Tracey of Unapologetically Female let us know about Fox Reality Channel’s new show, The Househusbands of Hollywood. The show will document the trials and tribulations of several men who will “defy traditional marital roles by staying home to run the household while their wives head to work” (notice how that phrase includes the common definition of “work” as tasks done outside the home, while “running a household” is something else?). An image from the website:
The website also masculinizes housework by providing “survival” tips that associate cleaning with tools, cars, and guns (or possibly video games, I guess):
There’s also an interesting class element. All of the men appear to be married to women with very successful careers–one woman is a “prominent psychologist,” another is “a high-powered attorney,” and a third is a makeup artist for “A-list celebrities.” Most of the men are aspiring actors/screenwriters, and it appears they’re househusbands mostly because they haven’t gotten their big breaks yet. Quotes from a couple of the husbands’ bios:
The pair…made a deal as newlyweds that she would bring home the paycheck so he could focus on his acting career…Katherine emails Danny a daily to-do list…
Tempestt and Darryl don’t have any children, but they have plenty of responsibilities and Darryl finds it difficult to make time to hang out with his buddies.
Poor Grant has to fit in auditions while “attempting to keep up with Jillian’s high maintenance lifestyle.” And finally, we have Charlie:
…Charlie gets regular phone calls from his stressed-out wife, who often thinks he’s home changing diapers, grocery shopping and pounding out another script when he’s really at the gym with his best friend, actor Ryan O’Neal.
So apparently, though Charlie is a househusband, he is “often” able to leave the childcare (and possibly housework/chores) to someone else to do while he hangs out with his friend (his Important Actor friend! So we know he’s cool!).
It’s interesting that at least a couple of these bios include some of the elements that are often present in stereotypes of housewives as lazy women who have it easy–they’re really hanging out with friends or complaining about how much work they have to do even though they don’t have children. My mom stayed home after she was injured in an accident at the sheet-metal factory where she worked (the manager took the safety guard off a machine so workers would waste a few seconds putting it up and down; Mom was 22 and naively signed the the waiver of liability form because the supervisor said he wouldn’t take her to the hospital until she did. We’re now big fans of OSHA in my family.). I recall on more than one occasion hearing other family members sincerely state that she must really enjoy all the leisure time she had at home (with two kids, and farmwork) and that it must be like a permanent vacation. I wonder if these househusbands will be portrayed in a similarly negative fashion as housewives (particularly wealthy ones) often are.
Also check out our posts on “porn” for new moms (there’s another version here), shared parenting as class privilege, calendar with images of sexy men doing housework, racial stereotypes in a fabric dye ad, women love cleaning, masculinizing makeup, and hair products for men.