Creative Destruction

June 10, 2006

Lazy White Male Nannies

Filed under: Debate,Feminist Issues — Tuomas @ 12:32 am

Since feminists have been telling for quite long now that childcare is devalued by society, one would expect that feminists would not mock men who become male nannies, or "mannies"?

Wrong, and wrong.

Some of the criticisms are very telling:

Try this one for size:

Perhaps b/c white men are ‘above’ doing the physical labor that these days falls to non-white men?

Now, pray tell me, what would happen if this was applied to women/men?

"Perhaps women are 'above' doing the physical labor that these days fall to men?"

1) Feminists would scream bloody murder that childcare is not considered physical labor (I agree somewhat. While there are jobs more physically intense, few require the near-constant vigilance of child-care, especially of small children).

2) Feminists would scream bloody murder at the suggestion that this is about women opting out of what is considered hard work instead of discrimination toward women who want the said jobs.

These pseudo-feminists are very clearly displaying what they really think of childcare when (white) men are doing it. And it's not a pretty sight.

[Actually, in fairness, the Pandagon article was not so bad.]
[Update 1: Piny has a response.

The first part of his response is pointing out that feminists criticized the fact that this article is treating male nannies as superior in childcare compared to women. Fair enough — this is a good point, as it is indeed sexist to claim this.

The second part seems to hinge more on intentionalism, that Em had used the comment I highlighted here to describe discrimination against nonwhite men and women. Which of course is common in lefty circles, complete denial ("no one meant that way!") and claim that the comment meant something other than it reads as. There also seem to be some odd double standards at play here, apparently the fact that female nannies are nonwhite proves that nonwhite women are discriminated against, but the fact that male nannies are white proves that nonwhite men are dicriminated against?]

[Update 2: The part about lefty circles is a generalization, and perhaps an unfair one at that.] 

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31 Comments »

  1. You display ignorance of complex social science. Lower class and nonwhite men largely bear the burden of creating and maintaining the concept of ‘masculinity’ as it pertains to physical labor.

    However, in this case, the commenter was referring to the fact that child care positions may have started to pay better than other “pre-career” jobs — thus making them apetizing for white men.

    And since people place high status on white men, white men are more likely to be hired when they apply.

    …exactly how is that making fun of white men who choose childcare anyway? That only makes sense if you ignore the concept of privelege so that any time you analyze how situations go in the favor of white men, you’re picking on individual white men.

    Comment by Mandolin — June 10, 2006 @ 2:55 am | Reply

  2. The problem with the original article is pretty clear: it claims men are more able to focus on one thing at a time and are therefore better at childcare.

    Oh, and Britney dropped her kid a lot. . . apparently, this means all women drop kids a lot and so we’d all be better off by hiring dudes.

    Why you would defend such stupidity is beyond me, but I’ve never been to this blog before so maybe defending dumb and sexist articles is “your thing.”

    Comment by gayle — June 10, 2006 @ 10:25 am | Reply

  3. Neither post you link to mocks men who become caregivers. Both posts are mocking the gender stereotypes employed by the author of the Daily News article. Your description of what the posts say is very deceptive. And it’s telling that you don’t actually provide a quote of either post mocking men – because no such quotes exist.

    By the way, you should clarify that when you say “some of the criticisms are very telling,” you’re quoting a comment, not either of the posts in question. And reading down the thread makes it clear that you significantly misinterpreted the comment you quoted.

    Comment by Ampersand — June 10, 2006 @ 11:32 am | Reply

  4. Mandolin:

    And since people place high status on white men, white men are more likely to be hired when they apply.

    Who are these people?

    Ampersand:

    By the way, you should clarify that when you say “some of the criticisms are very telling,” you’re quoting a comment, not either of the posts in question.

    Sure, but the comment was already defended by the writer of the article on feministe.

    And reading down the thread makes it clear that you significantly misinterpreted the comment you quoted.

    Possibly. I protested at the angle Em had taken — that when white men are nannies it must be because nonwhite men are prevented from becoming nannies only, not for example because nonwhite men don't want to become nannies. Does she have evidence? Or are different outcomes enough evidence for different opportunities?

    gayle:

    Oh, and Britney dropped her kid a lot. . . apparently, this means all women drop kids a lot and so we’d all be better off by hiring dudes.

    Why you would defend such stupidity is beyond me, but I’ve never been to this blog before so maybe defending dumb and sexist articles is “your thing.”

    It's not so much defending the article, but more about criticizing some over-the-top criticisms of it.

