FOOD, WATER, AND WOMEN


Reader Response to “Don’t Marry Career Women” – FOOD, WATER, AND WOMEN

FOOD, WATER, AND WOMEN
PTroy
Newbie
PTroy
Back in the 70s and 80s I read a lot of those fat, mass-market post-apocalyptic novels available in the reading section of grocery stores. The plots of such books were all pretty much the same. A handful of people, including one or two everyman main characters, survive nuclear war/a comet hitting the earth/a deadly plague/giant insects etc. and spend the rest of the novel surviving in the rubble and putting some semblance of society back together.

After the first three or four chapters, once the pyrotechnics about society being destroyed are out of the way, there is almost always the moment when the main characters realize that morality-as-we-know-it is no more, and with much squaring of the jaw, heavy sighs and regretful looks back, chuck notions that can range from monogamy to sharing necessities to caring for the sick. There is almost always the moment when one character or another, with much squaring of the jaw, heavy sighs, and regretful looks back, kills his first person (generally depicted as a degraded marauder who, before the apocalypse, had been an effete liberal/bigoted conservative/corrupt politician/no-good hippie, or whomever else the author dislikes.)

And there is almost always the moment when the hardy band of survivors are gathered in some haven they discovered, like a shopping mall, or a sheltered valley that the fallout or Volkswagen-sized spiders haven’t reached, and the character who will eventually emerge as the leader gives an impassioned pep-talk. “The human race can survive, people! We CAN go on! IF we have the will and the guts! We have what we need here, food, water, women…”

That is why I eventually, with much squaring of the jaw, heavy sighs, and regretful looks back, gave up reading this kind of fiction. The image of all the women being carefully stored among the supplies, along with the canned goods and potable water, was just too pervasive. Which brings us to the recent piece in Forbes where Michael Noer goes on at length about the need to avoid taking “career woman” as wives.

I’m not going to give in to the temptation of clambering among the various sentences and paragraphs with a popgun and disposing of it on a point-by-point basis. What I find offensive is not so much Noer’s resurrection of flyblown objections about career women as wives. No, what fills me with the urge to seize his nose in two fingers and twist it sharply to the left is the attitude that drives all nine of his reasons, the notion that a wife is not a human being with whom you negotiate, but a major appliance that should be carefully chosen based on whether or not it is helpful or not helpful to the man. It’s the more civilized version of the post-apocalyptic fiction notion of women as supplies.

The basis of Noer’s premise is rooted in an assumption about roles that are apparently set in stone “Traditionally men have tended to do ‘market’ or paid work outside the home,” Noer announces, “and women have tended to do ‘non-market‘ or household work, including raising children. All of the work must get done by somebody, and this pairing, regardless of who is in the home and who is outside the home, accomplishes that goal.”

That is why I eventually, with much squaring of the jaw, heavy sighs, and regretful looks back, gave up reading this kind of fiction. The image of all the women being carefully stored among the supplies, along with the canned goods and potable water, was just too pervasive. Which brings us to the recent piece in Forbes where Michael Noer goes on at length about the need to avoid taking “career woman” as wives.

It’s a rigidity that makes sense only if one regards wives as property rather than partners. One does not, after all, cut deals with one’s car about the division of labor. You might take steps to maintain it, change the oil, get it regular tune-ups maybe polish the chassis every now and then, but you don’t examine whether or not it absolutely has to be your car’s job to get you from point a to point b. In Noer’s piece, the notion that the stress of a two-career marriage might be relieved by a little give and take is apparently as unthinkable as the idea that you might carry your Lexis to work every now and then to save wear on the tread.

There is some lip service given to the concept of a career woman’s happiness here, but it comes across less as a recognition of women as human beings than as the concern you might have about keeping, say, an active breed like a Dalmation in a studio apartment downtown. The poor thing won’t be happy and so it’ll chew on the furniture, mess up the carpets, and eventually run away, or in this case, fool around with other men, neglect the housekeeping and eventually divorce you. Especially damning is the a passage in which, after allowing as that “A few other studies, which have focused on employment (as opposed to working hours) have concluded that working outside the home actually increases marital stability, at least when the marriage is a happy on,” Noer adds “But even in these studies, wives’ employment does correlate positively to divorce rates, when the marriage is of ‘low marital quality.’” (emphasis added)

In other words, if she’s less dependent financially on her husband, a wife is more likely to get out of a marriage of “low marital quality” by availing herself of the rather expensive option of divorce. Plainly, this is a bad thing in Noer’s worldview. And lest he leave a single double-standard unflourished, Noer invokes the specter of infidelity. “When your spouse works outside the home, chances increase they’ll meet someone they like more than you.” Note the gender neutral term “spouse” rather than “wife.” Noer knows as well as any of his readers that countless stay-at-home wives have had to endure the office infidelities of their husbands, but the notion that a husband be subjected to the same risk is apparently unthinkable.

