Rhonda doesn't handle her sister's pregnancies well...
an Always Female
trope, as well as Truth in Television
This one basically boils down to "how dare
a woman be good at her career job and
have a family, too!" Usually ends in the woman having to give up her job and be a Housewife
to cater to the demands of her family. Some sort of Ill Relative
or Doorstop Baby
may force the issue. If she hasn't already gone through Career Versus Man
, she'll go through this one. If a husband is present, asking him to help around the house is out of the question since, you know, his work is more important and he deserves his rest
Related tropes: Feminine Women Can Cook
, Maternally Challenged
, Mandatory Motherhood
, Children Raise You
, Doting Parent
, My Biological Clock Is Ticking
, White Collar Worker
Contrast Action Mom
, who mostly points and laughs at this.
Anime and Manga
- Kimi Wa Petto is a major deconstruction of this trope, with the main character eventually ending up with someone who tells her it's her decision whether she wants to keep her career or not (and means it!). She eventually ends up becoming a respected freelance journalist who travels around with her husband the internationally acclaimed dancer.
- Inverted, or something like that, in a two-episode arc in the second Sakura Wars OAV. The first episode centers around the other girls believing that Sakura is going to get married, which of course unquestionably means that she will quit her job. The second episode is Sakura, who is actually just attending a relative's wedding, moping over how she can never get married and have a family herself because she doesn't want to quit her job. The girls remark a few times on how glad they are that this is a "new era for women" where they can choose to have a career or a family (but not both).
- In issue 30 of the Silver Age Green Lantern comic, Katma Tui decides to resign from the Green Lantern Corps to be with fellow Korugarian Imi Kann. Hal Jordan stages a fake monster attack on Korugar to test her loyality as a Green Lantern. Katma ends up attempting to save Hal instead of her fiance, proving that her career was more important than family.
- In Airplane II: The Sequel, an early indication that we're not supposed to like Elaine's current man (aside from him not being Ted Stryker, of course) is that he very seriously expects her to quit her rewarding job as a computer officer on board the first passenger space shuttle and start making babies.
Live Action Television
- Joanne Bertin's The Last Dragonlord has Maurynna, recently made a ship's captain and loving the work, find out that she is actually a weredragon, meaning she has to leave that work and go to the place where weredragons live with her One True Love. In ''Dragon and Phoenix" she's not happy about giving up her ship and makes this clear repeatedly, getting angry with her true love when she finds out that even if she hadn't been required to give up her ship, he would have tried to convince her. For her the issue is of freedom versus love, and as much as she appreciates the love she misses the freedom. In the end she doesn't get her ship back, but she does get the ability to take her dragon form at will and fly, which helps.
- In The Girls Series by Jacqueline Wilson, there's a subplot where Ellie's father and stepmother Anna argue because Anna has launched her own business and doesn't have so much time to be at home. Ellie also accuses her father of forcing her mother to give up her career, even though he says that Ellie's mother wanted to stay at home.
- The entire third season of Ugly Betty has been about this message. This is especially ironic since (a) Betty doesn't even have children or a husband, and (b) the family member screaming for the attention is her sister, who already is home with their ill father on a daily basis anyway.
- Sarah in Brothers and Sisters constantly struggles with this. Originally she was a working mom with her husband staying at home to take care of the kids. After her divorce, she lost the job with the family business, her ex tried to take custody away from her because of how long she works, and she increased the hours she puts in because she started working for an internet start-up.
- Cuddy on House seems to be falling victim to this trope via her adopted baby. In this case Cuddy is a single mom, and doesn't really have a husband to help her take care of the baby, so it's a little more justified.
- Aaron Hotchner of Criminal Minds might be a rare male example. His wife all but demanded he give up his position at the BAU so he could be home more with her and their young son, Jack.
- And JJ is an aversion; as of season four, she has a baby and a significant other (as far as I know, they never married—she doesn't wear a ring) who gave up his job (as a detective) to stay at home with their son.
- Unlike most crime shows, the characters of this series are constantly travelling to different states, which makes the situation even more difficult.
- This was the central theme of an episode of Twice In A Lifetime. A man convinces his wife to give up her career to stay home and take care of their daughter while he climbs the corporate ladder. The result is that the marriage falls apart, the daughter grows up to be a delinquent and his career goes nowhere. When the guy is given the chance to go back in time and fix things, he realizes that his wife was great at her job and on the fast track for a major promotion. He convinces his past self that the right choice is for him to stay home and support her. In the new timeline their marriage is saved, the wife is a successful corporate executive, the daughter had a happy childhood and is now going to college and he found his own happiness as a stay-at-home dad.
- Stargate Atlantis:
- Played straight in season three, where we meet Jeannie Miller, Rodney McKay's sister. She had left a promising career in theoretical physics to raise her daughter, much to her brother's consternation. Jeannie makes it clear that she chose to be a wife and mother and is happy with her decision. But despite being a Housewife, she's still a Hot Scientist (and even occasional Action Girl) who solved a problem that had baffled McKay for years "in [her] free time, with fingerpaints."
- Subverted in season five when Teyla struggles to decide if she should rejoin Shepherd's team after her pregnancy and risk leaving her son without a mother, or if she should give up fighting for the freedom of the galaxy which is also very important to her. In true Action Girl fashion, she does both (it certainly helps to have a House Husband in these sorts of situations.)
- This happens a lot in shows Police Procedural shows, such as Cold Case Criminal Minds as mentioned above, with. As the cops are usually Married to the Job, it puts a strain on their relationship with their families, especially their spouses. Sometimes the older characters are mentioned to have gotten married/divorced more than once because of this.
