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This Program is Captioned Live. # Theme music I'm Waleed Aly. Hi there, welcome to Big Ideas,

myth of the sentimental bloke. On the show today the Aussie From Paul Hogan to Shane Warne, Ned Kelly to Russell Crowe. shearers and cobbers Footballers, diggers, uncomplicated beasts - Australian men are often seen as emotion hiding, stoic, sports loving, beer swilling, laconic. hard working, authority bucking, self-serving furphy? But is it an outdated, At Melbourne's Wheeler Centre an historian, a panel, including a poet, and a brave token female,

try to separate myth from reality. 'Who the Bloody Hell Are We?' It's part of a series called Craig Reucassel, And included Chaser funny man, Michael Cathcart. with ABC Radio National's Hm. Craig, you're a dad. different kind of dad? Are you aware of trying to be a generation of fathers My sense is that your from some imagined norm. are trying to do it differently

Yes. I mean, it's interesting aware of it at first. because you're not necessarily will comment on - It's interesting how much my mother with the children,' 'It's so different how much you do

or something like that. generational change there. So there is obviously a And certainly in terms of - I mean, I've got three young boys - area and their children - and in terms of the fathers in the they're very engaged parents.

Some of them are primary carers, of shared parenting, or there is a great deal with children on weekends there's a great deal of interaction that kind of thing. engaged with their kids' lives. So they're certainly very much distant father seems antiquated, And that kind of notion of the at least in my experience that is everyone's experience. but that's not to necessarily to say time you pushed a pram? How did you feel the first I would have rather been in bed Ah... Well I did feel like but um... at four o'clock in the morning, I quite enjoyed it actually. (Laughter) And yeah, it's quite common. my job's sometimes quite flexible There was a period -

extremely, extremely busy so there'll be times when I'll be I've got a month or two and there are times when you know, at the park with the kid And so there were times when I was, kind of thing - and it was fine. and all the mums were there and that and good. I found it quite interesting It was certainly the case - there were fathers, it wasn't that most people but it certainly changed. I certainly get the idea - I certainly get the notion, experience from what she even says - certainly from my mother's we are a part of our kids' lives. that it's different I mean, how Hm. And if we go back to the '70s and God's Police - when you wrote Damned Whores it's a feminist classic. in particularly in parenting - Let's talk about what's changed - What do you see that is different critiquing back then. from the world you were Well, it's interesting. in Melbourne with some friends I've spent the weekend down here and they've got two kids - who are about my age who's just about to turn 30. a son who is 33 and a daughter has just become a father. And the 33-year-old son And they were just talking about - in the ante-natal classes, not only was he involved and was present at the birth, after the birth - but they actually spent 24 hours the mother, the father and the baby, just the three of them - in this birthing centre, in the whole idea of parenthood. where they had this total immersion who's a very good friend of mine - Now, this boy's father, birth by having the biggest party I mean, he celebrated that boy's who's a very good friend of mine - Now, this boy's father, His wife used to run a restaurant, giving birth, so while she's busy in hospital through all the best French wine he and his friends drank their way

in the restaurant. born - and she's my goddaughter, And I remember when the girl was my feminist goddaughter - 2 o'clock in the morning he came and knocked on my door at and said, 'It's a girl!' with a bottle of cognac his involvement in the birth. (Laughter) And that was saying he's not a good father, So I think there is, well, I'm not or he doesn't love his children - but I think the relationship that Craig's describing is this man's children's involvement and the people of my generation were never present at the birth. And my own father, his role was to walk up and down outside the - at least he was at the hospital,

he wasn't at the restaurant getting drunk - at least he was in the hospital, walking up and down outside the labour ward and hand out cigars. My mother always said she wouldn't have never had my father present at the birth because he would have felt so responsible for what was going on... (Laughter) ..and she would have enough business reassuring herself without having to console him. I mean, I obviously can't speak as a father or even as a parent, because I don't have children, but it just seems to me you just can not possibly -

if you're there at the birth your children - and I presume you were, Craig - your relationship to those kids must be very profoundly different than if you hadn't been present. I don't know, it's interesting. I mean, I don't necessarily know, whether it's part of being there at the birth. I didn't particularly find that it was, you know, so totally moving. To be honest, I was just trying not to faint because I am really bad with blood and things like that. (Laughs) So, I found it quite shocking in some ways, but certainly I think it's an ongoing thing, of being there at all times and trying to be as involved as you can. And what's interesting, I think, nowadays, is that a lot of it comes down to the capacity of the men to do it. So, if you are a man who does work or if you are a woman that works 60 hours a week, it's actually harder to do that kind of thing. And I know people of that - male and female - who actually don't have so much engagement with their kids but it's purely because of the way in which the job they do and the way they are forced to work those particular hours. So, I think a lot also comes down to the capacity you have to do that. You have to have the inclination as well. You can certainly have men who work three days a week and spend the rest of their time at the pub. But I think there's probably two things at play there, and one is -

you're not coming home, not necessarily coming home from hard labour all day or long hours or whatever, you've got that capacity to spend spend time with children. But there is also definitely less of a problem with doing it. There's less of a stereotype that suggests you shouldn't be doing that. So it's more of an individual response, I think, rather than conforming to a stereotype. Yeah. But also too, I mean, 50 years ago, you didn't have as many blended families as you have now. So the dynamic has changed. Whereas once a man would have had their own children and them being distant - Now you may be distant because you're in a family where the kids aren't yours and you're not entirely comfortable or sure what your role is. So you kind of drift around in a space. And yeah... you know... (Laughter)

