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Annabel Crabb on the day she met her BFF Leigh Sales.

Everyone loves a good origin story.

So when Annabel Crabb visited the Mamamia office last week to sit down with Mia Freedman on the No Filter podcast, Mia asked her: how did you meet Leigh Sales?

It’s easy to imagine tiny Crabb and Sales running around the primary school playground together, but fact is that the pair met properly for the first time in 2009.

“I met her once or twice, you know, in parliament House,” says Crabb, “like ‘Hello! Oh, look at that clever lady on Lateline’. 

“Anyway. So when I was stupidly pregnant and had just arrived at the ABC… she said, she was on leave, she said, ‘Come and have a cup of tea because we should get to know each other’. “

Oh course she did.

Crabb says she remembers the day clearly. She popped into Sales’ place for some biccies and a cuppa around 11am and didn’t leave for five and a half hours.

“The only kind of inflexible engagement I had that day was I had to do radio at 4:30pm,” she said. “And we started chatting and we got on famously, blah blah blah. And then, it was such a great conversation. It’s not like we just read all the same things, we just talked about a million different things.

“The funny thing is, at some point I thought, ‘I’ll just check my phone’, because it was ringing. And it was the radio station! And it was 4:30pm… We had been talking for five and a half hours.”

Apparently, Crabb “thought there was something wrong with the clock”.

Annabel Crabb on how she met Leigh Sales:

The journalists still love to have a yarn, but sometimes find it hard to schedule the time, which is why they created their (very excellent) podcast:

“We’re always like, ‘Oh, I’ll give you a call!’ and then you never quite sit down and just turn everything off and just have a proper chat. And we were joking about how if it was like a job we’d probably bloody do it,” Crabb explains.

“So we said, ‘We should do a podcast! Then it would be like a job. Then we’d feel guilty for not doing it.’ So you know, that’s what happened.”

Crabb is certainly a busy woman though. Somehow she manages to write her column, host a TV show, be an impeccable baker and care for three kids, while also being a Walkley-award winning journalist.

Her recent book “The Wife Drought” (which comes with the tagline ‘Why women need wives, and men need lives’) discusses finding the balance between work and family in modern Australia — for both women and men.

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It has been widely praised for it’s feminist chops, but also, to some extent, calls for a ceasefire in the gender wars.

Annabel Crabb chatting with Mia in the studio.

“I really wanted to make it not an angry book because I also think I’m a beneficiary of this extraordinary movement of feminism, right? A transformational force,” she says.

“Only 50 years now since women were obliged to quit their jobs when they got married if they were employed in public service, you know?

On Kitchen Cabinet:

“If you’ve had a look at the way women have changed in those 50 years, it’s just extraordinary. And we all — whether we identify as feminists or not — have been the beneficiaries of those changes and those pioneers who went into workplaces who went in and said, this workplace isn’t letting us in so this is how we’re going to work to change it.”

While things have changed immeasurably for women in the past five decades, there’s still work to be done (a gender pay gap to close, for just one example) and, according to Crabb, we must also alter the expectations we place on men:

“Women have been busy absolutely becoming unrecognisable from what we were like 50 years ago whereas for men the expectations haven’t actually changed that much. And the expectations and the ideas of what it is to be a good father, what it is to be a good man, are spookily similar to what they were 50 years ago. And I think that’s a tragedy.

“There are men now, and it’s picking up and I’m incredibly excited about this escalating pattern of men, particularly young fathers who are just like no, I’m gonna work flexibly and do this and that. And they are the pioneers of their generation and their gender. I think it’s really worth listening and enabling them to do what they are beginning to realise is a good thing to do and because the knock-on effect of that is to help women.

“I think if you wanna change things, you’ve gotta create capacity for change and that also involves an element of forgiveness about past wrongs. I think if you look at any situation, an intractable political standoff or historical enmity that’s ever kind of improved, it’s because both sides have laid down their weapons to a certain extent.”

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