- Grey's Anatomy:
- Bailey's husband (a House Husband) got upset at her for not having enough time for their son. When she has to choose between general surgery and a pediatrics fellowship (she originally wanted to go for general, but realized she had an interest in peds, which would have her working more hours), her husband outright tells her that if she takes the pediatrics fellowship, he'll divorce her. She refuses to even make the choice, deciding to divorce her husband for treating her that way, but has to choose general surgery since she would then become a single mother.
- Chief Webber's wife keeps telling him that if he doesn't retire then she will leave him, since he kept promising to do it and kept putting it off. (Hilarious in Hindsight, in that she did leave him—first by getting Alzheimer's, and then by, y'know, dying.)
- Cristina and Meredith's desire to not have children is implied to be partially due to not wanting this situation to happen, especially Meredith who doesn't want to end up being a bad parent like her mother was. Meredith eventually gets over this and has a child with Derek (with another on the way), and there isn't any conflict. Most of the couples on the show are made up of people who work together, so the trope is usually averted. The hospital also has it's own day care center, which makes things easier.
- Invoked, however, by Cristina when she and Meredith have a big fight in Season 10. She claims that, because Meredith by now has two kids (the son is named Bailey), she has naturally had to cut back on her surgery hours and is probably not at the top of her game. Because the two are carrying the Conflict Ball during this season, Meredith is obliged to take offense at this.
- Rare Male Example in the tenth season, once again involving Bailey. Her Second Love Ben Warren had a surgery residency in Los Angeles, but quit because the show takes place in Seattle and he wasn't getting any screen time—err, was far away from his family. Bailey (understandably) worries that her new marriage is going to end the same way the old one did. Ultimately, the situation is resolved by Ben enrolling in the residency program at Seattle Grace Grey Sloan Mercy Death.
- Scrubs: Carla thinks about staying home with the baby for a while. After taking a six week break after the birth of her child, Carla realizes she can't stay away from her job for a whole year because she loves working there. Turk isn't too happy about the decision, but quickly gets over it. By the end of the episode, Carla starts working again, but feels sad about having to leave Izzy with a nanny.
- In season 8, JD takes a job at another hospital to be able to spend more time with Sam, though with him it's more about being not being able to see his friends from his old job.
- When Dr. Cox becomes Chief of Medicine, he struggles with juggling his new responsibilities on top of taking care of patients (something he really doesn't have to do, but wants to) and picking up his son Jack from school. Jordan tells him she understands that he'll need time to figure out how to balance things out, since he refuses to give up on anything, and she doesn't care if he has time to pick Jack up from school, just as long as he's there to read him a bedtime story and tuck him in at night.
- In Malcolm in the Middle, Lois and Hal married young and kept on having kids. Lois had ambitions of being a concert pianist, but had to abandon them to take care of the children and work two hours a week short of full-time at a supermarket to help pay the bills. She is actually bitter about this, which manifests as meticulously controlling every single aspect of Malcolm's life to live vicariously through him, and possibly unconsciously sabotaging Dewey's piano contest to prevent him from surpassing her.
- One of the (many) reasons fans hated the ending of For Better or for Worse was because Elizabeth gave up an exciting and meaningful job (namely, teaching) to go running back into the arms of her high school boyfriend Anthony.
- The fanfic The New Retcons explored this trope further, with Elizabeth wanting to be defined as more than 'Anthony's wife, Francoise and James's mother', but thinking that she has to enforce this trope, and is surprised when Anthony suggests getting a job if she doesn't want to be just that. (It's only worse in that she's following in her mother's footsteps, Elly had the same feelings about this trope: hating it yet thinking it's ironclad. It was a contributing factor in her losing her mind.)
- The page image comes from Baby Blues, in which career woman Rhonda feels shafted by her mother because she has yet to settle down and have a family, compared to her sister Wanda, who as of this time has three children.
- In the 2008 U.S. presidential election, VP candidate Sarah Palin was often criticized for "neglecting" the needs of her family, even though Barack Obama has two young daughters himself.
- This typically happens with most female politicians who have young kids; people usually use "concern for their children" as an excuse to dismiss a female candidate. Because, you know, fathers don't need to play any role in parenthood other than being the breadwinner.
- Taken a step further in the speculation for the 2016 Presidential Election, with critics wondering whether Hillary Clinton will run for president and if she can handle running a country and being a grandmother (Chelsea Clinton having announced her pregnancy on April 17, 2014).
- The United States during World War II. Just because you're working 12 hour shifts in a factory "to free a man to fight" doesn't mean you don't owe it to your family to provide a nutritious home-cooked breakfast and supper, plus pack a balanced lunch, plus keep the house spotless, plus take care of the Victory Garden ....
- On the Truth in Television side, there may be more to that sarcastic remark about husbands helping around the house than you might think-studies show that women who choose career and leave the husband at home to do the jobs traditionally assigned to housewives tend to lose respect for said husbands and divorce them. Double Standard indeed.
- This could be related to a Real Women Don't Wear Dresses way of thinking- there are certainly many women out there who want to pursue careers out of personal fulfillment/enjoyment, but some choose to have a career solely because they believe that 'housewife' is an inferior role (rather than getting the true point of feminism- being able to choose your path rather than being automatically expected to be a housewife). If you avoid taking the housewife role because you think it's demeaning and don't respect it, why would you think differently about others who take that role?