Marilyn Waring still takes no prisoners

Written By: - Date published: 6:30 am, March 25th, 2018 - 59 comments
Categories: Economy, feminism, gender - Tags: , ,

Feminist, activist, Professor of Public Policy at AUT, and a principal founder of the discipline of feminist economicsMarilyn Waring is pretty much always an inspiration and this was no exception. Thirty-five years on, it’s still easy to see the strength that enabled her to stand her ground in the Muldoon government.

The Q and A interview is ten minutes cut short, and worth the watch. Here are some highlights.

Dann introduces Waring by way of her work on women’s unpaid labour and its importance in how we measure the economy. Waring talks about how in the 90s, thanks to NZ First, we had two nationwide time use surveys that were the best in the world.  “They gave an amazing texture of data”. Key’s later government had no use for this. Robertson talks about wellbeing but Waring points out that we can’t have a database of wellbeing without those nationwide time use surveys.

Unpaid labour “is the single largest sector in any nation’s economy and the whole of the market economy only is able to function on top of that.”

Waring isn’t talking about ‘paying’ it, she’s talking about “redistributing resources according to that”. For example, primary health care starts in the home. Therefore put health services back on the road to travel to those primary caregivers when they need support. It costs more to interrupt the carers at home, even with them being unpaid, than it does to do home visits with ancillary care.

On hotshot du jour Jordan Peterson’s opinions on the gender pay gap (sex is only one of many factors),

… yeah, yeah, yeah, look, all my life as a feminist we’ve always had those boys roaring in the corner and I really just ignore them.

… I’m worried about the obstinacy of males, yet again, on yet another issue, that is patently about dignity and equality and getting rid of discriminatory behaviours, but whatever he’s saying to me will be pretty vacuous. Because they will come from any corner you like to try and stop women from getting their rightful gains. And they say exactly the same thing, it doesn’t matter which part of the world they come from and they think they’re being original.

On the values of gender quotas on boards, which Dann describes as cutthroat and he wants to know if women really want to do that,

Well you’re talking to me Corin. You’re talking to someone who did nine years with Muldoon.

Apparently, according to Dann, there is less of a desire to want to do it.

When you are impacted by the full male forum, it’s very difficult. But if there are two or three of you sitting there… in the moment for example that Anne Hercus joined the Public Expenditure Committee even as a Labour member we were able to transform some of the characteristics of the way in which that committee behaved.

Here Waring isn’t just saying that women are entitled to equity, she is saying that when we start to get bigger numbers of women in positions of power, how things get done can change.

59 comments on “Marilyn Waring still takes no prisoners”

  1. AsleepWhileWalking 1

    Lol nine years with Muldoon x

    • Carolyn_Nth 1.1

      Heh. Yeah.

      I think Waring has made a tremendous contribution to understanding the significance of unpaid work. I also like how she shows feminism doesn’t separate economic issues from those of violence, and especially from domestic violence.

      As she expresses in the video, including unpaid work in things like the GDP is essential.

      However, I think Waring does not really want to replace the whole crumbling capitalism structure.

      She talks of include an assessment of unpaid labour in order to better allocate resources. But she does not want to pay people for unpaid labour.

      I recall seeing her talk at Auckland Uni back when she was in Muldoon’s government. She said she agreed with a lot of the social policies of Labour. however, the reason she chose to go with National, was because only National had the economic/financial nouse to produce the money that is need to fund social policy.

      So, for her, economics seems to trump social policy.

      And many thanks to all the unpaid work done by authors, mods and the sys op at TS.

      • weka 1.1.1

        “But she does not want to pay people for unpaid labour.”

        I didn’t hear her saying that exactly. It would be a good thing to look up though, I will try later one.

        • Carolyn_Nth 1.1.1.1

          The bit I am referring to begins about 2.25 minutes.

          Waring says:

          I am not talking about paying it [ie unpaid labour in the home like primary health care]. I am talking about redistributing resources according to that. So for example, you would understand that primary health care starts in the home. That’s where primary health care happens. Not when you finally get to the GP. You would look at issues like putting health workers back on the road, not just the midwives. Because the person who’s doing the unpaid work in the household – if we look at those 24/7 caring families in New Zealand who are having to return to the court time and time again – what we would find out is it costs more to interrupt their day – even though it goes unpaid – than it does to put the ancillary care on the road to them.

