Throw a chop on the barbie, pull up an esky, and crack open a coldie. It’s time to celebrate the humble Aussie man.

Life is not a bowl of Caesar Salad…. Picture: Kym Smith

Yes, you might not know this, but last Monday was International Men’s Day which is dedicated to celebrating the achievements and needs of men.

While some would say any day ending in “y” is International Men’s Day, perhaps it’s time to think again about men’s rights. When I was at Adelaide University in the late 1980s and early 1990s, men’s rights were about useful as birth control for a Barbie doll. It was all about the chicks and our needs.

There was a women’s room, a women’s club, and a women’s officer. There was even a Bluestocking Week celebrating the academic achievements of women (sadly, it was nothing to do with discovering new shades of pantyhose).

Men on campus - particularly those studying mechanical engineering and animal husbandry - didn’t take kindly to such measures. A few brave (ie. drunk) guys would turn up to women’s marches wearing t-shirts with slogans such as, “Make my dinner, b*tch” and “Never trust anything that bleeds for a week and doesn’t die”.

I was well-versed in the feminist rhetoric because my mother was a strong 1970s style women’s libber who bought me matchbox cars and boy dolls.

I found it embarrassing at the time and would have preferred a mum who wore a bit more lipstick.

But I think women back then had to get militant in order to create a new world for our daughters that didn’t force them to quit their jobs when they got married, have children they didn’t want, and stay in bad marriages because they had no other choice.

But I’d say the times, they are a changin’.

Now that we have a female Prime Minister, Governor General, Federal Attorney General and even SA Opposition Leader, we don’t need to so actively promote the rights of women in the same way.

Perhaps (don’t tell my mum I said this) we now need an International Men’s Day as well?

Sure, there are lots of ways women are still struggling: there are only 15 per cent of women on ASX 200 boards, men still earn 17 per cent more than women for doing the same job, and in the SA Parliament only 27 per cent of members are female.

But you can pull out similar statistics that show men have it tough too.

Men, for instance, do more full-time paid work than women, averaging 39 hours a week compared to 29 hours for females.

Men usually don’t live with their kids permanently after relationship breakdown, with only three percent of men heading up single parent families.

Men also have a lower life expectancy, with most males living to 78 years compared to 83 years for women.

And while most people these days are accepting of women who opt for a non-traditional role, we struggle with men who do the same thing.

Take the Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Unless you’re Opposition Leader Tony Abbott (or perhaps that crusty old Liberal Senator who called her “deliberately barren”), you probably couldn’t care less that she’s a woman. You just want her to do a good job.

But the reaction to the First Bloke Tim Mathieson illustrates how hard gender bending is for men. When he divulged in an interview recently that he blow-dries his wife’s hair and draws her a bath after a big day, he quickly became a laughing stock.

And so this weekend, spare a thought for the average Aussie bloke who just wants a fair go too.

In any case, I’m all for men’s rights if it means my husband cooks dinner once in a while… maybe I need a t-shirt with the slogan, “Cook my dinner, butch”.

Comments on this post will close at 8pm Eastern time.

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32 comments

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    • acotrel says:

      05:13am | 24/11/12

      ‘But the reaction to the First Bloke Tim Mathieson illustrates how hard gender bending is for men. When he divulged in an interview recently that he blow-dries his wife’s hair and draws her a bath after a big day, he quickly became a laughing stock.’

      It is funny about that.  A while back, one of my mates was visiting us.  When I washed a few dishes, he carried on as though I was letting the side down.  I think he must have been one of those guys who was afraid he might be gay, when he was young.

    • Bruno says:

      08:52am | 24/11/12

      maybe he thinks you’e a hermaphrodite

    • andye says:

      09:12am | 24/11/12

      For all the guffaws, Tim showed more balls than the peanut gallery by standing up and saying he was happy with these feminine roles. Good on him.

    • PJ says:

      04:39pm | 24/11/12

      Julia Gillard is one of the richest, most powerful women in Australia.

      Tim Mathieson wont have to do anything but kick back and watch the hired help do everything.

      You know this, really.

    • Carz says:

      07:21am | 24/11/12

      If your all for men’s rights in any way shape or form why wasn’t this article published on International Men’s Day instead of nearly a week later. Poor form Punch.

    • SydneyGirl says:

      08:32am | 24/11/12

      You do realise its tongue in cheek?

      Anyway in our times its not properly IMD until its hijacked by some corporate interest promoting manly products as they pledge to stand by you, a few banal pollies make banal speeches, a few pretty young things use the occasion to get some free publicity and a facebook page is liked by thousands for no reason except that a like button exists and is duly reported on by the media as an earth shaking event.

    • PJ says:

      08:46am | 24/11/12

      My question is how would it be if Men had the equivalent to:

      “There was a women’s room, a women’s club, and a women’s officer. There was even a Bluestocking Week celebrating the academic achievements of women.”

