The Big Dumb Husband
By Leah Hillman
One day at the library my 3 year old brought me a Berenstain Bears book and asked me to read it to him. The story was about how the Bear Family had decided to go camping. Papa Bear was a complete buffoon and a know-it-all to boot who proceeded to lead the family into all sorts of trouble. Mama Bear sat back patiently and, when Papa Bear had finally been humbled enough by all his mistakes to give up, she gracefully stepped in and made everything right. When we finished the book, my little boy brought me another one and it was similar: Papa Bear blusters and bumbles through the story making mistakes and generally acting like a dope- Mama Bear steps in at the end and fixes things.
I was bothered by the book. I didn’t like the tone of it or the underlying theme that dads are silly and moms are sensible. I decided to just not read those books to him anymore and leave it at that.
Then I began to notice something. Everywhere I look I am bombarded with this image of The Big Dumb Husband. On television, on the radio, the computer, even in real life. This guy is everywhere! He may take on different forms, like sometimes he is attractive, sometimes kind of pudgy and silly looking. Sometimes he’s classy, sometimes common. But he is usually a bit on the stupid side, and he is always ALWAYS married to a woman that is more intelligent than he is.
One day I was doing some banking online and there was a credit card ad on the side of the page. The ad would change from a picture of an attractive, sensible looking woman rolling her eyes and saying “He’s an impulse buyer,” and then it would flash to a picture of a good looking man with tousled hair and a big goofy grin rolling his eyes and saying “She’s a compulsive saver,” and then would flash to an image of the credit card that was perfect for both of them. I was struck with the portrayal of the husband as the dopey, silly, irresponsible one in the relationship. He was the spender, she the saver.
One day on the radio I heard a commercial for I don’t even know what, but it began with the wife talking about how fast little boys grow up and how you would miss all those annoying things they do. Then as she is speaking her husband interrupts her saying “Hey honey, want to see me squirt milk out of my nose?” and the long suffering wife then informs us that some things never change. The message? Men are childish and irritating. Women put up with them.
And television commercials are the worst. One that stands out in my mind shows a woman sitting at her computer investing money online while her husband sits on the couch wearing a ridiculous array of sports apparel eating junk food while watching football. When she suggests he look into their investments, he jumps a little in his seat, like he’s startled. Then she reassures him that she has taken care of it for him already so he can go back to his game watching. Another one depicts a lady showing her friend the window blinds that she chose for her home that not only look beautiful but also save money on energy bills. She keeps opening and closing the blinds as she talks. The first time she opens them we see her husband in the yard decked out in an apron and dumb hat trying to cook something on the grill. She closes them. The next time she opens them we see him pouring large amounts of lighter fluid on the grill and lighting it, causing a fire. She closes them. Next time he is trying to put the fire out and the whole grill falls over igniting the lawn. And so on and so on. The wife is presented as the smart money saver in both commercials. The husband? We are surprised he can feed himself, he’s so stupid.
Another TV commercial shows a dad and his daughter doing dishes. She keeps correcting him in a very arrogant voice, saying “This isn’t how Mommy does it.” By the end of the commercial he manages to figure out how to scrub a pan “just like Mommy,” but he then puts all the dishes in the wrong places. He’s not that smart.
One day at my mom’s house there was a show on television called Everyone Loves Raymond. The whole idea of the show is that there is a husband named Raymond who is very lovable but extremely clueless in most areas of life. His job is to write about sports. His wife is this cute, funny woman who patiently puts up with all of his antics and then tries to explain things to him in simple terms that he can understand. He gets himself into all sorts of trouble because he is just too dumb to see what is going to happen. Years ago I used to watch a show called Mad About You that was the same idea, the husband was just wandering through life in a clueless kind of way and the wife was there to teach him the way things should be done. These are just two examples, but I’ll bet most sitcoms are set up this way.
Our society is flooded with this image, and it’s not just on television and in books. I can’t count the times I’ve sat in a group of women and listened to them laugh and tell stories about how stupid their husbands are. I listen to their condescending voices and can sense a very obvious disrespect for men in general and for their man in particular. They discuss all their husbands’ shortcomings, and then they smile and shake their heads and roll their eyes and admire one another for putting up with these inferior creatures.
Are men really this way? All men? Not all of them, surely. But some of them are, I’ve met them. So, which came first , the chicken or the egg? Are they naturally inferior to women, or are they just living down to the expectations of society and of their own wives? God didn’t create man to be less than his wife. If he has become that, why?
Parents, teach your children well. Start paying attention and point out The Big Dumb Husband to them whenever he shows his silly face. Tell them that this image is wrong, that it is not what God intended a man to be. It’s time that we restored men to being dignified, intelligent, thoughtful, fearless leaders and teachers in their homes, not a bunch of TV watching drones who might be good for a laugh but who can’t be taken seriously. If we allow this image to become ingrained in our children’s minds, they will grow up to expect it. Your little boy will become a Big Dumb Husband, and your daughter will probably marry one.
About the Author:
My name is Leah and I am a born again Christian dedicated to the Truth that I have found in Jesus Christ, my savior. I have been married to Ken for 14 years. We have 6 great kids: Kenny (13), Kyle and Kaitlyn (11), Kevin (5), Megan and Melissa (1 Year) that we homeschool. We live on our 5 acre farm in Illinois.