The Rise of the Male Homemaker

by Kari Belsheim

My father was a stay-at-home dad when I was little. He fed me, watched me, and did my hair in those super fierce side ponytails I was so into. At the time, my mother was a medical resident, which took nearly all her time and energy, so it made sense for my dad to be at home with us kids. I have always been very proud of the fact that my dad stayed home with me, and most of that is due to the fact that stay-at-home dads were rare when I was growing up.

However, in the past ten years, the percentage of stay-at-home dads has grown from 1.6 to 3.4 percent of total stay-at-home parents. It is still a pretty small number, but changing societal gender norms as well as a staggering job market have led more men to the role of caretaker.

But how often do men choose to be homemakers when children are not involved? The notion of a female homemaker is contentious enough in a society that defines work monetarily. My great-aunt was a homemaker for most of her life, and although she cared for her two brothers for years, her lack of official work records kept her from social aid in old age.

A recent article in Slate gives the perspective of a male homemaker, who often has a difficult time explaining his homeward-bound ambitions. Former architect Finn Boulding now finds himself making a home with a breadwinning wife. Since people usually associate being a homemaker with being a stay-at-home mom, he runs into confusion when he explains that they have no children. He simply wants to clean the house, meal-plan, mend, and support his wife from home. Isn’t that enough?

Boulding admits that his choice may inhibit future architectural aspirations. After all, roles traditionally held by women tend to elicit less than their fair share of respect. However, even when his choices inspire confusion in those around him, Boulding proudly identifies as a homemaker. Sometimes it can be difficult to explain feminism’s importance for both men and women, but what we are really fighting for is the right for each and every one of us to choose our own path. Boulding is just another example of how far we’ve come in the past hundred years.

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