          • weka 1.1.1.1.1

            Yes, I just don’t interpret that as her saying “don’t pay unpaid work”. She was trying to make a different point.

            • Carolyn_Nth 1.1.1.1.1.1

              I disagree. Waring clearly says that it is not about paying the unpaid sector. She says a bit later it’s about redistribution of resources.

      • Tracey 1.1.2

        Actually in the interview I link to below she says it was cause a Nat MP intended introducing a homosexual reform bill.

        • Carolyn_Nth 1.1.2.1

          Ok, you are referring to my comment about why Waring joined the Nats. In the interview you linked to, she says Kirk was anti-gay, and a Nat MP was proposing a homosexual law reform bill.

          As a student at Victoria University in Wellington, Waring would visit the library each morning and read the Dominion. “I walked in there one morning and [National MP] Venn Young had indicated his desire to introduce a homosexual law reform bill from Opposition.

          Kirk was the Prime Minister and Kirk said outrageous things about gay people, and I stood up from the library and walked down to the centre of Wellington and joined the National Party.”

          At the time I heard Waring speak, she had just been outed, but stated she didn’t want to talk about personal issues – or it may have been framed as talking only about politics.

          • tracey 1.1.2.1.1

            I have also heard her say in the past that Labour didnt want her or something similar

            • Carolyn_Nth 1.1.2.1.1.1

              I have often been unhappy about the misogyny, dubious race politics, and homophobia in Labour parties and the labour movement.

              But i have never once considered voting for the Nats or UK Tories – always voted Labour in the UK.

              In NZ in the 70s, I voted Values as an alternative.

              For Waring to have chosen Nats, she would have to have been pretty OK with their economic policies and values.

              • Tracey

                Agree but that doesnt mean she preferred economic to social policies especially as she has made a career out of highlighting their intersection?

                • Carolyn_Nth

                  She does highlight their intersection. But her primary focus is on economics.

                  Waring does provide a very helpful focus and useful stats on the contribution to the economy of unpaid work.

                  But, I think she still operates within a strongly capitalist framework. She doesn’t seem to be recommending changing the while structure, but is for extending the current structure to incorporate the significance of unpaid work.

        • paul andersen 1.1.2.2

          why do you get tied up in pointless side arguments. who cares why marilyn waring was a nat m.p.? stick to the present, not argue about the past…..

      • Chris 1.1.3

        “So, for her, economics seems to trump social policy.”

        Perhaps, but that was back in the 1970s when even the National Party had a good sense of what proper social policy looked like.

    • Anne 1.2

      I don’t know how she survived it AWW. Muldoon put her through a very large wringer which would have destroyed almost any other woman. The truth was: he and his cohorts were afraid of her… they felt threatened by her.

      Plenty of us who have had occasion since to have to stand up to bullying, tyrannical bosses know what it feels like but to have it all play out in the public arena must have been ten times worse.

      Even though they had been on opposite sides of the political fence, I know Helen Clark admired Marilyn Waring and I understand they became good friends. In fact it may be: it was Marilyn who helped Helen fight her own bullies inside the Labour caucus of the late 1970s and 1980s.

      • AsleepWhileWalking 1.2.1

        Thanks.

        I only had 80s TV shows + Muldoon’s reputation to go on, and that looked bad enough.

        It would have been war every day.

  2. cleangreen 2

    “Here Waring isn’t just saying that women are entitled to equity, she is saying that when we start to get bigger numbers of women in positions of power, how things get done can change”

    weka; question to you here,

    Do you really think Jacinda has the power to roll back the ‘hard right’ within the current Labour party pushing their agendas and arguably winning as neo-liberal policies are surfacing now in Labour policy again?.

    • Carolyn_Nth 2.1

      And who are Ardern’s top economic advisers? Who are the people with power closest to her as PM?

      it’s this: bigger numbers of women in positions of power

      Top 20 in order of priority (though Parker has had a big influence re-the TPPA).

      Ardern is the only woman in the top 5 – and those are the most powerful positions. There are 3 women in the top 10.

