New financial gender roles in the family: House-husbands? Sugar mamas?

In the law school Class of 2000 at UC Hastings in California, women outnumbered men.  In college and many other graduate schools, this is also the case.  The increasing number of women in higher-paid jobs, longer and more successful careers, and the length of time that this has been true has led to more and more women earning substantial amounts of money.  Adding to this the troubled Oakland economy and many individuals – men and women – out of work, and we have a result that means there are many households with working women and stay-at-home men.  Whether the men are caring for children or looking for work, it is no longer the ‘norm’ to find exclusively women at home.  In fact, many men are choosing to stay home while their wives pursue their careers.

A recent article discusses this very concept, questioning our societal norms.  Do we still look down on men who don’t work, who choose to stay at home and raise children?  It was just in 2009 that the bestseller Smart Girls Marry Money: How Women Have Been Duped into the Romantic Dream – And How They’re Paying for It, by Dr. Daniela Drake and Elizabeth Ford was released.  This was the antithesis of working women and stay-at-home men, actually encouraging women to “marry up” since it was fruitless to try to compete with men in the professional realm.


As the linked article discusses, our society has changed, and even in celebrity relationships we see women moneymakers partnering with more obscure, unknown or lesser-earning men. Just look at Britney Spears or Mariah Carey with lesser known Kevin Federline or Nick Cannon, respectively.  This is true in the non-celebrity realm as well, as we see in Alameda County courts more fathers as primary caregivers for their children, more fathers as equal participants in the child rearing process.  No longer is there a presumption that the mothers should get the children in a divorce.  Both parents are equal in the eyes of the law.

Are we going to see an increase in “Sugar Mamas”?  Start talking about the plight of house-husbands and the discrimination against them?  Perhaps not tomorrow, but as our society evolves – and the Bay Area is frequently on the forefront of such things – we may see some of these issues arise.


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