Sitting on the floor of my toilet as my two year old son tried his hardest to avoid trying his hardest, the words I’d promised myself I’d never say again just slipped out of my mouth.
It had been an emotional 20 minutes to say the least.
Tears, laughter, more tears. I’d used all my bribe m&ms and the only ‘movement’ I was seeing was his right foot periodically smacking me in the chin as he flailed into a new wave of tears.
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Before I could stop myself the words had been said; “Come on mate, just a little push for dad, don’t be such a little girl”.
My ten, fifteen, even my twenty-five year old self would have thought nothing of that sentence.
It’s the way dad and his mates talked, it was the way my friends at school talked.
As a young adult, whether on the golf course or at footy training, I could be heard saying and/or laughing along with these words.
Meeting and marrying an incredibly strong, capable woman didn’t really slow the rate down, and I continued to live in a world where phrases like ‘you’re such a girl’, ‘don’t be such a girl’ and ‘what a woman’ were well-used weapons in my male arsenal of japes and taunts.
It took watching my wife give birth to our first child for me to finally see how completely ironic and backwards the taunts even were, and it took just one second of holding my baby daughter for me to promise myself that at least in our house, history would not repeat itself.
My son would not think it normal ‘because his dad and their mates used to say it’.
Sitting on the floor of my toilet, more furious at myself now than at my little man who had decided that there would be no poo this day, I looked up and there she was – my four-going-on-fourteen year old daughter.
She had taken a quick break from scootering to come and get an update on PooGate and had heard every word.
Luckily the moment was saved with a quickly-pulled funny face and a ‘silly dad, how did he get you two mixed up’, but the few seconds she took to buy it suggested she was not far away from some form of comprehension.
Several hours, two bourbons and, sadly, no poos later, I felt a bit like Bruce Banner resetting his ‘days since last incident’ clock.
I’m a stay at home dad who works around my wife’s job because she loves her job (and makes more coin that I ever could).
I do my share of washing up and vacuuming (more than my share I’d argue but that’s for another time) – hell, I’m even the one who blinks first during our cold wars over who changes that festy little lint catcher in the washing machine.
My mum, like so many of her generation, worked absolute miracles (while working and endlessly cleaning of course) to equip me and my generation with the tools to try and end gender inequality.
Sure it’s easy to marvel at how far men have come, I myself was doing this last Friday as I joked with a mate who’d called about a Saturday tee time.
I said I couldn’t make it because I had the kids – the missus was away all weekend with her teammates after playing her first ever season of aussie rules.
Jokes about how brilliantly selfless I was ensued, and they are harmless enough in the right context, but too often it is easy for men to applaud the climbing of two steps and at the same time fail to see the ten they have left to climb.
At the end of the day, these minor celebrations of mediocrity, not to mention jokes and taunts that idiotically compare women to weakness, are echoes from a sexist past that we must leave behind.
Hopefully in thirty years’ time when my son is sitting on his toilet floor experiencing a PooGate of his own, it won’t even occur to him to bring gender into it at all.