This week on Teen Mom 2, Javi’s long-awaited time to deploy overseas arrived, and Kail, Isaac and Lincoln sent him off. Isaac made the whole world cry when he pleaded with Javi not to leave, and Lincoln… well, Lincoln is 2. He doesn’t know what’s going on, so while everyone was sad, he drove a shopping cart around the house, as you do. Kail’s on her own now, more or less, to take care of the house and numerous animals while going to school and effectively being a single parent. Oh, but don’t worry! Before Javi left, he and Kail dubbed Isaac the “man of the house.”
Look, I get that Isaac was/is upset about Javi leaving and this was an attempt to make him feel better by giving him something else to focus on. “Man of the house,” though, is one of those things people say and don’t consider the hugely problematic implications. “Man of the house” should not even be a thing. It implies that there needs to be a man in a house in order for that house to be healthy and normal. It implies that Isaac’s job is to take care of his mother and his brother because Javi isn’t around to do it, which is just so unfair to Isaac. He’s 6 and it’s not his job to do anything but be 6. It doesn’t matter if Kail and Javi actually expect that from Isaac, it’s setting up the expectation that creates the problem, especially when Isaac is super attached to Javi and really upset about him leaving.
What bothers me the most about this whole “man of the house” business is that it’s another example of Javi being crappy at feminism. He’s been creepy and possessive of Kail, reading her text messages and complaining when she goes out with her friends. There’s the matter of Kail wanting to finish school and Javi being baby crazy, not actually taking into consideration what it would mean for her to have three small children and a husband who’s off in another country. And then there was that whole miscarriage thing, when he lashed out at Kail for miscarrying and said to her, “You know how much I wanted that baby.” My point is, Javi’s more than a little obsessed with models of traditional masculinity (not that Kail isn’t — she’s just like everyone else on this show in that sense) and so the idea of Isaac being the “man of house” seems extra toxic. Let’s hope he can see Kail as a strong female role model and that she won’t let him buy into that other stuff.
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