One evening recently I spent some time posting comments (polite, as always) on a blog piece by the militant feminist blogger, ‘Glosswitch’. The majority of my comments were published but later removed, which led to a bizarre comment thread, in which feminists criticise me for comments I’ve made, but most of those comments – some of them lengthy, with links to material, academic reports etc. – aren’t visible:
It would seem that my comments got some feminist knickers in a twist, because Glosswitch is now moderating comments. In a new blog piece she attacks a journalist, Tim Lott (link below). From a quick run-through, it appears to be a long whine-fest about men not doing more domestic chores (or something like that):
The comments, as usual, are windows through which we can glimpse bizarre feminist perspectives, and they’re occasionally entertaining. Here’s Rachael, a little ray of sunshine:
I am in a marriage that challenges my feminist principles on a regular basis. I do the majority of the childcare, domestic chores and cooking and am in paid employment on a part time basis. My husband works full time and takes time away to work. His contribution to the domestic environment is far less than mine.
Hmm. Let me address some comments to this hothouse orchid:
Rachael, you work part-time, your husband works full-time and takes time away to work… yet he contributes less than you to the ‘domestic environment’? Why, damn the evil patriarch!
Yesterday morning a male contributor, Sasha, added the following excellent comment. It’s yet to receive a reply from Glosswitch or any of her feminist stormtroopers, thereby lending support to one of my key theses. Feminists don’t like it up ‘em… they do not like it up ‘em!
“I’ve always felt very conflicted in reading any of these pieces in magazines where the writer uses their personal lives and relates the goings-on of their family and friends. I don’t think it’s exclusive to men mind, Lucy Mangan springs to mind as someone who writes in often painful detail about her husband (or used to, I’m not sure she’s around now). I’ve always found it a very exploitative approach.
I’d echo some of the other comments about Tim’s piece therefore in finding it more than a bit preachy and hypocritical in parts. The only point I’d add is that I believe it really goes with the territory of writing this kind of personal column, and is a sin committed by both men and women.
On the actual point about housework and the division of labour, I can only draw on my personal experience. My wife gave up work after the birth of our second child, not just because she wanted to look after the children, but because she no longer felt a vocation for her chosen career. [MB: Hmm… do some women do that after having children? Haha!] Shortly after that I found myself in the position of being the sole wage-earner for four dependents. I found this to be a pretty heavy strain and burden, particularly as the recession bit, and my job became subject to constant review. I found myself working longer hours, and at home I was frequently worried and stressed.
My wife’s response was to criticise me almost constantly – sometimes for up to four or five hours a night. She would constantly berate me for not helping with the housework, or picking the children up from school, despite this taking place during working hours. Our sex life was non-existent, she threatened me with a divorce when I had to go to London for the day, which conflicted with a social engagement that same night. She was cold, judgmental and told me she was ‘very, very angry’. Her days were spent having lunch with friends, doing yoga and studying part time to be a counsellor. She qualified in 2011, and on the day she qualified she told me she was taking the boys and moving to be near her parents. We’re currently finalising the divorce.
My soon-to-be-ex-wife regularly put me down for not being ‘stronger’, and any attempt at defence she would mock me for ‘trying to be the big man’. There have been many occasions in the past couple of years when I’ve felt suicidal, and I’m on the anti-depressant Citalopram for the duration.
My ex is a Cambridge-educated feminist, and I have to say that my marriage to her has been easily the worst experience of my life. It’s left me with deep and abiding concerns about both feminism and women generally. For whatever reason – and I don’t pretend to be an expert on feminism – it seems to me that feminism is incompatible with having a healthy, respectful relationship with men. [MB: Spot on, Sasha!]
If you’re going to believe that men have oppressed women for millennia, then you’re in a relationship with a man, and you suddenly realise that he has weaknesses and vulnerabilities, it seems to me the next step is to assume that this indicates he comes up short as a man, and then reject him.
I think many men understand this, and this is one reason why men like Tim Lott see one solution as maintaining ‘control’ or independence of finances. I split my net income after paying all the bills and expenses with my ex 50/50. I now see this as a colossal mistake, and in future I would not allow a woman to have any control or access to my finances at all.
It’s a shame that being in charge of a home is something that can be decried as ‘authority over dirty socks’ while earning money is praised as giving the ‘fundamental freedoms’ of ‘financial autonomy’. If I have to go to work, or my children don’t eat, then I’m not experience much ‘freedom’ – I don’t have a choice. In fact, all I have is a burden. My ex by contrast could decide to stay at home or work; this is a choice I don’t have. If I did, I’d have loved to stay at home. [MB: Sasha, good luck finding a woman willing to work hard to finance that choice.]
What concerns me is that so many women seem blind to the idea that men also can’t ‘have it all’. They don’t seem to see the colossal male suicide and mental health rates as being connected in any way to the pressure on men to provide for and enable the choices freely made by women.
I wish I knew what the answer is to these conundrums, but I have to say that I’m not optimistic. [MB: Sasha, the answer to these ‘conundrums’ is here: http://j4mb.org.uk and http://avoiceformen.com and http://manwomanmyth.com. We look forward to hearing from you.]”