Etiquette School is in session! > "Have you tried the bean dip?"

Awkwardness at the Conference Lunch

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Zizi-K:
I'm sorry, I guess I'm not seeing what's so offensive about what he said. "It's like having a wife" is shorthand for saying "it's like having the traditional notion of a stay-at-home-wife." Obviously there are lots and lots of wives who don't stay home. And at the moment, having a stay at home husband is non-traditional in the sense that it is atypical and it was uncommon in the past. I fully support the arrangement and I look forward to a time when it is more common. (not that my opinion matters) But your conversation partner wasn't wrong.

TootsNYC:
It's just so weird--he can't ask what you do? I mean, your husband isn't even there.

I wonder if he felt that it was important for him to acknowledge that he knew you were married--whether he's self-conscious about speaking to a woman.

Or, is he sexist and really only thinks men are important.

Who knows?
but it's weird. And you handled it well.

My husband is not employed outside the house; well, he freelancer, but not for very much money.

I don't want to get into it with people--they get really judgmental, etc. So I say, "he's based at home," and immediately go to another topic.

mspallaton:

--- Quote from: TootsNYC on March 06, 2014, 04:21:59 PM ---It's just so weird--he can't ask what you do? I mean, your husband isn't even there.

I wonder if he felt that it was important for him to acknowledge that he knew you were married--whether he's self-conscious about speaking to a woman.

Or, is he sexist and really only thinks men are important.

Who knows?
but it's weird. And you handled it well.

My husband is not employed outside the house; well, he freelancer, but not for very much money.

I don't want to get into it with people--they get really judgmental, etc. So I say, "he's based at home," and immediately go to another topic.

--- End quote ---

Can I steal that?  I tend not to see the point in getting into it with acquaintances/work folks, but I also don't think I should have to lie about a perfectly respectable choice to avoid awkwardness.  Your wording sounds polite, but clearly not open for discussion.

JenJay:

--- Quote from: Zizi-K on March 06, 2014, 04:19:53 PM ---I'm sorry, I guess I'm not seeing what's so offensive about what he said. "It's like having a wife" is shorthand for saying "it's like having the traditional notion of a stay-at-home-wife." Obviously there are lots and lots of wives who don't stay home. And at the moment, having a stay at home husband is non-traditional in the sense that it is atypical and it was uncommon in the past. I fully support the arrangement and I look forward to a time when it is more common. (not that my opinion matters) But your conversation partner wasn't wrong.

--- End quote ---

I think it was offensive because it emasculated her husband (he's not her wife, a wife is a woman) and it implies that being a stay-home spouse/parent is a woman's job. It doesn't mean there's anything wrong with being a stay home wife but he isn't. He's a husband. "Oh so you have a stay-home husband." wouldn't have been offensive.

My husband has always worked odd hours so, when I also worked, we arranged our schedules so that we didn't have daycare. Whenever he took the kids out, or someone would find out he was the one who got them up and ready for school, he'd get the comments. "Oh are you Mr. Mom?" and "Your wife is so lucky that you babysit!" and "It must be your week with the kids." etc. He would get incredibly offended. None of those things were true. He was a father, caring for his children. Nobody bats an eye when women do these things but throw a man into the mix and it becomes a "thing". Even when the comment is well-intended it's still offensive to those on the receiving end.

TootsNYC:
I don't think it's so terribly emasculating--it *is* a bit like having the traditional 1950s wife. I think my answer would have been something like, "Yes, it is, sort of. So what's new at your company? Any interesting projects?"

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