And feel sort of, sometimes, in their lives and sometimes out of it. So that's not a stereotype of the traditional, distant male - It's just a new thing that happens because families have changed. One of the issues that I know

some post-feminist parents find challenging

or feminist parents find challenging in this era

where feminism is now part of the landscape is that they see little boys and little girls conforming to gender stereotypes and wondering where on Earth that came from. For example, little boys do seem to have a gift for play, someone said to me recently, and little girls do seem to have a gift of being nasty to each other. that came from. And wearing pink. Yeah, yeah. No, apparently being nasty to each other is above pink... (Laughter) ..according to Michael. I think that's totally right. I certainly find that the boys, predominantly the boys I know and the girls very early on do conform.

And these parents -

I'm going to force my boy to have Barbies and force my girl to have this, that kind of idea. But even the people I know who were quite full-on about it, you know, 'I'm not going to have this particular clothing colour,' or whatever, and their children very early in life are saying - And look at what happened - they are suddenly rushing to the pink aisle, or doing this. And it's interesting the extent that how early that socialisation seems to occur. I mean, it's almost like you have to move away to a little community

on your own if you want to have that experiment. So you're sure it's culture, are you? Because - I'm not sure it's culture, no. I profess no expertise whatsoever as to what it is. I'm just fascinated by how quickly it happens and how reasonably universal... I mean, little three or two-year-old girls, in say, the 1940s didn't wear pink, because pink wasn't there. It is cultural to the extent that... ..It's marketing... the extent that this is a pink industry and it's reinforced by the toy shops and the television and every party they go to all the other girls are dressed as pink angels so they want to be a pink angel too. I mean, it's inescapable. Craig, didn't you ever try on your mother's make-up when she wasn't around, or something like that? Nah, that's not right. Anyone who knows me, knows I'll dress in drag at the drop of a hat

I mean, that's not... And seriously, as a kid, you do that and I did, and you just go... ..well, I did - 'Woops, nah, that doesn't feel right.' Well, I don't know about that. It's interesting. What I find fascinating is the extent to which it's still,

it's not necessarily the clothing and that kind of thing what it is, is the extent to which boys continually, just want to wrestle and that kind of thing. Whereas girls... you rarely end up with girls,

a big pile of girls, wrestling, that kind of thing. (Laughter) ..and I'm sure that's not Hasbro selling the notion of wrestling. There are certainly things there which to me seem not necessarily cultural, but more... ..Rolly Derby! Roller Derby... bring it back! You see, where's that come back from? I don't know. There's just got to be marketing behind that somewhere. But, having said that,

it's not - one of the things I think is so interesting - is now it's not so simplified. It's not that these boys who are wrestling half the time aren't then fascinated by music or theatre or art -

and that kind of stuff. There are all those different things. I think the reality is, there is an enormous choice nowadays. That's not to say there isn't a stereotype there

or the pressure's there. But, I think a lot of boys nowadays do have a lot more of a choice and they do choose between the different things and they do become more interesting, rounded males because of that. And what I find fascinating is when you see people who are - I know people who are really artistic, and suddenly they're start pushing their kids and annoyed that their kids don't like sport or something like that.

And that's when it's interesting. When it's almost like there is almost a residual stereotype there and the desire to have your kids even if you, yourself aren't necessarily like that. You're not into sport or you're a bit artistic or something but suddenly you see them getting angry at their kids

You're not into sport or you're a bit artistic or something And I wonder if it's more that trying to, you know, not be different, or something, that pushes that. Let's move onto the adults scene - in fact, let's talk about the stereotype. Because that was the reason we were all summoned here today - to discuss the stereotype. The stereotype clearly still has cultural currency even though there are lots of different people out there in the street. I mean, as I walked here this evening from the ABC studios up here to the library, I don't think I passed a single person who looked as though they were a 'Warnie' or a 'Steve Erwin.' The street just seemed full of people of all different cultural types all just going about their affairs -

(Laughter) Yeah, but then if you'd have walked down the streets of Minyup it would be a different experience. Yeah, well, that's an element, yeah. I think that a traditional stereotype may exist in our rural culture that doesn't exist here. I mean, if you go into the bush people are always telling you 'this is the real Australia.' Yeah, they are. And that's part of what they mean. That's what they mean, yeah. You know, to do with the colour of your skin, you know, type of car you drive, way you speak and an attitude to life. But they might be wearing earrings. They might be, yeah, that's true.