      7 women in the top 20. Of the 5 ministers outside cabinet 1 is a woman.

      • Aaron 2.1.1

        Don’t forget Michael Cullen who has a ridiculous level of influence on this government

        • red-blooded 2.1.1.1

          Says who? Cullen has been appointed to conduct a review with pretty tight boundaries, and any decisions will be taken by the wider government. Don’t look for ogres where there are none.

        • joe90 2.1.1.2

          Don’t forget Michael Cullen who has a ridiculous level of influence on this government

          Have you forgotten about the Natz Ms/Mr Fixits ? – Bazely, Rebstock, Roche, Ford, Martin, to name a few.

          /

      • cleangreen 2.1.2

        Carolyn;

        I’m sure that most environmentally asture will sincerely hope that more women around jacinda will carry her promise to finally address the climate change emissions “elephant in the room” as “her nuclear moment of her Generation”

        In Transport of freight that now has all but reverted to dirty freight road systems must now balance the freight back to 1970 levels where road and rail shared an equal 50% cut down the middle.
        We must have balance here.

        Restore all regional rail freight is required.

      • gsays 2.1.3

        Hi Carolyn, while having more female MPs is desirable, to get to that top table of influence, there seem to be more of the ilk of Ruth Richardson, Shipley, Collins,Parata, Anne Tolley etc that get to the top.
        Rather than the She Bradford, Laila Harre, Metiria Turei, Marama Davidsons of this world.

        By this I mean the power culture is toxic.

        Genuine revolutionaries don’t get to there to influence or don’t last if they do make it.

        Sharing is so far out of vogue, by this I mean sharing some of the pie (allocate resources) to those who do the ‘unseen’ unpaid work.

        This starts with us, the great unwashed.
        When we start valuing and celebrating the work talked about, those pollies will come in to line (male and female)

        • tracey 2.1.3.1

          Great observation. Those who make it practice the traditional masculine ( as opposed to male) style of politics.

          Ardern is somewhat isolated. Many around her will like her whike they can ride the coattails to power. I wonder what happens if polling drops. And Nats and “partners” are working hard to drop it

        • weka 2.1.3.2

          the solution there is to protect progressive women in positions of power, not argue against gender equity. Turei, Waring, Hercus, those women would have done far more in politics to address power issues if they had had the support. Instead we’ve had 40 years of men on the left pushing back against equity and even now it’s still an argument instead of women being supported.

      • tracey 2.1.4

        I was wondering about that too Carolyn. Thanks for crunching the numbers.

        Nats have 3 in their top 4 or 5?

      • AB 2.1.5

        “bigger numbers of women in positions of power”
        This suggestion always disappoints me a little. I don’t oppose it, but it seems a too narrow a lens.
        I’m more concerned at how power is obtained (who has it and who doesn’t) and how it is exercised. My instinct with all power is to question its legitimacy and replace it with bottom-up structures so that everyone has power. Guess I’m just an old anarchist.

        • tracey 2.1.5.1

          Perhaps reframe it as more feminine traits in power than masculine ( not the same as male and female). Our politics is still dominated by the masculine paradigm and written and unwritten ” rules off engagement”.

        • weka 2.1.5.2

          That’s not possible with parliament at this time though. It becomes distinctly more possible if we had gender equity. Feminists are far more likely to address power structures than older white men privileged by the patriarchy.

        • Carolyn_Nth 2.1.5.3

          From the experience of the last few decades, i think there needs to be a mix of top down and bottom up. Bottom up was tried from the 60s through the 70s. And it was working well in terms of increasing the support in society for social and economic change towards a more democratic society and more equal distribution of resources.

          The neo-con/neoliberal alliance of the 8os and 90s came in from the top, from multiple sectors (politics, media, education legislation enabling grass roots organisations, etc). they dismantled many welfare and grass roots structures, and re-directed energies on social issues (race, gender, sexuality, etc) to a narrowed version compatible with capitalism on steroids.

          There needs to be a multi-pronged way of countering the enormous power of the wealthy elites.

          • cleangreen 2.1.5.3.1

            1000% Carolyn

            You have hit the nail on the head there.

