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Better

Livin' the life.

Livin' the life.

"Overall, it seems you're still better off to be a man," said the article in this very newspaper.

"Excellent!" I thought, excited to find out how good I had it because I've been gifted with testicles.

"Men are better paid, but women are better educated," said the report, inspired by data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which also showed "men dominate top executive jobs ... while women do most of the unpaid work and care at home".

Not being an exec, who does his own housework and looks after his daughter three days a week, I thought there's more to "better" than just money but ... that was it. The story went on to say "women live longer", "are less at risk of violence" and, "despite widespread perceptions, men are the main victims of crime".

I'm sure I wasn't the only bloke reading who wondered "how do I get me some of that action?" because, in my view, earning a few extra bucks is a poor way of measuring a "better" life.

Thus the report also reconfirmed men as more likely to suffer mental disorders, be disabled, die in car accidents or of cancer and to kill themselves. All for, on average, 8 per cent more in our pay packets than women receive.

Now, sure, there are plenty of guys out there happy to toddle off to the office and leave the domestics to the missus, but there's also a whole generation of men waking up to the fact there's lots to dislike about the corporate world.

Where once men could go "with streaming banners where noble deeds are done", it's hard to be proud of much that goes on in the workplace; the greed, grasping, politics and backstabbing.

As writer Dorothy Dinnerstein noted: "People want to be where something important is happening. It's perfectly clear something important is happening wherever we're together in a quiet, intimate way ... particularly where adults are nurturing children."

As I wrote on Tuesday, this is why I'm always confused by women who muse about "having it all" - like it's actually something any of us has.

Queen Elizabeth doesn't have it all. She nods through 350 boring state luncheons a year and has to hug sick people in hospitals. George Clooney has no privacy and would get picked in bar fights every time he went outside Santa Monica.

The following line bothered some of you earlier in the week because it was "reductionistic" but I like its simplicity: "Life is a compromise whether you stand or sit to pee: Women go through labour and give up careers to raise kids and men mine coal, lose the same children in custody battles and get their heads punched in."

American comic Bill Burr does a stand-up routine in which he tells of an ex-girlfriend who asks, "Why does a guy make more an hour to do the exact same job, huh?"

"I'll tell you why," he replies. "Because in the unlikely event we're both on a Titanic and it starts to sink, for some f---ed up reason, you get to leave with the kids and I have to stay.

"It's a dollar-an-hour surcharge - that if something messed up happens - that I can't either leave or I gotta get in the way of it to give you a head start. Rabid dog, run honey! You hear a bump in the night, I gotta check it out. Yes! He does have a knife!"

An over-simplification, of course, but I'm surely not the only man who'd be happy to swap my 8 per cent for an extra five years of life, more time with his kid and the guarantee I'll not be found swinging from a beam when I turn 55.

Sam de Brito's latest novel Hello Darkness is in bookstores now. You can follow him on Twitter here. His email address is here.

102 comments so far

  • Amen to that brother. Money seems to be life’s yardstick of the betterness scale. Occupational hazard of a capitalist society I guess. For mine though, my daughter smiling makes me much happier than my pay check.

    Commenter
    elwarko
    Location
    Somewhere near Port Hedland
    Date and time
    August 22, 2012, 5:56PM
    • Hey Sam, just happy to hear you've got your girl 3 days a week!

      yours supportively,
      ThePirateKing

      Commenter
      ThePirateKing
      Location
      Kingston, Jamaica
      Date and time
      August 23, 2012, 1:41PM
  • Does that Titanic 'women and children first' thing still hold true today? Sure, children would be looked after first in that kind of situation but some random chick over me.....umm.......no.

    You wanted equality sisters, enjoy :)

    Commenter
    Bill
    Date and time
    August 22, 2012, 6:55PM
    • Bill: regarding the Titanic, that was the exception, not the rule. Scottish soldiers on the HMS Birkenhead
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Birkenhead_(1845)
      allowed women and children off the ship first while they subjected themselves to drowning and sharks. This however, is the exception not the rule. The soldiers required military discipline to perform this task. Modern ships evacuate themselves in family units. Witness the Costa Concordia disaster: it had a 99.9% safe evacuation rate, even without the captain, while the Titanic had a 50% (at best) evacuation rate with the "women and children first" policy.

      Commenter
      Spike
      Date and time
      August 23, 2012, 10:47AM
    • Doesn't have to be some random, unless you're also saying you wouldn't chose to sacrifice yourself to save your girlfriend/wife from certain death.
      Personally, I don't know how I'd react in the moment, but I'm sure I'd have trouble facing myself in the mirror if I let "some random chick" die so I could save myself.

      Commenter
      Luke
      Date and time
      August 23, 2012, 10:48AM
    • Here are two for you spike
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MTS_Oceanos
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Principessa_Mafalda

      Commenter
      enno
      Location
      sydney
      Date and time
      August 23, 2012, 11:45AM
    • Depends wether you're sailing on the Costa Concordia or another cruise ship.

      Commenter
      HighlyDubious
      Date and time
      August 23, 2012, 12:53PM
    • The recent deaths of men protecting their women during the Batman shooting in the US suggests Sam is on the money.

      yours gallantly,
      ThePirateKing

      Commenter
      ThePirateKing
      Location
      Kingston, Jamaica
      Date and time
      August 23, 2012, 1:40PM
    • @ThePirateKing

      I think the point is whether or not you'd do it for a stranger based on the fact that they were female.

      I like to think I'd protect my brother but as you quite rightly point out, gallantry is easy when you're sitting at a keyboard.

      Commenter
      Bill
      Date and time
      August 23, 2012, 5:45PM
    • @ Bill...Bingo ! I knew it wouldn't be long before the bitler old line 'you wanted equality' would be trotted out...

      Commenter
      Lady
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      August 24, 2012, 10:45AM

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