Bit of a change. Yeah, yep. Who embodies the cultural stereotype for you - who's got a big media presence? The cultural stereotype - I was fascinated when Paul Hogan was having his ATO stoush,

which he's still in, um, which is the first time in years I've seen somebody - well, I don't think I've ever seen somebody, who was this stereotypical anti-establishment, anti-authoritarian figure stand up against a major authoritarian presence such as the ATO

and tell them on the media to get stuffed. You know, as we all like to think - well, not like perhaps,

but we're told that's the Australian way. You know, larrikin anti-authoritarian - So, you admired that when you saw him do it? I thought I hadn't - I thought it breathtaking. And I hadn't seen it ever, probably, in my life, so publicly. Somebody saying, 'I'm gonna risk everything, all my money, possibly my freedom.' To say, 'I'm right and you're wrong and you're really big and tough.' And, um, I don't think I've ever seen that. So, I'd have to say Paul Hogan which is amazing really, isn't it? Because he's sold to us as the real deal Aussie. And he's had plastic surgery. Has he really? And he lives in America. So the real deal Aussie stereotype and putting a shrimp on the barbie,

but him when he's with his lawyers and his accountants standing up to the ATO. Didn't know that was the stereotype. (Laughter)

No, but when he goes into the media, remember when he did those - and he was just - the way I was told, and grew up to believe that the Australian was this kind of larrikin,

anti-authoritarian figure and he's really not but then suddenly with Hogan - So you doubt the anti-authoritarianism? and he's really not but then suddenly with Hogan - You think we're all a bunch of conformists. Oh yeah, and deeply conservative people and very conformist to our bones really. And, um, we've been - I don't know where it comes from but it's just been this myth or this lie that's probably been sold to us since the early 20th Century - the war time, when, you know, we - But there is an egalitarian - I mean we know there's a class structure, we know there are very rich and very poor people and there are power imbalances, but somewhere in the complexity of the culture there is a strain of egalitarianism which you don't find in other cultures, surely, and that is something that you can buy into by playing the role of the Australian male stereotype, is it not? I don't know, it's interesting - Why is that male?

OK, Australian stereotype then. But I think egalitarianism, if it's an Australian characteristic, and I think it is to some degree, perhaps not as much as we like to romanticise - Well, it's an Australian aspiration, let's say. But I think it's an Australian thing rather than a male thing. OK. And you're saying that egalitarianism is conformity.

I just thought it was justice. Well, I'm not saying it's conformity - No, no, I'm just asking that, I'm just asking it.

Are we that egalitarian? I mean, I think - we might be slightly more egalitarian than the Americans, but I don't think of us as being actually that egalitarian in the long run. I think a lot of that notion of egalitarianism is often more the tall poppy syndrome or the fact that you don't, you know, maybe not as showy about,

you know - we don't celebrate so much the people that stand up

and are different or rich or wealthy like that. But I don't know that it's actually egalitarianism, in that, you know, we all want to be on a similar level. But you think about the whole culture of The Chaser for example, it is both anti-authoritarian and egalitarian, isn't it? You walk up to anybody and give them heaps, you know. Yeah, it's certainly anti-authoritarian, that is certainly the case. I wouldn't have thought of it as necessarily being a kind of male stereotype at all, but - But you're all blokes. We are all blokes and that's, um, that's to our great - it's a shame. (Laughter) And that's actually what I find quite interesting

'cause The Chaser, you know, it came about quite organically and it was a bunch of people who were doing a newspaper together 'cause The Chaser, you know, it came about quite organically who kind of went off to do other things and, I guess, they weren't the people that were sitting there throughout the night writing the news satire that lead to the team, but I do often wonder, despite the fact we had women there and we had a lot of close friends, women - in comedy as well, actually, I often do wonder that extent to which - even with a kind of wussy bunch of blokes like ourselves, was there an element of kind of, masculinity in the office

or the kind of sarcasm or the knocking each other and that, and I wonder if that actually did have an effect in making it so that, you know, we didn't have women working there long-term. I don't know the answer to that, it certainly was never a conscious thing or - But you have played it up. I can remember sets that you've been on which have been a sort of lads' play room really, with - I can remember sets that you've been on and it was like that. It was like essentially a run-down old room that we did it out of. But that's one of the things that was interesting, is when you do find yourself suddenly going, 'hang on, why is this quite masculine here?' Like, if I ever find myself around the barbecue with a beer and a lot of blokes, I go, 'isn't this fascinating because, you know, why has this happened here, why in this different group of people who I wouldn't consider to be very masculine and why has this kind of happened this way? I mean, what's at play here?' Maybe we should have quotas on the Chaser. We should, we should have quotas on the Chaser, yes. Would any women want to work with us? Craig, you, I mean, an example that comes out of your own work is you tell the story about your dad button-holing Malcolm Fraser. Oh, well that's big-noting, yeah, that is an Australian thing of my father's generation. Tell us the story. Ah, well, we were at the races, the Randwick races and, um, Malcolm Fraser was walking down past the bookmakers

and my father, for some reason, just wanted to pretend he knew him and that he could introduce me as a mate, introduce his son to Malcolm Fraser as a mate. I see, right. I know the Prime Minister. It's hard to understand who would fall for this when Malcolm Fraser's not gonna fall for it.

No, it didn't, but it's in that environment - that male environment of the races, which still is there, the very male environment of horse racing. But, um, but I certainly fell for it as a boy, you know, I was quite impressed. But it was all - it was only just fleeting and it was silly.

