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Why Men Can't Have It All (relevantmagazine.com)
227 points by mtoddh on Aug 3, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 227 comments

This is a really important thing to bring up.

There's so much focus on letting women have balance in their lives, but almost never men.

Women complain that they can't keep up with men because they can't reconcile 80-hour workweeks with raising children.

The solution is not healthier, more balanced workweeks for women. The solution is healther, more balanced workweeks for everyone.

The solution is creating a cultural expectation where CEO's work 50 hours a week, not 90, regardless of gender or children.

After all, male CEO's would love this just as much as female CEO's with children. But they can't ask for it, because it's seen as weak and uncommitted, and another male CEO will take their place.

There's a truth behind the clichéed businessman dying in his bed, saying he wishes he had spent less time working and more with his wife and children. But as a society, we refuse to let our male CEO's work less. Why?

If I might turn this around, some men don't. What makes them different than those who do? I think the answer is "they are willing to be seen as less than manly."

We can not both live balanced lives and keep the prestige and power we are used to. We, as individuals, must give up our illusions that we are better than others because we manage more people or make more money or get more funding. Instead, we much know we are good enough and choose for ourselves how to distribute our short time on earth.

Men can't have it all: we must give up "man" as our primary identity in order to find our more-satisfying "self".

"We can not both live balanced lives and keep the prestige and power we are used to."

Isn't that a double edged sword? That prestige and power is an attraction and sometimes necessity for men to court women. While I know it does happen, it's rare to find women who marry 'down' in the status ladder (be it race, income, or position). And as a marginalized male minority in the U.S., I know for certain that even good well-adjusted women wouldn't have given me the time of day if I wasn't earning a certain amount or at a high level or at a great company.

Actually I remember reading [1] that since the recent economic downturn, because it affected men much more than women, more women are marrying "down" than are marrying "up".

I agree that our societal norms haven't caught up with the fact that there are no longer enough high status men and low status women for all the women to marry up anymore, so the social pressure is still there but it seems to be changing fairly quickly.

[1] http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/apr/08/marriage-and-c...

high status men and low status women

Do I detect a roissysphere shibboleth? :)

Had to google roissyshere, so no. Hard to find anything specific about him as his blog has disapeared but in general I find the PUA community to be creepy.

He changed his moniker: http://heartiste.wordpress.com

I think your generalizations are ridiculously broad here. Some women are golddiggers, but those relationships are, IMHO, not worth having anyway. Why do you think such a relationship is going to contribute more to your life than spending time on things that actually make you happy?

Even if all women wanted was power, we are playing a zero-sum, I-got-mine, race-to-the-bottom, everyone-loses game if we demand total devotion to status, and I don't think most women want that either. Already 25% of stay-at-home parents are men. The majority of women are now in the work force. Egalitarian marriages last longer. Things are changing, and we can help them change faster by opting out of that self-destructive game.

That doesn't mean giving up on being able to find a romantic relationship, however. There is a difference between being a bum and not seeking to dominate the people around us to get ahead at all cost. I'd recommend reading http://postmasculine.com/ for the dating advice that worked best for me. Much like weight loss, there are no short cuts to becoming capable of having satisfying relationships. It is hard work to move from desperation to a place where relationships are one possible way your life could be a bit nicer, but certainly not the only one. On the other hand, I found it worth the energy.

I think you are misinterpreting what I'm saying.

I'm not insinuating that women are generally gold-diggers. I'm saying that ultimately status and income are considerations that come into play when it comes to the mating game. Physical attractiveness aside, a male doctor or male CEO is going to attract more interest than a male barista by virtue of his occupation and income. Income and wealth for men is a sometimes a consideration not different from height.

Let's put it another way: A minority male in the U.S. like an Asian male who earns a certain amount above the average is going to have significantly a lot more choices in interracial pairings than if he were at a low paying job. Statistics show that Caucasians females rarely marry Asians in the United States, but when they do, that pairing has the highest median income level compared to every other pairing in the U.S., including Caucasian/Caucasian and Asian/Asian. Anecdotally, all the Asian men I know who married Caucasian female are well-paid relative to the average Asian American male.

> Physical attractiveness aside, a male doctor or male CEO is going to attract more interest than a male barista by virtue of his occupation and income.

You clearly do not live in San Francisco.

My argument is this: so what? You say these things like marriage, and in your case interracial marriage, is the be-all and end-all of happiness. I argue that it isn't, and all research directly correlating income and happiness finds that it tops out around $67k.

If you sacrifice happiness for marriage, and get a crappier marriage than you would otherwise have in the bargin, what is the point?

> $67k.

Not in Silicon Valley. In Ohio, maybe.

Some women are golddiggers, but more importantly, all women, as a rule, have golddigging tendency. (There are exceptions, but I am talking of a rule.) This is very well established by now.

I recommend reading David Buss's textbook, Evolutionary Psychology, 4th edition. In particular, Women's Long Term Mating Strategies, where the first heading is Preference for Economic Resources. Women consistently rate importance of economic resources in partner twice(!) higher than men. This is consistent from 1930 to today, and does not change whether most women are in the work force or not. As a textbook, it has lots of references you can check yourself.

There's a difference between gold digging and being attracted to more successful men, in that gold digging is motivated by a conscious incentive to expend the man's economic resources. Unemployed men living in their mother's basements are unattractive compared to, say, machinists, who are in turn less attractive than doctors, but it's less a matter of golddigging and more a matter of social status and respectability. There's probably diminishing returns in the range between machinist and doctor, with a step function down for unemployed slackers and a step function up for multimillionaires.

Can you describe this in the form of a testable hypothesis?

"Some women are golddiggers, but more importantly, all women, as a rule, have golddigging tendency."

Exactly. Women want a man that can provide (this is usually achieved through money and power). Just like men want a woman that's attractive.

I don't know why people want to go against human nature or try to pretend that it's a bad thing or it doesn't exist.

Not everyone thinks it's human nature. In fact, there's no real reason why we should think that it's human nature rather than (say) a purely social phenomenon that's entirely learnt, and can therefore be changed.

Actually, there are reasons, and lots. Go read the literature. Really.

One of the best study is International Preferences in Selecting Mates. This is a large study (N=9474) with samples from six continents, from cultures with monogamy and polygyny, etc.

there's no real reason why we should think that it's human nature rather than (say) a purely social phenomenon

No reasons except that we already know from separated twin studies that genetics plays a strong role in behavioral traits. Then also as you look at other places in the animal kingdom where learned behavior takes a greatly reduced role to wired/instinctive behavior we see many analogues. Birds provide many examples whereby the male must demonstrate his ability to provide an environment, sustenance, and protection for potential mates. Some male birds build their nests that the females examine before choosing a mate. Other birds demonstrate athletic abilities through dance.

Saying that it's just as likely that male/female behaviors are learnt as they are inborn is akin to saying that it's just as likely that having a womb to give birth with is just as likely learnt as inborn.

Male birds also wear and display decorative plumage in order to attract mates, whereas female birds tend to be more drap. Obviously it's natural for men to look and dress prettily in order to demonstrate their attractiveness to women, who as the ones being wooed don't need to put in the same kind of effort.

It's funny how selective our analogies to nature are sometimes.

You completely missed the point. The point is that there are many examples of similar behaviors that aren't learned in lower animals that don't have the ability to learn much of anything the way humans do.

Thinking up an example of a different trait attributed to the opposite sex in humans is completely irrelevant.

If you want to address this subject in a meaningful way -- rather than find a nit-pick over an analogy while obtusely missing the point, maybe you should look into refuting the mountain of twin study evidence that shows that nurture lost in the nature vs nurture debate.

A social behavior that's been around in nearly all societies in the world? Human nature came first and shaped our society, not the other way around. Anything that goes against human nature usually ends up in failure and/or many deaths (Communism, extreme socialism, etc). We need to learn to embrace it and use it to our advantage.

There was a study done sometime back at a Swedish university (I can't find the link at the moment) where they had the same mindset as you. A family raised a son and totally removed all male-oriented things from his life. They even gave him dolls to play with. He ended up gravitating towards male-centric things and they stopped the study.

>Egalitarian marriages last longer.

Second the call for a rationale for this. In fact, I would wager that the opposite is true.

Citations provided below. While I've seen no causal evidence, the best hypothesis is that it is the result of perceived fairness, social connection to the partner or a side effect of people with egalitarian beliefs only get married when they really want to, rather than out of a sense of necessity.

> Egalitarian marriages last longer.

Do you have any data for that, or even a rigorous definition of an "egalitarian marriage?"

The definition of egalitarian marriage is either division of household labor (reduces probability of divorce for women: http://jfi.sagepub.com/content/24/1/51.short), predominantly equal contributions of income (no effect on divorce relative to men earning more, decreases probability relative to women earning more: http://www.addegem-asso.fr/docs/PapersDMM2009/7.pdf) and egalitarian gender roles (lowers probability of divorce when held by men: http://books.google.com/books?id=Yv8KZnvVbTsC&lpg=PA225&... )

> While I know it does happen, it's rare to find women who marry 'down' in the status ladder (be it race, income, or position)

How is race among the others in the status ladder?

I'm not convinced that the best CEOs have to work such crazy hours.

It comes down to efficiency. We should all focus on being as effective as possible in the shortest amount of time. Prioritization is another way to look at it - spend time on the most important things.

This reminds me of Colman Mockler - longtime CEO of Gillette. He thwarted corporate takeovers throughout the 80's and led Gillette to massive growth and share price increases, up until his death in '91. He did all this while adamantly not working past 5pm. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find much information him online but the book, Good to Great, covers him in detail.

Sheryl Sandberg is another great example of someone who draws the line at 5:30pm and seems to be hugely effective. http://healthland.time.com/2012/04/12/facebooks-sheryl-sandb...

"We should all focus on being as effective as possible in the shortest amount of time."

Obviously, flogging a dead horse there. The point is that when everybody does that already, the next differentiating factor becomes the amount of hours put in. Which brings us to the current situation; which is, I might add, the natural order of things, and I'm continuously flummoxed by the total lack of, or even the slightest insight into human nature, emerging behavior or the ability to take fundamental processes or drivers and lead them to their conclusions, by the authors of pieces and posts like the GP and the article under consideration. Much like, let's say, socialism, I suppose, but I digress.

