I HATE YOU, BOOK!
A couple of women to whom I vented about the Post-Baby Marriage mentioned a book* dealing with the subject. I finally got around to checking it out of the library, and OH, HOW I HATE IT!
Tragically though, it makes some good points. We’ll deal with those next time. This time, let’s discuss the reasons I hate it.
First, the authors use concepts from evolutionary psychology to explain our behavior. Mr. Bunny calls these On the Veldt arguments, as in on the veldt, our ancestors had to flee from predators, that’s why men like sports. Okay, that was a mean parody, but in books like this, the argument always takes the form men do x because…and women do y because… While I think evolutionary psychology has a lot of explanatory power, in the hands of the authors of this book the presentation is so simplistic as to be insulting, and the message is you can’t fight against your biological inheritance.** So basically, any time the phrase hardwired is used, I get my back up, because somehow hardwired always means men don’t have to do the dishes.
Second, perhaps because of the above reasons, the picture painted of both men and women is extremely unflattering. Women are irrational shrews, men are selfish louts. Men want only sex and to play golf, women want only to talk about their feelings and to suffocate and control men.
Third, there’s a whole chapter on sex, which is not surprising, but the presumption is that women won’t put out because they’re just too tired, because men won’t do the dishes. And maybe I’m an extreme case, but I know I’m not alone, because you told me so, but I was blown away by the strength of my anti-libido. I was repulsed and horrified by the idea of sex. People told me I wouldn’t be interested, but they didn’t tell me just HOW un-interested I’d be. And my husband even does the dishes. I think glossing over the power of hormones in this domain does everyone a real disservice.
Fourth, the book assumes all women stay at home and formula feed. Now, I know better than to pass judgment on any woman who formula feeds or stays at home. Seriously, I really do. But the presumption that all women do those things alienated me and also made me feel the book was out of step with the times. Breastfeeding is mentioned once that I noticed, and all that is said is it hurts.
Fifth, the book assumes all parents subscribe to something I am only now learning has a name, extreme parenting, where parents attempt to schedule every moment of a child’s life with activities that will give him or her a competitive edge. This is a whole other topic, so for the moment the point is that the book assumes your entire existence is nothing but ferrying your children to and from activities. Not everyone lives that way, man.
In short, the book paints a very bleak picture of men, women, children, Life, the Universe and Everything.
And I wish I could just leave it there. But sadly, I find myself feeling less grumpy towards my husband since reading it. So I guess I have a moral obligation to talk about that, too. SIGH.
*I’m not giving the title in case it’s someone’s favorite book in the whole world.
**Despite the fact that a) we can only speculate about what our biological inheritance is, and b) we have culture, which is why I personally ascribe to Dual Inheritance Theory.