.

Child care is an area where I do see a real shift in what men do. It's not just a task - it is something that more and more fathers WANT to do. I will, however, see occasional refuse-to-delegate issues as well. If mom was the one who took a mat leave, there is an adjustment since the baby may start to reach for mom, mom may know how to settle the baby or be the one who remembers the 101 baby-related things. It's just a matter of practice, and a reasonably competent and mature dad is perfectly capable of figuring it out, but sometimes it's hard to change a pattern.

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First of all, unable to hold down a job is very different than choosing to stay at home.

And, yes a stigma still exists, just like some people think that an unmarried woman is a lesser person, or that boys shouldn't play with 'girl' toys. It will be stronger in some places and social groups, but it is there.

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My sister married a man several years older than her. When he retired from the military, they both decided that he would focus on her career and raising the kids. My sister LOVES it. He does all the house care and even brings her lunch. It works so well that my daughters have said that they want a family where the man stays home too.

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I don't know about stigma, but it's definitely awkward to be a SAHD.

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I usually just lurk, but this is one of the biggest sources of DRAMA in my life.

I'm 22, and my boyfriend is 23. I am a student about to finish college, he has been unemployed for the last 4 or so months. we live in baltimore, which is not exactly a city bursting with jobs. we love each other very much, have been living together for about a year and half and barring any huge changes in our personalities or life goals, will probably remain together for some time. he has supported me every way a person can-he's the only man I know that would spend hours making pom poms for his girlfriend's thesis and be happy about it (I'm an art student). he has made a huge difference in my quality of life and I consider myself very lucky to have found and fallen in love with him.

well, to hear my parents tell it I am dating some sort of worthless half wit that is only going to drag me down. every time I see them they make little comments to let me know how disappointed they are in the partner I've chosen for myself. over Easter my mother told me that there should be no reason that an able bodied young man can't find work (nevermind the recession I guess), and some other really stellar comments. it's really to the point where I'm hesitant to tell them when I get new part time jobs, because it just gives them the excuse to go into another rant about how my bf is still unemployed (surprise, a cute blonde with big boobs is more likely to land a food services job than a gangly white boy with bad teeth, alert the news!). honestly, they are so sure of their beliefs that I have a hard time shaking them sometimes and it's caused problems in my relationship. but the truth is, I have and probably never will fit the gender roles my parents want me to. I was always a tom boy, and now as an adult I'm dating a delicate lily of a man who I love to take care of, because I don't need some great protector to shield me from the hard world outside our door~~ I am more than capable of taking care of myself, and I have enough left over to take care of someone that I love, and it makes me very happy to do so.

all that said, I know he has been very depressed about being unemployed. some days he doesn't leave the house, which is a lot because he is very social fella. when he was employed he loved taking me out to dinner and buying me things, and not being able to do that definitely makes him feel like less of a man. his self-esteem has taken a bit of a nosedive as well, and it's made it harder for him to find a new job, even before you throw in the tedium of a 4 month job hunt. there is a lot of pressure on him from members of both our families, though our friends don't typically judge us. granted, we are both very hip people who hang out with other hip young people in a very artsy environment, where traditional gender roles are generally regarded wearily at best. so there's that safe haven for him at least. but it seems that with the exception of his aunt, most of our older family members regard him as a failure. it's pretty tough, which is partly why after I graduate we are moving away for a little while.

that kind of turned into a rant about my life (sorry), but basically all I am saying is yes, that stigma still exists, but it's mainly coming from an older generation.

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It doesn't matter who is the bread winner is as long as in the end both partners are happy.

:text-yeahthat:

My husband and I both work. We both make about the same amount of money, so with our salaries combined, we do pretty well, but we couldn't cut it as a family of three on what just one of us makes right now. We're both in agreement, though, that if we were ever in a position where one of us could be a full-time stay at home parent, we would want it to be him. Usually the reaction I get when I tell people (mainly women) this is a wide-eyed, "Wow, really?" like they think it's so cool that my husband would want to be a stay at home dad because they can't comprehend that a male really would want to do that. I have never gotten a really negative reaction yet, but then again, what I'm telling people is the hypothetical. If I ever did make enough that we could live on my salary alone and my husband could become a stay at home dad, I wonder if we would get some snide comments.

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I've actually noticed more of a stigma / attitude that men MUST work outside of the home with people in my kids generation ( 20's ) than in my generation.

Which is odd, because the recession hit far harder for traditionally men's jobs, and the vast amount of unemployment is among men.

Also, mainstream commercials seem to have increased the number of household / childrearing products ads aimed at men/fathers. So it seems like it would be more acceptable.

But the young parents I know now, are insistent that the father should have a job, even if it makes more sense financially / temperment wise for him to stay home. Of course in most cases both of the parents are working and usually trade off on childcare -so they are both doing both jobs - but "stay-at-home dad" seems like less of an acceptable option in their minds than when I was raising kids. While "stay-at-home mom" is seen as a status symbol.

Maybe it's just the people I know.

I see that, too. I'm in my 30s and most of the folks I interact with at work are in their 20s/30s. Among lawyers in that age group I've noticed that female attorneys whose husbands have equal or (at least perceived) higher status jobs than they do get more respect than those who are seen to have "married down." And with the parents, there's a definite hint of censure toward the husband/father given out if it's obvious that the mother is the main breadwinner. The ideal seems to be one where the man makes enough money that the woman can choose full-time, part-time or staying home and if finances make that choice impossible, then the man gets the blame for that.

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As one poster (sorry not to refer) said, it's about men's work and women's work. If in the culture, most men do the work, then men who don't do that kind of work are not valued. Just as "women's work" is not valued. In industrial society when "men's" work changes over to "women's" work, that work becomes not valued--think 19th century secretaries, who were men, and secretaries now. In Russia most doctors are women and in Russia being a doctor is not a high-status profession--it's women's work.

When the economy tips so much in the direction of just part-time work--as it is doing now--and men are more and more unable to find fulltime employment--plus the American culture thinks it's absurd for anyone to expect that their work could support a family-- it will become more socially acceptable for a male to not have a wage job and instead be at home taking care of his children.

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Even though men are at an advantage in patriarachal society, sometimes if backfires on them; especially if a man doesn't seem to have the qualities/doesn't want to obtain the requirements for his gender role in a patriarchal society.

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