    Comment by Tuomas — June 10, 2006 @ 11:46 am | Reply

  5. You display ignorance of complex social science. Lower class and nonwhite men largely bear the burden of creating and maintaining the concept of ‘masculinity’ as it pertains to physical labor.

    Only thing complex about social science seems to be the sophistry required to redefine everything as being the fault of white men.

    Comment by Tuomas — June 10, 2006 @ 11:49 am | Reply

  6. You have a fabulous talent for misreading content as well as tone. I said nothing of the sort.

    Comment by Em — June 10, 2006 @ 11:51 am | Reply

  7. Way to misrepresent both posts and the article. The article is about how when men deem to do traditional “women’s” work, they easily do it better because women are so worthless. It explicitly states that women cannot play with children, teach children fun things, or pay attention to children because women are such horrible gossips with short attention spans.

    Comment by Amanda Marcotte — June 10, 2006 @ 12:17 pm | Reply

  8. Possibly. I protested at the angle Em had taken — that when white men are nannies it must be because nonwhite men are prevented from becoming nannies only, not for example because nonwhite men don’t want to become nannies. Does she have evidence? Or are different outcomes enough evidence for different opportunities?

    Nope! You said that she had called white men evil, and that she was denigrating white men who take care of children, which is not the same as positing discrimination in the absence of evidence. Then you said that she had refused to take responsibility for her words.

    Then you made it clear that you hadn’t understood a word anyone was saying:

    There also seem to be some odd double standards at play here, apparently the fact that female nannies are nonwhite proves that nonwhite women are discriminated against, but the fact that male nannies are white proves that nonwhite men are dicriminated against?

    Comment by piny — June 10, 2006 @ 12:38 pm | Reply

  9. Then you made it clear that you hadn’t understood a word anyone was saying:

    Well, Em speculates on feministe:

    Non-white people get shit jobs.
    Non-white men are viewed as threatening, by white women especially.
    Non-white men are too threatening to be trusted with white women’s babies.
    Non-white women, on the other hand, are at the bottom of the race AND the gender totem poles, and nothing makes more sense than for a lower group to devote themselves to raising the next generation of the upper group. Theoretically, it keeps them from devoting their resources to their own children and precludes them from advancing their societal position.
    That covers the second statement.

    Now, this does sound like saying that nonwhite women are discriminated against.

    The core of the disagreement here seems to boil down to the fact that I do not take concepts such as male/white privilege as granted, which means that I am automatically talking past people who do.

    It is obvious to the point of being redundant that people who hire white men as nannies consider them to be suitable to the job, but I disagree with the speculations about what "white women" think of non-white men, without further evidence.

    And the comment:

    Come on Em. Must white men be considered evil always?

    Was pretty much tongue-in-cheek, and I thought it was very odd that somehow this (white) male nanny thing is proof of the inherent privilege of white men.

    Comment by Tuomas — June 10, 2006 @ 1:47 pm | Reply

  10. Which is to say, something is wrong when claiming that white men are very privileged, then saying:

    and nothing makes more sense than for a lower group to devote themselves to raising the next generation of the upper group. Theoretically, it keeps them from devoting their resources to their own children and precludes them from advancing their societal position.

    So what sense does it make for the white men?

    Comment by Tuomas — June 10, 2006 @ 1:52 pm | Reply

  11. >>Now, this does sound like saying that nonwhite women are discriminated against.

    As far as I knew, no one was disputing that non-white women are discriminated against.

    >>The core of the disagreement here seems to boil down to the fact that I do not take concepts such as male/white privilege as granted, which means that I am automatically talking past people who do.

    Yes, I mentioned your privelege-comprehension problem on the other thread. If this is a dogmatic component of your beliefs, then we may have no more to say each other presently. I don’t argue with fundies of any sort.

    >>I disagree with the speculations about what “white women” think of non-white men, without further evidence.

    Don’t be obtuse. The black man is the boogeyman in most western societies. Or are you denying racism exists too?

    >>So what sense does it make for the white men?

    It’s a job that through their privilege they can easily take from lower castes, be praised for, and then move on to a more appropriate white man’s job, one that actually requires them to compete with other men. The article says that most mannies view the job as a temporary thing, just like waiting tables for an actor.

    Comment by Em — June 10, 2006 @ 2:29 pm | Reply

  12. Yes, I mentioned your privelege-comprehension problem on the other thread. If this is a dogmatic component of your beliefs, then we may have no more to say each other presently. I don’t argue with fundies of any sort.