Also, an anecdote does not data make. The article covers that, too, by the way - some people are just almost 'super-human' (comes naturally with normal distributions), so measuring everybody against them just sets those others up for failure. You're basically saying 'yeah if you'd just all be as good as this Gilette guy here, you wouldn't have a problem! Can't combine parenthood and a top career? It's just because you're not good enough!'.

More hours can drop productivity. You can't treat those as independent sliders.

I would argue the path to syzygy isn't "giving up" anything but "integrating". Instead of giving up "man" as an identity (complex in the psyche) why are we not "integrating woman" as an identity to be a stabilized, whole, pairing with "man"?

Our western society is very out-of-touch (IMHO) with how people's inner landscape is configured (through years of cultural stimulation, parents, western symbols, etc...).

The quick reaction is to "give up" or "repress" what you are in the present to be able to "see your true self" (ie, enlightenment); this process can work, but it is a distinctly Eastern way and their psychological configuration is very different from the Western one. The answer for the Western psyche is "integration".

How many men in our society have embraced both their masculine and feminine aspects without giving up or compromising either? Very few (I've only met one or two). The same is said for women, I have never met a single woman that has actually embraced BOTH their masculine and feminine aspects - feminists and lesbians are short circuiting it, they aren't actually integrating; gay men and metros are also short circuiting it, they aren't actually integrating.

Once the Mother and Father within are recognized and "given light" (enlightenment) will the true Self be evident and present.

Really? Down votes with now counter-argument or discussion?

The solution is healther, more balanced workweeks for everyone.

Why do some even feel the need to have such a strong opinion on what "balance" means to different people and where they draw that line?

If you want more money and financial success, focus on your work. If you want more attention to your parenting and to devote more time to parental interaction, then focus more time on your family life.

The idea that we're going to decide as a society what a "balanced workweek" is and what that balance means between parents is alien to me. It's a topic that's so subjective and so based upon individual goals, situations, and preferences that to discuss it in the aggregate is meaningless. Worse, once people start talking about having a "balanced workweek" or a "living wage", the next step always seems to be, "Well now we need to legislate a lowest-common-denominator norm."

Without legislation we'd all be on 16-hour days. Like it or not, employment is not an equal partnership between free agents.

That's simply not true. In some hourly paid positions in some locales, there are mandated overtime pay rates, but salaried employees have no per-day hour maximums.

The fact is that employers don't work their employees 16 hours per day because it's counterproductive and employees would go find employers who didn't work them so hard if they tried.

Well, history says different, and how things actually happened tends to have more weight than theoretical speculation about a perfect employment market.


On the other hand unhealthy unproductive competition to work the longest doesn't do anybody any good at all.

Sometimes individual incentives don't lead to the best societal outcome and it can be beneficial to try to change the situation by setting examples, incentives or even sometimes with rules.

On the other hand unhealthy unproductive competition to work the longest doesn't do anybody any good at all.

It's normally preferable to let the market sort out what is unproductive and what isn't.

If you're running a company and overworking your employees, then you leave yourself open to a competitor who better optimizes worker productivity by being smarter about hours worked. You'll also risk having your employees leave if they don't like the working conditions.

Rather than have a bunch of politicians and bureaucrats make a bunch of rules based upon their normal levels of incompetence and lack of knowledge, I'd rather let smaller groups of people and companies determine what works for them.

Overworked miserable people caught in rat race can be highly productive and contribute to successful businesss. That doesn't mean they are happy.

Why? Because as a society we're not interested in confronting the problems with male gender roles when they affect men, only when they affect women. So you'll occasionally see someone poking at the edge of the problem when they realise (for instance) that men being pressured into 80-hour workweeks means women are forced to look after kids, or that women can't rise as high in the ranks as men, but that's it. Often they'll just end up trying to patch the symptoms whilst ignoring the underlying problem, for instance by trying to lower demands on female executives and employees compared to their male counterparts.

Why are gender roles a "problem?"

Gender roles are a problem because they mean that anyone who doesn't fit into them nicely gets screwed over. This affects, oooh, probably pretty much everyone because the odds of someone matching up with them exactly in every possible regard are pretty damn low.

>Gender roles are a problem because they mean that anyone who doesn't fit into them nicely gets screwed over. This affects, oooh, probably pretty much everyone because the odds of someone matching up with them exactly in every possible regard are pretty damn low.

Do you have any evidence of gender roles so specific and enforced so strictly that "pretty much everyone" gets "screwed over" for not matching up with them exactly in "every possible regard?"

How do you account for all the people, perhaps a majority, who don't seem to have any problem with traditional gender roles, but in fact, embrace them? They don't seem to feel they are being "screwed over."

You ever worn a skirt? They are freaking comfortable. Especially if you're just sitting at a desk all day. Lightweight, breezy, totally stylish.

I don't expect you to agree with me, of course, but just try one on for work one day. You'll be amazed.

Even if you are wearing a Kilt, which is a pretty manly version of a skirt, you'll be hearing remarks for a couple of weeks.

But to be honest, I feel a little silly making a big deal about the ability to wear a skirt or have a purse for instance.

Sure, and that's the point-- you can't even do something as unimportant as wear a particular kind of clothing without subjecting yourself to serious social pressure, but we're being asked to believe that gender roles don't really affect people's choices.

> or have a purse for instance

It's called a messenger bag. Usually cheaper, more versatile, and a leather one can last you a lifetime.

And yet you still get the random comment about wearing a purse...

Well, of course a majority of people seem to embrace traditional gender roles - that's what our society rewards people for! We look up to women who drop out of work to raise kids and look down on men who do the same as unmanly, tut-tut about how women who don't have kids will regret it later once their feminine instincts kick in, beat up people who wear the wrong kind of clothing for their gender (clothing, for fuck's sake!), ...

You've already stated why we don't do it. Many people (men and women) choose not to have children. So if you're a CEO and you say "I don't want to work 80 hour a week", they could easily replace you with someone who says "I'll do it!".

And do you know what? That's life. It's no different than any other choice. Plenty of people who don't have children don't want to put in 80 hrs per week at their job. Should we accomodate them as well?

Plenty of people who don't have children don't want to put in 80 hrs per week at their job. Should we accomodate them as well?

Yes, why not? "Think of the parents" arguments may just be a pretext for letting everyone work less. As productivity increases, the amount of available work decreases. We can either concentrate that work among a few, leaving many unemployed (e.g. the would-be 50hr/wk CEO), or have everyone work less.

The amount of available work doesn't decrease as productivity increases. Global productivity has increased by at least an order of magnitude since 1900. If available worked decreased, we'd have 90% unemployment now.

The biggest obstacle to "spreading out the work" is payroll taxes. It's much cheaper for an employer to hire 1 person who works 100 hr/week than is it to hire 3 people at 33 hr/week.

But my point remains, there are people out there who do nothing but work, by choice. They want a job that requires 60,70,80 hrs per week. Are you suggesting we tell these people to find something else to do with their time?

But as a society, we refuse to let our male CEO's work less. Why?

There are people fighting traditional gender roles. But then you get called a feminazi by people who don't want change.

Come over to feminism. We're fighting for everyone to have the same opertunities.

With feminists like Hanna Rosin writing articles like "The End of Men" [1], perhaps men can be forgiven for a little skepticism as to whether the fight "is for everyone."

[1] http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/07/the-end-...

And you know that there are extremists everywhere in all groups?

Should we be wary of all christians because there's some who think all religions that don't match there's should be banned? Should we be wary of all muslims because some think it's OK to kill for their religion? Should we be wary of all black people because some of them kill and are in gangs? Should we be wary of all Americans because some of them own lots of guns? Should we be wary of all police because some are corrupt? Should we be wary of all British government activity because they might want to invade and colonise us? Should we be wary of all germans because some are neo-nazis? Should we be wary of all irish because some set off car bombs? etc. etc. etc.

Come on, aren't we past these gross stereotypes?

Thanks for taking the time to respond.

And you know that there are extremists everywhere in all groups?

I'm glad you think she's an extremist. I think she's an extremist. I start to wonder whether people on the whole share this view when people like Rosin get to speak at TED conferences and are invited to present at think-tanks like the New America Foundation. Is it just because these organizations are "open minded?" Well, take Rosin's "The End of Men" article and try replacing "men" with "black people" and "women" with "white people" throughout the article, and speculate on whether The Atlantic would have published it:

"What if modern, postindustrial society is simply better suited to white people?"

"White people live longer than black people. They do better in this economy. More of ’em graduate from college. They go into space and do everything black people do, and sometimes they do it a whole lot better. I mean, hell, get out of the way—these white people are going to leave us black people in the dust."

I'm guessing that the author of such a piece wouldn't find an audience at TED (which bills itself as the curator of "ideas worth spreading"), or think-tanks like the New America Foundation. But apparently enough people find Rosin's ideas worth considering that she should get an audience at such venues.

Should we be wary of all christians because there's some who think all religions that don't match there's should be banned? Should we be wary of all muslims because some think it's OK to kill for their religion? ...

These are all great questions. Here's another one: should women be wary when a birth control hearing on Capitol Hill has a predominately male panel? I would say yes.

Oh, please.

There's no shortage of troglodytes advocating women stay at home, in the kitchen, bare footed, and pregnant.

There's even laments about women suffrage (enfranchisement, right to vote).

You don't have to look very hard to find whack jobs of any stripe to use as justification for own reactionary / oppositional views.

There's no shortage of troglodytes advocating women stay at home, in the kitchen, bare footed, and pregnant.

And I imagine these troglodytes make some women skeptical of whether they should rely on men to empower women.

For an alternative viewpoint on that article: http://feministing.com/2010/06/16/is-female-dominance-a-succ... Though come to think of it, that's just as bad too. If we deal with women doing worse in some areas through affirmative action and other schemes aimed at compensating for their disadvantages, but deal with men doing worse in others by just trying to do away with the idea that gender matters - which we never consider to be enough when women are worse off - the net result is effectively systematic discrimination in favour of women throughout society.

deal with men doing worse in others by just trying to do away with the idea that gender matters

No-one said we shouldn't have affirmative action for men in female dominated spaces. I think it's a great idea. For example, in Sweden (and some other countries) the father is legally required to take 2 months of the (paid) paternity leave after their child is born. This sort of affirmative action means that it will become much more common for fathers to get involved with child rearing, since, well "everyone is doing it".

The link I posted did actually say that we shouldn't have affirmative action for men in female dominated spaces and should instead try to get rid of the idea of gender roles full-stop in some vague and incompletely defined fashion. (The reason I linked that response in particular was because I read it at the time when the original Atlantic piece came out.)

