Men in our domesticated culture suffer from a certain unease. Many of us, deep inside, feel that there’s some degrading notion in a life of a householder, a parent, a husband in a monogamous relationship. Time and again in movies, TV sitcoms, books and comedy acts, I see how a lot of the myths about the incapable man, who’s portrayed as lost, clumsy, and stupid, are perpetuated by men, about themselves. This is their way to say, “Hey, I’m really a hero, a warrior, a hunter, a brave explorer of unknown lands; I don’t belong here in the minivan with the poopy diapers, the laundry, the PTA meetings. If I seem incompetent, it’s only because I’m meant to wipe the blood of my enemy off my hands, not baby puke.”
We run an undercurrent of disapproval from our “inner real men.” And when we function well as domesticated creature, we feel a constant need to stumble, mess up, and prove that, “Yeah, I do those domestic things because I have to, but I suck at it because it’s not my true calling.” It’s also a good source of comedy, as is any situation where contradiction and conflict rules.
I say those things as a man, a PT Stay at Home Dad, who has changed thousands of diapers, and spent endless hours on playgrounds (no PTA meetings, though, that’s where I drew the line). These conflicting feelings are there for many of us; it helps to be aware of them, and try to move past them.
Dadding the dudes over the years, I found myself plenty of times in awkward situations, torn between my domestic duties and my true desires. But I learned to not feel bad about this. We, men, are all descendants of warriors, hunters, and explorers of wilderness and dangers. It’s just the way things used to be in the tribe for millions of years. In general, men’s physique is stronger and faster than women’s, so these jobs were ours, while the womenfolks stayed behind and cared for the domestic front. We have evolved this way, and now that brute muscle force is no longer a great advantage, our services are no longer required. Only…they are, but in a different style.
What works for me with this issue, as well as other life dilemmas, is just the awareness that the conflict is there, and the understanding that it’s okay to have it. I may not act on every male instinct that urges inside me, I may suppress some primal desires, but I find outlets to express my male genes. I try to not go physically soft, I hop on my bike, sweat profusely, get out of breath daily. I do manual labors around the house, try to fix broken things, and I provide for my family, which puts food on the table, and perfectly satisfies my deeply suppressed urge for hunting.
But most important, when I DO perform my domestic duties, I try to do it well. I may not like doing the laundry (hate it with passion, to be honest), but I tackle it, and I kill it. Then I march to the kitchen, where the dishes are my archenemy. I attack the pile, engage in a short but fierce battle, after which I place my nemesis wet and defeated on the rack, and wipe my hands with its blood.