Who’d have thought a sandwich could spark a Facebook war? Or perhaps in this day and age, with the tension around the changing roles of men and women, it’s not so surprising that such a simple thing could be so divisive.
Then, columnist Miranda Devine did some further division by laying into some of the women involved in the dispute in a number of newspapers.
It started off when a Sydney mother called Maddie asked the other members of a Facebook group, called North Shore Mums, what “other mums make their hubbies for lunch and snacks throughout the work day”.
So far, so apparently normal. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that it was commonplace for husbands to head off to work with a packed lunch, or even have a hot dinner dropped off if they were working late or had a long shift. And they certainly weren’t usually the ones doing the packing or the dropping off of said food.
But the fact that most women now work, often in jobs as demanding or more demanding than their husband’s, means that the whole ‘who does what for whom’ equation has become much more complicated. And in families where there’s anger over the amount of paid and unpaid work each partner does, it doesn’t take much to make it boil over.
So, cue a deluge of posts telling Maddie that she sounded like a “1950s housewife”, according to Devine, who laid out the fight in her column for News Corp publications.
“I make my husband the same thing he makes me. Nothing!!” wrote one North Shore Mums member. “Stuff that, hubby is a grown man. I already do his laundry and keep his children alive,” posted another.
A stung Maddie then wrote a longer explanation, saying that she and her husband, who she said did an “extremely physically demanding job”, were saving up to buy their first home and couldn’t afford for him to buy lunch every day.
“He does housework, he cooks dinner every second night … He gets up in the middle of the night with our bub. He is a champion,” her post said, according to Devine. “The least I can do is make him a bloody sandwich.”
Other women rallied to her defence, pointing out that doing nice things for each other was the key to a happy marriage.
“He does so much for me and the kids,” one group member said. “Making two sandwiches a day doesn’t put us in the dark ages.”
“I love making my hubby lunch… He does so much for us as a family and for my girls I see nothing wrong with wanting to look after your husband!!” another posted.
Devine’s take was that Baby Boomer feminists, who started the idea that life was too short to stuff a mushroom, which was now being channeled by younger women into a rabid dislike of making or doing anything for their husbands, had messed up marriage by failing to acknowledge the importance of a bit of give and take.
“Consideration and give and take is the secret to a happy marriage, not treating the father of your children like an agent of the enemy patriarchy,” she wrote. “It’s time to end the war of the sexes, even if it means making the odd sandwich.”