Men and Women Must Not Speak, Lest They Screw

A former colleague, Howard Ludwig, writes in his stay-at-home-dad column about some serious insanity overtaking the lifestyle section these days:

A good number of at-home fathers I know dropped their collective jaws last month after reading an article titled “Navigating Play Dates with Stay-at-Home Dads.”

Wilmette-based Make It Better, an online and print publication for families on the North Shore, produced the article. Tips include avoiding play dates with “a dad you find attractive” and asking your husband to chaperone a play date with a stay-at-home dad and his children.

Now, the article was called to my attention by a group of at-home dads, many of whom actively advocate for full-time fathers. Their reaction mirrored my own, which was equal parts astonishment and feeling offended. One of my buddies even referenced the article on his Facebook page and changed his status to read, “I’m too sexy for your play date.”

Like we’re not already paranoid. Now every guy taking his kids to the playground is a potential sex pervert? Christ.

And a CHAPERONE? I get how going blind on tequila with somebody you secretly think is a babe is probably a bad idea, but “HUNNY, come along to the jungle gym with me and the kids so I don’t accidentally make out with Dadster McHottie over by the swings?” Really?

(Also, apparently lesbian moms are not a threat, though you would think, if being around someone who could potentially want to sex you was cause for concern, this would be an issue, too.)

It’s one thing to say to YOURSELF that perhaps the texting with the guy down the street is getting out of hand and you should back it off. It’s another to view even the presence of menfolk as a de facto temptation. The idea that men and women can’t be friends because mere proximity sets off some kind of MUST SCREW NOW beacon needs to die a bloody, painful, most of all quick death. Then we can stake it, cut off its head, bury it at the crossroads, salt the earth, buy a spaceship, and nuke the site from orbit just to be sure.

I hate this trope. Hate it. Hate it. Hate it. It’s demeaning to women, it’s demeaning to men, it advances dangerously sexist nonsense about how we’re separate species who can only speak through interpreters, and it teaches us not to trust each other because OMG SEXING. If we don’t think of one another as people, how can we have any expectation of respect?

Yes, high-pressure situations can blur boundaries and yes, people cheat on each other all the time, but none of those situations are occasioned by geography. We’re not guinea pigs, where if you put us in the same aquarium we have to hump.


7 thoughts on “Men and Women Must Not Speak, Lest They Screw

  1. I ran into many of these stereotypes when I was a SAHD. It drove me insane. Actually, it drove me back into the work place. Many SAHMs have internalized these fears–no all, but even in the progressive SF Bay Area, it was well over half of the SAHMs I interacted with. They would only do group playdates me and my daughter and they stopped talking when I came into the kitchen if they were complaining about their husbands. My wife was never jealous, nor did she care for Moms Night Out. The SAHMs I’m still friends with, even though I’m not SAH anymore, are the ones who didn’t mind having a male parent confidant, didn’t care if we were alone or in a group, and definitely didn’t mind texting or calling–just as friends do.

  2. Back in college, one summer I was lifeguard for a camp for a major Christian denomination known to be fundamentalist. I could understand that the camp promoted modest swimming attire. One rule I found odd (including camp staff and an adult program)persons of the opposite sex could not swim at the same time.
    However the rule did not prohibit anyone being on the beach which was fenced off from the swimming area. Nor did the male lifeguards have to leave to let the women swim. (Well I suppose if a guy stood on the beach with a telephoto lens, shooting pictures like crazy, I probably would have had to suggest his actions were unbecoming).
    What really made it odd was that the location was in a state at the north (almost touched Canada). The explanation was that a lot of the camp leaders and the oversight for the camp were from Texas where that apparently was the norm.

  3. Jesus Christ in a chicken basket that is dumb.
    Maybe it’s the new ‘housewife at home in curlers eating bon-bons’? ‘Stay-at-home-dad on the prowl for playdates’?
    (When I first glanced at the article I thought ‘playdates’ was some kind of new-fangled slang for ‘dates’.)
    I did lots of childcare when mine were small and had lots of playground and chatty time with members-of-the-opposite-sex-some-of-whom-were-super-attractive. And lo! I didn’t trip into bed with any of them and, you know, if I had it wouldn’t have been the fault of a toddler playdate.
    WTF is wrong with people.

  4. I feel so much safer down here in rural nowhere. I barely know what a PlayStation is, and now y’all have Play Dates that have something to do with parents watching kids while groping other parents watching kids?
    And all this time, I thought that only occurred in the Beltway, between the House Majority leader and the Whip.
    Guess I need a refresher course in city slicker ways, or a subscription to MakeItBetter.daddyporn

  5. Oh, I’m sure it’s just for “safety” so those poor helpless moms don’t get raped…
    Though I think the “don’t be alone with guys” “safety” advice comes from the same underlying theory. Men can’t control their sexual impulses and women can’t fend off horny men? The only difference is that SAHDs are nice enough to seduce you instead of just rape you, I guess.
    I actually understand the “stop bitching about your husband when another man comes in the room” impulse. At best, it could just be that they were bitching/talking about something personal (probably sexual) that’s awkward in mixed company (because we’ve been trained that way, but still). At worst, it could be “all men are pigs” bitching, which is basically the equivalent of telling a racist joke when someone of that ethnic group comes in (at least they have enough awareness to realize it could be offensive).
    What Idon’t understand is impulse to bitch about their husbands instead of bitching to their husbands so they might get some of these issues resolved.

  6. Funny, it sounds like cautioning oversexed SAHM’s about falling for testosterone-deprived SAHD’s.
    But when stereotyping meets stupidity, it’s unlikely that anything comprehensible will results.

  7. (Also, apparently lesbian moms are not a threat, though you would think, if being around someone who could potentially want to sex you was cause for concern, this would be an issue, too.)
    Silly Athenae, everyone knows lesbians are too busy hating men and drinking kombucha to have sex with anyone.

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