Shoe on the Other Foot

The reason I keep watching Desperate Housewives, apart from Edie Britt, is the fascinating dynamic between husband-and-wife Lynette and Tom Scavo. Lynette is inferred to be the more intelligent, business-minded of the pair, well on her way to becoming the head of her ad firm when she became pregnant, at which point Tom suggests she stop working to raise their kids and he be the breadwinner.

Ten years later, Lynette is bored out of her brain and sick of the constant trips Tom takes for work. She requests to Tom’s boss that he not be promoted because it would mean even more trips and more time away from his family. When Tom finds out about this, he quits, and orders Lynette to become the breadwinner. He’s going to slob around at home as the house-husband.

So she does. To much success. Tom, on the other hand, is finding being a house-husband is much harder then he thought. ‘Coz, you know, there are four kids to take care of, and a house to keep clean. He doesn’t understand that mouldy bread is gross, and why Lynette refuses to sleep on sheets that have been vomited on. He fires resentment at her when she complains that the house isn’t nearly in the same state as she had in it. He calls her from work to come and help him. He expresses incredulousness when she tells him she promised her work her family wouldn’t interfere; dude, that’s what you did for the last ten years, only ‘coz you were a man, you didn’t have to make such a promise verbally, everyone knew wifey would cover the homefront. Except wifey is sick of covering the homefront, especially since you keep crapping on about how easy it is to slob around the house all day.

It’s oddly refreshing to watch a man struggle to raise the kids and keep the house clean; after years of saying his wife has it easy, he discovers, oh, it’s not. Except instead of saying “˜I was wrong; please can we hire a maid/nanny because I’m not as capable as you’ (hell, if a man was wiling to admit I was more capable then him, I’d grant pretty much anything his little heart desired) he goes on the defensive.

You had no right to promise your family wouldn’t interfere with work. Where were you all day; I was stuck with the kids. You take time of to take care of the chicken-poxed kids; I’ve never had it and I don’t want to risk becoming sterile. You know, just in case you die and I find someone else, despite the fact I’m fortysomething with four kids. (Doug Savant, I loved you in Melrose; that particular comment made me want to hunt you down and strangle you with my own hands.)

At one point, he complains about feeling “˜emasculated’ because he stays home and looks after the kids. I’m still laughing over that. He chose to stay at home as a point of pride, and he’s the wronged party? And if it’s “˜bad’ for men to be stay-at-home dads, what does that say about women? About human beings? It was such an illustration of invisible privilege, I’m sure women across the globe were laughing over it knowingly, weather or not Marc Cherry intended.

It’s a very interesting storyline, this portrayal or role-reversal and how the men don’t appreciate it much when the shoe’s on the other foot. Even though DH is primarily a soap, I’ve spoken before about how soaps are often indications of what’s acceptable in society long before the rest of the media cottons onto it. Let’s hope this is the start of a new trend.

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