    • Rose says:

      11:36am | 24/11/12

      I wish they would have their own rooms, clubs and officers…..but that would require them to get off their butts and organize them, and apparently they have never wanted to do that!!

    • Bill says:

      04:24pm | 24/11/12

      Rose - when I was at Melbourne Uni in the early 90s I tried to organise a Men’s room but the (female) president of the student union told me that she would never allow one to exist while she was running the council.

      Where is your indignation now?

    • Rose says:

      05:38pm | 24/11/12

      Well, you should have done what the suffragettes and the feminists of yesteryear had to do…dig in deep and fight harder! Do you seriously think they got their wins easily? You don’t give up at the first hurdle, ever!!

    • Rosie says:

      07:21am | 24/11/12

      How regimental and bloody boring if men had to behave exactly how the modern age well schooled women wanted them to be. Sorry but variety is the spice of life and some of us women like to know that our confidence in the judgement of men is fine and don’t need to be reminded or told.

      Some women need men like the ‘first bloke’ men that other women see as having their female partner doing what their men do. My husband for example brings in the bacon while I took care of the kids, the house and him and when the kids went to school I got stuck into doing the things I loved, stuff that others don’t normally take up until their retirement from the work force. Also did a lot of voluntary work with children - in tennis, their reading and art and crafts. Now that my husband has retired, he is enjoying taking care of the grandchildren for our children. He takes them to and fro to school, takes them to tennis coaching, listens to them read, check on their homework, everything that I did while our kids were at schools as I refuse to do it a second time. This is so because two incomes are needed these days if you want the best. He loves it and the space I had while he was bringing in the bacon was never invaded. When we are not doing our thing, we go out for a game of golf.

      I don’t agree with the behaviour of husbands of a lot of our friends but know that their wives love them dearly and that kind of behaviour gives certain women the confidence they need. As long as they are not psychically abusing them accept it. We also have friends where their wives like to dominate and are always picking on their husbands but put up with her because we like the husband.

      Frankly, I am sick of being told how the modern age, well schooled women think men should behave.

    • andye says:

      09:16am | 24/11/12

      @Rosie: “How regimental and bloody boring if men had to behave exactly how the modern age well schooled women wanted them to be. Sorry but variety is the spice of life and some of us women like to know that our confidence in the judgement of men is fine and don’t need to be reminded or told.”

      I totally agree. Weird, huh? raspberry

    • Rose says:

      09:42am | 24/11/12

      Rosie, you lived a life where it was OK for you to stay home and raise the kids while your husband worked, Good for you, my husband and I lived like that for 14 years too, before my last had gone to school and I jumped to the chance to go to work.
      The thing is that your attitude doesn’t fit in with the way things need to be for couples where both work, there is less time for your own ‘space’ in terms of your roles. Both have to chip in or the wheels start to fall off. What’s ‘fair’ in your world won’t be fair in some one else’s.
      As much as you are “sick of being told how the modern age, well schooled women think men should behave,” modern couples are equally sick of people whose lives were completely different telling them they had it better worked out.

    • acotrel says:

      06:00pm | 24/11/12

      @Rosie
      Teamwork isn’t a reference to one partner working their guts out, stressed to the max, while the other lounges about in luxury. ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder ’ ?

    • Ben says:

      08:13am | 24/11/12

      >Frankly, I am sick of being told how the modern age, well schooled women think men should behave.

      Amen.

    • Pamela Brown says:

      08:13am | 24/11/12

      The average bloke doesn’t draw a bath for his woman. or curl her hair and every day is International mens day not just one day of the year . Tim ain’t no average bloke and no woman would put up with a household lay-about in the real world , the burbs - they can’t afford such luxury- a valet to draw bath , do hair etc. .

    • Rob says:

      08:42am | 24/11/12

      That’s the ticket Pamela. Perfect example of women’s agression towards men. Sorry I meant ‘feisty liberating views’.

      Did you say lay-abouts with a sense of entitlement? Well there you go.

    • Der... says:

      09:12am | 24/11/12

      I’d be really worried if a bloke spent more time in the bathroom than me…. and get out of the kitchen too. This reaks.

    • Rose says:

      11:34am | 24/11/12

      My sons spend at least as much time in the bathroom as their sisters, sometimes more, and definitely more than me and their dad. Good on them, they usually look pretty good before they head out the door, at least no one can ever accuse them of not caring or of letting themselves go.
      As for the kitchen, they can all cook for me whenever they like, as long as they clean up their own mess afterwards!!

    • Gordon says:

      09:16am | 24/11/12

      Surely the important thing about who does what in a relationship is that it is, at some level, agreed amongst the participants. The entire point of the whole feminism thang was not “Women must fix the car” but that a woman can fix the car if she bloody well wants to.  I actually don’t know anyone who bagged Tim for running the PM’s bath. 100% media invention in my view.