But that's the sort of thing, I suppose, a father who's a bit insecure about his relationship with his son might do to try and impress him. I might do it, you know, I don't know. But, um, I worked with journalists for most of my life and, you know, a very male world

and they're always big-noting themselves. They get on the phone to a politician and it's just like they cream their pants, they just think it's just fantastic. 'I know the Minister for Trade, you know.' And I remember feeling really chuffed when the Minister for Trade actually left a message on my answering machine at home and I could just play it for people, you know, and sort of - (Laughter) Which is pathetic. The Minister for Trade, you need to get out more. (Laughter) I wasn't a very good journalist and that's as far as I could go. (Laughter) But are you saying there's not big-noting women in journalism? Oh, there are, but - It's more the occupation, I think, rather than the gender in that case. Yeah, but the journalists - my father and what he was doing is certainly around today and, yes, women have got in on the act too. Let's talk a bit more about journalism and in your time with journalists have you found it to be a blokey kind of culture in which women had to kind of, shoulder a way in? I have to honestly say yes.

Um, well, it certainly wasn't my experience

in the first newspaper where I worked which was the National Times and in fact I think the staff there were probably at least 30% women, maybe even a little bit more than that.

So I don't think it was so much a blokey culture but one of things that it was - which was very much of the time and I don't think this would happen today, is that if the editor wanted to have a meeting with you, rather than him call you into his office, which was just a little cubicle in the corner of the room, he'd take you to the pub. And that was, you know, it was a real drinking culture and to the extent - I don't think that's necessarily a masculine culture although pubs are fairly blokey places, I suppose, But I think it was, what was interesting about it was the editor was a male and the deputy editor was a male

and that's still pretty much the case in most newspapers, was the editor was a male and the deputy editor was a male

even if the women sort of get to the number two spot, you never see - it's very rare for a woman to be number one. But you certainly have a lot of women in journalism, so I think the thing about newspapers in particular, I can't really speak for television so much which has got a whole lot of different issues about appearance and so on, but newspapers, I mean, there's just something about newspapers which seems to be impervious to any kind of influence of women,

regardless of how many women there are there. That's very true. And it's a very, very kind of - Maybe that's why newspapers are dying. Well, there's certainly something wrong. Journalists nowadays seem to be a lot less of a boozy culture than they used to be. Like the kind of new journalism, that kind of story of spending the day in the pub to get the story doesn't seem to be there anymore. No, they go jogging at lunch time rather than going to the pub. Yes, yes. That's what used to happen in Canberra, what happens in Canberra now, they, you know, you see them running around Parliament House in their shorts rather than hanging out in the Non-Members Bar. In fact the Non-Members Bar is now a childcare centre. Oh, what a disgrace. (Laughter) Maybe we should talk about alcohol

because that was once such an important part of Australian male rituals and I'm not sure how much it is now. If you were giving advice to someone to a bloke visiting Australia, would you have advice about how to handle alcohol and how it can help, you know, lubricate social relations or can we get by without it? Can you make your way without it? Well, I can't, but of course people are - many people can, many people do. You know, I know people who don't drink and, um - but most people do but not terribly much. And wine, you know, men drink wine now. More than beer. Well, not necessarily, maybe it's just even-upped a bit.

I think the figures have actually just, you know,

they've shown that wine has just overtaken beer as the national drink. That's pretty significant. Now, you tell that story, that statistic always comes out as though that's a good thing, now, why would it be better for men to be drinking wine than to be drinking beer? Why does it matter what's in the glass? I'm not saying it's better, I'm just saying it's noteworthy because, you know, the stereotypical Australian bloke is there with his VB

or his, you know, whatever beer it is, and he's sort of, you can't take the beer away from him. If you had the guy in a blue T-shirt, blue singlet wearing, you know, an Akubra and a Drizabone and the boots and everything It's not the same, is it? No. I still think that alcohol is a massive part of our culture. Like, I think it's kind of, I think what's happened is probably it's become more a part of women's culture as well,

you know, there's all these studies now about women go out and there's a lot more binge drinking among women even just in a group of women and that kind of thing.

So I don't think it's necessarily decreased a great deal in men I just think it's just that our culture itself predominantly seems to revolve around booze. And I'm fascinated by cultures that don't. It's interesting though as well that the whole wine and beer thing is interesting. The notion that we think, 'Oh, wow, men are so much more cultured now they drink wine.' That shows the extent to which that stereotype is still there. And I know - I've got quite a few male friends who if you're at their house they will only drink wine, essentially,

but get a group of men around in a pub, we all go to the pub, everyone suddenly drinks beer. I'm fascinated by - why is it that everyone suddenly - I don't know if it's just house wine's really bad in pubs, maybe that's it. But everyone suddenly does conform to this and everyone orders beer even if they don't generally drink beer at other times. It's like there are still those influences, there are still those effects of those stereotypes there where men do - and even if jokingly knocking each other about it, there's still those,

those stereotypes still have an effect there, they still exist.

