This weekend celebrate the blokes in your life
Throw a chop on the barbie, pull up an esky, and crack open a coldie. It’s time to celebrate the humble Aussie man.
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”.
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