Do you need a hand?

It is a cliché of bad stand up comics – both sexist and feminist, that men spend their lives condescending to women about their ability to do perfectly easy jobs that women just can’t be bothered to do: things like change light bulbs, fuses, car tyres etc. So it is only to be expected that when a Dad is performing simple parenting tasks he should be challenged about it. When the kids were tiny and I was still married to their mother, this often came up with strangers and usually in the baby changing room of John Lewis. Changing his nappy for the millionth time, I would be told to be careful by the passing granny. Then the smile and “Oh aren’t you good dear”. Or, “don’t do it like that, dear” Or, “she is hungry / thirsty / tired / needs changing”. etc etc.

On one level it is entirely understandable and an almost necessary revenge. On the other hand the cold hard facts work both ways. Changing a nappy is more difficult than changing a plug or a light bulb and gender is completely irrelevant in terms of one’s ability to complete the task.  This is the great heterosexual, still married, conspiracy. It suits men to pretend that some jobs are more difficult than they are so they can kill time by doing them. It suits many women because although their partners can’t be trusted to do important things at least they can do these little manual chores. It suits both when all is going well because spheres of influence are maintained. But in fact it is all crap – and not only the nappies. Changing nappies is difficult, more difficult doing boys, who, when the cold hits, can projectile pee uncontrollably and at distance, but it is doable and with practice gets easier. Changing a fuse is easy, as is changing a tyre or indeed, defragmenting a computer. There is absolutely nothing difficult about any of these things and there are professionals of both genders in these areas to prove it. So it is a conspiracy of the married coupledoms against the unmarried singletons and it should not be allowed to stand. Men get some kid shit on your hands AND master Velcro. Women, flip the switch in the box and it all works again. I feel as though I have revealed a gender secret. Yes just flip the switch, and if neither of you are prepared to countenance such a redistribution of Labour, get some help. But be very afraid of the cost of a nanny or rewiring.