Nappy wars


We were at a family function. My son needed a nappy change, so my husband picked him up, collected the nappy bag and went off to do the necessary. At which point I got a chorus of ‘Oooh, aren’t you lucky?’ and ‘Haven’t you got him well-trained?’ from the women. And murmurs about being able to see who wore the trousers in our house from the men. I don’t know who should have been more insulted – me for the implication that he was somehow doing ‘my job’ for me, or my husband, for the implication that he was either a) under the thumb or b) so stupid he needed to be ‘trained’ to change a nappy.

‘Father Changes Nappy in 21st Century Shock!’. Must be #MFIF

Sally, Wales.

[for all non-UK readers, nappy=diaper]


18 Responses to “Nappy wars”

  1. Phil Says:

    This isn’t sexist.

    This is your family having a light-hearted joke at the man’s expense, which people are allowed to do, surely?

    Whenever my girlfriend asks me to do her a favour in the company of friends, I get a chorus of similar jokes and japes, from men and women alike. Stop being so humourless and learn to take a joke.

    • Fauxnoc Says:

      Will you shut up? Those kinds of jokes and comments only highlight the cultural assumption that babies are “womens work” and fathers are useless. This is sexism at its most insidious, because it hides in “humour” and accepted stereotypes.

    • ally Says:

      But she wasn’t asking him to do her a favour. He was doing a job that needed to be done. Saying it was a “favour” to her suggests it should have been her job, but that he was nice enough to do it for her. And yes, assuming some jobs (those related to kids, for example) are “womens work” is sexist.

    • Matt G. Says:

      Yes, it is sexist.

      Yes, it was a joke. A stupid, outdated, sexist joke. That nobody, of either sex, should have to endure listening to.

  2. Kate Says:


    Phil I really don’t think that a) you have a girlfriend and b) you have friends.

    It’s entirely sexist to suggest that nappy-changing is a ‘woman-only’ job. And it’s entirely sexist for a silly man like Phil to think that he decides what is sexist to women and what isn’t.

    Those jokes aren’t light-hearted. Everyday sexism is not funny. As a male you probably think it’s funny because you never have to deal with it.

    And “Stop being so humourless and learn to take a joke” makes me want to yell BINGO at you:

    Dude – get some new material.

  3. Sally Says:

    No, it wasn’t my family, it was his (extended) family, most of whom I’d never met before. And none of it was said as a joke, it was all completely serious. The comments from the men about how my husband was clearly henpecked I wasn’t even meant to hear.

    This was a group of people for whom changing nappies was ‘women’s work’. Which, however you play it, is sexist. Sorry.

  4. Sally Says:

    Oh, and even if it *had* been a joke, it would have been a joke about how changing nappies was women’s work, and only something a man would do if a woman had ‘trained’ him. So it would have been a *sexist* joke.

    Not finding sexist jokes funny does not equal being humourless.

    So many women spend their lives being told that ‘we need to learn to take a joke’ when what we’re actually being asked to ‘take’ is sexism pure and simple.

  5. Chelsea Says:

    ARGH i hate this. My boyfriend is feminist and so am i. So, for once, I’ve had a relationship where we don’t have ‘roles’. When I tell people he does all the cooking, i get the same kind of response. “Ohhh you’ve got him trained!” and “I see you wear the trousers,”

    No. Neither of us wear the evil trousers of patriarchy.

    In school too, people assumed that i just battered my boyfriend and that he was actually miserable and didn’t want to be in a relationship with me.

    Either that or people sighing dreamily and telling me how lucky i was to have a boyfriend who didn’t pressure me into sex, make me be a house wife or ogle other women. No, I’m not ‘lucky’, you’re just settling for a misogynist. I’m the one who’s in a NORMAL relationship. Not you.

  6. Phil Says:

    I’m going to respond to two posts directly. The other posts are just parroting the same rhetoric, so I can’t be bothered to sculpt individual responses. I apologise for lack of attention. If you want it, come up with original arguments.


    Read more carefully. I wasn’t inferring that the nappy changing was a favour, I was making a point when my girlfriend asks me to do a favour I get said remarks. I also get similar remarks whenever she asks me to do stuff that is my responsibility. I should be more careful in my use of language in future, I apologise. It only makes it easier for people to assemble strawman arguments.


    I haven’t got a Bingo response yet, but your post has allowed me to cross off the ‘misandry’, ‘personal attack’ and the ‘incomprehension of irony’ boxes on my scorecard.

    I do have a girlfriend. I am also a feminist. That is, I believe that men and women have equal rights in our society and should enjoy mutual respect and understanding between sexes. I also have friends, thanks for asking. I can only imagine what a hoot you must be among your friends if they’re forced to tiptoe around you all the time and can’t make any jokes relating to sex.

    Of course it’s sexist to suggest that nappy changing is a women’s job. But it’s not sexist to construct an ironic comment about it for the sake of humour. You might like to notice that the humour in this case is derived from the mockery of the traditional role.