Yes, I'm sure most men learned what they know about feminism from Atlantic articles. That is the simplest explanation here.

>There are people fighting traditional gender roles. But then you get called a feminazi by people who don't want change.

People who embrace our traditions get called "troglodytes" "fascists" "nazis" "sexists" and the like by cultural Marxists, moralistic activists, and other fanatics.

>Come over to feminism. We're fighting for everyone to have the same opertunities.

No thanks. Feminism, like religion, should be kept to one's self. Stop trying to proselytize. You may be surprised to learn how little many people care about your 20th century social ideologies.

> No thanks. Feminism, like religion, should be kept to one's self. Stop trying to proselytize.

The whole point of feminism is to effect some changes in society. How do you propose to do that without, you know, talking about it?

Incidentally, I feel the same way about religions. I'm fine with being proselytized at, because I'm okay with people trying to persuade me of their opinions on any subject -- I don't consider religion special here. (And really, I'm not sure what to think about people who believe that their religion is the one true path to salvation, and don't try to convince others to join. It seems kind of... selfish, I guess? I don't believe any of that stuff, so I guess I should be happy about the peace and quiet, but it still irks me slightly.)

The people who believe their religion is he one true path to salvation _do_ tend to proselytize.

Thing is, many religions don't think they're the one true path to salvation (and in fact many don't even have a "salvation" going on). And people who hold to those rightfully get annoyed when they can't have lunch in peace because someone shows up on their doorstep trying to convince them that this someone's religion _is_ such a one true path.

The key problem with proselytizing isn't that it happens, it's _how_ it happens.

Except that feminism is a social movement that only works when it is widely understood and religion is a personal belief structure. The two are nothing alike.

>feminism is a social movement that only works when it is widely understood

Feminism is widely understood. Feminists, like most cultural leftists, simply assume that anyone who rejects their ideology doesn't "understand it."

Our understanding of your ideology is precisely the reason we reject it.

Leftist ideology clearly has its roots in secularized Judeo-Christianity. We all have the "original sin" of racism/sexism/etc. we must be redeemed of, and the world is "torn" and must be tikkun-olamed to be "fixed" by a priest class of activists.

No thanks.

> Feminism is widely understood. Feminists, like most cultural leftists, simply assume that anyone who rejects their ideology doesn't "understand it."

I think that this is the most concise summary of what's wrong with feminism as an ideology that I've ever seen. One thing to note is that this doesn't just apply to outsiders; feminists do this to other feminists that disagree with them , which is probably one reason why the grassroots of the movement is consistently a lot more reasonable than the career activists.

> Feminism is widely understood.

It is widely understood because people talk about it. Maybe it is over discussed; I obviously don't have a complete understanding of it because I thought that it was a movement for equality and you seem to disagree.

Some of them are sexists.

> Come over to feminism. We're fighting for everyone to have the same opertunities.

No, you're not.

For the most part, feminism is aimed at giving privileged women some of the same opportunities that privileged men have.

As a "not very privileged" man....

And, in many cases, the result of "same" has been (at best) marginal increases for women accompanied by huge decreases for men. It's unclear why that's an improvement.

And, we've yet to see feminists address female privileges, except, of course, to defend them.

> Come over to feminism. We're fighting for everyone to have the same opertunities.

The problem is feminism doesn't actually do a particularly good job at making it clear that is what they are fighting for, and perhaps because there is a particularly vocal minority that doesn't believe that to be the true and proper goal of feminism.

Yeah, this is the problem with any big movement without a figurehead, like the 99% movement.

Society doesn't refuse anything. If a male CEO wants to work less, he can do so. If another male potential CEO can perform better by working more, he will probably replace him.

The only solution to this is to mandate working hours for CEOs, an idea that rather impractical to say the least.

>Society doesn't refuse anything. If a male CEO wants to work less, he can do so. If another male potential CEO can perform better by working more, he will probably replace him.

If another male potential CEO can perform worse by working more, he will probably replace him. And that's a societal/cultural problem; we need to get over the idea that someone who puts in longer hours must be contributing more.

How will he replace him if he is worse-performing? I'm not sure this imaginary company is competent.

> But as a society, we refuse to let our male CEO's work less.

Society is not choosing how you live your life - you are.

Your point is valid, but the real solution is to simply not play the game.

If you have a way to become a CEO or any position that's highly competitive without playing the game I'm sure everyone would like to hear it.

Create your own company. This site is littered with examples of people doing exactly this.

The other way is to discard the idea that being a "CEO" is a desirable goal at all.

I did, with some cofounders, went through an accelerator, rounded up investors. Sitting in our office right now. So yes, I am familiar with this path.

Now the answer is to create your own company? I thought the answer was not to play the game? If you think you don't have to play the game to start a company then you haven't done it before.

I would prefer that balance only apply to average people. Not maximizing unique and valuable contributions, in return for more of the grunt work that 3.5 billion couples are already covering, is not a win.

The single best line from the article.

"""Men should not feel emancipated because everyone believes they are only mildly competent as caregivers"""

I fully agree with this. I strive to do as much work in raising my one child as my wife does. Recently my wife had to cover two saturday shifts giving me two full days with my son ( breakfast to bedtime ). My wife approaced the days like they would be some great hardship for me. I approached them as wonderfull opertuinities to spend extra time with my two year old. Even though I try to do just as much as she does in terms of feeding and changing and general parenting, the fact that for most of the week I am only present for maybe an hour a day gives her the impression that I am incapable of handling the full load of responsability by myself. I see this as the issue. If men do have full time jobs and their wifes are stay at home moms then there will allways be this perception. People always assume that those who are _not_ doing what they do _can't_ do what they do

I get the same thing too, but people seem hyper-scared for our family when I'm at home with our twin 18m boys: "Well is your mom (kids' grandma) going to help him? No!? I can't believe you'd leave him alone like that."

I'm about |---| this close to start responding with highly offensive responses like "Well, I can't believe your husband trusts you with a credit card, because women are bad at money and math". My wife gets just as offended as I do when her friends say stuff like that to her.

Expecting some downvotes, but unless someone's said it to your face or your wife's told you some of the things her friends say, you can't know how infuriating it is when people don't think you're capable of taking care of your own kids.

Weighing in to agree. Or maybe just to pile on.

I'm a new father and I already can not count the number of times my wife and I have already been asked the cutesy "so how many diapers has he changed?" question.

The automatic assumption that I'm just going to phone it in -- not to mention the assumption that my wife would put up with me, were I that type of person -- has already strained more than a few relationships.

Never mind that my wife had a difficult labor, unexpected surgery and was stuck in a hospital bed, leaving me to handle everything other than breastfeeding, for the first four days and it never even occurred to either of us to call a grandmother in as a ringer.

We just always planned on each doing as much as we could and so my stepping up when she couldn't was the most obvious and natural thing in the world. At least, to us.

Seemingly half of everyone we know expected I'd hold my daughter just long enough to hand her to my mother and then head back to work.

And as to the people who see my wife out and about and ask in shock/concern whether it's a good idea/whether I can really handle looking after our infant daughter by myself while she so much as runs a few errands ... I have never actually been so angry as to see red before.

I was in the same boat: My wife carried twins and had a rough non-delivery followed by a C-section. She couldn't hardly walk for the first three weeks, and I took six weeks off total, so I pretty much did everything that didn't involve mammary glands (but I did have to wake to feed them extra milk from a bottle).

And not that I kept track, but it took a looong time for my wife to catch up on the diaper count.

Would that I could have taken six weeks off. [1]

And I felt guilty as all hell when I did go back to work.

[1] There might be something there. If our social expectation shifted to allow that fathers ought to/might want to be involved with their children, we'd probably have to update our archaic views on paternity leave. As is, I burned through all my vacation and then some and then stretched my employers tolerance for 'working from home' as far as it would go before I returned. And in the end I still had to go back before my wife got the doctor's Ok to drive, or to lift anything heavier than our child.

You could have taken six weeks off. You were legally permitted by law to take up to 12 unpaid weeks and still have your job waiting for you when you got back (assuming your employer had 50 or more employees and you had been working there for a year IANAL). Most people don't know that you can actually take up to 24 weeks, but if you do take more than 12 then your employer is not obligated to give you your exact job back, only a comparable one. You also didn't have to take it immediately after your child was born, but that you had up to one year to take your baby leave.

I wasn't paid for all 6 weeks. My wife and I had to save up a cash cushion (and her leave was paid because her company had wayyy better benefits than mine). It was a decision and an expense that was important for us, so we saved up for it because we knew that my wife would probably be out of commission for the first six weeks our boys were born and the first 4-6 months of twins is a crapton of work.

I never felt guilty when I came back to work. Once you really internalize that people in a company are replaceable, you just start preparing people for when you leave on vacation or baby leave instead of worrying about it.

Yeah, with FMLA I could have taken more time, unpaid. I just wasn't in a place where I could do that and still feel comfortable about our savings. [1]

And to be clear: I felt guilty for being away from my wife and daughter. I didn't spare a moment of concern for my employer or colleagues -- they're pretty good people and all, but they can take care of themselves.

And while I know my wife can handle things, I still felt guilty because going to work is so much easier. At least, as a first time parent, the parenting side feels far more stressful/intensive/important.

[1] After the dot-com blow-out I became pretty paranoid about how much was reasonable to hold in reserve. And seeing how long unemployment stretches are going these days only convinced me to pad out that number. Particularly now that I have to factor in a higher burn rate.

Agree about first time parenting being more stressful/intensive. We used to joke that we were so tired from the weekend that we looked forward to going to work on Monday.

How many months of expenses do you have saved?

I'd like to have six. I was there - the difference in expenses and unexpected costs brought things down to around four at the moment.

(Not knowing anything about children, my estimates were missing all sorts of stuff. Like regular college fund contributions. And diapers.)

Honestly, it goes well beyond childcare. I think a lot of people simply don't expect men to do anything but go to work and come home and mow the lawn with a beer in hand.

When my son was in Cub Scouts, I remember the scoutmaster asking the kids how they helped at home (in order to get a badge or something). My son said "I help my Dad cook." Scoutmaster looked puzzled for a second, then said, "oh, you mean on the grill. OK!" No, he means he helps me make breakfast, lunch, dinner, bake cookies, whatever needs to be done.

Likewise when my wife was pregnant, she couldn't lift heavy things during the last couple months. We live on a horse farm and normally she thinks nothing of tossing around 60lb bales of hay. When she was asked who was doing her chores when she was pregnant, and she said that I was, the look of amazement on the other woman's face was classic "are you serious???"

