Oh, Ye Olde Double Standard! (Or: Read Amy Sohn on Why Go the F**K to Sleep Wasn’t Written by a Woman)

So you’ve probably already heard of Go the F**K to Sleep, written by Adam Mansbach, a tired new dad who–bingo!–couldn’t get his kid to sleep.  Chances are, you either love it or hate it.

Either way, you can’t ignore it–the book’s become a runaway hit and was a New York Times bestseller before it even hit the stands last week (according to this Hollywood Reporter article by Andy Lewis). The book’s even become so popular that Samuel Jackson recently lent his voice to the audiobook (click on this Hollywood Reporter article to hear him reading it on Letterman).

(For the record, I think it’s hilarious.  Then again, I’m a lover of satire and anything that smacks of The Onion, so it’s right up my alley.)

But there’s a whole new debate going on about whether or not the book could have been written by a woman.  Amy Sohn argues that if a woman had written Go the F**K to Sleep, a) the book wouldn’t have been a bestseller and b) the woman who attempted it would’ve received the backlash of the century. Instead of being told how “cool” and “funny” her project was, here’s what she’d probably hear instead:

— If you hate being a mom so much, why did you have a child in the first place?

— Clearly your daughter can’t rest because you work.

— You have an anger management problem and you’re giving your kid ADHD.

— You need Zoloft.

— I pray that you bring no more children into the world because it will spare another individual the years of therapy he will need to get over the trauma of having been raised by such a selfish and insensitive person. (Sohn, “Could a Mom Have Written Go The F–K to Sleep?” Babble.com)

I whole-heartedly agree.  Despite all the blogs and books out there attempting to blow apart the whole double-standard of what we expect from our mothers and fathers, has anything much really changed?  If it had, would we still be crucifying writers like Ayelet Waldman and the like?

Here’s Sohn’s take on this:

Apparently, even though we’re in this age of How Much Parenting Sucks and How Hard It Really Is, the Good Mother archetype still reigns supreme. As Connors puts it, “Any woman that exposes the uglier side of parenting or even humorously disparages motherhood gets a lot of blowback. There’s this powerful idea that mothers should be good. Dads are not held to that same standard so they have more leeway to be irreverent and dark and ridiculous.”

What do you think?

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4 Responses to Oh, Ye Olde Double Standard! (Or: Read Amy Sohn on Why Go the F**K to Sleep Wasn’t Written by a Woman)

  1. Derek June 24, 2011 at 4:06 pm #

    Absolutely. Joking or complaining about parenthood is one of the clearest cases of continuing gender-based double standards. So many examples–take the comic Louis CK. No way a mom could tell even one of his jokes, let alone build an entire career around the idea of being a cussing, angry, crappy if earnest parent. Or the movie “The Full Monty.” An unemployed dad and his friends decide to do nude dance review to raise money? And he renews his relationship with his teenage son by having him tag along to help with the choreography? Make them all women and the parent would be arrested.
    Or, more closely, your example. Samuel L. Jackson reads the book, funny. Werner Herzog reads it, funny. I’d like to see what would happen if new mom Natalie Portman, or serial mom Angelina Jolie gave it a public dramatic reading.
    Especially in our socio-economic demographic, there’s no room at all for mothers to project anything other than perfect parenthood. Steel Magnolias all.

  2. Mike June 27, 2011 at 2:22 pm #

    Forget the book “Go the F**k to Sleep”, a pathetic, soul-less, allegedly rebel, ‘children’s book’. Don’t waste your hard-earned money, instead read a BANNED book like “America Deceived II” by a real rebel and the “World’s Most Hated Author”, E.A. Blayre III.
    Last link (before Google Books bans it also]:

  3. Elizabeth R June 28, 2011 at 6:25 am #

    Absolutely. I live it every day. Some days I feel like a single parent even though I clearly have a spouse who exisits in the same house. He thought this book was hilarious. I thought it was ironic that he did since he sleeps through everything and I get up with her and our daughter really doesn’t have any problems sleeping, at least for me!

  4. Julie Poppen July 9, 2011 at 3:19 pm #

    Interesting observations, T. I, too, thought the book was funny when I flipped through a copy at the bookstore. But I was quickly overcome by another feeling, which I think was sadness. So I am one parent conflicted. I would never buy it for myself or anyone else. But it contains an undeniable truth about parenting. It’s really hard sometimes.

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