    When similar jokes are made amongst my circle (and in mainstream culture), the aim is to ridicule the traditional gender stereotypes. You are clearly unfamiliar with the concept of irony in humour.

    You’re being highly sexist on two counts. One: I’m not allowed to commend on the issue of sexism toward women. You’re saying, based on my sex, I’m not allowed an opinon on something? I think you’ll find that that is quite anti-feminist. Two: You make a blanket assumption that I, as a man, don’t experience sexual discrimination. I do. All men do and have at various points in their life (if they haven’t, they’re very lucky). To suggest otherwise just shows a complete lack of understanding of our sex.

    • Kerry Says:

      Oh please captain troll! You are not a feminist. A feminist wouldn’t spend hours on end on a site set up for women to share their experiences of sexism only to tell almost every woman that “that’s not sexism” and that they’re wrong about how they felt in that situation.

      Doesn’t it matter to you that the women on these blogs FELT discriminated against? How does it help having someone like you saying “You’re wrong, your feelings are wrong – I know because not only am I a man but I’m a feminist too!” bleugh!

      Just stop it. What you’re doing is telling women on this blog their feelings don’t matter and their understanding of their own experiences is wrong. Who does that? What are you getting out of this trolling? How is it making you feel better as a man? I just don’t get your motivation in going from post to post telling all these women they’re not victims of sexual discrimination when they feel that they are.

    • Sally Says:

      “it’s not sexist to construct an ironic comment about it for the sake of humour”

      Well, that’s debatable. ‘I was being ironic!’ is right up there with ‘Can’t you take a joke?’. But the issue of irony and humour are a complete red herring here. Because as I said in my earlier comment which you ignored, there was no ‘irony’ and there was no ‘humour’. You were the one who decided the comments were in jest, and have persisted with this notion even after I clarified.

      These people were serious. The women seriously thought I was ‘lucky’ that my husband changed nappies because their husbands wouldn’t. The men seriously thought that I must henpeck him because he changed nappies. They all, clearly, genuinely thought that he was doing my job for me.

      And as you so rightly say, “Of course it’s sexist to suggest that nappy changing is a women’s job.” Which is precisely what they were doing. So it seems that we can agree that the scenario I described *was* sexist. Excellent.

    • Khraden Says:

      I agree, that in today’s day in age, it is considered sexist. In fact, I change my son’s diaper all the time, fortunately without snarky remarks. I’m completely happy with my masculinity, and don’t mind carrying around the diaper bag, or changing the diapers, that’s what dads do, it is also what moms do.

      I think what Phil may not have really put across (or I could be completely off target), is that traditionally, with the past few generations, it was a woman’s job. Yes, it’s not anymore, it’s “everyone’s” job really, but traditions that were burnt into peoples heads over a couple of generations won’t just disappear, and if said snarky responses were given, then those folks obviously haven’t picked up on the current world’s culture.

      I agree, it was definitly an ass thing for them to make remarks like that, and also feel that as you described it was very sexist. I also agree that I’m sure your husband was not so happy with the remarks as well, ending in another kind of sexism, as he was not manly because he was doing what was [traditionally] a woman’s job.

      I hope that comes across as not trying to defend how it was put, I simply wanted to put my 2 cents in on the conversation.

    • Kris Says:

      Does Phil really have nothing better to do than troll MFIF? Any guy that takes time out of his day to specifically troll a site that deals with revealing sexism to call us all humourless feminists has serious issues. Why are you even on this site? Go do something more productive with your time if you’re just here to cause trouble.

    • Matt G. Says:

      If you’re a feminist, then I’m the King of Persia.

    • A Different Sam Says:

      Phil’s just upset because he’s spent so long trolling the internet that “stay in the kitchen” is the only thing he knows that vaguely resembles a joke, and now he’s suddenly coming to terms with the fact that nobody intelligent finds it or him funny.

  7. LS Says:

    Thank you for posting a story which demonstrates that sexism knows no gender.

  8. Victoria Says:

    First of all, I’m laughing right now at Phil jumping into a site about women feeling discriminated against and saying her feelings are wrong. How do you walk into that and not escape unscathed? Good luck… need it.

    Secondly, not only do I find that sexist, but this story hits on another pet peeve of mine. When a man decides to do something responsible, they should not be berated. In this day and age, it’s hard to find a guy who is responsible, that is, my experiences have not been so positive. I applaud your husband for being involved with your children. It’s important.

    Third, why is it that whenever a guy does something for a woman or a woman disagrees with a guy, the woman is automatically a nag or the guy is whipped or some other such nonsense. I have met guys who actually were whipped and women who were nags; both are atrocious. However, that’s not always the case. Why assume?

    Anyways, Sally, my condolences.

  9. Halo Says:

    To segue from every other comment here …

    I’m in Australia, and we say “nappy” too 🙂

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: