At first I thought I was hearing things while fiddling with my car radio. I tuned into FM 957, one of Iceland’s most popular radio stations aimed at generation Y, specializing in new pop/techno, dance and R&B music from the American Top of the Charts. It wasn’t a hot new single that caught my attention though, but a voice over—an advertisement for the phenomenon “Husband Day-care.” Directed towards women, an upbeat man’s voice made going shopping on a Saturday an option while leaving one’s significant other in safe hands at a Sports Bar, Bjarni Fel, to enjoy some beer and “man time” while their wives had “girl time” with their “girlfriends” and husbands’ credit card shopping on Laugavegur.
My first thought was that it had to be a joke, and a bad one at that—but I Goggled it, and not only is it in Reykjavík, it’s everywhere! Apparently it has become a global phenomenon, originating, of all places, in South Korea. A new Gagnam-style export. It makes one wonder what’s next? And it’s spreading like wildfire throughout Southeast Asia too! I wonder if Iceland’s closer business and diplomatic ties with the East are the inspiration behind this mind-boggling endeavor?
Suddenly my career prospects seemed brighter—instead of a babysitter I could be a husband sitter! No diapers, no screaming, no throwing things or throwing up but fun flirting in one’s free time over a couple of beers and still be home in time for the evening news.
In all seriousness, though, is this really, and I repeat, is this really the latest Reykjavík has to offer? It’s already a hit on several travel sites for potential visitors to Iceland. Forget about feminism for a moment, which Iceland claims fame for, although I’m not blind to the blatant stereotypes being purported by this stunt. I’m more curious to see what sort of man would be seen dead (or alive) in this sort of establishment... maybe next Saturday instead of being at Austurvöllur protesting I’ll be people-watching at the Husband Day-care instead.