Wine's seen as being a sophisticated thing and there is still this strain in Australian culture that is anti-sophistication or likes to just, you know, likes to dumb itself down a little bit. I think that it's almost as if men, if you get two or three of them, they can kind of break out a bit, but as soon as you put them together as a pack, you know,

the stereotypes have more of an effect. You think about the more masculine industries are the ones like finance or just labouring or whatever where there is a predominant majority of men, I think that's where you still have those male stereotypes probably have more impact and more effects because there's likes packs of men. Go back to John Singleton style advertising or something. Yeah, but at the same time,

you just look at the way in which the culture of food, particularly the production and growing of food, in this country has changed in the last 20 odd years. And, you know, we produce salmon and truffles and, you know, wagyu beef, organic lamb, all kinds of amazing foods and there are huge numbers of men and often men and women from families, you know, small farms involved in this stuff, and you see these men selling this stuff at farmers markets and stuff and the sorts of conversations they have about this food is -

and I mean these are rural blokes, typical rural blokes and they probably look like your stereotypical blokes but then they start talking about this food

in ways that are so against the stereotype. So, I think things are much more sophisticated and different than they used to be.

What about the enduring word, 'mate,' what does that indicate?

When a bloke calls another bloke, mate.

You know, the conventional account of this is that it's a sign of how, well, egalitarian we all are, but it seems to me that 'mate' often comes out actually at times of mistrust. It's a way of saying to another fella, 'you know mate -' It's a challenge. Or a sign of retreat, of saying, you know, 'I don't have tickets on myself, I'm just like you, mate.' Well, mateship is comradeship, isn't it? That's the way we would think of it and it's not unique to Australia, that's everywhere and yet we, sort of have been sold that message that it is uniquely Australian

but try telling an American or a Turk or something or - It's just a different word isn't it. It's just a different word, and now of course it's 'bro' and 'dude.' So we'll have 'broship' and 'dudeship' in 50 years time. It's true, I say 'bro' now, it's the polynesian influence and now with the American. You didn't call me bro when we met, who gets - No, I'll get around to that later. But, um, so it can be used, like you say - and it can often be used when matched with really hard-mouthed words,

expletives, you know 'I'll do your head in, mate. That sort of thing. Or just, 'mate, mate, mate, have I got a deal for you.' You know? Generally I just use it when I can't remember people's names.

And that too. Exactly. 'Thanks, mate.' And women call each other 'mate'. They do. That happens now, yeah.

Although it's still - I think it's still the case that it's less likely for a guy to call a female friend as a mate.

And I don't know why that is. I mean, I don't know what the real impact or effect of that is but I generally don't think there's a great deal to that notion of mateship. Such a shame John Howard didn't get to put it in the constitution. Then it'd be so much stronger. We might take some questions from the audience now. If you pop your hands up there's a microphone...somewhere. So, if you've got a question that you'd like to ask,

pop your hand up and we'll... ..we'll get it from you. Um, the title of the talk today was The Sentimental Bloke. I'm just wondering about your comments on men expressing emotion to each other. I don't know, a lot of my male friends are a lot more open about touching and hugging and expressing affection to each other publicly. Just wondering about your comments about that. Um, decades past. You know, the development of - The olden days. Over the last maybe ten years or so.

I mean, I certainly think - well, personally, you know, a lot of men will hug each other and there is a lot more of a touchy-feely but it's interesting that you wouldn't get in Thailand or something two men walking along holding hands if they were just friends or something. So it's slightly opened up to - the awkward hug is acceptable, the quick pat on the back, but there's still limits, still limits there. So it's still breaking down barriers, I guess, still things that are changing. If there's one thing that's changed it's that it's much more acceptable now to be gay. Yeah, and that's one of those interesting things, I find, with parents with, um, with boys and that - I know a lot who - I sense in them still, despite the fact that they're probably not homophobic at all, I still sense in some of them

like if it were their sons or something they would actually struggle with it a lot more. It's again that thing of - it's fine for other kids to be gay. But my kid? No. I still sense that a bit so it's certainly my experience it's still breaking down there. But in my case, I'm happy for my kids to be gay, if you're listening. (Laughter) They're always good to their parents. Yeah, though it's such a shame, because in the past that was just so I didn't have to pay for a wedding but nowadays, you know, soon there'll be gay marriage. Although then the institution of marriage will break down, apparently. Down here there's one. I'm just wondering - I don't know if this is a question or comment -

how much you think that the - quote - 'freedom' women got has actually helped break down the stereotype and made a lot of opportunities for men to break their own stereotype? For example, when they went to work, if there was no childcare, well, they had to sort of hop in a bit and that happened in my own life and I'm 70, you know, I was probably about 23 when I went back to work. Does that make sense? Yes, it does. Good question. We'll each have a go at that - has feminism given men more choice? I think it just freed men up, you know, I was once said this at a dinner party and I was just hailed down by women because they couldn't accept that this was the truth. But I think it has. I've seen it just in my lifetime how it's allowed men -

they were released from having to be the sole breadwinner, they could engage with their children more intimately if they wished, freed them up sexually, there was more openness in a relationship with a woman, sexually, so I think it had an enormous impact. What do you think? Of course it did. Women changed so men have changed, I think to the extent that there are still some tensions there, I mean, some men have found it difficult and some men have resisted it and there are still some men who cannot live with the notion that their partner - be it wife, girlfriend or whatever - or isn't at home with the dinner on the table when they get home.

