|You know the story. At kitchen tables across Australia, in cafés and in bars, on buses, in factories and at workstations, millions of women are devoting long, hard hours analyzing, complaining, raging, despairing, crying and laughing about their men. Hey, it's what we do.
But don't think we're enjoying it. It's thankless work. We would much prefer to be sitting around discussing politics and art, sport, philosophy and literature.
But as we sheilas have said to ourselves so many times, it's not as if the blokes are going to get it together to figure themselves out. It's not as if the blokes are going to think about their emotional needs and their spiritual development. And it's not likely the fellas are going to do some serious thinking about their relationships (especially with us).
Nope, given that there are only two genders, it looks like it falls to the girl-gender to take care of the emotional side of things. It's a tough job but someone's got to do it. And everyone knows that we are better at it than the boys.
Or so we always liked to think…
The daunting reality (and it's something we don't much like to admit) is that change is afoot.
Some men – so far it's a trickle not a flood, but the potential is there – yes, some of the guys are starting to take on more responsibility – for their identities, their masculinity and their personal development. They are starting to assume a higher degree of awareness and accountability for their relationships.
Men (or at least those at the vanguard) are striking a new emotional and spiritual path, with implications not just for themselves as individuals, but for their partners and indeed, for our whole society.
And this means that traditional patterns of behaviour are being profoundly challenged.
So it's time for me to “fess” up on behalf of the girls.
We really are pleased that Steve Biddulph wrote the only self-help book that men have ever actually wanted to rush out and buy for themselves. But, to be perfectly frank, we're a bit concerned that this is a worrying sign of men's increasing emotional independence.
(As you know, women traditionally bought the self-help books and then insisted that our men help themselves, with an awful lot of input from us).
We are awfully glad that the blokes are starting to talk to each other more intimately – exchanging their feelings and views. But we can't help feeling a little concerned that perhaps this means our men will feel less need to share their feelings with us.
This may sound a little bit petty. Ok, ok, it definitely sounds incredibly small-minded. But can you blame us?
Most blokes we know would normally regard bonding as something you do with superglue on Sunday arvo in the shed. And whenever we've come across thoughtful, together men before, they were usually the sort that exclusively preferred the company of other thoughtful, together men.
And so we are finding it a little hard to adjust. I mean, if men are doing their own emotional housekeeping, what will they need us for (besides the obvious, of course)?
Come to think of it, we are probably going through something very similar to the pangs experienced by even the most enlightened men when women took charge of their destinies in the 60s and the 70s.
Men had to accept that women wanted a larger role in public life. And now women are going to have to accept that men are entitled to a far greater role in private life.
So the challenge for all of us is both simple and huge.
It's not enough for any of us – for men or women – to have the courage to change ourselves, although that is a critical first step.
We also have to be strong enough and brave enough to allow those we love to change as well. Scary though that may be…
And who knows, if we survive the process, we may all prosper as a result. And our society will be a happier one.
The only question left to ask is this – when men have finally got their acts together – what on earth are women going to talk about around the kitchen tables of Australia?