Because I am not a sadist I make a point of avoiding Mark Latham’s various accounts on social media.
Earlier this week, despite my best efforts, I saw a tweet of his. It was shared by someone I follow and the contents were a little astounding.
Just finalised my 80 recipes for cookbook with Alan Jones (sultana scones). My motto: all dads must cook, even if once a week, have a go.
— Real Mark Latham (@RealMarkLatham) June 25, 2017
(I don’t know if the bit about Latham and Alan Jones releasing a cookbook together is a hoax and I can’t bring myself to investigate it further so let’s just leave that to one side?)
In response to Latham’s suggestion that his fellow fathers cook at least once a week, advertising guru Dee Madigan applied a slightly higher standard.
If you’re a dad and you’re only cooking once a week TAKE A LONG HARD LOOK AT YOURSELF! https://t.co/liVFZnd7kC
— Dee Madigan (@deemadigan) June 25, 2017
A dad cooking night a week would strike me as more palatable if he only enjoys a nightly meal once or twice a week. But if he’s expecting nightly meals more regularly, his efforts need boosting.
I’m of the view that if an individual – regardless of gender – regularly expects to enjoy life’s various pleasures and necessities they need to participate in the labour entailed. And not as a niche hobby but in a manner roughly commensurate with their expected consumption or enjoyment.
Like eating a meal of an evening? Be prepared to cook it at least half as many nights as you like to devour it.
Enjoy having a cupboard and fridge stocked with food? Visit the shops.
Want clean clothes? Welcome to the laundry.
Like clean floors, a freshly made bed and a non-hazardous bathroom? Here’s the vacuum, linen cupboard and some bleach.
Enjoy opening the drawers to discover the requisite cutlery and crockery? Packing and unpacking the dishwasher is how that happens. And familiarise yourself with the sink.
Want to have children? Rear them.
To my mind these standards aren’t overly arduous: they’re simply the barrier for entry to adulthood.
If a person cannot – or will not – cook it’s fanciful to expect a nightly meal provided. (Unless of course they are paying household staff).
Sadly, it seems my views and expectations are out of touch. Way, way, out of touch.
Plenty of Australian men are getting their every meal prepared for them, and I’m quite sure it’s not because they’re paying a chef.
In the 2016 Census, the results of which were released this week, it was revealed that one in four Australian men did no domestic work in the week prior. Nothing. Nada. Not a solitary hour.
— Women's Agenda (@WomensAgenda) June 28, 2017
Suddenly, Latham’s suggestion of dads cooking at least once a week looks like a substantial improvement for many Aussie blokes.
We have known for a long time that women do more unpaid work than men. This is uniform around the world.
Despite the increase in women’s paid work, the division of the unpaid work – the cooking, the cleaning, the child-rearing – hasn’t budged.
But one in four men doing nothing? And admitting to doing nothing? That surprised me.
The way any couple or family approach domestic work is, quite obviously, a personal issue. But whichever way you cut it, a man doing nothing – no cooking, no cleaning, no child-rearing, no groceries – is ludicrous.
It means that somewhere, some woman – whether it’s his mum, his sister, his girlfriend, his wife – is doing it for him.
If a woman isn’t engaged in any paid work outside the home, then perhaps it’s unsurprising if she undertakes the lion’s share of the unpaid household work.
So it’s simply untrue to say that there is a direct link between who does the unpaid work and who does the paid work.
Women do the bulk of the unpaid work regardless of how much paid work they do and regardless of how much unpaid or paid work their male partner does.
Are you living with a man who has done nothing around the house in the past week? if so, and it pains me to say it, but perhaps he needs pointing in Latham’s direction as a starting point?