"I want to be a dad and a partner [in an accounting firm], so I need to marry someone who'll look after the kids. I'm all for feminism and that but it doesn't change what I want for me, like, personally. I shouldn't have to feel bad about that," explains Ben.
Ben is sandy haired, quiet and thoughtful. He pauses briefly, considering his next line of argument the same way I imagine he might have done during high school debating a few years earlier. One of his loudmouth mates seizes the opportunity that his silence brings.
"None of us is looking at babies and getting all clucky and s**t. Why is everyone so scared of saying girls and guys are different? We just are. We want different things," says Adam.
Adam has the kind of cocky confidence that comes with being utterly secure of one's place in the world. Chewing gum with a wide-open mouth, he wiggles his eyebrows at me. Adam is looking for a rise.
"Yeah, girls are f**king crazy," adds Daniel, the clown and the only non-Caucasian of the group. The table erupts with appreciative laughter. They all agree with that.
I'm sitting outdoors at a Melbourne bar with a group of undergraduate university students; they're all men. They've agreed to chat to me about gender roles but on a series of strict conditions. (1) I can't say which university they're from or where they went to school. (2) I cannot use their real names. (3) I'm not allowed to embarrass them. I've made a solemn promise on the first two counts.
I'm talking to them because research from the Council on Contemporary Families has revealed quite the puzzle in how young American men approach work and family. The council has been tracking people's answers to the same question about gender roles over time and the latest results are startling.
Back in 1977, 55 per cent of men aged between 18-25 agreed the ideal family arrangement was a male breadwinner and a female homemaker. By 1994, that figure fell to just 18 per cent, only a marginally different result than what was recorded among women of the same age.
But when the survey was conducted again in 2014, the trend towards egalitarianism had reversed. 45 per cent of young American men now favour a family arrangement where they go to work and their female partner doesn't.
I want to know if the same is true in Australia. And if it is, I want to understand why.
How is it possible that millennial men have such backward attitudes about gender roles?
Most of them would have grown up with mums that worked outside the home in some capacity. They belong to a generation among whom there is widespread acceptance of gender being non-binary. They don't have particularly traditional views on other issues; for example they overwhelmingly support same sex marriage. What has made them more conservative about the roles women and men play than their parents were?
Professor Dan Cassino thinks this shift in attitudes might be "a powerful way for young men to assert their masculinity ... in a world in which the dominant economic role of men is no longer a given".
There is another suggestion that this is the generation of young men who saw their dads lose jobs in the global financial crisis. Perhaps their more traditional views are a reaction to seeing their own fathers struggle with notions of masculinity and being a "provider".
These theories are plausible but here in Australia we didn't experience the same economic downturn they did in the United States. There weren't mass redundancies on the same scale and we didn't experience the same fear and uncertainty.
Australia also doesn't have the same longitudinal data to make a comparison between today's young men and those of 20 or 40 years ago. So my best bet for gaining a little insight into what's going on here - is the young blokes I'm sharing a beer with.
We talk for over an hour about their plans and desires for the future and how gender affects that. While we disagree on most points and their language leaves a lot to be desired, I'm taken aback by how insightful some of their comments are. I get the impression that these young men have given these issues a lot of thought.
Clint shares Ben's ambitions for a family and a high-flying career. He tells me that the kind of work he wants to do means giving his job everything. "Everything," he repeats, seriously and meaningfully. When Clint talks about assignments and exams, he looks as if he has the weight of the world on his shoulders. He puts lots of pressure on himself.
Both of Clint's parents worked in big jobs when he was growing up and he harbours resentment about time he feels like he missed out on. He says kids need a parent around fulltime and so he needs a wife who understands that will have to be her. One fact follows the other in Clint's mind. I ask him what he'll do if he falls in love with a woman who wants to have children and a career.
"I won't," he answers, deadpan.
Eddie lives with his girlfriend and they both study law. I ask, if they end up together, how Eddie expects they'll share the responsibilities of work and family life. Eddie says they haven't really talked about it but that "these things have a way of working themselves out". I suggest that the way things work out usually involve the woman putting her career to one side. Eddie agrees, "usually".
Gum-chewing Adam is getting worked up again. "Why does it have to be us who sacrifice?" he asks.
"At my college every position you run for [in student elections] is all, 'at least 50 per cent of whom must be women' - so girls win even when they weren't the best and nobody wanted them to do the job. I know girls used to be discriminated against and that being home with kids and cleaning and s**t probably sucks. But why should I have to do the sucky stuff to compensate them? Why should I be discriminated against? It sucks for me too."
Daniel, the funny one who thinks girls are crazy, doesn't add much substance to the conversation. On the single occasion he isn't joking around, he tells me that he doesn't like babies. "That's something girls are into."
You have babies to keep girls happy seems to be Paul's view of the world too. He doesn't want a family but would consider it for "a really hot wife". He isn't too fussed about what he does for work either - so long as he's rich.
At the end of our chat, I'm left with the sense that most of these young men feel hard done by. They feel trapped between mostly-parental pressure to achieve professionally and an alleged societal pressure that they should step aside and make way for more women to flourish. They take the first kind of pressure as a given and they really, really resent the second.
The perception of the group is that they will have fewer opportunities than the young men who went before them and their fathers before that. They don't see equality between women and men as a correction but an interruption to their own intended success.
It's not that they're against gender equality. For the most part they think it makes sense but they do worry about how it will affect them as individuals.
I'm struck by the fact none of these young guys sees the benefits of equality for men. Their focus is on the greater competition for jobs, for advancement and for wealth that more women in the workforce might mean. Their focus is on what they might have to give up so that women can be equal players.
They see only what they will lose and not what they will gain: The privilege of one day being fathers in the fullest sense of the word, of living balanced and meaningful life beyond paid work ... and the freedom of living in a more equal and inclusive world.
Jamila Rizvi is a writer, presenter and news.com.au columnist. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.