Does Laughing At Go The F*ck to Sleep Make You ‘Rageful’ And Sexless?

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Not yesterday, I read my children the book It’s Time to Sleep, My Love (They needed an calming aperitif following the visceral excitement of Go Dog! Go!) As you might recall, It’s Time to Sleep, My Love has been in the news lately because the alleged parody of the book, Go the F*ck to Sleep has landed on the bestsellers list.

Now I’m not a huge fan of Go the F*ck to Sleep, in part because I think it diminishes It’s Time to Sleep, My Love, which is just a winsome and lovely little book, sentimental without being cloying. When It’s Time to Sleep, My Love author Eric Metaxas says “I’m not speaking out harshly and denouncing [Go the F*ck to Sleep], but it’s a sad cultural marker for me” — I’m inclined to feel his pain.

Now that it’s clear where I come down on this, I nearly did a spit take when I read this Kate Roiphe piece in Slate this morning about the Go the F*ck to Sleep phenomenon. If you haven’t reached for an air sickness bag by the time you get to the part where she starts quoting from Freud’s Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious, here’s the crux of the piece, which annoyingly, is the very last paragraph:

The book, in all its cleverness and artfulness and ingenuity, raises certain other questions: Are they having sex, these slouchy rageful parents? Not enough, perhaps. When the father turns back to the waking child’s bedroom, we look out at the comfy, sexless, vaguely depressive scene of his wife sprawled asleep on the couch under an ugly old blanket. No wonder the slouchy dad is full of rage. No wonder all those slouchy dads and moms who just want to watch a movie and eat some microwave popcorn find this book so funny, so transporting; no wonder it makes them feel, as the publicity materials suggest, “less alone.” But if those sweet-faced children, so gorgeously drawn by Ricardo Cortés, could talk back would they say: “Put on a fucking dress. Have a fucking drink. Stop hovering over us. Live your own goddamned life.”

Holy over-analysis, Batman! I don’t know if Roiphe has any kids or not, but it sure sounds that way. Like I said, I’m not a fan of Go the F*ck to Sleep because it detracts from what precious little grace there is left in the world, but as a parent of two kids 3 and under, let me say what many of you know all too well — raising kids is hard and exhausting. The humorous impulses behind the creation of Go the F*ck to Sleep are entirely human and understandable. Judging parents “rageful” and speculating about their unhappy sex lives because they relate to Go the F*ck to Sleep is a particularly obtuse kind of nonsense on stilts. Roiphe is a smart and capable writer who’s known as something of a feminist provocateur, but this is just needless and embarrassing cultural commentary.