Barbara McCarthy: ‘In these ‘manless’ times, it’s still worth nabbing a decent one’

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Link to article in Independent here

‘I have lots of fire in my belly, and ambition in my soul, but why this struggle? Why am I living in my mam’s house? Why am I not reaching milestones and shopping for Belgian window panels for my new home?” asks independent woman.

The simple answer. You clearly don’t have a ‘good man’.

This is me saying this, not society; an inconvenient truth in many ways, despite fourth-wave feminism.

In these “equal times” where women are encouraged to be ‘manless’, Culture Minister Josepha Madigan suggested female politicians ‘get a good husband’ and ‘good childcare’ in order to succeed within their gruelling schedule.

Fianna Fáil TD Anne Rabbitte, on the other hand, argued that grit and determination and “the bit between your teeth” is what’s required in the tough world of politics.

In 1973 ‘The Three Degrees’ had a hit ‘A woman needs a good man (to be a good woman)’.

Obviously this doesn’t ring true now or ever, and would be banned in our enlightened age, but does she need a good man to have a good life?

From my experiences, women’s lives are only as good as the men they marry, so if you marry one, who has all the virtues – a great partner, moral integrity, protects and defends, takes responsibility, and is wild and free – hold on to him, for he is truly a unicorn.

You will have money, a nice home, holidays, support, an equal division of duties and someone who is loyal and committed.

But if you marry one who isn’t delivering on any of those levels then life will be a struggle. Women need men, not another child.

This is why many women are choosing to stay single. Because no man is better than a bad one.

In Ireland, more than 1.2 million women are single, according to the Central Statistics Office – an increase of 3pc on previous figures.

We’ve come a long way since Victorian times, where a women’s place was in the home.

Queen Victoria was a model of marital stability and domestic virtue, while her manless subjects were deemed total losers in life.

Now we’ve gone the other way, but as a single parent, I know the struggles. If you are single you can likely only afford €1,000 in rent, you live in sub-standard accommodation, as average rents nationally stand at €1,122.

If another person pays their share, you will have a better chance of a nicer home.

If you have to work full-time, and have to cover rent and childcare when average gross earnings are €734.60 a week, and full-time childcare comes in at €1,000 a month, then you’re on the breadline, homeless, or reliant on family members to help you.

So much for the ‘Am independent, I don’t need no man…’ memes.

As a single person you will be scraping for survival on an average salary, but even an ambitious, successful woman would have to earn €10,000 gross a month to afford a two-bed in Dublin. And then she wouldn’t be able to save for her own home.

It’s sad that this is what independence has boiled down to.

The world, it seems, favours couples. You need two people to buy a house, and often it’s easier for two people to raise children.

If I were to give young, ambitious women coming up the ranks advice, I’d be hard pushed.

As an authority on ‘not good men’, I’d say nab the decent ones before someone else does.

On the other hand, you may not bother with them all together.

You mightn’t have your own home, but you’re free. Only, start saving now.

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