Friday, June 17, 2005

Does Father Know Best?

Polling form Euro RSG surveyed American fathers. Many of the results were interesting, and the commentary of the press release was also noteworthy.

Someone forgot to tell dads that they were the ones who wanted to keep women out of the workforce in the first place. Now more women want to return to the home, and men won´t let them! A great majority of moms surveyed (83%) think it´s fine for a woman to be a homemaker and not do paid work. In contrast, only 66% of dads (and 60% of non-dads) agree with the wife-as-homemaker idea.

It is unnoted but very interesting that so many mothers would prefer to work at home. Feminist ideology has blinded us to the truth that women have historically realized: making a home is difficult work, but very satifying.

Two additional points:

  1. About seventeen percent of mothers disagree with their husbands in desiring to stay home. Is the money these father make that poor? Not being a father, I can't speak authoritatively. Nevertheless I can't help wondering if a father's inability to provide for his family is connected to two unfortunate realities of modern American life:
    • The proliferation of double-income homes creates social and economic pressure to work outside the home for wives who'd prefer to stay at home.
    • Everyone expects to be able to buy the gadgets and other things that strictly speaking we don't need and might even be better without (e.g., cable TV).
  2. "Only" a supermajority of fathers would like their wives to stay home. It's odd that an overwhelming number of fathers have a traditional notion of parental roles and the pollsters attach the word "only." I suppose that one has to spin a result one dislikes to the extent one can....

Note: I don't know the make-up of you, the readers, but in case there are children reading, please skip down to the conclusion.

And speaking of sex…they want it. An overwhelming 81% of dads believe men and women are entitled to expect regular sex from their partners. Tough luck for a lot of them, since only 65% of moms (and 56% of non-moms) feel the same way. Interestingly, only 68% of non-dads think regular sex should be expected, suggesting they may be less frustrated by the conjugal killers known as “children.”

Sixteen percent more fathers than mothers expect "regular" relations with their spouses, while 12 only percent more childless husbands than childless wives have the same expectation. What does this mean? Of course it's near impossible to determine the significance of any result without a margin of error (the margin of error is what separates scientific measurement from mere observation). Typically it's around two or three percent, which means the difference of four percent is not very significant at all. The word "regular" is famously ambiguous ("He goes to church regularly: once a year"), so it's not clear that the dads' expectations are necessarily frustrated, but it is notable that the pollsters insist on blaming this assumed frustration on the natural fruit of love, children. Could it be that fathers expect more nookie because they love their wives more?

One might wonder about the greater marital expectations of men than women. The pollsters' press release gives no explanation. A little knowledge about the respective reacions of men and women yields valuable insight [CANDID DISCUSSION FOLLOWS]:

Sexologists state that the curve of arousal in woman is different from that in man—it rises more slowly and falls more slowly.... The man must take this difference between male and female reactions into account, not for hedonistic, but for altruistic reasons. There exists a rhythm dictated by nature itself which both spouses must discover so that climax may be reached both by the man and the woman, and as far as possible occur both simultaneously. The subjective happiness which they then share has the clear characteristic of enjoyment... which flows from harmony between one's own actions and the objective order of nature. Egoism on the other hand—and in this context it is obviously more likely to be egoism on the part of the man—is [when] one party seeks only his own pleasure at the expense of the other. Evidently, the elementary teachings of sexology cannot be applied without reference to ethics.

.... In the woman [egoism on the part of the man] produces an aversion to intercourse....1

So the moral of the story is that a husband's love must be completely self-giving and motivate him to sacrifice his own immediate gratification for that of his wife's.2


The polling firm's conclusion:

“The modern-American dad stands out from the rest of the population on so many important issues,” says Salzman. “What we find most interesting from a trends perspective is this postfeminist role reversal in which men are vying to keep women in the workforce while women are trying to move back to the home. Today´s dad is eager to keep some things as they were in the mid-20th century, but he´s unwilling—and perhaps unable—to shoulder his household´s financial burden without help from his spouse. This has important implications for marketers, certainly, but it also is having a tremendous impact on American life. As men and women increasingly seek a better life-work balance, we can expect to see even more of a clash within households in which both partners are looking to pull back on the work front. We may well see a stronger trend toward downsizing and simplification among couples who are willing to have less in order to be able to do less.” [emphasis added]

(By "do less" they mean "do less professional work." But isn't life more than your job? Actually, simplifying allows you the freedom to live more.)

Father's experience many conflicting pressures in today's world. Being a father has always been a big responsibility, so be sure to express your gratitude:

Happy Father's Day!


1. Karol Wojtyla, Love and Responsibility (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1981), 272-273.

2. cf. Eph 5:25

Euro RSCG Worldwide, "The Modern-Day American Dad: Conservative, Fat, and Unwilling to Let His Woman Stay Home" [notice how they managed to string two pejoratives after "conservative"]


LunarWorld said...

I've enjoyed reading your blog for several weeks now, and I truly appreciate your point of view.

However, I think you have an error in this one:
"...An overwhelming 81% of dads believe men and women are entitled to expect regular sex from their partners. Tough luck for a lot of them, since only 65% of moms (and 56% of non-moms) feel the same way. Interestingly, only 68% of non-dads think regular sex should be expected, suggesting they may be less frustrated by the conjugal killers known as 'children.'

It's odd that only three percent more non-dads than dads expect regular nookie..."

I think you compared the 68% of non-dads to the 65% of moms, rather than to the 81% of dads. The difference, rather than a possibly negligible 3%, is more like 13%.

Thanks for your continued thoughtfully conservative viewpoint.

Lawrence Gage said...


Thanks for the correction. Zoiks! I wonder how I misread that?

I'll correct the text of the post.

Thanks for reading!


Anonymous said...

i have recently come across your blog and have been impressed with the articles posted as well as their clarity.i would side with you on your opinion.
i am an engineer with a Multinational Engg Firm and follow your blog.keep up the good work.

Lawrence Gage said...

Thanks for your support! It's much appreciated!