    I do not disbelieve in privilege anymore than I believe it. I am privilege-agnostic, who leans on thinking that nonwhiteness is generally a disadvantage, and maleness and femaleness both confer advantages and disadvantages. I do not know which one is more privileged of the two.

    It is funny that you should mention “fundies” since belief in white male privilege seems to be a core part of your beliefs, and AFAIK somewhat unexamined one in the light of evidence.

    Comment by Tuomas — June 10, 2006 @ 2:46 pm | Reply

  13. Tuomas, your insistence on seeing “evidence” is just part of your white male privilege! Go practice your rape science somewhere else, European oppressor.

    Comment by Robert — June 10, 2006 @ 2:49 pm | Reply

  14. Tuomas, as a white born-female person who passes for male (without really trying to) on a regular basis, I can only offer my own experience about the disparity between the two. Of course, anecdote is not evidence, but rest assured I have examined the funny feelings I get from existing in-between. Unfortunately for you, males have a harder time passing as females and personal experience seems to be about the evidence that would satisfy you.

    Comment by Em — June 10, 2006 @ 3:08 pm | Reply

  15. Why do you think personal experience is the only thing that would satisfy me?

    (Btw, no hurry in that, I’ll have a few day break from blogging)

    Comment by Tuomas — June 10, 2006 @ 3:17 pm | Reply

  16. B/c there have been qualitative surveys done of women who admit that they will avoid going out at night alone, or who will cross the street to avoid walking past a person perceived as male, while men do not say they do the same, empirical evidence that’s it not men who are raped or murdered when jogging in parks early in the morning or late at night, and these are apparently unconvincing.

    Comment by Em — June 10, 2006 @ 3:38 pm | Reply

  17. Em, those are data points. They certainly indicate *something*. But they aren’t obvious proofs of the existence of privilege structures and the whole elaborate theory of privilege that has become foundational to left analysis of the culture. To analogize with paleontology, fossils are physical evidence of the history of life on Earth, but the existence of fossils per se does not prove evolution occurred or did not occur. It just proves that life was on Earth at a particular point in time. Similarly, surveys and crime statistics don’t intrinsically prove any particular theory – they just prove that there’s something to study and theorize about.

    Comment by Robert — June 10, 2006 @ 3:44 pm | Reply

  18. Which, of course, only underscores that personal experience is the most reliable conversion tool. 😉

    Comment by Em — June 10, 2006 @ 3:50 pm | Reply

  19. […] Tuomas thinks we hate men who take care of children! Since feminists have been telling for quite long now that childcare is devalued by society, one would expect that feminists would not mock men who become male nannies, or “mannies”? […]

    Pingback by Feministe » Oh, look, some more play on Creative Destruction! — June 10, 2006 @ 5:09 pm | Reply

  20. Em, those are data points. They certainly indicate *something*. But they aren’t obvious proofs of the existence of privilege structures and the whole elaborate theory of privilege that has become foundational to left analysis of the culture.

    Oh, if only there was a field of study that took those data points and put them in context and used them to develope and test theories about what they signified. We could call it, oh, say…sociography, socionomy…something along those lines at any rate.

    It’s too bad nothing like that exists, huh?

    Comment by Sophist — June 10, 2006 @ 8:51 pm | Reply

  21. A field of study is not a theory, Sophist. Privilege theory is not the whole of sociology, and not all sociologists accept privilege theory as being valid or true.

    Comment by Robert — June 10, 2006 @ 9:22 pm | Reply

  22. Duh.

    Comment by Sophist — June 10, 2006 @ 10:30 pm | Reply

  23. If you recognize the point, Sophist, then I am confused as to the intention of your comment #20.

    Comment by Robert — June 11, 2006 @ 2:22 am | Reply

  24. Here’s a post I left on one of these nitwits’ sites. The woman I mention (“Kat”) basically said she just wanted good childcare, and didn’t care whether it came from a male or female (and had a good male childcare worker).

    It’s a relief to read Kat’s post. As for most of the rest of you, you’re why I have to call myself “an Elizabeth Cady Stanton feminist” — to differentiate from the man-bashing, victim feminists who pretend they want equal rights and equal treatment but are really after preferential treatment…and hope to pick up lots of excuses to deem men evil and even criminal (if possible) on their way.

    Anthropologist Sarah Hrdy writes about how men are just as capable of nurturing. She has a vagina, I believe, but I’m sure her views (supported by years of research, but not supportive of the victim-feminist dogma) will disqualify her viewpoint from consideration by many of you.

