A father staying home with the kids was a new thing in 1973, when Tom Scott drew this cartoon and wrote about his experience as a househusband. Scott wrote, ‘In the beginning I had to get to know Shaun, not as the fun stranger who arrived to share our bedroom, but as a greedy little sack, one half lung, the other half stomach. I began to realise how little I had known him before and how little most fathers know their children.'
Few other men were supportive. Senior staff at Scott's workplace were offended, telling him working part-time endangered his career and that he would lose his superannuation and other retirement benefits. Male friends saw it as ‘merely a kinky gesture’. Neighbours and a local shopkeeper were disapproving, or openly mocking. Two decades later, men reducing their hours to spend time with their kids was no longer unusual, and many, like Scott, also took on some of the housework.
The cartoon shows Scott pushing a stroller with his child in it, while a nearby man is seen thinking 'phew! ... it has to be Dawn Fraser!' and a woman with a pram (presumably the man's wife) thinks that 'the baby's ok but that's the ugliest mother I have ever seen!' A young boy points at Scott's child and asks 'hey mister, don't your son have a mother?'
Te whakamahi i tēnei tūemi
Cartoon by Tom Scott
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Tom Scott, ‘Diary of a mad househusband’, New Zealand Listener, 3 November 1973, p. 23