But you can't take the cave out of the woman.
Women DO want men to be providers - or at least English women.
Evolutionary biologists have discovered, it seems, that the nuclear family evolved when men discovered women preferred males who provided for them and their children to those who were constantly clubbing each other in a battle for supremacy.
For thousands of years, this model of two parents, with the male looking after the female, proved successful — but new figures released by the Office of National Statistics to mark the Diamond Jubilee reveal that husband-providers have become an endangered species.
There are fewer marriages and four times more divorces today than in 1952, when the Queen acceded to the throne.
In 2012, a third of Britons live alone and the traditional nuclear family seems set to become almost as outdated as the Morris Minor (1952’s most popular car).
So what is going wrong? One factor, I suspect, is the rise of the career woman. In many ways, I’m all for this: after all, I am one myself, and I would certainly want my daughter to have a career and to be capable of providing for herself. But it’s had an undeniably emasculating effect on some men.
But a friend who is a mother of three recently went back to work full-time because her husband, a graphic designer, decided he’d rather work for himself than have his creativity compromised by working for a company. She finds she can’t forgive him for failing to be the main provider, when he could be if he chose.
Of course, life is complicated, and a successful marriage is based on supporting each other through the bad times as well as the good. If a man’s been made redundant or has lost his job through ill-health, then it’s not only understandable but right that his wife take over the breadwinner’s role, if at all possible. But nothing will persuade me that men are better equipped than women to take on childcare — or that most men really want to. My husband is a loving father who was desperate to have children. He’s also a workaholic who’s never happier than when he’s working six days a week.
When I tell him that (like every working mother I know) I’m racked with guilt and worry endlessly about our children’s wellbeing, he’s genuinely amazed.There's something about a pattern that the human race has been in for a few hundred thousand years that's just hard to escape. The fore-brain says you should be able, but the mid-brain keeps dragging you back.
He never gives a second’s thought to whether they’re eating enough fruit, getting enough sleep or have made enough friends. He worries only when there’s something major to worry about, such as when they’re ill or unhappy. This is normal. A good father should have implacable determination to provide, the strength to protect and the stamina to survive.
I couldn’t care less how he manages in the supermarket (I already know the answer: barely). Because what’s far more important than being a good role model in the supermarket is to be a good role model as a man.
The recent change in relationship between men and women is that the state is taking the role of the man as the provider, as recently seen in the Obama campaign's vision of Julia. This will not end well.
I thank Wombat-Socho for helping to drive traffic my direction with his Rule 5 roundup at The Other McCain, "All Over But the Crying."