    Comment by Amy Alkon — June 11, 2006 @ 10:35 pm | Reply

  25. Oh, and PS, while we’re on the latest in the special treatment for women arena, I just love these women sniveling that it’s so horrible about Elizabeth Vargas…yet another sign women can’t have it all. Well, guess what, dearies…no you can’t. I’m a childless (and thrilled) woman, and I work seven days a week, and I just got back from four days at the Human Behavior & Evolution Society conference. I call my boyfriend between sessions…if I have time. You can’t have that kind of lifestyle and work life if you have kids. Not having them is a choice. Why should some woman with a bunch of kids make the same money and have the same opportunities as a woman like me? Warren Farrell actually found that women like me (who work more like men instead of having kids) make 117 % of what men do. Now that’s my kind of inequality!

    Comment by Amy Alkon — June 11, 2006 @ 10:39 pm | Reply

  26. I think there’s an interesting parellel to be explored here:

    The men who become nannies are self-selected, they probably thought about it a little, and want to prove that they are good at being nannies, or probably – good at being fathers. Women who take nanny jobs do it with less enthusiasm, less to prove, and more disdain at having to do some sucky nanny job for some other woman’s kids. They don’t need to that they are good mothers, they are more aware that these kids aren’t theirs and they will be good mothers for their own kids.

    the parallel I noticed was to the way same-sex parents are held up as being great parents, much better than many biological parents. Same-sex parents are also very interested in being good parents, and proving that they are good parents. And just as people seem to have been offended that these mannies were being hyped as better nannies than the stereotypical bad nanny, well, that’s the same feeling that straight couples get when gay couples are hyped as being better parents. It’s nor a fair comparison – self selected participants with something to prove versus people who just fell into the job.

    My feeling is that if time were to go on and these groups, mannies and same-sex parents, became equally represented and considered normal, they’d have less to prove, and there’d be just as many bad mannies as nannies, and just as many bad same-sex parents as both-sex parents. But now, while it’s still novel, these self-selected people should be expected to be better at it.

    Comment by John Howard — June 12, 2006 @ 1:50 am | Reply

  27. I’m a childless (and thrilled) woman, and I work seven days a week, and I just got back from four days at the Human Behavior & Evolution Society conference. I call my boyfriend between sessions…if I have time. You can’t have that kind of lifestyle and work life if you have kids.

    Actually, I bet if you asked around at the conference, you’d find that plenty of the men there do have kids.

    By the way, would it be possible for you to disagree without using insulting language like “nitwits” and “sniveling”?

    Comment by Ampersand — June 12, 2006 @ 2:41 am | Reply

  28. Which of course is common in lefty circles, complete denial (“no one meant that way!”) and claim that the comment meant something other than it reads as.

    My impression is that you frequently use questionable paraphrasing and/or really dubious misunderstandings to criticize feminists and leftists. Since that’s the tactic you commonly fall back on, it’s no surprise that the frequent response is “no, I didn’t mean that at all.”

    Comment by Ampersand — June 12, 2006 @ 2:46 am | Reply

  29. John Howard:
    Good point.

    Amy Alkon (I like your site, btw), Ampersand:

    There is a disparity between how men and women can combine career and family, but the 1000000$ question is how to balance this. It seems that currently, due to biology (pregnancy and stuff) and the fact that women choose to have families (as housewifes/mothers) with career-minded men, whereas career-minded women don't seem to be doing the opposite in same numbers with home-oriented men.

    edited to add: Probably also because men haven't traditionally been that much into being housedads.

    Probably biology and culture both play a role here.

    Ampersand:

    Since that’s the tactic you commonly fall back on, it’s no surprise that the frequent response is “no, I didn’t mean that at all.”

    Funny, I thought "I didn't mean that at all" would be said when one does not mean it, not because the questioner is bit of an asshole.

    Comment by Tuomas — June 13, 2006 @ 11:53 am | Reply

  30. complex social science? Get over yourselves. I’m hiring myself a manny just as soon as I get the courage to throw out all the worthless nannies working for me. When I dream, I dream of Britney’s nanny. And he isn’t taking care of the kids! I had female nannies for my kids for 10 years now. Now it’s my turn. I want something for me!

    Comment by marge ingersol — June 24, 2006 @ 12:10 pm | Reply

  31. all nannies are lazy and good for nothing. But thank you, I would prefer a hot white male nanny beached on my sofa or cooking up food in my kitchen. YUMMY

    Comment by marge ingersol — August 8, 2006 @ 2:54 am | Reply


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