The Corner

Culture

Behold, the Great Feminist Man

It’s hard to believe this isn’t in the Onion, but read the words of a modern feminist man, a stay-at-home dad who’s just fine with his wife doing this:

As I write this, my children are asleep in their room, Loretta Lynn is on the stereo, and my wife is out on a date with a man named Paulo. It’s her second date this week; her fourth this month so far. If it goes like the others, she’ll come home in the middle of the night, crawl into bed beside me, and tell me all about how she and Paulo had sex. I won’t explode with anger or seethe with resentment. I’ll tell her it’s a hot story and I’m glad she had fun. It’s hot because she’s excited, and I’m glad because I’m a feminist.

How did this happen? How did this man lose all self-respect? Well, when his wife was in her mid-thirties and wanted to experiment a bit, they opened a bottle of wine and talked:

She didn’t present it as an issue of feminism to me, but after much soul-searching about why the idea of my wife having sex with other men bothered me I came to a few conclusions: Monogamy meant I controlled her sexual expression, and, not to get all women’s-studies major about it, patriarchal oppression essentially boils down to a man’s fear that a woman with sexual agency is a woman he can’t control. We aren’t afraid of their intellect or their spirit or their ability to bear children. We are afraid that when it comes time for sex, they won’t choose us. This petty fear has led us as a culture to place judgments on the entire spectrum of female sexual expression: If a woman likes sex, she’s a whore and a slut; if she only likes sex with her husband or boyfriend, she’s boring and lame; if she doesn’t like sex at all, she’s frigid and unfeeling. Every option is a trap.

A trap! Here we go again — the concept of marriage and family as life in a cage. That’s the exact same refuse feminists shoveled at my wife when she was a young philosophy student at NYU. Except that she had the wisdom to see the collection of miserable, angry feminists as living in their own cages of anger and envy, seeking not joy and freedom but instead ruin and destruction.

But our feminist man is happy, at least most of the time. He steps out too, just not as much as her. And sometimes it gets a little strange:

There are of course moments of jealousy, resentment, and insecurity. Recently, my wife went on a date and fell asleep at his apartment. I hadn’t heard from her since 10 p.m., she still wasn’t home at 6 a.m. My texts went unanswered and my calls went to voicemail. A tight knot of dread lodged in my stomach as I imagined all kinds of dire scenarios and realized that I not only didn’t know where she was, I had no idea whom she was with. I pictured myself going to the police saying, “I think she’s in Red Hook with a guy named Ryan. I don’t know his last name, but I think he’s a graphic designer?” I’m not sure there’s actually a word for the unique blend of acute terror and unforgivable shame I felt that morning imagining that I’d lost my wife to Ryan, the maybe graphic designer. When she finally texted me at 7:30 a.m., relief coursed through me like morphine.

This feminist man says that feminism “always comes back to sex.” No, feminism always comes back to hating men. And since most women don’t hate men, they don’t want to be called feminist — even when they’re strong, successful, and powerful. Humiliation and domination is a poor substitute for love and self-sacrifice.

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