Hathor the Cow Goddess posted a blog entry directing readers to a petition titled "Husband on Strike is Wrong" urging moms and dads who believe in family bed and attachment parenting to sign. The petition was a response to a story making the rounds about a mistreated Michigan patriarch who had started a blog called "Husband on Strike" to chronicle ongoing actions he was staging on the roof of his house and in his yard. The site of his resistance? His wife was spoiling their children, ages 2 and 3 months, and ignoring his feelings. Hence, the creation of the National Association of Desperate Husbands. His personal demands?
- The master bedroom must be a child-free zone. The three-month-old, Jayla, falls asleep in bed with his wife, says he, forcing him to retreat to the couch.
- Continuing with the bedroom theme, it must be his and his wife's "place of escape" instead of a "dungeon filled with diapers."
- Dates with his wife and no kids. He wanted to to go to a fancy restaurant without the kids for their fifth anniversary, but she wasn't going for it. I'm sure it had nothing to do with the fact that her infant was breastfeeding.
- Earlier bedtimes. The 2-year-old, James, sometimes retires around 11:30 p.m. His wife, who works a day job as a social worker, likes that because she gets time with James. The husband, who works from home as a marketer, wants his wife all to himself.
James found the media attention gratifying: , "“I feel like, wow, in 24 hours, I was a king, helping families and inspiring men."
The only trouble was, in his multiple interviews, he failed to mention that in 1995 he pled guilty to second-degree criminal sexual conduct, meaning his name turned up on a search of the Michigan Sexual Offender Registry. He said that shouldn't matter; he became a born-again Christian and changed his life, so all that stuff is in the past, a relic of his misspent youth. Heck, everybody knows born-again Christian men are beyond reproach.
I think the best and safest place in the world for these children is in the arms of their mother with their dad on the couch. I think that when you have babies and children, there IS no place of escape from them for a few years, including the bedroom, especially the bedroom, whether it's a dungeon full of diapers or no. I think a working mother of a 2-year-old and an infant might not find the idea of, say, expressing breast milk, assembling bottles, binkies, diapers, in diaper bags, and hiring a babysitter so as to go to dinner alone with husband all that appealing. To a dinner lasting two hours, max, she is mentally adding an hour and a half on each end, first to gather and assemble babies and baby artifacts, afterwards to retrieve babies from the sitter's, stash them into carseats when they are sleeping, tired, or crabby, then haul them home, change their diapers, feed them, and whatever else, the "whatever else" including the phenomena familiar to mothers wherein babies awakened and driven home late in the evening think they already had their sleep for the night and arrive home ready to play!
I think it's entirely typical that a man who would create that particular list of demands also would assume his past as a sex offender should be irrelevant. It doesn't surprise me that he felt the call to reach out to men everywhere who are similarly persecuted and neglected; he is probably hearing every Sunday at church all about the way husbands are priests in their homes and about women's duty to be godly women and mothers who guard the sanctity of the marital bed from the onslaught of rampaging offspring (especially while the couple is engaging in possibly creating yet more offspring). What is really striking to me is, this is a stunt a woman would never, could never pull, or be able to pull off. First, because it's still the rarest of husbands who would ever want the amount of time with their infants and toddlers that this mom wanted; second, because women know how much time and energy are involved in parenting infants and toddlers; three, because a woman staging that kind of protest would be instantly marked as a Bad Mother, denounced in the media and, if applicable, possibly disciplined by her church. Fourth, because a woman who had any history as a sex offender (even though most woman sex offenders are actually prostituted women, not predators) would take for granted she'd be outed immediately, the news shouted from the mountaintops, with horrible results not only for her but for her children, who would now have to navigate life with everyone knowing their parent is a perv and a perp. Women think about these things. Men rarely do. It always seems to me that it's around issues of parenting that the ongoing subordination of women to men continues to be most visible, most obvious.