Oddly enough, no one seems surprised that I change diapers!

As well as societal norms, it's not too surprising that the Cub Scouts would be surprised by it. The Boy Scouts ban anyone who's gay. Part of their policies are in the past.

I agree with you, but why do people think this way? Because there are fathers who absolutely cannot function as a caregiver to their own children. I have friends who have trouble watching their kids for a few hours on a Saturday afternoon while their wives do other things. So, the stereotype exists for a reason--but I agree it is not pleasant to be judged by it.

Parenting isn't rocket science, but it's hard work that requires a bit of introspection if you wish raise your kids well. It's a shame that folks have kids but have no desire to shoulder the burden they've accepted.

And there are mothers who absolutely cannot function as a caregiver to their own children.

I think the article is asking why mothers are assumed to be good parents and everyone assumes fathers are lucky if they can get pants on their kids in the morning.

I guess I didn't fully get the point in my mind across. Yeah, some people are poor caregivers (like most anything in life), but some people also don't expend the energy to be competent caregivers (that is, they are perfectly capable of getting kids their dressed in the morning, but for whatever reason, can't get their brains around it). Of course, in the States at least, the cultural tradition, set over generations, is that fathers are to provide for their families, and mothers do the dirty work of raising children. So, for many fathers, their task ends when they get home from work--"there, I've put the proverbial food on the table, now leave me alone so I can rest."

Sure, but things change.

My grandfather used to beat the crap out of my dad with his belt. My dad decided he didn't want to do that to me. I'm deciding to be a more involved dad than father have by historical standards. I don't think I'm alone.

The linked article is saying there are a lot of other dads out there like me but the rest of society hasn't caught up yet.

I agree completely. My hope, too, is that more dad's like us (I was the "primary caregiver" for large swaths of time when my wife was in grad school) will change the perception.

To be fair, I am very involved raising my three-year-old, but I am lucky if I can tell his pajamas from his proper clothes, and as often as not fail to dress him in an outfit his mother aproves of. :)

Easy solution, get your son to choose his own clothing. Then you quickly go from, "How could you have picked that for him?" to "How cute!"

Plus your son will probably enjoy having that piece of control.

Do you also buy the clothes? Being involved from the buying point helps a lot to understand the logic of it all IMO. I had the same pb with the different baby creams, and had to choose one in the shop to really get what is used for what.

Eh, don't feel bad. If they're not denim or button down there's really no difference in kids' day-clothes vs. their pajamas. "Convention over configuration" I think we tend to call it in our industry :).

or it's the result of institutionalized gender roles.

It used to be 'common knowledge' that women can't be relied on for intense jobs ("They might get hysterical!"), but thanks to a long campaign from the feminist movement, most people know such broad generalisations are false. This is the same as the "men are bad caregivers"

So, the stereotype exists for a reason

The stereotype certainly has validity insomuch as stereotypes do, but it isn't because men are biologically or mentally incapable of raising children. Instead it's a happenstance of history that women usually did the child rearing while men did the hunting and gathering and war making. Each sex had their roles, and this is seen in almost every culture, everywhere where people were found, throughout history.

Now we don't have to hunt and gather or wage war -- or at least not as frequently -- so those roles are obsolete. That doesn't remove the culturally entrenched positions.

So you have men feigning strategic incompetence to avoid something they've been conditioned not to do, and women assuming incompetence of the other sex, acting territorial about their responsibilities. While we are more enlightened now, that doesn't undo millennia of precedent.

Agreed. As first time parents, both men and women tend to feel completely lost. However, the pressure seems to be on women to "figure it out", because if they admit incompetence in any way, they're looked down upon severely, while the same pressure doesn't exist for men.

I'm not saying that there aren't a lot of wonderful fathers who try hard and contribute (my own father and my DH being two of them), but until we make a massive cultural shift towards expecting this, this problem will continue to exist.

Adding to this is that while both will feel lost, women are more likely than men to have at least some experience with children by the time they have kids of their own. For instance, how many of the babysitters when you were a kid were teenage boys?

we have 5 kids. They're older now (youngest is 10), but I watched them while their mother shopped, or had other things to do. We had great fun! I'm like you - I can't understand why people would think men are incapable of handling kids.

Here here.

Back in the day it was seen as perfectly fine for the husband to take care of the money, and for him to give his wife a bit of money for shopping and things like that. Now we have moved on from that (thankfully!). However there are still people who think that men can't handle children.

People always assume that those who are _not_ doing what they do _can't_ do what they do.

I can definitely attest to this sentiment. When my son was born two years ago, I decided to quit working and become a full time stay-at-home dad. When my wife told the other women in her mother's group about my decision, one of the first responses she got back was, "You trust him?" The implication being that not only are fathers less capable than mothers, but that men are so incompetent at parenting that leaving a child in the care of Dad might be a risky decision! I think this sentiment, plus the still present cultural expectation for dads to be "good providers", is part of why you don't see men contributing more in the home.

Likewise, I became a full-time stay-at-home dad about 2 and a half years ago.

I still have people ask me when I'm going to "get a real job". I can write it off when it comes from my 91 year old grandfather, but it's often coming from 30-something women and men.

The implication is that you're not a "real man" if you're not financially supporting the family, and that your wife is not a "real woman" if she lets her husband watch the kids. I'm often surprised by how many people refer to our situation negatively, while they seem to view it as heroic when a single mom works and puts her kids in daycare.

She could easily turn it around and get offended that those women think that she would marry a man she couldn't trust. At the very least it would force their hand into verbalizing their sexist views, rather than subtlely implying them.

I have heard multiple people express the same sentiment to mothers who leave their kinds in the care of stay-at-home dads. Somehow if your child is left in the care of a male then he is at risk for bodly harm.

Some good answers: "Well he trusts me with the credit card, so I trust him. Does you husband trust you with money?"

One of the common gender asymmetries of parenting is that a father's "more active role" is more likely to be as "the fun parent." Dad takes his daughter fishing and coaches her soccer team instead of taking her to get a haircut and serving on the PTA fundraising committee.

When our child was two, on my Saturday's as caregiver because my spouse was working, the day was organized around a "big adventure." When I was the one working the weekend, the house got vacuumed and the week's groceries got bought...our child got fed and bathed, too, of course.

On my days in charge, I got to be entirely present. The priority was a walk in the woods, not the laundry. The all of the article is cherry picked. The all that is expected of women is far more encompassing.

> "The all that is expected of women is far more encompassing."

The article isn't about how much women do or how high expectations are for them. Truly the more-present parent, regardless of gender, has a more serious parenting load.

The article is about the social expectations for fathers.

To put it in more clear terms:

Society expects X from mothers. Society expects Y from fathers.

The article is not about a comparison between X and Y in any way. It's not about whether X ~= Y. It's not about whether X > Y or whether X >> Y. It's not about whether any of those comparisons being true might be fair or accurate or desirable.

The article is about society's expectation that Y ~= 0 and acts surprised as all hell whenever Y > 0. And how that is bad, shameful and insulting.

The asymmetry you point out is a difficult truth that definitely resonates with me, and I would guess many other fathers as well.

It's interesting that people are bothered by the asymmetry in society's parenting expectations while completely validating the asymmetry between a husband and wife in other household duties (even when the wife also maintains a full time job).

Post divorce, stretches of solo parenting is the norm.

The site seems to be down right now. Here's the google cache:



When my older child (now 17) was little, people who knew he was my son would see us at the park and ask, "Oh, are you babysitting?"

I'd answer, "No, I'm parenting."

Even the Census Bureau views fathers this way- when fathers are the primary caregiver, the Census considers it a "childcare arrangement". There's a petition to change this: http://www.change.org/petitions/dads-don-t-babysit

I am going to be a father in about 2 months. A friend of mine, who is a father of 3, has responded with this some line when confronted with the "babysitting" comment, and I am already preparing myself for the same.

The sad thing is that he is probably one of the best fathers I know, so it just seems extra tragic to me that people assume the opposite about him.

Oh man, please let me steal that response from you. That's fantastic.

It's all yours!

I'm home with our daughter semi-regularly, and I use the "babysitting" line, albeit somewhat ironically, as every day is babysitting in this context to a greater or lesser extent. Still, my wife's coworkers express surprise that I'm at home alone with the kid and am not calling her every five minutes. You definitely do get a different reaction as a guy alone with kids.

As a non-native speaker, what is the difference and why is the former (I'm guessing) mocking/derogatory?

Babysitting is a term that means paying someone else (usually a young teenager) to look after your children while you go out. To say that a father looking after his child is "babysitting" is to imply that it's not normal and expected for a father to look after his child.

I can't relate. Its not because I don't have children. I've basically had children since I was 13. Well, they were my sister's kids, but I still took care of them as they were my own (in a way).

I recently had to watch a few of my sister's kids while she was touring with the Army. This was for a year, and the kids were pretty young (twins at one years old and another 3 year old). They were a handful, but I was always up to the task to take care of them. That involves, nurturing, feeding, disciplining, educating, cleaning, playing and interacting. Its a lot of work, but it can be done.

In away, I see them as my children, since I've been around they everyday for a year.

Long story short, it wasn't because I was a girl that I successfully took care of my nieces (for that short period of time). I'm a dude. I don't find it strange either. Parenting really is just a task. How well you do correlates to how much effort you put into it.

Its a lot of work to take care of kids as well as take care of yourself and your occupation. Perhaps this is the reason why we have marriages. Having two adults makes this task much easier. So lets go back to the subject on men being great parents and a great employer/businessman. It can be done. We are not aliens. We are no inept. We are human. We have as much of a chance to be successful fathers than any women being successful mothers.

Its all about effort.

The title of the article was relevant but misleading. It was not much about the ability or not of men to parent children, than on the perception of their abilities and expectations (or lack of) to do it from the society POV.

Your experience is supposed to be exceptionnal, and men really investing themself in parenting is not the expected behaviour. And in my experience taking a long parental leave for a man can be more or less difficult, but it is also surprisingly awkward (you're just slacking are you? jokes abunding) and needs a lot more justification. It seems to be changing, but so slowly.

It seems weird that you start off with "I can't relate", and then your entire post has very little to do with the article at all. Did you read it? He didn't suggest men are incapable of being great parents, quite the opposite in fact.

I guess I should have been a bit more clear with my intro sentence.

