That Question

Nothing stops me being completely delighted when I hear news that any lovely person is to become a parent. Obviously then, I was quite stoked upon reading the news Jacinda Ardern, the New Zealand PM, is expecting her first baby.

I knew of her before 2017, but it wasn’t until her rather superb smackdown of this dicktwat that my opinion of her was elevated. When it was put to her that women should inform their prospective employer of any plans they have for a family, she pushed the fuckoff button good and proper.

I knew exactly where she was coming from and I suspect many other women would nod their heads in agreement. I’ve had ‘that question’ sneaked into my own job interviews. “Just married, oh great!” It’s been said to me.“Oh, um, any problems with travelling interstate?” (BTW, the job had no interstate anything at all involved in the job description whatsoever. It was a thinly veiled attempt to simply to find out if I had family commitments and might need to run late because of day-care drop offs, take days off due to sick children and so forth. How many men get the same sneaky questions?). And you might say there are laws against discriminatory behaviour, but we all know it still happens. There’s still the lingering judgement of women being judged for what they are, (a womb on two legs) and not who they are. Meritocracy is not entrenched yet.

Now some might argue that Ms Ardern has no idea what she is getting into and might be surprised how much pressure parenthood and primeministership place on her. Of course she has no idea what she’s in for – but nor does any first time parent. Others might argue that Ms Ardern will be tired and hormonal and this might affect her ability to govern. This is yet another example of us all being labelled as the weaker, more delicate sex and it is complete and utter bullshit.

On the other side of the coin, women can’t fucking win either way, really. Julia Gillard was accused of being deliberately barren and some commentators suggested that given she wasn’t a parent herself she didn’t really get the costs involved in the baby bonus scheme (such rubbish). Recently, Theresa May’s own rival Andrea Leadsom actually came out and suggested that being a parent made her a better potential leader: ‘“I feel that being a mum means you have a very real stake in the future of our country, a tangible stake,”. So not being  parent makes you indifferent to future generations? I have huge problems with that comment.

I cannot recall a time ever where the same comments have been leveraged against a man in a government leadership position. It’s old fashioned bullshit from the era of MadMen and before, and I am for one stoked that our PM is going to be a parent and a PM. After all, the blokes have been doing it for years. It might just show that we really are capable of anything.


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