Parenting.com recently revealed the results of an investigation into the marital relationships of 1,000 American mothers. The none-too-shocking news? Married women are pissed at their husbands. According to the poll, 46 percent of moms get irate with their spouses once a week or more. One in 10 describe their rage as “deep and long-lasting.” As author Martha Brockenborough writes:
“We’re mad that having children has turned our lives upside down much more than theirs. We’re mad that these guys, who can manage businesses or keep track of thousands of pieces of sports trivia, can be clueless when it comes to what our kids are eating and what supplies they need for school. And more than anything else, we’re mad that they get more time to themselves than we do.”
The article goes on to cite story after story of real-life couples reporting their domestic peeves, any of which could have been lifted from an “Everybody Loves Raymond” marathon: Hairy men-children who fix cars and play fantasy football but can’t make a bowl of mac-n-cheese. Seething wives who throw tantrums over bungled shopping lists. It’s not that I can’t relate to the moms’ agitation, but there’s something about this story, and the commentary it sparked, that’s more irksome than a trail of dirty socks on the floor. Lazy husbands! Nagging wives! It all leaves a feminist mom to wonder: How are we supposed to get past outdated gender roles if we can’t let go of such petty caricatures?
The Parenting survey tells us what we already knew — that feminism has a lot of unfinished business. And believe me, I know that when you’re exhausted and overwhelmed, a stack of dishes can seem to carry the weight of oppressed generations. But at the same time, women today have more freedom than ever to reinvent our domestic arrangements and to create what we want from our relationships. So why do so many of us seem to be living with men we perceive as recalcitrant, overgrown children?