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An unlikely press release illustrates what levelling down looks like but dads can turn it around and aim high
OK, let’s let some light in on the magic of journalism.
Obviously all we writers are hugely charismatic and magnetic and people are just drawn to us to tell us interesting stuff. Well, that’s what we like to think. Like many many journalists I was drawn to the job (which when it’s done properly isn’t a job at all) after watching All The President’s Men. After the obligatory late 80s struggle with the video player an enlightened English teacher screened it in a class at secondary school. The combination of the overwhelming coolness of Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman plus the demonstration of the power of words and investigations was heady.
But journalism isn’t really like that.
I did once follow up a Deep Throat style anonymous tip and meet a man in a car park. It didn’t cross my mind that he might be a dogger. In fact he was just a chap who had converted his car to run on LPG and it didn’t work very well. This was something to do with a global conspiracy apparently.
In fact a lot of the content in newspapers and online on sites like ours comes via public relations companies.
And there’s another layer. There’s firms that keep lists of journalists and their interests so PR companies can funnel their releases to the most appropriate audience.
They don’t waste their time bombarding journalists that aren’t interested. Reporters only get the news they need.
It doesn’t work like that.
With ‘gender’ as one of my official interests on these databases I get sent some right old weirdy stuff. Including quite a few random missives from America.
As evidenced by a particularly special release that landed this week. Apparently a famous venue in New York is to offer an ‘exotic male revue’ this weekend. The first time ladies can go to this particular ‘gentleman’s club’, ogle some chaps and get a ‘delectable lunch’ into the bargain.
And this is where the gender equality bit comes in.
Because that’s not progress.
It’s another example of levelling down. I wouldn’t ever want to proscribe what passes for entertainment. But I’m not convinced going to a club to look at naked ladies is a healthy use of anyone’s time. And giving women the opportunity to eye up nude men doesn’t make it any better.
It’s not that much a stretch to apply this to the world of work. For a start it’s true in the workplace that it’s best for everyone if we all keep our clothes on.
More pertinently, women have long had to deal with the pressure of having it all. The idea that they are failing somehow if they sacrifice family time to pursue a career or, as is normally the case, vice versa. For dads the norm has been valuing work over home. But now we’re seeing a new generation, particularly among millennials, who want to redraw the balance. And consequently they are learning what women have known for years – it’s nigh on impossible to have it all. And if you try to do so then you likely end up sad and stressed.
That’s levelling down.
And it’s rubbish.
Without getting too high falutin surely what makes us human, what marks out civilization is a drive to improve.
That has to be what fuels the dads agenda. Equality isn’t worth it if it involves levelling down. We must demand better for everyone. And there’s plenty of evidence that when dads get more involved in family life the benefits pile up for all. For example men live longer, women feel better, children get smarter and society gets richer.
News of equal opportunities sleaze in America may have triggered this post. But let that low news inspire us all to aim high.