"I can't relate" was more towards the title of the article (Why Men Can't Have It All) than the actual content. I'm not sure what's up with the title actually. The content is basically what "krktb" wrote as a reply. I'm not debating that. I just merely linked my childcare experiences with the article's examples while refuting its title.

I can't relate to the "social stigma" that men are looked to be inept when it comes to child care. It doesn't make any sense why that would be. As I explained, child care is basically a task. Almost any task can be performed by either a male or a female. This includes taking care of a child. To do this task well, all that matters is the effort you exert. I explained the rest in my blab above, so I'm not going to revisit it.

I apologize if you didn't understand what I was getting at, papsosouid. I'll make sure I'm more clear next time.

I think taking care of kids is a fulltime job, and one parent should just stay home until they're old enough. Many of you may dismiss this as old-fashioned, and sexist, but it's very true. Don't forget that in the past, families lived together. Grandmas, aunts, uncles, sisters, EVERYONE in 1 roof. Which meant the mother had a ton of help. Today, we live in an entirely different society, and mothers usually are alone in caregiving. I blame society for getting rid of this family structure.

I just had a my first kid, she's 5 months old now.

On the weekends, we stay with my parents and they take care of the little one. Tuesday and Thursday, I take care of her from 8 am (morning) until 1 am (next day). I work on Saturday + Sunday to make up for those two days. My wife takes care of the kid on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. She works the rest of the days.

Yes, it would be nice to have her take care of the kid full-time. She wants to. She had debt from law school and wants to pay that off first. Until she makes that decision, everybody helps out.

There is a fundamental difference between want and can. Unfortunately, many of the decisions we make before we have children limit our options after we have them.

You guys should consider sending her to a quality daycare. We've been sending our son to one since he was 3 mo. old. He loves it; we love it. We think that's the best thing we've done for him so far.

Socializing with other children is sooo important. He interacts with other adults (daycare employees). He learns so many things (esp. wrt self-control, autonomy etc) just by playing with his friends.

I personally think a daycare (many kids + several caregivers) is closer to the environment that we evolved to grow in, rather than having no other kids + couple of caregivers as would be the case with an at-home parent.

You should give some serious thought into finding a quality daycare. You're highly likely to like it. Good luck!

> You guys should consider sending her to a quality daycare.

In my area, that's an extra 20-30K a year. I intend to have more children. With 2+ kids, it becomes cheaper to hire a full-time nanny.

That might make sense if my wife manages to land a job that pays 50K+, but that's not a certainty especially since I'm pretty sure she doesn't want to ... any job that pays in that range will mean long hours and very little time for anything else.

And that's just the $$$ talking.

I would much rather my parents raise her. They're in that retirement age zone, they want to, and frankly, since it's their grandchild, they would do a better job than a stranger. That's how it's been done in my family for generations, anyway. Parents go off and make the $$$, while grandparents take care of the day to day.

If you've thought it through, great. Whatever works for you. Good luck. But I just thought I'd address the subtext of your comment for the benefit of others who might be reading this too.

> With 2+ kids, it becomes cheaper to hire a full-time nanny. ... [grandparents] would do a better job than a stranger. ... grandparents take care of the day to day.

In my experience, a quality daycare person is superior to all except the best of the best nannies (I'm talking about those $80k/yr nannies NY Times wrote about). I think of myself as getting access to an experienced child development specialist, rather than as renting a warm body that just keeps my child physically safe.

I'd go with a quality (note emphasis) daycare over grandparents every single time.

Please don't take this as a snarky comment, because it isn't.

Aren't you concern about your limited role in raising your children? I don't know what your situation is like, but I know professional couples who use daycare and maybe spend an hour or two a day with their child. For the other 14 hrs, someone else is rasing their child. This includes teaching them values, connecting emotionally, etc.

If I were in this situation I'd be worried about how well connected I would be with my child in the future.

Decent question. And I'm happy to respond.

We drop him off at 8 am and pick him up at 5 pm (that's 9 hours). He goes to bed between 8 and 9 and wakes up at around 6:30 am (that's about 10 hours). Both parents drop and pick him up. So we spend about 4 waking hours per day with him and he spends 9 waking hours at daycare. Obviously there is no daycare on weekends.

On the question of values: my daycare lady's values are in sync with our own, so I don't worry about the values.

Wrt connecting emotionally: i used to wonder about this too. whether he'll get confused about who his real parents are. whether he will be close to us, or whether he will think the daycare people are "his family" etc.

I'm happy to report that that's absolutely not the case. When he gets hurt in daycare he cries for 'dad' (and has never asked for his daycare lady at home). He totally groks that we are his parents and his identity as a member of his family is the one only he has. He thinks of his daycare as a sort of playground that he goes to meet his friends.

I hope I answered your questions. You should talk to the couples you know too to get their perspective.

Thanks for the reply! It's obviously working for you and your son.

I'm not a parent yet, but I do think about these things.

As a parent of 2 (5 and 3) who works while his wife does the more important job, I couldn't agree more. It is so obviously beneficial to children to have a parent at home full time. It certainly does not have to be the mother. The problem though is that expressing this opinion is hard because most parents that work carry an extreme guilt with them - regardless of whether they pretty much have to have two incomes or simply choose to.

All else being equal, quantity of time is better than "quality" time when it comes to raising kids, IMHO.

As an aside, the US is so out of sync with the rest of the western world when it comes to it is laughable. As a comparison - Canada has 17 weeks of Mat leave for the mother, followed by an additional 35 weeks that can be taken by either parent. You receive 50% of your salary (to a low max) from the government during this time as part of the Employment Insurance program.

Social-cultural notions and expectations are, at least in the U.S., bizarre concerning males and parenting. Perhaps because there are so many who abrogate involvement and parenting.

I can't tell you how many times (okay, I'm telling, so it's been a whole hell of a lot), that I seem to get automatic plus points just for being a non-abandoning father. I have two boys (one adopted, one natural), am divorced, and have had custody of the boys since the divorce. People who find out about my single-parenting situation seem to then react in a way that implies I ought to be revered or something.

I simply don't understand this. It's as if just because I am there I am equated to "being a good father and, therefore, some kind of rare good man". I mean, I could be an absolute shit parent, and just trotting out the facts creates this unwelcome (and unhealthy) mental bias. This has become quite the issue whenever I meet otherwise interesting women, too (in the sense that their reaction to my situation has overwhelmingly been one of summarily attempting to "latch on")--so much so that I've developed a habit of specifically not mentioning being a single father at all.

I've never felt like my kids get in the way of professional aspirations. But perhaps that is because I've always tempered my professional aspirations in such a way that they exist to support my sons and give them the best life I possibly can while keeping my brain entertained with creating new things and solving challenging problems (challenging problems of a different sort than parenting). I don't pursue professional aspirations and then ask myself, "How can I squeeze my kids into this?"

> I don't pursue professional aspirations and then ask myself, "How can I squeeze my kids into this?"

Brilliant nugget! Thanks.

You can have whatever you really set your mind to have. Male or female, when your time comes, none of these debates matter, and you'll figure out what you need to do.

When my son was born a few months ago, my wife felt a unexpectedly (even to her) strong desire to be home with him as much as possible. She was able to cut her schedule by about 60% -- if that wasn't possible, she would have quit. Fortunately, we have the means to make that decision and not necessity.

Is that sexist? Outdated thinking? Dumb? I don't really care -- we did what was right for us.

This is actually a big part of why I can't take any pleasure from the "bumbling/incompetent husband" stereotype in commercials, sitcoms, etc. It's supposed to pander to women, but it's actually insulting to everyone - insulting to men by implying they are too dumb to handle basic self-care, and insulting to women by implying that housework is their natural domain.

Well, yes, but this situation is largely our own fault.

I know there are plenty of men who want to split domestic chores fifty-fifty and take an equal role in childrearing, and I admire them. But there are plenty more, including myself at times, who have been happy to let our spouses shoulder more than their fair share of domestic work - not because we're deliberately trying to be troglodytes, but because a good portion of domestic work is thankless and uninteresting. So we do things less often and less well than our spouses, usually unconsciously, and eventually things gravitate towards something like an eighty-twenty split. This gets us what we want, but it also gives rise to the incompetent husband stereotype that's bothering the author of this piece.

I've got no idea how to fix this soft bigotry of low expectations, if it can be fixed at all - we obviously don't mind being made fun of for our incompetence at things we don't want to do in the first place. Cultural problems are always the hardest to solve.

>"a good portion of domestic work is thankless and uninteresting"

>"we obviously don't mind being made fun of for our incompetence at things we don't want to do in the first place."

This reminds me of the "protective incompetence" that paul graham talks about in "How to Start a Startup" (http://www.paulgraham.com/start.html):

People who don't want to get dragged into some kind of work often develop a protective incompetence at it. Paul Erdos was particularly good at this. By seeming unable even to cut a grapefruit in half (let alone go to the store and buy one), he forced other people to do such things for him, leaving all his time free for math. Erdos was an extreme case, but most husbands use the same trick to some degree.

To be fair, Paul is far from the first to make such an observation. It has long been called strategic incompetence and is a very common behavior to avoid doing something you don't want to do.

I didn't know the concept had a name. Awesome, thanks.

One way to cure this symptom of patriarchy is to try to stop being a 'troglodyte' as you put it. What would a non-'troglodyte' do?

If you shrug, accept the status quo and say meh, it's a cultural problem you're functionally no different than someone who is completely ignorant of the issue.

Well, yes - I stopped behaving this way a while ago. But I was referring to the difficulty of changing the behavior of people who are not me.

Changing yourself is easy; getting others to want to change themselves is not.

>Changing yourself is easy; getting others to want to change themselves is not.

Yes, and why should we want to change to be like you?

>One way to cure this symptom of patriarchy is to try to stop being a 'troglodyte' as you put it.

"Patriarchy?" Cultural Marxism went out in the 1970s. "Troglodyte?" As a metaphor for a man who works and takes care of his wife and children?

"Ignorant?" No one is "ignorant" of cultural Marxist screeds about "sexism" and "patriarchy." Plenty of people are quite knowledgeable on these issues, but simply reject your kind's often-strange morality and attempts to remake society to conform to bizarre sociological notions from the last century.

Really, burning bras is so last century. Get with the times.

Is the pursuit of equality really something you think of as strange or outdated?

>Is the pursuit of equality really something you think of as strange or outdated?

