Why Keep a Man in Your House?
Comic Katherine Ryan is a 36-year-old single mother who has no interest in dating, and wants people to know that she hasn’t resigned herself to single motherhood, she chooses it. In the first moments of her new Netflix special, Glitter Room, she notes, “Men are like dolphins in that they should be enjoyed on holiday. They’re very intelligent—almost as smart as people, but that doesn’t mean you should have one in your house.” This special is very funny—I laughed my tits off—but it’s also subversive as f*ck.
Ryan covers topics ranging from school bake sales, to “revenge bodies,” to her first viewing of Hamilton, but the message she comes back to again and again is this: She’s a single mother by choice who thinks people should get off her dick about her chosen lifestyle. “Being a single mother isn’t for everyone,” she says, “but it certainly is for me.” Now, there’s privilege we can point to here. Ryan is a well-off white woman who owns a home in London and co-parents with her daughter’s father. But, I still really appreciated hearing about how women should be able to have the lifestyle they want—whatever that may be— and not only that, but talk about it. Crazy, right?
At one point, Ryan starts chatting with two single mothers in the audience, and gives this piece of advice: “If you’re unsure about your choices, ask yourself: ‘Would I be more celebrated if I were doing this as a man?’” And the answer my friends is… yes. It’s yes. Obviously it’s yes. Dads, single and partnered, get so much praise for anything that resembles parenting, while women’s labor goes almost completely unnoticed. Why? Because female/female-presenting people are expected to do this work, while male/male-presenting people aren’t. It’s messed up, but it's true. To be sure, there are great dads out there, and dads who single-parent or split the parenting load fairly, but the fact remains that “dad privilege” is real. #Sorrynotsorry. As Ryan says, “I just bought a house in central London—[if I were a single dad] they would’ve made me The Bachelor 2 years ago.”
Speaking of double-standards, toward the beginning of the show, Ryan speaks with a woman in the audience, Michelle, about Joseph, the man she “keeps in her house.” Turning to Joseph, she casually asks, “Do you work? Are you a stay-at-home husband?” This was so subtly done, but I almost cried out in gratitude. As a 30-year-old woman who’s married to a man, I’m constantly asked stupid-ass questions like, “Do you work?” “Do you work full-time?” “Oh you work in a nonprofit. Do you get paid?”
No one in the history of human life on earth has ever asked a man if he works. Ok I guess I can’t really confirm that, but I’d bet money—the money I make at my full-time job—that I’m not wrong. The assumption is that men work, and that women might work but you should probably ask just to be sure. Go ahead, she won’t mind! (She will mind.) Sure, we probably shouldn’t ask anyone this question, but I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t hate watching it posed to a man.
If you’ve read any of my writing for the Jewish Women’s Archive, you know that I love writing about comedy, and specifically about female comedians. Many of the comedians I write about are Jewish, but not all of them are. The truth is that the style of comedy I most appreciate is comedy that gives voice, and in hilarious fashion, to areas of women’s experience that we’re not supposed to talk about. This is something I strongly associate with Jewish women comedians, but not exclusively. Katherine Ryan isn’t Jewish, but she is willing to “weaponize [her] pussy against the enemies of [her] children.” I feel like she should be made an honorary Jewish mother for that, right? Also, I’m not going to explain that one; you’ll just have to watch the special, and now I’m pretty sure that you will!
I can’t finish this piece without talking about what happened when Ryan went to see Hamilton. If you’ve seen it, or listened to the soundtrack, you know there’s a part about halfway through the show when Alexander Hamilton’s wife and children are away for the summer, and Hamilton begins an affair with a young woman, Maria Reynolds, when she comes to him one night seeking help.
Well, Ryan wasn’t having this. She translates Reynolds’s plea as follows: “Hey, local representative, I appear to have found myself in a domestic abuse situation, but I’m not currently allowed to vote or work or eat so why don’t you put your fucking dick away and help this lady!” She said that standing up and shouting this during the show wasn’t met with any support, nor did her “Put your fucking dick away” chant catch on. She hints she was kicked out of the show for her behavior, explaining: “When I say I’ve seen Hamilton, I’ve seen half of Hamilton.” As a theater lover I know I should be horrified by the mere thought of someone making as much as a peep during a show—we don’t even let people unwrap hard candies for god’s sake—but in this case I’m really hoping this story is true. Don’t tell my theater friends!
In my usual fashion, I’ve run out of room but still have so much I want to talk about. I didn’t get to tell you Ryan’s thoughts on the feedback she’s gotten that she needs to work harder to make her shows “safe spaces for men,” or her recommendation to have a British child because it’s like having a “tiny, ineffective butler,” or the difference between a “day wine” and a “night wine,” or, why it is that Celine Dion is currently “kicking it in the dick.” I know you’re going to watch the special now. I mean, how could you not find out why Celine Dion is kicking it in the dick?
How to cite this page
Klebe, Larisa. "Why Keep a Man in Your House?." 11 July 2019. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on August 3, 2021) <https://jwa.org/blog/why-keep-man-your-house>.