'I need a wife'
It's a common joke among women juggling work and family. But it's not actually a joke. Having a spouse who takes care of things at home is a Godsend on the domestic front. It's a potent economic asset on the work front. And it's an advantage enjoyed – even in our modern society – by vastly more men than women.
Working women are in an advanced, sustained, and chronically under-reported state of wife drought, and there is no sign of rain.
But why is the work-and-family debate always about women? Why don't men get the same flexibility that women do? In our fixation on the barriers that face women on the way into the workplace, do we forget about the barriers that – for men – still block the exits?
The Wife Drought is about women, men, family and work. Written in Annabel Crabb's inimitable style, it's full of candid and funny stories from the author's work in and around politics and the media, historical nuggets about the role of ‘The Wife' in Australia, and intriguing research about the attitudes that pulse beneath the surface of egalitarian Australia.
Crabb's call is for a ceasefire in the gender wars. Rather than a shout of rage, The Wife Drought is the thoughtful, engaging catalyst for a conversation that's long overdue.
Read Caroline Baum's Review
I never thought that a guinea pig would have much to contribute to a book about twenty first century feminism, but I was wrong. Among the many gems in this marvellously entertaining and thought provoking book is one hilarious anecdote of a super competent mother having a meeting on the phone while her children are dealing with a crisis of their own. It illustrates perfectly the problem of trying to do it all and covering up for the demands of parenting.
Without stridency or shrillness, Crabb coolly and calmly analyses all the impediments, self-inflicted and imposed by society, that are still obstacles, in our day, to women claiming equal pay and status and to the work life balance between men and women being more equitably shared. The answer is not as simple as saying that it would all be alright if we were all Norwegian. The more you read of this spirited book, the more you wonder why on earth we are still in this pickle and having this conversation.
About the Author
One of Australia's most popular political commentators, Annabel Crabb is the ABC's chief online political writer. Annabel has worked extensively in newspapers, radio and television as a political commentator and has established a regular live 'Twittercast' of parliamentary question time, as well as regular commentary.
"Crabb is an excellent writer, and the book is neither a polemical rant nor a statement of the bleeding obvious. She has presented the facts -- the Australian economy is being held back by the rigid gender roles of its employees -- in a new and interesting way, penned with the wry wit for which she is famous.
One of the best chapters in the book involves the effect gender equalisation would have men, who would ultimately benefit from a realignment of their employment priorities. If you assume that there is more to life than work and that having a good relationship with your children is valuable, she writes, taking time off from work to have a family is a good investment. 'Yet we live in a system that consistently, in one way or other, discourages men from even attempting to make that investment.'" - Margot Saville, Crikey
"Annabel Crabb is a great writer...The Wife Drought makes an important contribution to the debate about women in the workforce" - Kara Nicholson, Readings Carlton