Labeling your ideology with glittering generalities like the "pursuit of equality" doesn't change the substance. "Equality" was traditionally understood to be "equality under the law" not some vague "social equality" where all social distinctions must be erased.

"Feminism" is clearly not about men and women being equal under the law.

Equality is about far more than just law. It's about having similar expectations for people of both sexes in everything.

Except it's not. Example: women who expect to have custody of their kids no matter what are perfectly reasonable, men who expect to actually be allowed to see their kids are demonstrating their male privilege and acting as though the kids are their property.

This doesn't just apply to non-law areas either. A few years ago the British government consoldated all anti-discrimination law into a single Equality Bill, and as part of this they had a consultation period where interested parties could submit their thoughts. Several really well-known and respected feminist organisations submitted complaints that some local authorities were only offering funding for services to rape and domestic violence survivors if they offered advice to victims of all genders who rang up, and argued that in order to achieve equality the Government should force them to direct all their funding to women-only services. Equality can be used to mean a lot of things.

Just because a person who names herself a feminist doesn't mean she's not also a hypocrite.

Some people are just for stronger rights for women (and should be poo poohed for this stance). Some people are for equal rights for everyone, and similar expectations for everyone.

If you use "equality" to mean "direct all services to women" you not only are misusing the term in the vein of some of the best bullcrap propaganda that came out of Lenin's regime in Russia, you're also a flaming asshole.

Let me put it this way: I have seen prominent feminists label other self-identified feminists as not really feminist because they care too much about male rape victims. I have never seen it happen to anyone because they cared too little about them, for values of "cared too little" up to and including contemplating the systematic mass rape of men in order to teach them what women experience (the feminists in question abandoned the idea because obviously men couldn't really be hurt by being raped, not like women are).

Hell, I've know of one prominent feminist blogger who thinks it'd be a great idea to reclassify anal rape as something that isn't really rape, even when the victims are women, just so that no man could ever claim to have been raped. This still caused infinitely less controversial than treating men as human beings with feelings does.

Yes there are stupid people of every stripe in the world. Do not assume everyone who believes some of what they do is also as stupid.

I do my share of the domestic chores, I don't even mind changing the diapers or feeding my son. However, what I hate is walking around holding him up on my shoulder for hours on end while he is crying.

Unfortunately, I think I let the wife "shoulder" the burden in that case - though I don't pretend incompetence, I just work it out with her in discussions that I'd prefer her to do that and I'll make it up in other ways.

FWIW, I probably do a bit more than half of the housework, I always cook, almost always do dishes (she does them a couple times a month), do all of the yard work/trash, etc and she sweeps, does laundry and cleans the bathrooms. We split everything else.

I think that any couple who has honest, adult communication is already leaps and bounds ahead. Many seem to take tasks for granted based on gender roles. By the time one's gotten to "and then we have a conversation about our individual preferences" things are less likely to be grossly unbalanced.

It's not like women enjoy doing that sort of work more than men. Just suck it up and do it. Otherwise, cultural expectations and your own laziness are just letting you take advantage of your wife.

I don't have kids yet. But I would have a big beef with a relationship in which one person does 80% of the work.

I am mentioning this because you make it appear as if you sit idle while your wife does the work. In our home I take care of the handywork and the nasty work (home maintenance, getting plumbing and sewage to work,...).

If I was working overtime or 2nd job to help support the family I would set that right next to my wives work with the housewife stuff (if that was the arrangement). On the other hand "working overtime" just to hide from doing your part or to "go out with friends" on a regular basis to get away from your family, I consider pretty weak and immature.

I am reminded of Carol Channing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Y7dJrGnEYI&feature=relat...

On the other hand, I don't think we can write off social forces. Starting in school we punish little boys from being "pussies" for doing the kinds of things that make good parents. It continues into the workplace: http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/men/11/2/140/ If every time you do something people treat you worse, you are likely to stop doing that thing even if it might otherwise make us happier.

The best way to change that is to become aware of the dynamic, notice when it is happening, resist and point it out to the people around us. It is a combination of just making these choices ourselves, despite the downsides, and making sure other people don't get to unconsciously punish us for choosing non-traditional paths to happiness. They may still punish us, but they will have to confront their own bigotry to do so.

The rule in our house is that, for work that neither of us wants to do, we do it together.

I had my 15 year wedding anniversary this month, and it's worked pretty well for us. :)

I really noticed that, and it annoys me. My son (20 months old) tends to wake up around 7 or 8am and around 8 or 9pm it is bedtime. So if I were to take on a "normal" job, I would not spend time with my kid at all, except for the weekends (leave house 8am, work from 9 to 6, back home 7 at the earliest). Society assumes that I am fine with that, but I am not.

Still, I'd like to add that at least in our case, in the first year the mother was definitely more important because of the breastfeeding, which really incited a strong bond. But of course not everybody does that.

I think the level of expectation on fathers is still on an upward trend. But getting to parity is probably related to the gender pay gap and whether that's a problem that needs some kind of intervention. In my own family it made sense for me to work full time while my wife took a career break to raise the kids, because I could earn more. But my wife left education with way more qualifications than me so, in theory, could have been earning more by the time we had kids. If what held her back was in any way a cultural legacy that values women less, then we've gone and reinforced it by taking the decision that we did. So maybe there's a chicken and egg issue here.

I recently had an experience that dovetails with this article.

This summer, I moved my family over to London for two months. I intended to work while there, but I was having RSI issues. So instead, I spent two months full time with my kids, the oldest one being a girl of almost 4.

This transition from work to family time was reluctant, but in retrospect was the best thing that happened to me this year. My relationship with my oldest daughter developed and deepened... we are now so much closer than before, she's matured so much since I've been able to focus on her development.

And I was never aware that this deeper relationship was a possibility, and that I was neglecting it in favor of work.

This is a great article. This is what feminism is about. We should not hold modern people to out dated, and wrong ideas of what people can and can't do just because of their gender. Society has moved on a bit and we now no longer have discussions about whether a woman can be a CEO, we're starting to move towards this way with men & parenting.

If you're a man and you agree with this article, just watch for the next person to complain about "feminists" or "feminazis" or "political correctness gone mad". That person wants to keep you in a box and doesn't think you can be a father.

I agree with your sentiment about what feminism is at its best but you're sugar coating the historical facts. 2nd wave feminism approaches gender roles as a zero sum game. They systematically marginalize any perspective on males that doesn't frame men as oppressors.

Yes, there are authentic strands of feminism and yes they can be inclusive of the male perspective. But these strands also co-exist in the context of hateful ideologies. Worse, good feminists form in-group social cohesion with hateful zealots in the hope of "supporting their sisters". There's really no room for men in such a hostile environment.

You sure about "2nd wave"? '2nd wave' feminism is usually for things like "It should be illegal to pay men and women differently for the same work", etc. Most of that battle has been won to most people. What's currently going on is sometimes called "3rd wave feminism".

As for your theory that 'good feminists' stick with 'hateful zealots' in solidatory, that's not borne out by evidence. There is loads of infighting within all groups, including feminists. Some feminist groups are pro-prostitution and pro-pornography, some think pornography and prostitution should be banned. Some feminist groups welcome trans women, some ban them (e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michigan_Womyns_Music_Festival ).

(This infighting isn't unique to feminism, it happens in lots of communities. Just look at why we have both 'Open Source' and 'Free Software' (i.e. a split))

For the most part, even the feminist groups who welcome trans women are more accepting of feminists who consider trans women to be subhuman than they are of anyone who objects to those feminists. This is even true when, for example, the feminists in question have managed to get the law amended specifically so that the rape counselling services they run can turn away trans women who've been raped.

The issues of prostitution and pornography are even more interesting - most of the sex-positive feminists who fought against those being banned are still involved in much the same kinds of sex-positive activism as they always were, but they're not doing it from within the feminist movement for some reason, whereas the feminists trying to get them banned are part of the feminist mainstream.

they're not doing it from within the feminist movement for some reason, whereas the feminists trying to get them banned are part of the feminist mainstream.

You claim that the sex-positive people who you agree with don't call themselves feminists, but those that do things you don't like are called feminists, and hence it's OK to dislike all "feminists".

Except that's not true.

Example: "SlutWalks" ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SlutWalk ) are protests where people walk/march around in revelaing/slutty clothes to protest at people who blame rape victims for getting raped based on they dress. It started in Toronto. What do the organisers of this call themselves ( http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/about/who ): "Heather Jarvis is a queer feminist activist. … Laura McLean is a feminist who … Erika is a sex-positive feminist who … ".

Sorry, but "feminism" can be pro-sex (or anti-sex or pro-porn or anti-porn, it's like trying to argue if GPL is less free or less free than BSD licence).

So there is something like a implicit cultural hypothesis that women are better at raising kids at an early age. Anecdotally, women seem to be preferred in custody cases.

Is there any actual science supporting or refuting that?

>Anecdotally, women seem to be preferred in custody cases.

"Fathers who actively seek custody obtain either primary or joint physical custody over 70% of the time. Reports indicate, however, that in some cases perceptions of gender bias may discourage fathers from seeking custody and stereotypes about fathers may sometimes affect case outcomes. In general, our evidence suggests that the courts hold higher standards for mothers than fathers in custody determinations."


As I recall, fathers are discouraged from seeking primary custody without strong justification (by the advice their divorce lawyers give them, by not being able to afford a divorce lawyer at all, by the fear of losing all access to their kids if they kick up a fuss...) so the cases where they do seek custody are going to be biased towards ones where the mother's abusive or otherwise unfit. The study doesn't seem to investigate whether this is the case.

Also, I'd be interested to see actual methodological details. For instance, it talks about women being unable to get adjustments in payments to which they're entitled. Did they bother to investigate whether men have the same problem? They don't mention it if they do, and anecdotally they do seem to have difficulty getting their payments adjusted down if they lose their job and can no longer afford to pay as much. To be honest, I reckon this study is kind of biased in terms of what questions it actually asks.

That number is just plain weird.

1. It attempts to draw a comparison but only offers one number. If mothers who actively seek custody obtain either primary or joint physical custody over 95% of the time, there's still bias at work.

2. It lumps primary custody in with joint custody. There's a lot of room for disparity between those two numbers.

3. It doesn't show how men who fervently seek custody stack up against women who don't particularly go out of their way to get custody. If women have to do less to be awarded custody, that would weigh against their conclusion.

I'm not claiming any of these are the case (really, I have no clue), but this paper doesn't really show its work, which makes it hard to evaluate.

