The Dwarf, the Witch and the Male Au Pair - Guest Post

I worked part-time in a hotel as a teenager. I was chatting to another waiter while polishing the wine glasses. A year or two younger than myself, he told me of his aspirations to become a “male nurse” when he finished school.

I prodded him: “So… a nurse?” 

He doubled-down: “A male nurse.”

He had already achieved half of his goal as a full-grown man. The oddity of what he was saying did not seem to dawn on the guy. 

In German, au pairs are typically referred to as “Au Pair Mädchen.” In French, “Jeune Fille Au Pair.”

And yet, I spent one-year as an au pair. And, I’m also a man… 

Straight white men, such as myself, aren’t typically used to discrimination or prejudice. But, every male au pair knows the questioning sentence, “you’re an au pair?” It’s often followed with, “I’ve never met a male au pair.” For which, the only response is, like dwarfs and witches, “we exist.”

Just as single parent fathers are often praised as “such a good Dad,” while the single parent mother is “doing her best.” There is huge disparity between the expectations of women and men with regard to child caring abilities. 

The male au pair doesn’t deserve any special adoration. I’ve been on the receiving end of comments that I’d make “such a good Dad” since picking up baby bottom wiping skills. 

No, the benefits and challenges are much the same for au pairs, whether male or female.

And yet, male au pairs at least gets an insight into the experience of having to justify your decisions to other people all the time. Something many women experience every day. This is at least an insight this male is better for having experienced. 

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