In part, mens strategies parallel womens, and in part they differ. Some men are superdads, the full or near equivalent to super – moms—John Livingston, for example. When their children were young, other men cut back their emotional commitment or hours at work—like Michael Sherman and Art Winfield. Many men let the house go more, lowered their expectations about time alone with their wife, cut out movies, seeing friends, some hobbies. In these ways, some mens strategies paralleled the womens.
But for most men, the situation differed in one fundamental way. By tradition, the second shift did not fall to them. In contrast to their wives, it was not a “new idea” that they should work. In the eyes of the world, they felt judged by their capacity to support the family and earn status at work. They got little credit for helping at home.
Most men were therefore not pressuring their wives to get more involved at home. They received such pressure. That was the big difference. Of the 80 percent of men in this study who did not share the work at home, a majority were subjected to occasional pressures from their wives to do more at home.
Most men were “transitional” in gender ideology, and resistant in strategy. But their wives’ pressuring them to share often evoked a number of underlying feelings for them. “Underneath” Ray Jud – son’s ideological objections to sharing was the fear that he might lose control of his wife if she didn’t depend on him economically. Beneath Peter Tanagawa’s resistance was his fear of losing status as a man in his family and hometown community. Evan Holt feared Nancy was trying to boss him around and get out of tending the home herself.
For some men who were failing at work, or otherwise felt badly about themselves, avoiding work at home was a way of “balancing” the scales with their wives. As I explain further in Chapter 15, a man may decline to help in the second shift to compensate for the fact that his wife is getting “too far” ahead at work, or in other ways gaining “too much” power. Women do this “balancing” too. Underlying all these extra reasons to resist sharing was, finally, the basic fact that it was a privilege to have a wife tend the home. If a man shared the second shift, that privilege was lost.
At least at first, most men gave other reasons for not wanting to share: their career was too demanding or their job more stressful. When these rationales obviously didn’t apply, resistant men resorted to the explanation that they weren’t “brought up” to do housework.