Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Local differences

I saw an intriguing news story this morning, about some study of the quality of husbands in various countries. Well, twelve countries anyway. Norwegian and Swedish men fared best, followed by Britons, Americans and miscellaneous other Europeans. New Zealanders came in eighth (out of 12, remember), beating Japan, Germany, Austria and, most importantly of course, Australia. Australian men, it seems, are like my ex-cat, who would instinctively flee the house when faced with a vacuum cleaner.

(Come to think of it, I don't recall him ever washing up either. But I digress.)

No surprises so far. Scandinavian countries always seem to do best in these kinds of sociological comparisons.

But there's a certain amount of, shall we say, difference in emphasis between how various agencies cover the same story. America's FOX News has a particularly novel spin. Study: American Men Make the Best Husbands, attributing the report to "Dr. Almudena Sevilla-Sanz from Oxford University in London", characterises the findings as "American men were considered the best husbands, along with men from other “egalitarian” countries such as Norway, Sweden, England and Northern Ireland."

Hmmm... I know "accuracy" isn't FOX's greatest strength, but is it asking too much of them to work out that Oxford University, surely one of the world's more famous universities - is in Oxford? Apparently. As for the loose use of "England" to describe Great Britain...

ABC Local (local to where? - Los Angeles and Southern California, apparently the only part of the US that might be interested) at least got that right, only to blow it by referring to "North Ireland".

Seriously, does nobody employ subeditors any more?

Australian coverage, such as it is, leads (naturally enough) with Australia's poor ranking. Reader responses are disappointingly muted: the only really good quote I could find was
"Do the housework and quit your whinging." - Wally R.

Way to hold the position, Wally.

The Swedes, however, do not disappoint. An English-language Swedish news site, confusingly named "The Local", gloats unapologetically, and its reader responses immediately degenerate into exactly the kind of intensely pointless bickering you'd expect.

Here in NZ, only one thing matters: beating Australia. The rest of the world is a distraction. We came higher than the Aussies, which means we win, end of story.

Isn't that nice?


Anonymous said...

Hehe. The meeja over here is getting very excited about the possibility of beating the aussies, too.

How do you count a brit in NZ? Given that neither expats nor immigrants are entirely representative samples of their origin/host populations.

Anonymous said...

"Kiwis rule, and Oz drools!"
or sommat.


vet said...

I generally consider myself English. Or British, if I absolutely have to. Especially when it gives me some kind of advantage...

But when I don't really care very much, I tend to identify with the people and media around me. Hence "we" Kiwis.

Either way, of course, siding against Australia is a no-brainer.

Nodressrehearsal said...

So according to this study, it's equitable division of labor around the house that determines the best husbands? Huh. I love that you checked out the coverage in other countries.

vet said...

Yup, that does seem to be the overriding measure - male willingness to participate in housework and childcare. I haven't seen the actual study, but all the coverage suggests that's the only criterion she looked at.

You must admit, it's a measure.

Nodressrehearsal said...

Well, sure - anything can be a measure - how often they bathe, put the toilet seat down, clip their toenails and clean up the carnage...
(that one would be at the top of my must-do list)