That kind of thing.

But I think, fortunately, that is a declining and a minority position I think most men have probably welcomed, as you say, welcomed the freedom that it's given men

to get away from those sorts of stereotypes. But it's also created a lot of challenges - you do have to do more work. The man can't just come home and sit down, get his slippers and his pipe and watch television and have it all done for him.

If he expects that, he's going to find very few women - hopefully - willing to do it.

So I think the extent to which women demanded more freedom, and got it, that's had consequential changes for men and surely those changes are for the better - as Craig says, a relationship of equality and of mutual respect and of mutual giving is surely better than a relationship which is contracted on exploitation or inequality. But the domestic routine can still - a lot of the time - just still go the old traditional ways of women - Well, it shouldn't. (Laughter) I definitely agree that the changes in women's lives, the more opportunities they've had have created - in a lot of instances - a more sharing relationship between the father and mother with children or with household affairs and all that kind of thing. I think studies tend to show, don't they, that even if women start working full-time, they still end up doing most of the housework. So, not all the way there yet but certainly from my experience, I think that's spot-on.

But at least men feel guilty about it now. Oh, exactly, it's totally changed. I mean, when I'm getting my cigarette - my pipe and my slippers I feel very guilty. (Laughter) The other thing men feel is virtuous when they actually do the housework.

Yeah, that is a common complaint. A man cooks a dinner and kind of wants a crowd of people to cheer them as they bring it to the table. Wheras a woman does it the other six nights a week, 'I only just did it.' There's still an element of that. What's that? Chops again? Even the fact that referring back to the fact my mother was like, 'Isn't it great the way you're all changing babies' nappies?' It's like, realistically, in 10 or 20 years I hope that's not even commented on because that's just what parents do. And in 2002 you published a book called The End of Equality and it was based on focus groups of women, wasn't it? And, as I recall, there were women who said that they felt that there were men -

there seemed to be men who were emasculated by feminism and who were reacting violently to this. I mean, one of the most dispiriting findings from these focus groups that I commissioned as part of the research for this book, and these were groups of women who - all around Australia of different ages and different socio-economic groups but one of the very consistent findings of all of these groups was when we asked women to nominate what they thought were still the important issues confronting women and confronting society this was something that figured enormously and, as we know, violence against women is still with us and increasing it seems, unfortunately. But this is the - when women were asked why they thought this was the case, it was really quite shocking, the number who said when women were asked why they thought this was the case, with women's new-found independence. And the two things they specifically mentioned, that came up time and time again - women earning more than their partner,

a lot of men just couldn't cope with that, and the other thing was he gets home from work and she's not there. Couldn't cope with that. So there are still some men who feel threatened and who respond to that, feeling that way, by violent behaviour towards a woman. And that's learnt behaviour, isn't it, on the part of the men. Yeah, yeah, it's terrible. Any more questions? Oh, yeah, there's lots. a woman. Let's go over just here. That's it. We've talked about and how early kids socialise into these gender stereotypes. To what degree do you think the media plays a role

in creating those gender stereotypes and then the evolution of those stereotypes? in creating those gender stereotypes and the changes that we've seen in their behaviour and what's considered socially acceptable - if we look at Australian culture and the role the media plays in society in comparison to countries overseas, the free media that we have here seems to play a large role in what people consider as socially acceptable. So, I'm just curious as to what you think the role is that the media plays in that. It's interesting, they've still got ads on TV which portray men in the kitchen - absolute buffoons, kids roll their eyes, 'Dad, take us to KFC.' And the woman is still represented as the person who's very capable in the kitchen and, you know, has - so I think the media - this is so outdated, this stuff, and yet it just gets regurgitated through ad after ad. But is that a sign that the media are not in touch with the wider society? Or is it the case

that the media are very attuned to what it is the public wants to see, what image they want to see themselves

because we can think of lots of ways in which the world on television is not like, well, the world out there in the street. If you walk down that street, you know, half the people you pass in Swanson St are Asians, for example, but that's not what you see on television - I think a classic example of this we were talking about before is this new ad campaign that's just been released today by John Singleton on behalf of the hotels and the clubs against the restrictions to poker machines - the thing that Andrew Wilkie is insisting federal government do, to place limits on the amount of money people can spend on a poker machine in a given day. The ad shows these two blokes, two young white Australian men, drinking beer in a pub and complaining that they're gonna put -

you're gonna need a licence to punt. Now, there are a million things wrong with that - apart from the fact that John Singleton seems to personally love perpetuating this stereotype for reasons best known to himself. I mean, the majority of poker machine players are women, to start with, they're not young white men. If you talk about Chinese - a huge number of people that gamble, including on poker machines in this country, are Chinese. If we're actually talking about the people who might not like this tax, this ad certainly doesn't show those people. So the ad is actually appealing to, or it's drawing an archetype of a certain type of Australian, it's really a bit of a mythology - So, what do we deduce from that though?