            “There needs to be a multi-pronged way of countering the enormous power of the wealthy elites”

            History today has clearly shown the the modern ‘elites’ have no social conscious fabric at all nowadays.

        • Bill 2.1.5.4

          I really struggle (actually fail) to think of any concentration of institutional power that can justify itself – ie, that’s legitimate.

          Parliament certainly isn’t and never will be.

          And that’s the downfall of all liberal arguments that would see solutions in there being more (insert marginalised or minority of choice) having positions of power within a parliamentary setting. It merely dresses up and perpetuates something that’s fundamentally illegitimate.

          At the individual level, entry into the “hallowed halls”, more often than not sees those admitted, inevitably or eventually act to divert, limit and/or completely block movement towards emancipation.

    • Aaron 2.2

      Waring said “number of women in power”. This means Jacinda’s capabilities are dependant on there being more women around her.

      Having a femle PM makes no difference if she’s on her own – and in her case surrounded by older men.

    • weka 2.3

      I doubt she has the will clean green. But yes, I do think there is still a big issue for Labour in this.

      Re the topic of this post, not sure what your point is. Obviously if it were left up to the blokes things would be a lot worse.

    • tracey 2.4

      She is also dealing with NZF which is not a liberal party.

  3. Foreign waka 3

    What a great example what women in NZ and indeed the world can contribute. And yet, even with having such juggernaut like Marilyn Waring holding the batten, success on so many levels still eludes.
    Why? Because of a war crazy, aggressive male populace that in all cultures has even build religious belief on a male centered dominance role with devastating results for many women throughout history.
    Social structures have been the same since the first ape walked upright and yes, perhaps my comments are disparaging, but I believe that nothing really has changed except that the ape has now a nuclear bomb, chemical weapons and dreams of world domination since the “model” works so well with women.
    The next generation of young women are of the belief that the efforts it took to get to todays services for women are set in stone, how ever watered down they are. Not so.
    Look at the legal profession, making a stand in the work place makes you straight away a pariah, the “advertisement” on social network pages to stand up can be fatal to a womens carrier, in fact to anybody’s as a man would be seen as a “traitor” to the gender. A growing assumption (yes that word) is, that if someone talked about it somewhere, something will be done about it – this is not the case. The issues are just being talked into oblivion only to have all falling into the same pattern as before, societal structure saved – check.
    I hope that more women of all walks of life have the courage and conviction of Marilyn Waring has and had, as without that, the situation will not improve.

    • Tracey 3.1

      I have admired Marilyn Waring for as long as I have been politically conscious. At the OECD her work was well ahead of her time.

      Once listed amongst the top 50 people likely to change the world we have ignored her writing, speaking and ideas to our cost

      That Canadians made a documentary about her and not any one in NZ speaks volumes about us.

      Great article/interview with her here

      https://www.noted.co.nz/archive/listener-nz-2012/interview-marilyn-waring/

      She is an example of a woman who has to wait for her ideas to be voiced by men before anyone thonks to explore further.

  4. One Anonymous Bloke 4

    Lol Peterson. What a perfect response. Great interview, shoulda been longer.

    • tracey 4.1

      The lack of self awareness or irony in this stagement made me laugh…

      “Writing in the National Post, Chris Selley said Peterson’s opponents had “underestimated the fury being inspired by modern preoccupations like white privilege and cultural appropriation, and by the marginalization, shouting down or outright cancellation of other viewpoints in polite society’s institutions”

      The lack of awareness that white and men have been ” shouting down or outright cancellation of other viewpoints” for millenia

      Equality can feel like oppression etc etc

  5. savenz 5

    Great link! Nice to see some of the women that shaped NZ culture in a good way getting air time!

    Sadly the interview was cut short just when it was getting even more interesting.

    Sadly media is mostly full of waste of space Mark Richardson’s/Hoskings/Hooting/Williams views on a daily basis instead of people who are worth listening to and have respect and original ideas about shaping society.

  6. Carolyn_Nth 6

    … yeah, yeah, yeah, look, all my life as a feminist we’ve always had those boys roaring in the corner and I really just ignore them.

