24 Jan 2007, Comments Off on Just poppin’ out the Progeny

Just poppin’ out the Progeny

Author: Helen

After Julia Gillard’s intriguing comments on combining work and motherhood, as opposed to fatherhood, as society is currently constituted, the Fairfax deadtree papers I read naturally put something in their Opinion page about it. Since the article the AGE printed by Sharan Burrow was too boringly practical and sensible,

We must reform our workforce with family-friendly measures. Periods of permanent part-time work, extended parental leave and affordable child care are essential. Government and employers as well as families will reap the economic and social benefit of such a model offered — if they just had the courage and desire to do so.

and – as we know – balance is so important in the media today, it was necessary to find something batty and flecked with spittle to really add some spice to the debate.

Prejudices are difficult to kill” is the title of the article by Gabriella Coslovich, and it really storms the bastion of prejudice, yes it does. Shorter Coslovich: I’m sick of people banging on about mothers having problems getting higher positions. I’m here to tell you we single women have it much, much worse. These people with kids get everything given to them and they’re never satisfied! Take that, you ignorant, selfish breeders! Yes, by cracky, this article is about opposing prejudice all right!

I don’t begrudge them their baby bonuses or their exalted status with the nation’s leaders who are constantly stroking their egos and chasing their votes….

Because of course, as you all know, motherhood’s just a cornucopia of money and opportunity.

…if becoming a parent is so damn humbling, why do the Mark Vailes, Mary Lous and Marees of this world constantly feel the need to assert the pre-eminence of their life experiences?

Why does Coslovich assume all the assholes in the world are those with kids? Hasn’t she ever met an up-herself childfree person asserting the pre-eminence of her life experience? How fortunate for her. I don’t like society’s attitude to single and childfree women either, and it’s definitely a feminist issue. But that doesn’t mean taking all the hate and suspicion historically loaded onto “spinsters” and tipping it all over mothers. Hey, I know – maybe we could get a… goat, or something, and tip it all over her, and… you know…

Gabriella is really excercised about Mark Vaile’s comments (and he wasn’t the only one) that parenthood could actually bring marketable skills to your working life. My objection to Vaile is that he was speaking from the point of view of the parent to whom child care and unpaid work probably wasn’t a large factor. But I thought it was nice that a few people pointed out that, yes, it is a job, and yes, it might improve skills such as multitasking and people wrangling (e.g. not throwing up when some Honourable Member makes the kind of remark usually heard at 11 AM recess). But Coslovich won’t have a bar of it. Mums and Dads are all worshipped, I tell you, worshipped! And now they want a crack at the good jobs as well. Is there any end to their greed and rapacity?

[Childfree women] may have long desired to have children, but been [sic] with the wrong man at the right time, or the right man at the wrong time.

The reasons are many and varied — but surely in this day it is accepted that many women do not make it their sole goal in life to find a man, get hitched and start popping out progeny — yes, they have careers as well, they want to be challenged and stimulated, to use their brains and talents and creativity, even at the risk of being called “blokes with vaginas”.

Yes, but I’m not sure how the hatin’ on women with children helps Gabriella with her problem – unless the “blokes with vaginas” comment is equivalent to Echidne’s “women who have drunk patriarchy’s KoolAid“.

The problem for the women who have drunk patriarchy’s KoolAid has always been the schizophrenia of looking down on all women yet being one of that despised species. How to solve this dilemma? The obvious solution is to ask for an exemption: Though women are headless hens cackling away and good-for-nothing but taking care of children (funnily enough, the Most Important Job in other conservative contexts, yet something that can be trusted to cackling hens), the woman stating these opinions is NOT a cackling hen. In fact, she is not a woman at all, but a miniature version of the Calm and Always Logical Great Man.

That’s how this article comes across. I’m not sure if she completely meant it that way. Her calling of bullshit on society’s treatment of single women is quite right, but it wasn’t the point of the Julia debate. It was about work-life balance for parents, which – despite Coslovich’s claim they’re the government’s darlings – we still don’t have. And sorry, but we still have the right to talk about it.

Comments (0)

  • Cristy says:

    Great post Helen. I have nothing left to add, but just wanted to quietly applaud.

  • Pavlov's Cat says:

    Ooh, divide and conquer, eh? I wonder who she’s really working for, bwahahaha.

    As a woman with no kids I can assure you-all that it, too, really is no fun at all in terms of societal attitudes and being on the end of attacks from people with Great Big Issues of their own. (Which is the real problem, BTW, IMHO: relentless projection, both from other women and from men). My very own current internet stalker has taken what he clearly thinks is a crippling swipe at me on his own “blog” about my not having any bambini. NB: he himself is gay.

    The real problem is the real problem: women are still second-class citizens. If you have kids you are socially undervalued and forced into positions of dependence, but if you don’t have kids you’re sneered at and feared. If you’re gorgeous you get sexually harassed and pestered, but if you’re ugly you get insulted and vilified. If you’re not very bright you get exploited and mocked, but if you’re smart you get hated.

    I think I need more caffeine.

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