So this weekend in the Sunday Age magazine there were two articles about mothers.
The first wasn't so much about mothers as it was about fathers. Basically fathers who also balance housework, childcare duties and paid work aren't getting enough recognition in the media and for some reason implicitly that is the fault of mothers who do get recognition. One of the men interviewed pointed out that there are any number of women's magazines telling women how marvelous they are for doing it all, whereas such magazines don't exist for men. There was no analysis of the political motivations for framing women as the ones who have to 'do it all.' There was also some rather suss statistic rolled out that suggested men do slightly more in total than women when it comes to a combination of those three duties - paid work, childcare, and housework. There was no indication of: how this was divided up, what constituted "work" (making sandwiches for kid's lunches, remembering doctor's appointments, knowing which toys belong to which kid), or how they evaluated the amount of work they do. My guess is men work longer hours professionally than women overall, and that this is the biggest factor in dividing up "work" hours, since studies like these indicate women still do most of the housework. I know which, out of paid work and housework, I personally find more rewarding in terms of personal satisfaction, peer recognition and financial acknowledgment (though I enjoy all my various teaching, writing, speaking and editing jobs).
I am not suggesting men don't do housework (our household is definitely divided fairly in all three areas, with me doing a little more childcare and cooking, and Martin doing more cleaning, our work hours are probably pretty even for the time being, though when the baby comes I will care more and work less I suppose), nor do I think anyone should be deprived of a pat on the back, god knows otherwise housework is fairly thankless (apart from the yay factor of living in a non-grotty house). But when it comes down to it, is an article about "superwomen" who "do it all" actually contributing value to women's lives? Or is it setting the bar higher, is it actually aimed at undermining our self-esteem? (And probably ultimately at making us want the laundry powder/lipstick/pole-dancing classes/"how you too can be a yummy mummy" edition of the magazine.) All I am saying, blokes, is that maybe you don't want that kind of recognition. Maybe a happy, well functioning household that works according to your own family's needs and values is recognition enough for all of us.
On the next page - the very next page - was an article about how women in love, and especially married women with children, get fat. And we all know how bad that is.
Any men lining up to complain about how no one writes about them getting fat after they have kids?