Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Wife Drought by Annabel Crabb

I’ve been wanting to post quotes from The Wife Drought by Annabel Crabb for a while with a lengthy and brilliant reflection/introduction to go with them, but not long after I finished the book my inspiration/ability to write crashed and I’ve been waiting (and continue to wait) for it to come back online. Here is a shorter and less brilliant introduction:

This book is GOLD. One of Crabb's points, which struck me with such force that the many other important arguments she makes are now only a dim memory, is that we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what (most) women miss by taking time out of the workforce to raise their children, but almost no time thinking about what (most) men miss by staying in the workforce rather than taking time out to raise their children. The Wife Drought is full of truth, it’s funny, and it’s practical; where other books on this topic have left me with an overwhelming sense of “Yes! But HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWW??!” this one left me feeling like there was a solution, and it was an obvious one we’d somehow managed to repeatedly overlook before: one that would involve Alan as well, rather than us continuing to treat his 5-day working week as sacrosanct and hoping desperately for a magical answer to appear elsewhere. 

In fact, so much of this book is so obvious, and yet I’ve never heard/read anyone point it out before; reading The Wife Drought is like shining a friendly torch into the places you thought were empty and well-known and finding that in fact theres been an elephant there the whole time and you failed to spot it. Or like that story of the police officer who looked in a cupboard at the house of someone he thought was a murderer, and somehow completely missed seeing that there was a dead body lying right in the middle of the floor in front of him. Because it was so obvious, and our brains are weird. Did I mention the lack of inspiration/ability to write right now? The Wife Drought is helpful. And GOLD. I very highly recommend it, and give it a score of 32 out of 9 potatoes.

“Why should we so readily agree for men to be painted out of the picture? Having a child is a life-changing experience, or so a convincing majority of parenting blogs consistently maintain. So why does our system pretend that parenthood only changes women’s lives?
In the great and ongoing wing-ding about gender and work, why do we spend so much time arguing about what women lose at work, and hardly ever about what men lose at home? Is it because what men lose at home is so banal that we don’t assign it a value? And if so, isn’t that rather an insult to the great work of raising children?
If we value work at home then we should value it properly, and that means not just lamenting that women don’t get paid for it, but also that our system doesn’t really encourage men to do it.” (From page 56.)
“In a world of assumed responsibility, you get credit for doing things that are viewed as additional to your usual beat, but no credit at all for things that are supposed to be in your bag anyway. Hence the display of Yuletide wonder and awe when a school dad constructs a wise man outfit from a Starbucks cup and an old footy jumper, compared to the heartfelt round of indifference when a school mum produces actual gold, frankincense and myrrh, plus a donkey in flawless, anatomically correct papier-mâché. This is her job; to fulfil it adequately is more or less unsurprising. But for him to do it at all carries an element of surprise; that it should be done well is barely imaginable.” (From page 126.)

Annabel runs into Tanya Plibersek in a Canberra coffee shop:
“We had the usual ‘how do you manage it’ exchange. ‘I guess we’re both pretty lucky to have partners who pull their weight in the parenting stakes,’ I concluded, as my son lovingly inserted a croissant into my left ear. ‘Yes,’ Tanya said, knitting her eyebrows in that serene, reflective way she has. ‘I really hope, though, that we’re the last generation of women who have to feel lucky about that.’ 

I’ve thought about that observation many times since. She was right. Why do women with a helpful spouse often feel like they’ve won the lottery, while men with a helpful spouse seem unremarkable?” (From pages 187-188.)

1 comment:

  1. I've just finished reading this book too. I was hoping it would come off the reserved list at the library in time for me to read it over Christmas (when I might have time to sit and think about it properly!) but it arrived early and I had to take it back because there was a long queue of people who had it reserved after me :) I loved it though. Very easy to read and Annabel is spot on with her observations too :)