I walked into the kitchen a few minutes ago to grab a quick mug of chamomile before heading to bed. Overhearing talk on the television of a famous clip from Ray Romano trying to put out a fire in the kitchen caught my attention and I popped into the living room to see what program my mother was caught up in.
She was watching a reflection on family sitcoms over the past few years and the family roles being played. The clip of Ray trying to put out the fire started when his wife asked him to go grocery shopping. He brought home the wrong type of tissue. Not a big deal, but “not the kind we normally get.” Not having the ability to perform small tasks correctly affected his manhood. To prove his ability, he began to make dinner for himself leaving the tissue box a little too close to the stove causing a fire. His attempt to put it out failed miserably as the garden hose he dragged in from outside simply did not reach. His wife, in a strong show of bravado and quick wits rushes in, grabs the fire extinguisher from a lower cabinet and puts out the flames within moments. The water flow from Ray’s hose quickly diminishes as does his manhood.
A few points are brought up after this by various actors and their opinions on the role of the husband/father. Things are not what they used to be. The man used to provide for the family, but not take part in the household chores or be as involved in their kids lives. Today, men are expected to support the family, make it to every little league game as well as assist in the household chores.
Most of the commentators on the program were men and found this to be a very challenging task. Bringing the concept to my mother’s attention, she agreed, stating that it is difficult to manage all these things when working a full-time, stressful job.
I brought up the point that while the role has changed for men, it has also changed for women. Most women are now working full-time jobs, still running the entire household and raising the children. It is not crazy to expect the man to assist in minor household chores and to be supportive of their children.
My mother’s counterpoint focused on the fact that many women do not necessarily need to work. That commercial America has made couples want more and more out of life (material things) and this forces both partners to work in order to make even more money to compensate for wants and desires. Or, the women simply choose to work for whatever personal reasons.
It is my thought that considering the current state of the economy, both partners feel obligated to hold a job in case the other loses theirs or to compensate for the money lost in the markets. With the rising costs of college tuition and the need for a private high school education as most US public schools are poorly run, the extra income can go a long way for their children’s well-being. As for women needing the sense of independence, take a look at the divorce rates. I myself would not want to risk being out of the job market for 5+ years to raise a family when the chances of being divorced and forced back into immediate employment are just shy of 40% continuing to increase. There is also pressure from husbands to work. That pressure did not exist when my mother was getting married. Today, husbands like to see their wives being productive and successful. They certainly don’t want them to make more money than they do, but there is a level of expectation to be with someone successful who cares about their career.
Call me a cynic if you will as most of this is a very dark outlook on the fate of America’s women and families, but realize that I am in a very happy and loving relationship and expect that to continue to grow and blossom. I am also not a feminist. Just sharing my point of view. I’d truly love to hear some other ideas if anyone feels strongly enough to offer input. The program also continued to discuss the role of the gay male couple on Modern Family and the adoption of their child. I was more focused on the working wife / new ideals for the father deal. Let me know your thoughts!