Letter: Gender myths

THE PERENNIAL story of the working man and the full-time mother swapping jobs ("How my other half lives", Real Life, 12 September) is monotonously familiar to readers of women's magazines. The comic picture of the man in a pinny with his monumental inability to perform the most basic of domestic tasks is always complemented by the woman's innate ability to do the same, and to breeze through a middle-class man's job that would normally require substantial training.

The job is usually complete with secretary, long lunches, important deals with clients, and frequent rounds of golf. The man regularly and amusingly returns from the supermarket with cans of beer instead of some essential household product.

The reader is left in no doubt as to where the man and the women are best deployed. It would be absurd to start quoting figures about the tiny numbers of employees who have long lunches, the substantial number of men who shop regularly, of women who work or the number of people who juggle both work and childcare: the point of these silly little stories is not to reflect reality, but to enforce traditional gender roles.