Single Mums and Why Men Should Pay For Coke

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by Hazel Anna Rogers for the Carl Kruse Blog

I don’t know if everyone feels like this, but I do.

It happens at the gate, while I am waiting to get on a flight. A strange place, an airport gate – it belongs to no country, for it is merely a place of transition, a liminal space that exists only for its function of waiting to depart.

So, there I am, waiting to leave, and suddenly, after weeks of hearing only a language that I do not understand and gestures that are alien to me, I meet the English again, and, suddenly, they are alien to me too. I do not recognise myself in them anymore. Perhaps this always happens – we always think that we have ‘changed’ after travel. And, albeit oftentimes fleetingly, I believe that travel can have the capacity to change us, especially if we stay a while in a place, immersed in its newness and oddities and beauty.


Carl Kruse Blog - Single mums


I think it’s because, despite having grown up in the UK, I feel very attached to my French half, my mother’s half, and when I go to Europe, I feel that part of myself very distinctly. And, thus, when I return, and am flung into all this Britishness, then I miss the ways of Europe, the people, their ways of living, their ways of seeing the world.

Jacinta Nandi writes of this in her article for the Exberliner, about how ‘British’ everyone seems when she visits home after living in Berlin for so long. It’s a difficult thing to describe, ‘Britishness’. For me, it conjures up roast dinners, rowdy drunk men, a particular laundry detergent smell, lack of decorum, overt nationalistic tendencies, lack of adventurousness, and pettiness. Of course, it also brings up images of friendly pubs with low ceilings and laughing bar staff, the quaintness of my hometown with its wide river, open-fields, and Tudor town-centre, my wonderful father, and the taste of a cool craft beer. But Nandi’s words resonate with me, most notably when she says, ‘Even when hanging out with old mates from high school or uni, their behaviours, their attitudes, their very souls seem so weird, so wild, so British to me.’

Nandi goes on to describe a night out on the town with a group of lads, her old uni mates. During the course of the night, her mates decide to get some cocaine in, and refuse to let Nandi pay for any of it, because she is a single mother.



“Jesus wouldn’t approve.”

Now, I’m not trying to make this article about sexism, but…there is something very ‘British’ about the attitudes of the men that Nandi describes. Their outright refusal to let Nandi pay for the cocaine is a perfect example of benevolent sexism. In their paper entitled ‘Benevolent and hostile sexism in a shifting global context’, Manuela Barreto and David Matthew Doyle give the example of benevolent sexism as the idea that “women should be protected by men.” To me, the words of Nandi’s mates encapsulate the concept of the ‘British’ man; always gotta protect his bird, treat her like a lady, ladies aren’t allowed to do this or shouldn’t do that, ladies are weaker than blokes…etc. Barreto and Doyle’s paper also claims that, “Religiosity is another form of traditionalism that drives sexism. Both forms of sexism, but benevolent sexism in particular, have been positively associated with religiosity across affiliations such as Christianity and Islam.” We see this materialise in Nandi’s mates using ‘Jesus’ and ‘Christmas’ as endorsements for their offer to pay for Nandi’s cocaine.

Alright – look. I’m not saying it’s a bad that they want to pay for Nandi. In fact, if I were in this situation, I would thank my lucky stars for benevolent sexism and milk these guys for all they were worth. I just think it’s interesting to observe these behaviours, and to compare them, as Nandi does, with the attitudes of men from other cultures, such as the men in Berlin.

Nandi states that the attitudes of Berliners, particularly men, towards single parenthood or family planning, are very different to British ideals; they’re more ‘chilled out’, Nandi says, partly due to the less prominent role of ‘Christian moralising’ or heteronormative approaches to family life (Heino, Nandi’s German friend, has three children from three separate women, and cares for them all).

Nandi also suggests that, perhaps, German men have less ‘solidarity’ with single mothers than British men. But she propounds that this difference in attitude, and the lack of men offering to buy her drinks in Berlin, might be due to how single parents were perceived in Germany compared to the UK in the 80s and up to the early 2000s. The name for a single parent in German is ‘Alleinerziehende’, and, Nandi says, is a word that describes something more like a ‘lone’ parent – a little cooler, a little less pejorative, and more positive than the ‘single parent’ which has been demonised for so long in the UK (though this is changing due to the increase in neoliberalism in the UK – both men and women are taking on roles in the home as child carers as well as paid work – and, as we know, the minute a man does something that was formerly seen as a ‘woman’s’ role, then people start to care a little more about the implementation of laws and support surrounding something like childcare).

But Nandi says that stigma around single parenting in Germany has increased since the 2000s, with ‘the ideal of one man earning money and one more looking after the kids’ being normalised, and ‘maybe even glorified’. We might compare this to the UK – although, as stated before, ideals of neoliberalism are giving greater autonomy to women, especially mothers (and single mothers), in terms of career advancement and opportunities. However, as a result of these idealistic changes, ‘women are simultaneously tasked with traditional gender chores, such as childcare and housekeeping, while also being told to ‘lean into’ their careers when they inevitably experience obstacles not faced by heterosexual men. Neoliberalism both empowers women to strive for, and blames women for failing to achieve, outcomes that are often beyond their individual control[.]’ (Barreto and Doyle, 2022).

Neither of these realities – the glorification of ‘traditional’ household roles in Germany, and the pressure on women to ‘do everything’ in the UK – are especially positive. Both are flawed, in different ways. There’s also a side of me that LIKES when men pay for things for me. It feels like…retribution. Or maybe that’s the wrong word. I guess I mean that, after years of having to fight for equality and challenge constant sexism and wrongs done to us, women, it feels right that a man should open up his wallet to us. It’s also a very British thing, to me – the ‘gentlemanly’ thing to do (I cringed as I wrote that). I must also begrudgingly admit that, when I went on a date last month and was made to pay for our first round of drinks, I was immediately put off, for several reasons; we’re still paid less than men, we still have to deal with the brunt of childcare responsibilities, we still have to deal with discrimination in most parts of the world as a result of our gender. What I’m saying is…I’m not so ‘empowered’ as a woman that I wouldn’t readily accept a guy paying for my drink, or, equally, my portion of cocaine. Ha. Maybe I’m a bad feminist.


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Contact: carl AT carlkruse DOT com
Other articles by Hazel include Alcohol A Long Overdue Love Story, Dark Suburbia and What I have Learned About Running.
Also find Carl Kruse at Kruse Medium and Carl Kruse Soundcloud.


Author: Carl Kruse

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