In 1990 a judiciary investigated itself and found no evidence of bias against men only women. Conveniently that was the socially correct opinion at the time.

Joint physical custody just means that there is regular visitation. So saying "primary or joint" covers all fathers that see their kids regularly.

That quote really says that 30% of fathers actively seeking regular time with their children were denied the right to parent their children. I wonder what percentage of mothers were denied regular parenting time?

Seeing as humans are mammals, there might be a biological argument which could be raised.


Any study is going to be confounded by the cultural training received, but this one concluded that among American women and men:

"Average differences favor women over men, but parenting skills are not dichotomous or exclusive. The gender of parents correlates in novel ways with parentchild relationships but has minor significance for children’s psychological adjustment and social success."

Well, it used to be the case that it was much easier to determine the biological mother vs the father (excepting cases where babies were accidentally switched at birth).

I don't know if it's based on culture or laws, but this article doesn't really ring true to me as a Swede. My father, like many (probably not most though) fathers I know, spent as much time home with the children as the mothers did. As I intend to as well when the time comes. It is very possible for both parents to keep up their professional careers if the burden is split between them, I think.

From what I recall, Sweden has very different cultural and legal norms around male parenting than the rest of the world - for instance, their paternity leave laws are much more friendly to fathers who want to stay at home and look after the baby so the mum can return to work than in most other countries.

Its great to put such an emphasis on being there for your kid. But this is definitely a 1st-world issue. The family has to have money to function; many places the employed parent has to work diligently to accomplish this. Kind thoughts about being there for the spelling bee or ball game are cute; but the job has to come first or its all down the drain.

The article is about caregiving fathers; what if the employed parent is the mother, or the couple are gay and the child is adopted?

Why should the 'present' father get medals for doing things every mother is expected to do?

I remember reading the original article and thinking that we're slowly moving toward a situation where you could just replace "women" with "men". I've scaled back on my career because I have two small children, and I can't leave the house before 7:30 or get home much after 6pm if I want to stay involved to the extent I choose to be as a father. I want to help them with homework, music practice, sports, and just spend some time with them.

Now a lot of people may notice that I (very deliberately) used the word choose. Not everyone will make this choice, and some people have a tougher time with a choice than others. But as I remember from the Atlantic article, the author did have a husband who was available and willing to provide a very high level of domestic support. She wrote, with some hesitation, that she things women may be less inclined to spend time away from their families and at the office even when they do have this level of support (she cited both social conditioning as well as the possibility of basic biology as a factor in this).

I don't know if I'm unusual. I actually argued about this with my wife, who insists that I'm unusually at ease, as a male, with stepping back from my career to do domestic things. Personally, I have trouble believing that I am especially unusual, and I definitely know plenty of men who have made the same choice I did. Yeah, I can't have it all. If I want to limit work to 8:30am to 5:30pm, and at times have to shorten even those hours, that will affect my career. At times, I do look at other people's achievements with some envy, but I'm clear that this was my choice. I can't have it all, of course I can't. There are trade-offs in life.

There are of course still some big differences for women - I do think that it's probably harder for a woman to find a male partner who will fill the domestic gap than it is for a man to find a woman who will do this (though even if they do, they'll still have to accept the "understudy" role as a parent as they spend more time at the office than their husbands). If there truly is a deeper, biological pull here for women on average, then maybe we should look into better "on ramps" for people in their 40s (the author said she is frequently asked about this, and her honest answer is that there aren't really any good on ramps for middle aged people, at least not in her field).

I still see differences between men and women around the question of whether we can "have it all", but this does seem to be converging - and ultimately the answer will be "no, you can't."

Health, Family, Career - pick 2

This is a false trilemma for only a privileged few. If you have unusually healthy genes, an unusually supportive family, or an unusually cushy job, consider yourself lucky! Both men and women need to make the same tough decisions to find balance in their life -- it's not a gender thing.

"it’s patriarchy that says men are stupid and monolithic and unchanging and incapable. It’s patriarchy that says men have animalistic instincts and just can’t stop themselves from harassing and assaulting. It’s patriarchy that says men can only be attracted by certain qualities, can only have particular kinds of responses, can only experience the world in narrow ways. Feminism holds that men are capable of more - are more than that. Feminism says that men are better than that"

(The source, http://zeroatthebone.wordpress.com/2011/11/22/on-claiming-to..., isn't entirely relevent, although it's conculsion is)

I think I know why women assume men can't raise kids. As we all know, at some point the biological alarm clock starts ringing in a majority of women's ears and they want to be a mother. The urge is probably such that they see it as a job that they want to do for themselves, and that a husband taking care of the child is removing them from that which they want to do, similar to a temp being hired to do part of your programming for you. I'm not speaking about all women, of course, just the ones that make comments insinuating fathers are incapable of being a primary caregiver.

"As we all know, at some point the biological alarm clock starts ringing in a majority of women's ears and they want to be a mother."

I have no idea if this is common, or if I'm a rare exception, or perhaps if it's linked with being gay, but I'm a guy who feels that.

Anyone else (male) here, or just me?

I've felt it recently. And I'm not gay, either. Like others have mentioned, it's not a "bio-clock is ticking" deal(I'm 25. And a dude.), but more a desire to help my kids grow and be happy. That's kind of weird because I don't have kids, but whatever.

That said, I'm not married, and startup life doesn't mix well with single parenthood, were I to adopt.

Do you mean you just have a strong feeling like you want to have kids, or like you want to fulfill the role of a mother? I know there's definitely guys who at some point have a strong urge to have kids, but i'm not sure if it's the same.

To have kids. By "fulfill the role of a mother" do you just mean "be the stay at home parent"? If so, then I don't have a particular preference, I'd be happy to but would be fine working as well.

I can't think of a single male friend (of ones I've talked about this sort of thing with) who feels the same way, in terms of they'd hate to go through life without having kids. Plenty who are happy to have kids, or would like to some day, or whatever, but none in quite the same way.

The difference is the "alarm clock" refers to the oft-too-rapidly approaching date of menopause. You on the other hand, as a guy, have no "expiration date".

But does that necessarily mean it's impossible for a guy to have the same reaction to hormones as a woman does, or does it just mean that when he does there's no biological logic to it?

edit: That said, while we may not have menopause, we do still have death in our future, so I guess it would still make biological sense, just as much as deriving pleasure from sex does.

Given that we have less energy as we get older, the risk of birth defects goes up with older fathers and we only live so long I would be surprised if there was an evolutionary advantage to men not feeling an urgent desire to raise children.

I had that. It's why I've been a stay-at-home dad for the last 2 and a half years.

So the author of this post is offended that a man can get a cookie for just being a father? That somehow getting extra attention for doing what many mothers do daily is a wrong?

Men CAN have it all. There is nothing stopping a father from pursuing parenthood full time. Fathers can ignore the negative stereotypes of men being awful caregivers and may in fact be praised for being a parent at all. The social expectation that men won't be involved in parenting is not a barrier to parenting in many cases, as few people will question your agency as a father if you choose to be more dedicated to your children.

Women have a much worse time dealing with social expectations and institutions regarding parenting. It is not that society feels that women are superior parents or are more capable of caring for children, but rather that a woman's primary purpose is to execute this role. Unless you have tremendous resources, your life's passion and having a family are mutually exclusive for many mothers. Women are expected to take on domestic responsibility and work the second shift at a much higher rate then men, so these issues affect them much more than men.

Defeating gender stereotypes in regards to parenting will help both men and women do as they please and raise their children as they wish, but let's not kid and declare that there is a need to focus on men when women are the most impacted in regards to this kind of sexism and are the least able to be free from it.

let's not kid and declare that there is a need to focus on men when women are the most impacted in regards to this kind of sexism and are the least able to be free from it.

"We've demonstrated that women can do what men do, but not yet that men can do what women do. That's why most women have two jobs - one inside the home and one outside it - which is impossible. The truth is that women can't be equal outside the home until men are equal in it." Gloria Steinem

Making men equal partners in parenting isn't going to happen by focussing on only one of the parents.

I can see why someone would disagree with this but downvoting it seems unreasonable - it's a fairly nuanced statement...

I think the downvotes were because Peter Chin never suggested that we should focus on men to the exclusion of women, he's attacking a straw man.

I feel that Mr. Chin's article does argue for a focus on men to the exclusion of women. The premise is that men don't have full autonomy or freedom due to the way society feels about men, parenting, and care giving. I very much disagree with this sentiment, as men as a gender do not suffer negative consequences as a parent despite being seen as less competent at being one.

The article implies a false equivalency between the harm done to men and women in regards to gender roles and stereotypes over parenting when this is simply not the case. I argue that this piece serves as a form of derailment that, in response to a discussion focused on women, seeks to move the discussion away from women and on to men. This kind of writing implicitly argues in favor of male point of view to the exclusion of female point of view.


"We are saying, it's okay for fathers to neglect their families, as long as they bring home the bacon. No. It's not."

Did you even read the article? This is the exact point he's making.

I think you need to read the article again...

If I recall correctly, wasn't the reason Jeff Atwood (codinghorror) stepped down from active work on StackExchange owing to spending more time with his children?

I'd be interested to know his view on this article.

Edit: Also, my PhD supervisor went part-time after he became a father. But these are the only two examples I can think of of professional men making a career sacrifice for spending more time as a parent.

Disclaimer: I'm not married and I don't have children.

Truly having it all (defined as having a stimulating and powerful career while being fully present in your children's lives) is difficult for anyone: women and men. There's only so much time in the day and if you want to have any type of powerful career, that will usually mean some sort of irregular hours that will mean missing important moments in a child's life. Likewise, prioritizing childcare over a career will mean missing some important moments to build a career. You couldn't go speak at that conference or stay late to build a feature or invest the weekend to come up with the new killer product. Maybe you had to miss important meetings because you had a sick child that needed to go to the doctor or couldn't do the business trip to close a deal.

The people who seem to "have it all" are usually wealthy with a flexible job (like famous actors). Their secret is they have a whole lot of help. We never hear about Angelina Jolie's nannies, professional chefs, drivers, and cleaning staff making it possible for her to "have it all". But she probably couldn't otherwise, she'd have to choose.

I'll admit that there are likely some people who really do seem to "have it all". But let's also admit that they're the anomalies. For most mere mortals, there seems to be a balance requiring a choice. As a society, we'll move towards equality when we can respect people for the choices they make instead of trying to wedge them into the mold that we want and without judging them.