      I’m sure there are peole who have never gone a step out of their way to do something nice for their partner. There is nothing masculine or feminine about that, just selfishness and ignorance, which comes in many colours, flavours and genders.

    • Rob says:

      09:48am | 24/11/12

      I don’t need an international men’s day….

      Last I checked, I was a bloke. That should mean that I’m tough enough that I don’t need constant external validation.

      Keep your cheer squad, I’ll take what joys I can get from personal achievement.

    • Anjuli says:

      10:02am | 24/11/12

      @ Acrotrel When did they get married ?.

    • ByStealth says:

      10:13am | 24/11/12

      Thanks for the article Susie. While it would have been nice to have it actually on the day during primetime and not on the weekend after, Its better late than never.

      Its a bit depressing that you have to offer platitudes to the ‘women have it worse’ crowd before you can even start talking about the problems that men face.

      Even the article on equlity in the workplace has the header ‘Time to be helping men do their share’, as if 50 hour weeks at the office away from their kids is a way to shirk their duties to their family.

      In any case, I can see things changing. In 10 years the seriousness of the problems men face in our society will become much more visible as publicised. With luck, we’ll see the mainstream media do more than pay lip service.

    • Ben says:

      11:44am | 24/11/12

      >Its a bit depressing that you have to offer platitudes to the ‘women have it worse’ crowd before you can even start talking about the problems that men face.

      Ah, but that’s the PC thing to do, ByStealth. Such a topic should be prefaced by ‘women have it worse’ so that your audience of males will listen, cap in hand.

    • Sarah says:

      10:49am | 24/11/12

      I think men get the raw end of the stick these days. Original feminism was needed and equality was needed but it seems we’ve gone way too far in the wrong direction.

      As a female I think its sad to see the way our society demands men act ina certain way and live up to a certain ideal - that suit woman only. We should celebrate the diversity in our sexes and realize that feminism has gone way too far in its aims.

      No bra burning, man hating, ‘women can do everything and men are not needed’ from me!

    • PJ says:

      04:44pm | 24/11/12

      Listen, 6 years of Julia Gillard s d nothing has changed for women in Australia.

      She’s no feminist.

      One speech in defence of Slippers vile sexist texts to protect his job a d maintain her numbers, does not make Gillard a feminist all of a sudden.

      Keep focus.

    • Tubesteak says:

      11:18am | 24/11/12

      “Perhaps (don’t tell my mum I said this) we now need an International Men’s Day as well?”

      The only reason there is a need for IMD is because there is a much-heralded and advertised IWD earlier in the year. I didn’t even notice there was an IMD and only knew about it because someone pointed out there was an IMD on IWD. I didn’t see any advertising, celebration or articles about IMD in any of the major media areas (not SMH, news.com.au or even The Punch).

      I woud prefer an International Pull Your Finger Out and Help Yourself Day Because You only Get Out of Life What You Put In Because We’re All Units in the Economy So You Have to do Something Profitable In Order to Earn Money Be Useful and Support Yourself Day. But that might be a bit unwieldy.

      “Sure, there are lots of ways women are still struggling: there are only 15 per cent of women on ASX 200 boards, men still earn 17 per cent more than women for doing the same job, and in the SA Parliament only 27 per cent of members are female”

      There are fewer women on boards because fewer women attempt to make it to the top. Men aren’t paid more than women; men earn more than women because men pursue higher paying careers and spend more time working. More men stand for parliament than women and more men play the political game than women. No point looking at outcomes and crying discrimination or disadvantage when they can be easily explained as lack of requisite effort.

      Men do need to focus more on their health but I think this is improving with younger generations. I generally associate with men my own age (30s and 40s) and notice there are a lot of us into health and fitness. We spend more time talking about our gym sessions than we do talking about football. Movember could help with this as it allows us to consider symptoms. I’ve had a few convos with mates who’ve mentioned that they have one type of symptom or another. My only advice is to see a doctor. I don’t know much about medical things.

      This might close the gap partially with life expectancies. But more men die in the workplace due to accidents and die whilst driving (men drive more and further than women which increases risk of accidents) so the outcome won’t be the same when you look at the average.

    • pa_kelvin says:

      01:16pm | 24/11/12

      Tubesteak
      +1

    • Rossco says:

      01:54pm | 24/11/12

      Great post, agree 0.

    • Richard says:

      02:53pm | 24/11/12

      I disagree with the fact that 27% of the SA parliament are female. If Federal Parliament question time is anything to go by then the % of males acting like old ladies makes the figure much higher

    • Dave says:

      11:22am | 24/11/12

      Step in the right direction Susie, but still a long way to go before you are able to view men as equals.  I look forward to the day when you finally remove those image-distorting glasses you have become so accustomed to.

    • stephen says:

      05:46pm | 24/11/12

      I keep seeing the line ... ‘tastes like chicken’ ... and I remember it spoken by Bill Murray in Groundhog Day - a delightful fable, by the way - and I wonder if he was the first to say it ?

 

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