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I am pretty much a model husband. I don’t smoke or drink (except for tequila, which really isn’t drinking so much as reupholstering your throat), I don’t own a snake, I don’t bring fish into the house, and I haven’t watched “The Three Stooges” since I was 12. I figure that oughta be enough. My wife doesn’t appreciate the cornucopian embarrassment of marital riches I represent. She wants more. She wants the seat down all the time, crumbs cleaned off the counter, and huge bags of heavy groceries lugged upstairs on days other than the summer and winter solstices. This is why she became a lawyer: She’s just naturally contentious. I’ve been fighting a holding action on this front, and doing pretty well. I’m old enough to claim I didn’t hear her car when she comes back from the grocery store and to insist my failing eyesight makes it hard for me to notice the crumbs. I’ve told her about the studies linking back trouble in men to constantly bending over to put the seat down, and I stop to admire the snakes every time we go past a pet store. All in all, I figured I had the high ground pretty well staked out. THE SPANISH REVOLUTION But the Spaniards let me down. It says here, “The Spanish parliament last week approved legislation making divorce speedier and easier, while ordering men to share child care and housework.” Excuse me? Ordering men to share child care and housework? Ordering men to share child care and housework?!?! Forget that insignificant little divorce thing, forget their approval of gay marriage, which got all the CNN and Fox News time. Concentrate on what really matters here. They passed legislation ordering men to share child care and housework? Why wasn’t this stop-the-presses, read-all-about-it, Michael-Jackson-acquitted headline news? Iraq schmiraq. There’s been a revolution in Spain, for crying out loud. This makes Lenin look like a tinkerer. How did this happen? How did a citadel of male supremacist dogma like Spain allow such legislation? Was there a coup I didn’t hear about? Was the Spanish government overthrown by godless, communist, alien feminists from Krypton? I mean, in the Battle of the Sexes, this is big. This may not be Gettysburg, but it’s at least Chickamauga. Spain was a country we men thought we could count on. These guys not only understood machismo, they could spell it! For us to lose Spain is like Bush losing Kansas. According to Spain’s Centre for Sociological Investigation, Spanish men spend 13 minutes a day looking after their children. I’ve only got a teenage daughter left in the house, and it takes me 13 minutes just to locate her on any given evening. I couldn’t take decent care of a snake in 13 minutes a day. These guys were living in paradise. According to my sources, “Four in 10 Spanish men do no housework at all.” None at all! Near as I can determine, they spend most of their time eluding bulls and answering surveys in which they oppose women working outside the home. Well, kiss that goodbye. Unless they can throw up some last-minute legislative roadblock, Spanish Family Law will now include statutory obligations to vacuum and empty the cat box. This is how all the really great ideas — like male supremacy — are subverted. Little inroads. Little defeats. You start out agreeing to use coasters, and next thing you know they’ve passed legislation requiring you to do windows. According to The Australian, “The new egalitarian domestic regime could dramatically alter the state of divorce in Spain, because judges will now consider men’s commitment to this pledge when ruling on separations and access to children.” Aw, what a nightmare this is gonna be. I can see it now. Unless you can prove you did as much ironing as the little woman, she’s gonna get custody of the big screen. Which, of course, is ridiculous, because if you try to use picture-in-picture for anything but March Madness and baseball, you just get chaos. But judges don’t care about that stuff. All they care about is the damned statute, and the damned statute is gonna say you have to “share domestic responsibilities and the care and attention of the children.” It’s not gonna say anything about times when the Hooters Miss Bikini Universe and Belching Competition conflict with the school play. And, of course, the Spanish men just stood by and let this happen. I mean, surely they could have put a stop to this. They sure as hell weren’t too busy to fight it. Unless the legislation was passed during a big soccer match, there’s no excuse for losing a battle this important. Where’s El Cid when you need him? ON TOP DOWN UNDER Having lost in Spain, the International Men’s Movement for Cooler Rights Than Women Get will have to fall back and find another battleground. I’m pretty sure it won’t be Australia. That battle’s already lost. They have a sex discrimination commissioner in Australia. That’s always bad news for us guys, because we are very rarely the moving force behind the creation of jobs like sex discrimination commissioner. Australia’s is named Pru Goward. “Pru” is short for “Prudence,” so this is not a fight we XYs are gonna win. Her latest report calls for men “to do their fair share of household chores,” and the minority report, as I understand it, reads, in full, “Come on, Pru, gimme a break, will ya? Jeez.” As intellectually appealing as that response is to me, it seems, inexplicably, to have generated little support. So Australia’s pretty much lost, and Spain has completely capitulated. The world is shrinking for my gender. We’re running out of positions to fall back to. IT’S YOUR TURN I’m afraid men may just have to face the fact that this game is slipping away. Even technology has turned against us. The bad news out of Spain was accompanied by news of a new household appliance on the market in Europe. According to The Australian, which oughta just change its name to More Bad News for Men, “The latest washing machine, named ‘Your Turn,’ prevents the same person — typically a wife and mother — from using the appliance consecutively by adopting fingerprint recognition technology.” I’m sorry, but this is just a perversion of modern science. They’ve taken a perfectly good scientific principle, which is extremely valuable when used properly — like for capturing criminals and identifying the winning entrants in bass-fishing contests — and misapplied it to the promotion of a social agenda that strips really cool privileges from half the people on the planet. Surely no right-thinking person can support this. What a terrible idea. Can’t you just hear a Spanish wife telling her spouse he has to go load the washer or his soccer uniform will be unwearable? Can’t you just see the smug little smile of self-satisfaction on her face when he realizes he has to do it because she did the last load so the washer won’t accept her fingerprint? I mean, that’s just not right. But it’s the way things are. Brave new world, indeed. Oh, we can fight back. There are criminal defense attorneys out there on the front lines right now, arguing that fingerprints aren’t reliable and should not be admissible in court proceedings. It won’t take much more than a couple of keystrokes to change that to “should not be allowable in household appliances.” We can get Congress to ban paella in the congressional lunchroom. That’ll show those miserable Spanish quislings. We can slap tariffs on the Spanish automobile industry and limit our imports of Ford Fiestas and Dodge Durangos. We can rename Los Angeles “Anaheim.” But it’s likely too late. The tide appears finally to be going out on male supremacy. Eventually, men everywhere will look back on this day, put down their mops, shake their fists, and shout, “Damn you, Don Quixote. Damn you and the Rocinante you rode in on.” As John Lennon said so presciently, there’s a Spaniard in the works.
William W. Bedsworth is an associate justice at the 4th District Court of Appeal in Santa Ana, Calif. This article previously appeared in The Recorder , an ALM publication in San Francisco.

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