    😊 👌

    Yes. Agreed. It is also my experience after seeing 3 decades of feminism, that there still are boys roaring int he corner, and still saying pretty much the same things that some guys said back int he 70s. Often I find it just depressing.

    Great to have the strength of mind to just say, “ignore them”.

    • cleangreen 6.1

      Carolyn.

      “Ignore them” = ignore your enemies gives them an advantage of knowledge and the element of surprise carolyn.

      We love and admire your commitment for change but please “engage” and use Jacinda’s promise of “inclusion” and don’t use “ignore them” as this will cause nothing more than deep seated division which will defeat this government and we are wanting to help them succeed.

      • weka 6.1.1

        I took it more that Peterson was an annoying flea that wasn’t worth Waring’s time 😉

        She did qualify it though. I doubt that Waring has no other strategies. I took it to mean that she is saying don’t give their views credence when you respond.

      • tracey 6.1.2

        Cleangreen

        It is about different paradigms.

        BTW the Nats do not do inclusion they do exclusion and it gets them far more power than Lab historically.

      • joe90 6.1.3

        ignore your enemies gives them an advantage

        Peterson and his ilk aren’t the enemy, they’re the stupid people’s thinking person con-men, and raking it in, Peterson makes $50k/month, with their bogus books and how to think webinars.

      • Carolyn_Nth 6.1.4

        So far, Jacinda’s “inclusion” seems to be ring fenced.

        She quickly kicked Metiria Turei to touch, rather than embracing the fact that many of the most excluded, including a lot of women, felt Turei ahd finally been speaking for them, from a position of understanding.

        Ardern’s ministerial allocations, excludes Davidson, who is second on the GP list, and who speaks for the marginalised people that the Labour-NZ government is still marginalising.

        Plus, many of us have tried an inclusive approach in the last few decades, with pretty limited results.

        • veutoviper 6.1.4.1

          Do you know for sure that Ardern made the decision not to include Davidson in the ministerial allocations,?

          Or maybe the allocations to the Ministerial and Parl U/S positions currently held by Green MPs were made on the basis of what the Green MPs and Shaw as Leader decided and recommended to Ardern at the time?

          • Carolyn_Nth 6.1.4.1.1

            No, i don’t know for sure.

            If not, then the questions need to be asked as to why Shaw didn’t include Davidson.

            However, my guess is that the Labour negotiators were only willing to give the GP certain kinds of ministerial responsibilities – and the kind of work Davidson does was not on offer to the GP. The GP seem to have been allocated responsibilities that focus mostly on the environment.

          • tracey 6.1.4.1.2

            And the kicking into touch of Turei? Masculine politics and game playing 101.

            Once in power we will treat women and the poor fairly but before that we will see them as dispendible pieces in the overall goal?

        • cleangreen 6.1.4.2

          Carolyn;

          Yep I have seen a slow but deliberate withdrawal from public “inclusion” since her Auckland town hall promise to give us all “inclussion”.

          I am yet to see our whole community to be offered some “incussion”.

  7. CHCOff 7

    Yep, Labour should lead the way and go 50/50.

    As long as done in a fashion that stays away from radical feminism and sold as a way to find new decision making cultures, processes and solutions to issues so the public gets more bang from it’s buck from govt. then it’s a vote winner that everyone can understand.

    And although Ardern is extremely capable, such a culture change with Labour would take the impact of her effectiveness up to the next level.

    The basic issue (which relates to the surveys of NZ1sts in the 90s) is that modern corporate power structures & environments require more naturally occurring senses of community within, to become better mutual partners of community & environments without, if they are not always going to be racing towards the cliffs of one type or another.

  8. xanthe 8

    Is it your wish to be free from tyranny? …. Or to join the oppressors?

  9. Venezia 9

    Brilliant to hear Marilyn’s voice again. But she has been saying these things for a very long time, and the boys roaring in the corner are the ones who have had the power all along. I hope now she is spending more time here, we can hear more from her. She is one of our few public intellectuals.

  10. Philg 10

    When did you last hear the term, in MSM, ” …one of our few public intellectuals …”? Are there any ‘public intellectuals ‘ in NZ? Or is it all ‘Opinionators’ e.g Richardson, Garner, Hosking etc. To me they are ‘ public ineffectuals’

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