Do we deduce that they've mucked up the ad, they haven't understood who the target audience is or do we deduce from that that there is a demand out there in the community

for the media to give us a fantasy version of ourselves? Well, I think that they're just right off the money. I think they just have no idea what they're doing. It's interesting though - (Laughter) Which is probably just as well - maybe it won't succeed. Let's hope it doesn't succeed. The interesting thing about advertising is because it's so incredibly well resourced, a lot of the time it's actually based on a great deal of focus groups and a great deal of - things are generally put out there in advertising about advertising so that suggests - That's not just true of advertising,

that's also true of comedies made in Australia. We know what the market appeal is of different stars, you know, they've actually got ratings. That's true, but you don't generally focus-test television whereas you do for the ads. So, the ads have a lot more resources than that the people testing on them. So, what's interesting in terms that question they've actually got ratings.

in terms that question I've been fascinated by children's programming and particularly my children watch quite a few shows from America, American children's programming, and my wife and I have started to ban several of them and my wife particularly is outraged by the role that the women or the females in these kids' shows - literally aimed at kids from four to ten years old - and the roles they're playing, the ditzy kind of girlfriend, getting dressed up in the short skirt, this kind of thing, and it's quite amazing to see it. And it actually - I think in a lot of cases - I don't think Australian TV is quite as bad - but I think it says a great deal about the fact that a lot of television comes from Hollywood, which has a lot of - the stereotypes of Hollywood, I think, are fairly true at times and I think are not necessarily things we want to copy in Australia. So, the actual shows children are watching themselves have some terrible lessons and stereotypes that I - we're certainly struggling with as parents. Just perpetuated.

Now there's some more questions, there's one down here. The reason I've decided to follow through and ask this question is because my two female friends here tonight have told me to 'man-up' and be brave and ask the question. (Laughter) Following on from that, I spend a lot of time - I'm a very passionate hunter - Just hold that nearer your mouth. I'm a very passionate hunter and Dad often gives me quite a bad wrap, I think it's often perceived as a very sort of, dated, obsolete pasttime for men to enjoy. But I thoroughly enjoy it, I'm very, very passionate about it. Do you perceive -

the social coercion to be the sensitive new age guy as compared to the social coercion in decades past to be the distant, strong male father figure? Is there a difference between those two social driving forces? Well, it's interesting, I think a lot depends on where you were growing up and your peer group, for instance, where did you get into hunting? Sorry, before you give away the microphone, sorry, excuse me, can he have the microphone back? I just want to ask him question, sorry. Where did you get into hunting? That was largely from my dad and the reason I bring it up is because it is perhaps the strongest example of something that is traditionally 'manly' that I do. And I don't do it because it is traditionally manly, I do it because I enjoy it. But the two seem to be intertwined in such a way that most people I talk to about it can't seem to separate the fact that it's manly and the fact that it's hunting. Yeah, it's interesting, I mean, it could just mean you're a member of the Royal family as well, so, um. (Laughter) But, what's interesting, I certainly do equate hunting as being an antiquated male pursuit, that's certainly what I think, but, you know. In the way I was talking earlier about the fact that nowadays it's like males kind of choose from more.

Like I wouldn't necessarily think of you also coming to the Wheeler Centre to discuss masculinity as being going well with your hunting. So, I think it is that what we have is a more complex kind of table of people now that choose between these different areas and that's great in some ways unless you're a duck. (Laughter) I'd just like to say two words in response, Sarah Palin. (Laughter) Is fishing hunting? Yeah, fishing's hunting, yeah. Oh. I don't fish. I don't think it counts.

You don't think it counts? Why is killing a fish any different from,

why is that any different from killing anything else? Fish have feelings. I know they do, I'm not defending either but I thought hunting was shooting. Well huntin' and fishin' they sort of go together don't they? I mean, catching an animal and puttin' a hook through it's lips and then pulling it out of it's home.

I'm not defending it, I'm just saying hunting is shooting. And he's a hunter, he's a shooter. Yeah, he's a shooter, yeah he is. He's got his own political party, in NSW anyway. (Laughter) I don't know whether we've answered your question,

we've had a lot of fun ridiculing you. No, it's funny cause I personally hate the idea of hunting but I do think that as a meat eater it's a very hypocritical position. I'm very aware of the course of the intellectual clarity of my ideas. Have you ever killed a mammal and then eaten it? No, no, no, not as far as I'm aware, no. Have you, Anne? No. And are you a meat eater? I am. Oh yes, I mean, my father had a farm so it was just common place. Anything, you were killing sheep and cows and - it was just normal, that's what you do. So if I brought a chook over to your house you'd be quite happy to -

you'd be quite happy to hang it up in the lemon tree and we could kill it together couldn't we? I live in the inner city I'm not going to - (Laughter) I'm not gonna have a carcass hanging out the back door. (Laughter) I don't even have enough room for a vegie garden let alone - No, but i have done that, I mean, it has - but my mother, she was the daughter of a butcher. And so I have seen her - she's dead now, but when I was a young kid, see her just drag the skinned carcass in, chop it up, covered in blood and um, freeze it. Make sausages, it was -

Lost arts. OK, well that's interesting because that means to you it's not a gender thing - It's not a gender thing for me and it kind of just follows. The animals didn't commit suicide, you know, somebody killed them. (Laughter)

Yeah, it's very country-city. Well, you're not really allowed to do it in the city are you? No, it's tough. There's one here. Is there a microphone on this side? It's this man here, he's been waving for a while.

