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Man Who Has It All: Parody gender equality Twitter account has hit a nerve

The Man is an anonymous "working dad" who dishes out 140-character nuggets of advice for "men juggling a successful  career and fatherhood". It has proved a big hit but, says Kate Wills, it wouldn't be so funny if it wasn't true to life

Kate Wills
Wednesday 24 February 2016 21:13 GMT
Domestic bliss: there is still a long way to go for gender parity in the home
Domestic bliss: there is still a long way to go for gender parity in the home (Rex Features)

"A successful career? Children? Perfect hair? I don't know how he does it…" said no one, ever. The idea that men might have to juggle it all, while maintaining that precious work/life balance, is rarely talked about. Which is presumably why a parody Twitter account – Man Who Has It All – has hit such a nerve.

If you're not one of his 107k followers, The Man is an anonymous "working dad" (now there's a sentence you don't hear every day) who dishes out 140-character nuggets of advice for "men juggling a successful career and fatherhood". By flipping the genders, he instantly reveals just how ludicrous the tips often offered by women's magazines and lifestyle blogs are: "Dad with a career? Beat stress by snacking on veggies, teaming up with other dads & dressing for your face shape".

He also highlights the inherent sexism in statements that are supposedly supportive of women, but which would never in a million years be said about a man: "CONGRATULATIONS to all male EU leaders for getting there on merit alone. Very well done all of you." But he's at his best when he skewers comments many women make about their other halves: "My wife is very much a 'HANDS-ON MUM'. I'm so lucky. She's really good with them. She even changed their nappies when they were little."

But The Man Who Has It All is more than just another wryly mocking Twitter account. It reveals that the inherent gender bias when it comes to childcare and housework hasn't gone away. For the first time in history, women are the main breadwinners in four households in 10, yet are still a long way off domestic democracy. Seventy per cent of all housework in the UK is done by women and a study from Warwick University found that it is middle-class men who are most reluctant to lift a finger (or a duster). Although joint responsibility for childcare is improving, following the shared parental leave laws which came into force last year, fewer than 10 per cent of new dads take more than their two weeks of statutory leave.

"Women are still working what Arlie Hochschild called "'The second shift' back in 1989," explains occupational psychologist Almuth McDowall. "They're often the ones who have to do all the little things – remembering the birthday presents, paying bills, booking holidays. When I was researching this topic I expected the gender difference to be smaller in couples where both partners worked full-time, but in fact it was even bigger. I think this is because the working mothers felt guilty, so they had to over-compensate and remember even more."

In a warped way, @ManWhoHasItAll could be seen as an important moment in what Anne-Marie Slaughter has called "the men's movement". Slaughter, formerly the first female director of policy planning at the US State Department, famously wrote an article for The Atlantic titled "Why Women Still Can't Have It All", explaining how she left her "dream job" because of a desire to be with her family. In her subsequent TED talk, she pointed out that the "having it all" question must no longer be applied only to women. "Real equality does not mean valuing women on male terms," she explained. "It means creating a much wider range of equally respected choices for women and for men. And to get there we have to change our workplaces, our policies and our culture."

So, who is this mysterious Man Who Has It All? In his bio he claims to be a "frazzled working dad with a wife and three kids who spends his me-time on Twitter", but no doubt that's all part of the act. Sadly, when I contacted him for an interview, he told me he was "too busy juggling savoury yoghurt, kids' sportswear, healthy-looking skin, a career & pasta salads" to answer my questions. But his agent, Sarah Ballard at the literary agency United, also represents Blake Morrison and Julian Barnes, so presumably a book is already in the works.

The Man Who Has It All declares "If I can help one man stay hydrated, I'll be a happy man", but maybe it's more than just LOLs. If the popularity of this Twitter account encourages one father to step up to his share of the childcare then we might all be "#Blessed".

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