Marche's Polemic on Patriarchy Provocative

By Walker, Morley | Winnipeg Free Press, March 11, 2017 | Go to article overview

Marche's Polemic on Patriarchy Provocative


Walker, Morley, Winnipeg Free Press


Some books catch the moment. Others... not so much.

With Donald Trump in the U.S. White House and a wave of conservatism sweeping through western democracies, will anyone be open to Toronto-based author Stephen Marche's unapologetically progressive views on the state of gender relations in the modern landscape?

Let's hope so, because most of what Marche argues in The Unmade Bed makes great sense, and he is nothing if not a fluent stylist.

In 2007, the Edmonton-born author had emerged from a PhD in literature. His second novel was nearing publication and he had a tenure-track position teaching at City College in New York.

Then his wife, Sarah Fulford, was offered her dream job back in her hometown -- as editor of Toronto Life magazine.

With a toddler at home, the couple considered their options. It made sense for them to move back to Toronto for Fulford's job, which paid almost twice as much as Marche's.

Toronto also offered decent public schools and free health care. Marche became a house husband.

"I am... in the middle of a world-shattering revolution," he writes from inside the liberal bubble, "one of the most profound re-evaluations of humanity ever undertaken, the redefinition of a core human distinction that has been in place for 30,000 years."

It has also provided fodder for his freelance journalism and this book. Marche intersperses his own experiences of a decade on the daddy track -- the couple now has two kids -- with a survey of statistics and studies that shows how much has changed since Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique in 1963.

Marche has aired many of these ideas in his monthly columns in Esquire magazine as well as other U.S. outlets. He also turns up as a CBC TV and radio pundit.

Key to his thesis is what he calls the "hollow patriarchy." Modern life remains a bastion of male privilege, he argues, but inside the shell women increasingly dominate the middle ground. …

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