Author’s note: This article is satire. It is written in direct response to Jamila Rivzi’s news.com.au article in which young men were interviewed about their views regarding gender roles and working within families. It is not meant to denigrate the author at all, it’s written to provoke discussion around gender norms and equality and provide a yardstick for how, in a truly equal society, the attitudes represented in the original article would be caricature.
“I want to be a mum and a director in a prestigious professional services firm. I need a husband who’ll support that. You know, impregnate me and then commit to looking after the kids. I’m all about equality, but its just not for me. I’m a traditionalist and I think someone should stay home with the kids. Just not me. I shouldn’t have to feel bad about being career focused. I suppose I don’t really want a life partner, I want a house husband. What’s wrong with that?”
Zephyr is a millennial; a quietly spoken blonde, with mischievous blue eyes. We’re sitting in a beer garden with a group of her friends who have agreed to be interviewed on the condition of anonymity, and that I change their names to something cooler.
“I mean, its not like I want to have babies straight away or anything. But guys and girls are different – what’s wrong with that? Girls are more focussed and determined. We want it all – career, kids, a kick ass Cross Fit instructor with nice abs, and dinner on the table when we get home, you know? Guys just seem to be different. They want different things. And they are more single minded. They don’t like multitasking. So it makes sense that they stay home and focus on the kids.” Saphire drains her beer and clanks it down with emphasis.
I’m pretty sure Saphire is baiting me a little. No one can have it all, can they? Not even women. And surely the kick ass cross fit instructor with nice abs is going overboard. Nobody could have such a sense of entitlement, could they? Maybe pecs that bounce in time to the workout version of Justin Beiber’s latest, but washboard abs are going a bit far.
Zephyr jumps in, a smile playing on her lips. “You got that right! Guys are freakin crazy!”
Most of the girls laugh raucously. Jem though is not kidding around. She rolls her eyes and cuts through the laughter. “Not everyone CAN have everything. It’s give and take. I want a hugely successful career. I want bonuses, promotions and accolades. So when I have a family, there has to be compromise. From my husband.”
I’m taken aback by their blatant forthrightness. Its like they’re plainly saying what they want out of life, without thought to those that might one day be their support system. But while their direct and forthright attitude might be disconcerting, their observations are astute and articulate.
Tarquinella nods her head. She wipes the smile from her face and looks at me seriously. “Jem is right though. The industry I will be working in requires all my concentration. All of it. I can’t be worrying about my kids or husband.” She tells me about her uni exams coming up and I can tell the weight of expectation weighs her down heavily. Part of me understands. She puts so much pressure on herself to succeed, there’s just no space for thoughts of lunch boxes, play dates and parent teacher interviews.
Tarquinella tells me that her parents both worked high pressure jobs too. She seems to feel some bitterness towards them, especially her father, for everything she may have missed growing up. She doesn’t want to repeat those same mistakes with her own future children. Kids need a parent around 24/7 as they grow to service their needs, and given Tarquinella’s needs will be front and centre in her own life it can’t be her. Her husband will have to understand that her needs come first and she needs him to stay at home to raise her children.
“But, what if you marry a man that wants a career too?” I ask.
She shrugs. “I won’t.” And I believe her.
Salmonella, (or Sal for short) is a finance student with a live in boyfriend, Bruce. She’s more fatalistic about career and family and says that she doesn’t mind if Bruce wants a career, that they’ll work it out somehow. I find this refreshing, so I press for more.
“Usually the way these things tend to work out is with men putting their careers on the back burner so women can enjoy the perks of a satisfying career and an enviable family life.”
Sal nods. “Yep. That’s what I mean. It’ll work itself out.”
Saphire interjects. She’s angry that men want equality.
“It isn’t fair though.” She says, animated. “I mean, I ran for student election last year, and it was such a joke. Men had to make up half the elected offices. So the boys win even when they’re losers that nobody likes! I get that its discriminatory the way some men are treated. I mean, I know that in the past people have thought of men as only being interested in one thing. Babies. That would suck. That’s why I don’t want people to discriminate against me!”
I’m confused by this. “But, doesn’t that mean that the status quo remains, and that men will continue to be discriminated against?”
She’s exasperated with me. “Yes!”
Zephyr adds “But men like that stuff. So its not really discrimination, is it?” She seems to think that having a family is something you do to satisfy men’s primal desires. “Some girls don’t want a family, but they go along with it because they have a really hot husband and they want to bang him all the time. And that makes babies. Most chicks just want to be rich and have a well hung dude at home waiting for them with dinner on the table. What’s wrong with that?”
You might think these girls are cocky and entitled. And they are. But equality to them means opportunities they used to exclusively enjoy as part of the female gender are being taken from them and given to boys. They’re not so much AGAINST gender equality as they are FOR themselves and satisfying their own life goals. Can I really judge them for that?