Househusbands: Empowering or Emasculating? Real Men Speak
Say the word “housewife” and no one bats an eyelid. Try saying “househusband” and watch them go “What? Is there such a thing?” The house is traditionally believed to be the woman’s turf. She’s in charge of all the cooking, cleaning, picking children from school, running errands, gardening and the works while her husband leaves for work every day.
In most societies, this is the norm. Many career women have sacrificed their ambitions and chosen to nest instead. But what if the roles reverse? Will men be comfortable settling for a less glorious domestic role while their wives bring home the bacon?
It’s not entirely uncommon. A small yet significant number of men have no qualms holding fort at home while their women work. It’s a heartening sign that gender roles are becoming flexible.
This, however, shouldn’t be confused with the case of involuntary househusbands where men who lost their jobs have to depend on the working wives financially. According to a 1985 article by P Susan Penfold in the Canadian Medical Association, this situation can lead to tension between the spouses and family breakdown.
The modern househusband or stay-at-home dad is someone who becomes the main homemaker and caregiver to children voluntarily and the woman the breadwinner. This type of marital arrangement can rise out of choice or necessity. But what do real men thing about being a househusband?
What real people think
Rohan, 28, is quite comfortable with the idea. “You see, when I started dating my wife, she was older than me and financially independent. I was fresh out of college and for a while she earned more than I did. There were times she gave me pocket money. Although both of us are working, if there comes a time when I have to take care of the household chores, I will be ok with it,” he says.
Says Nitin: “I honestly think I will be very happy with it. Who doesn’t want to stay at home with pets or their kids? I am a good cook and I would enjoy cooking for her when she comes home. The best part is I can have some ‘me’ time, exploring my hobbies. Some men may think I am crazy, but I am being practical.”
Hrishikesh, 32, isn’t too excited about the prospects of being a stay-at-home dad. “I don’t want to sound like a chauvinist, but there are things that my wife does better than me. She can manage finances, cook and take care of children and still seem composed. Leave me with the kids for an hour and I am a mess. Plus, I may go insane without having any kind of job,” he shrugs.
Terrence, 49, seconds the thought. “Not that I am lazy or anything. But it’s my nature to be a provider. I can’t ask my wife for money for spending. It’s a little embarrassing for me. Sorry,” he says.
We also asked the women if they’d be ok with men taking up domestic responsibilities.
Says Smitha, 35, “I dread to think of the state of my house if I leave my husband in charge. I am all for empowerment, but he’s quite sh***y when it comes to handling the house. He’s got a terrible sense of hygiene and less said about his cooking skills the better. Personally, it’s a no from me.”
Nikhat, 23, differs: “I’d love it! Not only will it relieve me from doing household work, but it will also give me an open-minded partner who doesn’t care about gender roles. Now to find such a man, that’s a task!”
This Redditor writes from experience: “My husband and I realized that he was in a bad place in his career a year ago, so he quit and I was the sole breadwinner. We tried the ‘househusband’ thing, along with sending him back to school but after a year we found he is truly most happy when working. I’d rather have him happy, so, back to work he went (at a much better job of course). Do what makes you happy!”
Men (and women) are slowly warming up to the idea of a stay-at-home dad. Changing modern day needs and gender roles are paving way for this change. It’s only a matter of time before househusband becomes the norm.