So, the ideal marriage in Noer’s mind is one where the wife is too sheltered and too dependent on her husband to get any uppity ideas about other men and/or striking out on her own. It’s not so much a matter of having a “happy” wife. It’s a matter of having a wife who can be controlled with the least amount of effort and inconvenience – and making allowances for a wife as a human being who might have a career she cares about qualifies as just too much effort and inconvenience to be worth consideration.

There is nothing especially surprising about the appearance of this piece in Forbes. In a climate where little wild buds of overt racism have been popping up all over the political landscape “Mexicans are ‘invading’ the country,” “Blacks can’t swim,” “Welcome to the country Macacca…” it should come as no great shock that the more “respectable” ‘ism, overt sexism, should blossom luxuriantly in the cultivated pages of a national magazine. It is, however, infuriating. I know how some men will react to this issue. Eyes will roll, terms like “hysterical” and “over-sensitive” will be used, and heads will be shaken in feigned incomprehension. “Why get so angry about it?” I’ll be asked.

So I’ll just close here by invoking another literary reference, one from an unquestionably masculine novel, CATCH 22. My gut reaction to this piece is the same as the main character in Joseph Heller’s book, when he explains why he took a swing at an Army nurse after she told him that his leg “belongs to the U.S. government. It’s no different than a gear or a bedpan.”

To paraphrase Yossarian: “He called me a gear.”

08-28-2006 04:23 PM

Re: FOOD, WATER, AND WOMEN
leeraconteur
Regular Contributor
leeraconteur

It’s a rigidity that makes sense only if one regards wives as property rather than partners.

False and untrue.  Those who disagree cannot believe that any woman would wiliing want to enter into such arrangement, as you can only conceptualise it as the wife being viewed as property – as though every man prior to 1970 viewed his wife as property.

Someone has to care for the children, cook, clean, make the house into a home.
Dividing up these responsibilities makes sense – those who do it best should do what they are best at.  Many women insist that they are more in tune to children, so the woman is the likely choice.

08-28-2006 04:38 PM

Re: FOOD, WATER, AND WOMEN
zenith
Newbie
zenith
i doubt more women think they are more *in tune* with children. my dad never cleaned so my mum just did it rather than fight with him every day about it. didn’t mean she was more in tune, but less selfish. unfortunately, the biggest enemy to the advancement of women tend to be other women.

it’s women who are not raising their boy children to clean up after and take care of themselves that can be just as much a problem as women who accept that as appropriate behaviour.

it’s obvious that this michael noer guy and how deeply rooted in insecurity his points are. in fact, it’s disappointing that a magazine such as forbes would publish such an insanely sexist article.

it’s not a woman’s job to service a man. people are partners…. no one’s needs are more important than the other in a relationship. it’s a partnership that both people should benefit from.

08-28-2006 05:02 PM

Re: FOOD, WATER, AND WOMEN
rjmck
Contributor
rjmck

Thanks, Troy, for an intelligent and interesting response. Your critique of the Forbes article raises many good points regarding the hidden assumptions about the role of women.
That said, there is something here that is not so easy to dismiss. Under the surface of many of the replies, by both traditional men and career women, lies both fear and anger. The traditional men see their gender identity being threatened by the independence of women, and so react with these cheap shots about “feminazis”. In turn, the career women respond with sexist, demeaning anti-male rhetoric, ironically lending credence to the traditional men’s claims about male bashing feminists.
What is

08-28-2006 05:21 PM

Re: FOOD, WATER, AND WOMEN
rjmck
Contributor
rjmck

Thanks, Troy, for an intelligent and interesting response. Your critique of the Forbes article raises many good points regarding the hidden assumptions about the role of women.
That said, there is something here that is not so easy to dismiss. Under the surface of many of the replies, by both traditional men and career women, lies both fear and anger. The traditional men see their gender identity being threatened by the independence of women, and so react with these cheap shots about “feminazis”. In turn, the career women respond with sexist, demeaning anti-male rhetoric, ironically lending credence to the traditional men’s claims about male bashing feminists.
What is missing

