Maybe “Envy” Really Isn’t The Right Word…

Laura Bennett (of Project Runway fame; she was the awesomely stylish mother of a litter of boys who made the super-cute “100% Nuts” dress, among others, but I digress) has an interesting blog in The Daily Beast today.

Exactly How Are Men Superior?

While I’m sure it’s a good read, in and of itself (I dare not incur the wrath of a woman always so perfectly put together that I would feel impelled to call her “MISS Laura Bennett,” were I ever to meet her), it puts me in mind of a theory I had immediately after giving birth.

If brevity is the soul of wit, my description of giving birth will be hilarious: It is absolutely not a great experience. That said, the payoff is pretty amazing. Hormones, society, and necessity intertwine to make the newly-minted fruit of your loins need you in ways heretofore unimagined. If you’re the mother. If you’re the father, you are still an integral part of the daily life of the child (one would hope), but the connection is different.

I was thinking about this phenomenon this morning when my partner-in-geekdom was dropping off his toddler at the same daycare my baby attends. He reiterated his grudging acceptance of the fact that, even though he spends more time with his son than his wife does, the boy still clings to his mother as his savior, champion, and general be-all-and-end-all. And he’s not alone in feeling this way.

In this, the 200-year anniversary of Darwin’s birth, it is appropriate to blame evolution, so I will. As a multitude of pop-culture self-help books will tell us, human men have evolved to spread their seed, and human women to nurture it. We’ve all heard this tons of times, used it as excuses for bad behavior (hey, Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell!), and rejected it as irrelevant. And it is, up to a point.

Women are not hard-wired to stay at home and cook and clean. That’s fucking ludicrous. What we have evolved into, however, are single-bodied baby-caring machines: a house in which to grow, a way into the world, and the primary food source. That last part is especially important, since it is the reason we’ve evolved all sorts of fun toys: the hormones that cause the act of breastfeeding to bond mother and baby, the ability of a newborn to only see breast-face distance, the innate desire of a newborn to look for eyes and hold their gaze. Hell, breast milk is also an antibiotic (tell me that was just an accident, Sarah Palin). This is all by way of saying that women have evolved to be able to physically create a toddler without any outside influence.

It occurred to me that this must be frustrating, to say the very least, for new dads. How unbelievably awful to be confronted with the notion that a crazed nut like Valerie Solanas may have had a point. Maybe she was right in her “research” that noted that men were going to be evolved out of the species entirely in the future, deemed as a footnote to a new matriarchal rule. To be assaulted by nagging little doubts about your own relevance as a gender while simultaneously being forced to reassure a sobbing, sleep-deprived, hormonal mess that she will eventually fit into her favorite jeans again…well, that’s just adding insult to injury.

Putting myself in a new dad’s shoes, I suddenly understood the excessive need I would feel to voice my own relevance. Really, I get it: the urge to say you are absolutely necessary to the world, if only because the species-perpetuator over there is…erm, well I bet she sucks at math.  And basketball.  And she knows absolutely dick about allen wrenches.

This is not meant to be an excuse for misogyny, but I think I finally understand its genesis. Which, for a physics geek like me, means I can wrap my mind around it and deal with it.*


*This is all by way of saying I think Freud’s a douche.  Never trust a cokehead to level with you about anything.


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