Mother’s Day brought out a sort of history, unintentionally emphasizing that oddly untethered view of time and society comic strips offer, so let’s pick on Luann (AMS).
She’s a good character to launch the topic, because she’s one of those loveable cartoon airheads, and, in this case, has absorbed the current pop culture concept that women can simply choose to be CEOs or astronauts or President.
When I was directing young writers, I told them that, if some celebrity they were interviewing told them to “follow your dreams,” they should ask how that person did that. Get a career ladder. Show the steps. We want advice, not cliches.
Even when my kids were little, in the 70s, being a “stay at home mom” was very often a delay, not a career choice, and there were far fewer women who remained at home after their youngest was in full-time school.
Part of that is economic. In our wage-slave economy, it’s hard to make it without two paychecks.
And even if you don’t have fatuous CEO/astronaut/presidential goals, you’d better have something in mind that pays more than the cost for after-school child care or what’s the point?
Speaking of cost-of-living, it bugs the hell out of me to hear Realtors interviewed about how absurdly housing prices are rising. It’s not like they’re talking sellers out of it, or cutting their commissions to keep mortgages reasonable.
Though the other side of that is that “Realtor” is a common career for cartoon moms, who seamlessly fit it in between baking cookies and soccer games.
Having written about real estate for a number of years, I promise you that Realtors who make money don’t have time to make cookies.
Bringing us to this
Juxtaposition of the Day
As part of yesterday’s Mother’s Day road trip, I got to hear a lot of NPR discussions about how working women are still saddled with domestic duties, and there is an element of “Not All Men!” that springs to my lips.
But I was locked in for 540 miles, a captive audience forced to hear the entire topic play out.
Pickles is a strip that intentionally targets older readers with an affectionate look at a couple who established their lives in a bygone world, but even there we have room for a poke at the guys who think they’re heroes for making insignificant efforts.
These are the guys who dislocate their shoulders patting themselves on the back for taking the kids to the park for an hour, or who “do the grocery shopping” by spending the entire trip on their phones asking what brand of canned tomatoes their wife wanted, and is diced different than pulped or did you mean sauce?
It’s highly akin to the subconscious tactic of doing such an incompetent job that you won’t be asked to do it again.
Betty delves into that world more critically: Betty is a modern pink-collar woman who loves her husband but has to drag him out of his own old-school world.
Bub is a good guy who will get it if forced to but isn’t likely to depart from habit on his own.
And I think it’s fair to say that most Hunters don’t have the same need for order as most Gatherers.
I’m not attempting anthropology here, but even a guy who buses his own dishes may leave cupboard doors open or socks on the floor and think nothing of it.
Yeah, “Not All Men.”
Forget it, Bro. That phrase isn’t gonna get you through this.
I had a GF who handled the dishes issue with aplomb. After we’d eaten and discussed all the problems of the world, she’d say, “Well, let’s get these dishes done so we can watch some TV.”
She didn’t order me to the sink and she didn’t get into some bogus argument about who cooked and she didn’t exercise Betty’s semi-indirect direct style. She simply laid out what should happen next in an inviting, conversational way that didn’t invite contradiction.
I often miss her, but, then again, this Hunter now gets to leave the dishes until he runs out of forks.
But Brevity brings us up to date, because that Jack-of-all-Trades may still indeed be a master of none, but at least he’s pitching in.
The pandemic has really brought forward the inequity of having kids home and in zoom classes, along with other elements that emphasize the remaining gender gaps and the need for husbands and fathers to step up, even — by the way — when there isn’t a plague.
Granted, it is fair to say that things are a whole lot better than they were a generation ago, and much of it happened really quickly.
In 1972, when we had our first child, we had to search for an OB who could get me into the delivery room. By the time #2 came along in ’76, a guy who didn’t want to be in there with his wife was branded a slacker (even) by other guys.
Today, we not only hear athletes saying that winning the Super Bowl was the best moment of their lives except for the birth of their child, but we have women expressing breast milk so Dad can be the one who gets up for the 2 am feeding.
Not all men, no.
This would be an appropriate time to say that.
And La Cucaracha (AMS) is usually one of the hippest strips on the page, but, as they say down South, “That ol’ dog won’t hunt.”
The “twice” is that today is, indeed, Mother’s Day in Mexico, and, okay, Alcaraz often mocks old fashioned Mexicanos just as Pickles mocks old-fashioned Anglos.
Veterans are, you might say,
Not all men.
Anybody notice something?
Today’s conversation seemed to drift between talking about mothers and talking about wives, but, then, I don’t think Parental Replacement Syndrome is an exclusively male issue.
I think it’s a matter of how you envision a supportive relationship and what proportions of sheltering and inspiration you seek in the mix.