08-28-2006 05:21 PM

Re: FOOD, WATER, AND WOMEN
rjmck
Contributor
rjmck

Thanks, Troy, for an intelligent and interesting response. Your critique of the Forbes article raises many good points regarding the hidden assumptions about the role of women.
That said, there is something here that is not so easy to dismiss. Under the surface of many of the replies, by both traditional men and career women, lies both fear and anger. The traditional men see their gender identity being threatened by the independence of women, and so react with cheap shots about “feminazis”. In turn, the career women respond with sexist, demeaning anti-male rhetoric, ironically lending credence to the traditional men’s claims about male bashing feminists.
What is missing from this discussion is an understanding of what might be causing higher rates of divorce among career women, a phenomenon known as femal hypergamy. This refers to the tendency of women, across cultures, to try to marry men whom they perceive as being “superior”. Men who are older, taller, richer, more intellignet– whatever the criteria, women look for mates who can improve their social status (by “women” I don’t mean all, just most).
The consequence is that when women become more educated, they tend to look for men who are even more educated than they.

08-28-2006 05:24 PM

Re: FOOD, WATER, AND WOMEN
porkchops38
Regular Contributor
porkchops38
ptroy, me thinks your problem is that you read too many fiction books… . try spending some time reading up on real world issues and then come back in 20 years when your done reading and share with us what you’ve learned that might actually have some merit…

08-28-2006 05:28 PM

Re: FOOD, WATER, AND WOMEN
brukerbabe
Newbie
brukerbabe
PTroy

I completely agree. It is hard to describe the tone of this article. And I think woman as resource is pretty apt.
If you are looking for a wife, not as someone you love or a relationship, but rather a social contract with certain expectations, than clearly you need to enter into it with someone who shares them.

There are plenty of women who view marriage as nothing more than a social contract as well. Not interested in a man as a person, but simply as an income and a financial provider.

Frankly I have difficulty believing that the majority of men truly believe that type of labor and goods exchange is what constitutes a “good marriage”

08-28-2006 05:29 PM

Re: FOOD, WATER, AND WOMEN
PANDORASBOX123
Regular Contributor
PANDORASBOX123

it’s women who are not raising their boy children to clean up after and take care of themselves that can be just as much a problem as women who accept that as appropriate behaviour

Zen—I agree with you here…I’m a teacher.  I am appalled at the way boys are raised.  Many mothers don’t expect boys to pick up, do chores, finish their homework.  Boys are the ones more likely to get failing grades due to not completing their work.  They  also cause the majority of our class disruptions.  I had a boy wet his pants because he thought he would miss his recess break. Unbelievable!  They seem to only want to play. Parents encourage this behavior, and then they wonder why junior can’t make it. Young men can’t make it into college because of their play attitude through their early school days.  It’s not because of femminism.  Mothers and fathers need to wake up and make their children equally responsible.

08-28-2006 10:46 PM

Re: FOOD, WATER, AND WOMEN
IshWishDish
Regular Contributor
IshWishDish

My gut reaction to this piece is the same as the main character in Joseph Heller’s book, when he explains why he took a swing at an Army nurse after she told him that his leg “belongs to the U.S. government. It’s no different than a gear or a bedpan.”

To paraphrase Yossarian: “He called me a gear.”

God! Thank you! Yes, that’s exactly it! We can go on eternally about what’s lacking in his journalistic method that makes the article so insubstantial – and we actually have – but that’s exactly why it ticks me off so much!

And I love that book.

I’m amazed at how some of the men posting here can fume so spectacularly about gold-digging women just wanting a meal ticket and how objectified and marginalized they feel as men in modern America, foaming at the mouth over every slight, real or imagined, and then utterly fail to grasp that we’re mad not because they don’t want to marry us, but because… “He called me a gear!”  I suppose many of them just really believe all that business about women being nothing more than breeding stock and so can’t fathom that we actually have the sense of self necessary to object to being spoken of as appliances. Some of them, though, I honestly believe are choosing to be this obtuse.

08-31-2006 01:33 AM

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Reader Response to “Don’t Marry Career Women” – FOOD, WATER, AND WOMEN

Re: FOOD, WATER, AND WOMEN
PANDORASBOX123
Regular Contributor
PANDORASBOX123

Female bashing has been around a lot longer than male bashing.  Male bashing typically didn’t begin until the 70’s, but men have always been bashing women since the beginning of time.  My father said to me (seriously)….”Men have always behaved badly, and now the women are doing it too!  It’s not right!”  He felt that it was perfectly acceptable to exhibit sexist attitudes towards women but not the other away around.  He even said women should be barefoot and pregnant.  Many men on this forum would most likely agree with him and make some upcoming  sexist agreement comments.  But I know what to expect…

08-31-2006 09:16 AM

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