My mother was an Ivy educated professional who left the workforce to take care of her children. It would be very sad if she were judged poorly for not attempting to "have it all", because in truth it was a great gift to her children. I've always respected her for her decision. Though there were times when my father couldn't be present, he's always said that not being able to spend time with his children when they were young was one of his big regrets. His sacrifice to provide for my family even though he couldn't always be there was a great gift too and deserves respect.

As employers, there are things we can do that can certainly make it easier for people on our teams who choose to be more involved in their children's lives (like daycare, good healthcare, flex time, days to work from home, etc.), but very often startups forego these amenities to extend the runway.

It's still a relatively new idea in our civilization that men and women would share equally in raising children. Equally new is the idea that we'd have two middle class parents in the workforce attempting to have high powered careers. I see progress all around us, moving more slowly than we'd hope, but generally going in the right direction.

But I think that "having it all" as a standard may be hurtful to people who can't. Everyone's circumstances are different and perhaps we should just respect people for the choices they make and for doing the best they can.

Here's a tangent from yesterday's HN frontpage article about fasting and programming...I still don't think that the rigors of fatherhood, on average, are as demanding as that of motherhood, for a very simple fact: women are effectively supporting, through their lifeblood, another lifeform within them for 7-9 months before they're thrust into parenthood. So in that sense, they have a headstart in the race-to-give-it-up for the child.

(please emphasize the on average part in the above statement...obviously, fathers have the opportunity to more than make up for this once the child has left the birth canal)

How many articles do we see on HN about how important it is to get regular exercise, sleep, etc. in order to become the best hacker you can be? It's tough to do that for even young men out of college...how much harder is it to maintain that while pregnant?

I see a few flaws with the author's analysis:

The first is the premise that that which a father does for his family outside of the home does not count toward "caregiving". Being successful in a career puts a roof over a child's head, provides him with material comforts, creates educational opportunities, and establishes a positive role-model. It may not be a romantic sentiment, but I wouldn't exchange all that my father provided for me growing up (nice home, good schools, help with tuition, good example of professionalism, etc) for him changing my diapers or playing catch with me a few more times than he did.

In many ways, a man does right by his family by focusing on his career. The same can be true of a woman. Ultimately, there is a set of requirements for raising a child - among these, physical proximity with a caregiver, instruction, affection, socialization, and all of the material necessities, such as housing, food, and health care. How parents divvy up the provisioning of these things is up to each couple, however in my experience, a division of labor (as opposed to doing everything 50-50) is often more practical.

This whole conversation is sort of silly since no gender and no individual can ever "have it all". Life requires compromise - saying no to some things we want in exchange for a higher value. No man or woman can put in 100 hours of work as a CEO captain of industry, and simultaneously spend 8 hours a day reading to their kids. Both spheres of life demand time, a finite resource, and thus it is up to parents to strike a balance.

The other issue I have with the author's analysis is the "ought." The "ought" is the idea that 50-50 (fathers and mothers having an equal focus on child-rearing and career) is a thing to aspire to for our society. This relies on the assumption that there is no meaningful difference between men and women that should allow for this, or at least the assumption that if such a difference exists, it ought to be resisted. I disagree. There are benefits to many of our biologically and culturally based gender norms, and we should embrace the productive ones that relate to child-rearing.

Men have been making this trade-off for centuries. It's self evident to us that the world works this way. That's why we don't write articles about it. When reading similar articles from women lamenting this trade-off, the response is a resounding "what did you expect?"

Yes, it is self-evident to us men that the world works this way, because we as men designed it that way. The vast majority of societies in human history have been patriarchal, with men making the rules. These rules have, until recently, included things like "women cannot work" and "women cannot vote." And because this has been like this for a long time, we (men) have accepted it as normal and don't see a need to write articles about it.

But times are changing. Gender equality has huge societal and economic benefits, and is a goal worth striving for. To make progress in this arena, we must challenge the status quo. Articles like this are a good way of raising public awareness about the issues that come up.

Other countries are ahead of the USA in this matter. For example in Norway the parents' money is reduced if the father refuses to stay at home for a certain time.

That's quite an effective measure, people actually do expect both parents to stay at home for a while.

The thing he doesn't seem to touch on is the fact that the barriers to being a good parent and the barriers to being a successful professional are different, and different per gender.

The only thing he claims is preventing men from being good parents are societal expectations. Which I agree should be different. But, still, any man, myself included, could decide to become a stay-at-home dad and successfully raise children to the best of their abilities, and nothing could stop that.

And that's substantively different from what can prevent women from being successful in the professional world. That success can be halted by tangible external forces, like institutional sexism.

agreed. very well written though, and to be honest, if we (as a society) right some wrongs in the area of male family roles, some of this will balance out on its own.

honestly i think that could be a really effective approach to battling institutional sexism. i think entitlement and empowerment are very different, and male entitlement is behind a lot of institutional sexism IMO. empowering men is an important factor here. a man empowered to be a great, engaged, responsible father will help to alleviate societal pressures on women--at least it'll be a wonderful start. don't you think?

in any case, this article was definitely refreshing! cool point of view.

Thanks Peter Chin for a thoughtful piece. I have come across so many friends who grew up in a family where "my dad was never really there". Society seems to put more pressure on males (and increasingly, females) to succeed (and make more money for corporations) than to be good parents.

Did someone manage to grab the text from this article? I couldn't find a cached version.

I don't understand the strong insistence on having children that so many people have. Can anyone explain why this is such a big deal?

Similarly, I don't understand the strong insistence on having sex that so many people have. Can anyone explain why this is such a big deal?


Fighting against natures clear and obvious intent of gender roles will not ever lead to a happier and more fulfilled life.

I tried: My wife and I both got Ph.D. degrees intending to have two careers, do well financially, and, with money in the bank, have a family.

In four words, it did not work.

A longer description is, eventually the evidence became overwhelming: Mother Nature and Darwin were there long before we were and very much did not want us doing that, and they were very strong minded about this: She struggled and struggled; the struggles caused stress, eventually the stress caused depression; the depression made the struggles and stress worse and caused severe depression; and that was fatal. No joke. Her Ph.D. had been a big investment that got 'written off'.

Or couples that could have done what we tried just were not among our ancestors. All this is in spite of what is commonly said would, could, and should be.

Thus, I suggest: In simple terms, Mother Nature and Darwin have arranged that without certainty but with high probability in practice and significantly on average a 'professional woman' is a weak, sick, or dead limb on the tree. Sorry 'bout that. Wish I'd known that earlier.

How could this "weak, sick, dead" stuff be? Here's a guess: In our 'culture' from the past few thousand or ten thousand years, women nearly never had opportunities to pursue a 'profession' and became wives and mommies whether they really, consciously or otherwise, wanted to or not. So, our 'nature', 'nurture'. 'social and psychological capital', and 'culture', or whatever, from the past kept the tree growing while, still, a significant fraction of the women didn't want to be just wives and mommies.

So, what's different now? Now the US society and economy have changed giving many women an opportunity to pursue a career or profession, and, with significantly high probability, these women are removing their genes from the gene pool.

E.g., in Finland, women are encouraged to pursue careers, and on average the number of children born to a woman in Finland is about 1.5. So, let's see: For some simple arithmetic, with one generation of 25 years, after 150 years the population will fall by

     100 * (1 - ( 1.5 / 2 ) ** 6 ) = 82.2%
So in the last 150 years or so Finland beat back the Swedes, Nazis, and Soviets but in the next 150 years are on track to lose out to careers for women!

This situation is common across Europe: The gene pool is being severely pruned. In simple terms, Europe is rapidly going extinct.

My guess is that the European gene pool is now in the period of most rapid change in at least the last 10,000 years.

Darwin stands to win this one: What will be left will be women who really, REALLY want to be mommies in good families.

Darwin has more to say: The situation for men is not easy, either: For the tree to do well, men have to be good providers, good enough that their wives can concentrate on doing well in motherhood. Some men are successful, and some are not -- Darwin again!

Without some big and chancy changes in work and families, thoughts about would, could, and should be pale to insignificance as Darwin wins again.

Or, it's not nice to try to fool Mother Nature!

Maybe in Finland and most of Europe, by the time the population falls by, say, 75% from now the new gene pool, 'culture', etc. that emphasizes motherhood along with the more favorable ratio of land to people will cause the population to stabilize and, then, start to grow again. Maybe.

This is a Christian evangelical magazine. I find the trend of increasing evangelism on HN to be mildly disturbing. Can we please refrain from using HN for religious evangelism? This does not constitute a form of repression for Christians, rather it preserves freedom for everyone who isn't Christian or who is Christian but doesn't believe in evangelism through every channel available.

Is the type of magazine more important than the article content? The subject of male bias in programming, work balance, brogrammers, etc. comes up here all the time. This article fits right in.

That is an ad hominem attack. The article mentions nothing of religion, it stands alone. How many articles that you read are written by the religious, probably more than you realize.

No, I was talking about the publication. "Ad hominem" means "to the man." Your implication that I am bigoted against religious people is an example of ad hominem.

I am a religious person. That religion happens not to be Christianity. Obviously, I have no problem with religious people and I have no problem with reading things written by religious people.

I am asking for HN to not be used as a channel for evangelism. We don't see Muslims posting da'wah here or Scientologists offering their pitches, so I don't know why Christianity is the exception (except that it is the cultural majority).

Replace 'man' with 'publication' and it still stands. Ad hominem in the abstract is attacking the messenger/venue vs the message itself.

I'm not saying your bigoted, I'm saying your attacking this article because you disagree about where it was voiced since you feel HN should be a religion free zone.

This isn't a religious or evangelical message. It could of been written in a secular feminist publication and it wouldn't be out of place. It could of been an article on the blog of Imam Khomeni, where %90 of the posts are about the supremacy of Islam, it wouldn't matter.

I think it has something to do with tits?

> Now, tell me how that is any different or less insulting than telling a women the opposite: "Sure, you're a good mother, but you're not cut out to be a CEO."

This is disingenuous. The answer is because modern men don't aspire to become good parents nearly as much as modern women aspire to holding top-level positions.

I do agree with the necessity to change the stereotype of the clumsy dad, but to bring that to the same level as that of women fighting for equality in the workplace is utterly unfair - it is by far a much Bigger Deal for modern women.

PS: If you have never seen a competent woman having frequent nervous breakdowns after putting in a disproportionate amount of work just to climb a ladder that most average men do with ease, you probably won't understand the difference.

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