- my husband did not have any friends to socialise with during the day;
- playgroups consisted of mums and grandmothers, who had to ‘adjust’ to having a man in the group;
- there was the social stigma of not working such as being a ‘kept man’, being a bludger or incompetent of having or getting a job; and
- even family members, particularly older members, thought he
degraded himself cooking and cleaning, and made comments such as ‘this is not a man’s job’.
(about 12,000 men). Just the lack of data shows the social standing in Australian society. It seems other countries have been monitoring this trend far better with figures of dads as the main carers being around 20 percent in the US, around 200,000 in the UK in 2007, and 156,000 in South Korea in 2010.
David Vernon and Clint Gregan seem to have had similar experiences to my husbands, but only around five years ago. A key theme is people talking about the (in)appropriateness of their role reversal. Derek Rielly in his July 2011 column thought that stay at home men had lost their lovers respect, are careerless and lost. A recent study in employment and divorce published by the American Journal of Sociology suggests that the social pressure of husbands to be the breadwinner largely remains. An unemployed man has an increasing chance that his wife will initiate divorce and that he will be the one who leaves. And a UK article states that high-flying career women ditch their househusbands due to masculinity perceptions. Deborah Wilmore, a PhD candidate at the University of Western Sydney, is currently researching whether the switch in traditional roles has any effect on perceptions of masculinity.
It seems that the social pressures my husband experienced are still widespread in current society. I wonder if this is due to the lobbying capacity women have developed over the past century to bring about change for themselves. Men do not have a history in lobbying as there has been no real need for this.
What can help men though is the internet. For instance Leah Gibbs from Sydney Business Insights provides tips on being a stay at home dad and there are many blogs for ‘Stay at home Dads’. The internet is an ideal medium for social interaction for househusbands who still are a minority in our society. However, the internet still makes for a lonely existence.
Considering women demand equality, it seems women should have learnt from their fights and pleas. It seems that equality is considered a ‘one-way system’ rather than equal treatment to both genders. If women agree to their men taking on domestic and carer duties, then who allows us to question our men’s masculinity. And with the change in Australian society from manufacturing to the knowledge based economy, the men@home ‘model’ may well become more common.
As we know from the feminist movement, standing against social norms takes enormous courage. We should appreciate this courage in our men. In
fact, I have always thought of my husband of a lone warrior who changes perceptions and social norms quietly but with constant action.