Can we have the microphone up here? On the political question that was raised by the mention of Sarah Palin, how much do you think what we're talking about here is a product, this is probably Anne's area as much as anyone elses, is a product of a upper-cultural level of society? Upper in the sense of better educated etc, etc. That these things have become different for us but they haven't become different in Western Sydney and therefore the sort of advertising that you're talking about and the political push of people like Abbott etc, etc and the old fashioned Hanson ideas, how much do you think they haven't actually got through beyond this top - that we represent in this room? Yeah, we've got it. To what extent are traditional gender stereotypes dependant on class? Well, you know, I think that the changes in men over the last 20 years are pretty widespread. In Western Sydney? Yeah, I think they are. I think the attitude - the way men dress, the fact they wear jewellery, they wear hair product, they wear cologne, you know they look different they smell different, they get involved in their families in ways that probably fathers didn't. I think there's a whole lot of change,

that's not to say there aren't differences between regions and classes and ethnic groups, you know, nationalities and what have you. I'm sure there are a lot of differences. But I think that, overall, men are different from the way they were, a very large number of men are very different from the way they were, say 30 years ago - So, what to you reckon Tony Abbott's playing up to? Because there is a kind of masculinity

that he's displaying very overtly, he is actually -

Well, would you call that masculinity?

I wouldn't call that masculinity. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER) Well, like carrying the bike and the - Well, is that masculinity?

I mean that's just madness If you go past the Fernwood Gym there, where I live, there are women in there that are just going for it to keep fit and look well - I don't see him as representing masculinity

or anything more than keeping fit, as far as his exercise goes. Keeping fit, looking obsessive in his fitness. But then I have a cousin in her 50's

And does it to, I guess help stave off death

and keeps her looking really lean and healthy.

Pretty good reason. Yeah, so -

I find it interesting, the point that Anne made about, the change and the dressing up - but I do find it fascinating, these kind of metrosexual men,

just seem to be as occa and as blokeish as your traditional view of your kind of guy in his stubbies is. It's like marketing's got to them in this one particular area. But I don't actually think it's changed them otherwise. Like, I think that just because they get dressed up to out for a night on the town actually hasn't change them. You see these guys, that are essentially going out to cruise for chicks

and they are very masculine and the way they talk about women is still very antiquated And I don't think that exterior thing changes.

It's like, just because you're not hotting up a Holden, you're hotting up a little Fast Four Rotary or something, It doesn't change the fact that it's kind of the same culture that's there, even though it might appear slightly different. Even though they spend 45 mintues getting dressed? Yeah, even though they spend 45 minutes getting dressed, I think that's an appeareance thing, I actually think that's and look, I don't have enough basis for answering the quesion about whether it is a class thing, you know. I think the reality is you still get elements of that.

There are highly intelligent people in very well-paid jobs who went to colleges at University, all male colleges and that who are as blokey-male and, you know, exluding women and all that kind of thing as anyone else. So, I don't it's necessarily a class thing. But I do get the sense that when you do talk about this kind of enlightenment or whatever, that it's not as well spread out through the suburbs as otherwise. And I think it's probably is a lot of the time linked to education, although, once again, you just can't generalise that. And I think it's probably is a lot of the time linked to education, A little while back we got a little bit off the track with the hunting question and wandered down that path. But, I think the question behind it was quite an intersting one,

which was about whether 'do you think that contemporary men are actually under a lot of pressure to conform to the sensative new age guy model'? Ah yes, OK yes, I now understand. The hunter is nodding. Ironically, you didn't need to man-up, you needed to woman up to get the question answered. Yeah that is interesting -

The implication of this question, it seems to me, is that you're summising that men may need to hold something primal in-check in order to meet the requirements of the sensative new age guy, are you? Yeah, surely that pressure must be there. And when Anne talked earlier about her studies

that's presumably a respsonse, in part to the different societal pressure which is to respect women equally - or something like that, and there are people who can't actually, neccessarily deal with that. And I guess there is that element still, there are certain groups where you would feel more pressure to be a SNAG or otherwise But maybe it's different, if men hang out in packs as we've discussed, then they'll play up to what's expected of them in that peer group. And if they go off with their female partner or their lover, then they will feel the pressure to be a sensitive new age guy. So, maybe, and maybe this is what I'd do, try and have - I'm just trying to work through it, maybe we try and have the best of both worlds, and so we're faking it. On either, seriously. I think you're right.

We're weak and wishy-washy and we change, depending on the audience. Yeah, we change depending on the audience, we play to the crowd or we play to the individual. I think that's true,

and suddenly they're all drinking the beers and rah rah rah... ..and I think you're right, it depends on the particular audience that you're in at the time. The Chaser's Craig Ruecassell, with panelists from 'The Sentimental bloke', for The Wheeler Centre and ABC Radio National. That's all from Big Ideas for today, but for more of the best true-blue panels, talks and lectures, point your browser in the direction of our big, fat website at the address on your screen. And look our for more Big Ideas, on ABC News 24 at 1pm on Saturdays and Sundays. I'm Waleed Aly, see you again

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