I'm still seething over an article I read in yesterday's paper - I know I should know better than to take too seriously an article in the Sunday Times Style section, but somehow, this one really got to me. It's called 'Where did my sex kitten go?' and it's written by a man called Simon Jones. Here's the link:
To sum up: Simon fell in love with Frances, glamorous medical career woman. According to the article, she pressured him first into marriage and then into having a child. Once the baby was born, she became, according to him, 'overweight, unfit... a boring frump'. So he had an affair with another woman he met through his work in a hospital, Maria. When she issued him with an ultimatum, he told Frances, who punched him and f***ed him, but the next morning he left to move in with Maria. Who then pressured him into marriage and a child. Now Simon feels betrayed and he has decided to put himself first.
He rather glosses over the fact that it is ten years since he left Frances, and that Maria had her baby only nine months ago. He bewails the transformation of hot, intelligent women into obsessive mothers. And while he doesn't spell it out, it is clear that he is contemplating ditching Maria and his second daughter just as he ran out on Frances and his first daughter.
I read this article with my jaw dropping further and further at Simon's totally skewed and deeply offensive perspective. He makes the sweeping generalisation that all women are treacherous liars. He objectifies his women, longing for independent sex kittens who provide sexual services with a side helping of decent conversation. He holds the women in his life solely responsible for the predicament he is in, instead of thinking that just maybe, he should have stood up to them and stuck to his principles if he was so anti-marriage and anti-child. And now he has fathered two children by different mothers with no real intention of providing them any of the stability or guidance that a father should provide. Chiefly because he doesn't understand that those are the responsibilities once you've caved in and agreed to breed, and of course, he has the commitment of a fruit-eating bat. Sheesh, no wonder his ex-wife is 'frosty' and his elder daughter doesn't seem to like him much. Actually, the surprise to me was that such a witless, whingeing windbag had managed to persuade two intelligent career minded women to have sex with him at all. Maybe he looks like Brad Pitt or Jake Gyllenhaal, but somehow, I think probably not.
I too have met the obsessive mothers: a very brief flirtation with mother-baby groups in Brighton was one of the many spurs that encouraged me back into the workplace, because all the conversation about nappies, cracked nipples and competitive parenting spooked me. But women usually snap out of this pretty promptly - certainly within a year or so, if nurtured and cherished by their partners. But he doesn't seem to have taken the time with Frances, and since he is writing about nine months after his second wife has given birth, he clearly isn't giving her much time to bounce back from the birth.
Simon does describe how he generously upped the hours of the cleaner and brought takeaway dinners home so Frances didn't have to cook. He bought her jewellery and perfume, brought home champagne and flowers. He doesn't mention looking after his daughter, or talking to his wife. His perspective on what makes a decent, loving man is pitifully limited and superficial. His frustration that he is no longer the centre of attention is only going to increase a woman's natural insecurity and encourage her to focus on the baby that is unconditional in its demands and desires. Stuff doesn't cut it.
So what does cut it? Pacing the floors at 3am with a colicky baby while letting your wife sleep; looking after the baby so she can have some time to herself, whether she chooses to spend that getting back into shape or having a bath and reading Vogue; cooking once a week and then making sure the kitchen is immaculate afterwards; showering her with hugs and kisses without applying pressure to have sex (which I think many mothers fear for anywhere between weeks, months and years after giving birth for a multiplicity of reasons usually explored in full in any good pregnancy guide); reading pregnancy and parenting guides; letting her wallow in the weirdness that is motherhood, especially the first time round; organising the babysitter if you want a night out together; understanding that with patience, affection, respect and humour, women will emerge from the hormonal fog that clouds their perspective.
I suppose, really, I was as much saddened by this pitiful article as angered, because it illustrates that there are still men out there who are utterly stupid. At least, in Simon's case he has been honest. Now, as a real service to woman- and mankind, he should tattoo himself with the words: 'complete fool, avoid like the plague' - that would save him from any further difficulties with commitment and fatherhood.