This is a slightly edited version of a comment I left on an article by Jennifer O’Connell, in today’s Irish Times, titled ‘Give me a stay-at-home dad over a Master of the Universe any day’. The original comment seems to have hit the potty-mouth filter, on account, I think, of the word ‘crap’.
I think the ‘stay-at-home dad’ should be murdered, a stake through his gobbledygooey heart.
I notice the author talks about ‘stay-at-home mothers’, not ‘stay-at-home mums’- and rightly so. There’s something sickly sentimental and patronising about describing someone who engages in long hours of unpaid domestic labour as a ‘stay-at-home mum’.
To call someone a ‘stay-at-home mum’ suggests that the best way you can reward people who collectively provide billions of euro in effective subsidies to business every year, through the unpaid work of raising and educating children, is to give them a box of Terry’s All Gold and a night off the dishes every now and again.
What is more, the ‘stay-at-home’ descriptor serves to reinforce the perception that domestic labour is not real work, since ‘stay-at-home’ implies a ‘go-out-to-work’ corollary.
Sheryl Sandberg’s vision of an equal society, approvingly cited here, is a terrifying totalitarian nightmare: heteronormative atomised bourgeois domesticity under surveillance from financialised corporate tyranny. Untrammelled class exploitation concealed beneath a veneer of horizontal Facebook ‘Friend’-ship.
Does Sheryl Sandberg’s vision of equality entail recognition of labour unions that protect workers’ rights? Does it entail payment for domestic labour? In my rear timeline it does. Facebook is a corporation that makes profits from of the product of unpaid labour (yours and mine).
Sandberg’s big idea of ‘Leaning in’ really means doing more stuff for free and kissing the ass of people higher up the ladder of success while kicking the crap out of whatever sap lies a couple of rungs down. And it just so happens that doing stuff for free is an equal opportunities occupation in this environment. You can transcend gender stereotypes as much as you like, just as long as you don’t pose any challenge to the Masters of the Universe, daddy-o.
Thus the ‘stay-at-home dad’ is merely the inversion of a man in black with a Meinkampf look.