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This Britain

'Domestic divas' reject returning to work

Britain's work-weary men are in a state of rage about their wives' apparent reluctance to go back to work, according to a survey released yesterday.

After years of reticence, fuelled by political correctness the British male has finally mustered the courage to suggest that his partner might go out and bring home some of the bacon. According to the survey of more than 2,000 British women by a leading American "futurologist" and trend analyst, only 48 per cent of the men (who are currently experiencing "spousal rage" on the issue) consider it acceptable for the woman to be at home.

The futurologist Marian Salzman concludes that many women do not want to go to work, preferring instead to spend a leisurely time flitting between coffee bars, department stores and the television set while their husband looks after the income and the nanny looks after the children.

The women reject the idea of returning to work when the children turn six, preferring instead to become "princess-style" domestic divas. In Ms Salzman's words, the women simply "cannot put up with the bollocks of work".

Ms Salzman anticipates a chorus of derision from British women for her Prosumer Pulse 2004, but she is no stranger to controversy. She predicted that single professional women would become the new free-spending yuppies, leading to an infamous Time magazine cover story "Who Needs a Husband?" in August 2000 and last year, she introduced the idea of "metrosexual man", who is "neutered" by women and desperate to reassert himself.

The domestic diva has been around for years, Ms Salzman said, but the hapless, politically correct British male has only just mustered the courage to suggest that she might actually go out and work. "He was not allowed to be aggrieved before because he was not a modern man if he did not give the woman all her choices. Now he has twigged," said Ms Salzman, whose research is for the world's fifth-largest advertising agency, Euro RSCG Worldwide.

About 69 per cent of women consider it acceptable for a woman to be a homemaker, but not all of those who stay at home do so out of concern for their children's quality of life. Many pay lip service to being the 2004 version of the "perfect mum", the survey says, but leave the work to the nanny and the cleaning service.

The study shows that some women are not certain they even need men. While 78 per cent of men agree that having a spouse or life partner is essential to their sense of fulfilment, only 55 per cent of women feel that way.

The study's survey of 2,000 adults in the United States reveals that many American men have not yet spotted what their partners are up to. "As sexist a climate as Britain may be on the surface, it's 25 years ahead of the US," Ms Salzman said. "American men are still less sure that the woman should be at work at all."

But the US has spawned a character type which the British male may aspire to become: the stay-at-home husband. "He does nothing and he is born of the US power woman's belief that it would be cute to have one," Ms Salzman said.