The Female Breadwinner
Washington, D.C., is where the nation’s decision makers and influencers reside. With a fast paced environment and a plethora of career choices, D.C. is a great place to climb ladders and reach dream jobs. However, many of these high-level positions are, across the board, held by men.
But in the past decade, the United States as a whole has seen a sharp increase in the amount of women holding positions previously only held by men. With this increase, there has also been a shift in the dynamic of how men and women interact. The idea held by society of fragile women is now being shattered with each Condoleezza Rice, Sonia Sotomayor and Hilary Clinton that step up to the once male dominated positions.
This shift in power is also creating a shift in how women and men interact socially. Long gone are the Victorian days when women were to stay home and watch the house. Women are buying and selling properties, investing in stocks and amassing large amounts of wealth. But what happens when a woman is more successful than her significant other?
A stay-at-home husband?
A couple of years ago, I met a very successful woman working in public relations. She was on top of her game and had a great network of contacts. One day, she casually mentioned her husband, and naturally, I asked what he did for a living. “Nothing. He’s a stay-at-home husband,” she answered. Her voice was cool and confident as if this was status quo. Although I am a self-proclaimed feminist, I never considered the idea of a woman going to work and a man staying home to clean and cook. Frankly, I was flabbergasted.
From the anecdotal evidence my friend gave me, it seemed that her stay-at-home husband arrangement worked out very well for the two of them. She would come home from work and the house would be tidy and her husband would make dinner for the two of them. It sounds marvelous, doesn’t it?
But judging from my previous relationships, I have a feeling that none of my ex-boyfriends would have been too happy with that arrangement. Is it possible that there is a new budding generation of men that would rather stay home than find a job? Or is it that my friend’s husband realized that his wife was more talented and would have a higher chance of making the bigger bucks, and thus took one for the team?
Role equality in the household
The latter seems very rational to me. Childcare is expensive, and if it seemed that one partner would be able to make more money than the other and one could stay home to offset childcare costs, it makes sense that the money-maker should be the one to continue working. But what happens when the money-maker is the woman? As most households know, the breadwinner is the one who tends to make most of the household decisions. But with millennia of being on the top tier of the hierarchy, this can be a risky move. Many men may begin to feel that they are the inferior one in the relationship, causing friction in the relationship to the point of a divorce or break up.
However, just as it is important for women to continue becoming equal in the workforce, it is just as important for men to begin accepting that they are equal in the household. By agreeing in role equality, couples have a great chance at being honest with each other about his and her talents and creating a harmonious household.