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Women, know your place!

Written By: - Date published: 12:11 pm, August 3rd, 2017 - 54 comments
Categories: election 2017, feminism, jacinda ardern, labour, sexism, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags:

Good grief, it’s 2017, in NZ of all places, and we’re having this conversation?

Nuts and bolts of the first day – Jacinda Arden becomes leader of the Labour Party, suddenly, and the MainStreamMen are caught unprepared. After their initial sugar rush, they pick the thing that for some bizarre reason makes sense of the chaos flailing around in their brains. I felt sorry for Jesse Mulligan that he had to ask this question, but nevertheless he asked it, on The Project. What should Ardern do about the baby thing?

Nek minit, NZ plunges into the 1970s. Or maybe it’s the 1950s. The following day Newshub cover The Project’s asking of the question (because it’s not like we’ve got anything better to do in an election campaign than watch the media watch each other do stupid shit). Newshub do this coverage by having a dude defending some employers’ beliefs that they have a right to know about baby plans because they need to make plans of their own. Fortunately for NZ, Jacinda Ardern was up next and she pulled NZ back into 2017,

“It is totally unacceptable in 2017 to say that women should have to answer that question in the workplace. It is a woman’s decision about when they choose to have children. It should not predetermine whether or not they are given a job or have job opportunities.”

Go watch the whole thing, because this is the NZ political landscape changing. Ardern says she’s ok being asked the question for herself because she personally chose to speak out about it in the past, but that it’s not ok to ask this question of women generally. This is feminism saying no to sexism, but it’s also liberal values pushing back against neoliberal ones. No, just because you are an employer you don’t get to be a dick and discriminate against women. And, this affects all women, so have a think about women doing part time work in multiple jobs, not just well paid career women.

In case anyone is confused about what is right here (legally and ethically), here’s a Human Rights lawyer, and the Human Rights Commission both making it really clear,

Speaking of values, one of the interesting things about having a woman PM again will be seeing how much has changed since Clark came into the role in 1999. We’re a generation on now and there are just so many more women who are simply not willing to take this any more. And by more I don’t mean just the baby question, but the whole apparatus that enables this to happen. It’s now completely normal for the new media to go straight to pushing back against sexism.

Stephanie Rodgers burns in this multi-tweet exposition of what the issues are around gender, class and the real responsibilities of employers and businesses.

Richard’son justification is “but it’s not fair to employers”. Guess what, mate: workers aren’t indentured servants, no matter their gender

Villainesse asks Mulligan and Richardson if they have had vasectomies and if they’re fathers how on earth they manage to find work.

The Spinoff asks a whole range of mothers what their response is,

So many good pieces in that Spinoff story, so let’s just start with this,

Mothers are a political force. Every day they make political choices. Every day they work to better this country, whether it’s raising their own babies or raising those in the community. The personal is political and mothers have been silenced politically for too long. I think that’s why so many mums are standing up and saying: Actually, you can get fucked for asking her this.

and end with this,

And Jacinda – Kia kaha, you come from a long-line of women who are tired of men asking invasive questions about their personal decisions around parenthood. You have many mothers standing with you – please don’t forget that when you’re faced with this crap. We’ve got your back.

All of which leads to this,


And back to the politics we should be talking about. Here’s the new leader of the Labour Party doing some Labour Party leadership stuff,

54 comments on “Women, know your place!”

  1. Mrs Brillo 1

    I butted in on a boys’ snigger session in the BTL Guardian comments last week and got the “Women- know your place!” putdown.

    To which I replied: I rather think I have just taken it.

  2. Sabine 2

    did anyone expect anything else?

  3. srylands 3

    The New Zealand media are trash. Are you really surprised by this?

    That “Project” thing on TV3 at 7pm is vile.

    Sure being PM is a full time job. But it comes with the pay and resources to give you options. Try being a parent in a low wage job.

  4. Andre 4

    I’m particularly impressed she tackled the issue head-on totally on her own terms.

    She didn’t feel the need to reference the bullshit thrown at Helen Clark about kids. She didn’t feel the need to mention what the law says on the topic.

    Just the upfront plain and forceful “totally unacceptable”. Spot on.

    • weka 4.1

      Totally defining moment. This is what I mean about her mojo. That was a superb confluence of dynamics around Labour, the election, feminism, the MSM, subtle undermining, and she completely owned it.

      And yep, the differences between what Clark had to do and what Ardern can now do are stark. It’s very heartening. So not only is there all this excitement about Labour, but women are having the same experience. It’s not perfect (e.g. there are still some substantial class issues), but gods it feels good.

    • RedLogix 4.2

      ++ !!

      When the head of Westpac comes out and says this; it’s game over:

      Westpac chief executive David McLean says it is appalling that one of the first questions put to new Labour leader Jacinda Ardern were about her plans to have children.


      Maybe, just maybe it would be a pertinent issue to explore in the context of a ‘life story backgrounder’ for a magazine or long form article … but to aggressively front it as one of the first questions after her appointment is crass beyond all belief.

  5. xanthe 5

    in strategic terms I cant think of anything stupider at this point than giving this bullshit further oxygen.
    Not helping
    Jacinda put this question firmly in its place, leave it there.
    TV one dragged it out again at noon today after a series of good news national clips. They intend to keep this alive, its all they have at the moment. Please choose your battles wisely and do not engage this time !

    • Sabine 5.1

      well one could say that this is done on purpose to rally those that believe that a womens place is as a mother. You know that is what God wants you to be. I am sure Bill English would agree with me 🙂

      There are enough women and man in NZ that are ueber-conservative, and i don’t think they vote for Labour – they might considering the gospel of the mount i.e. feed the hungry, house the homeless etc etc etc., however i am not holding my breath.

      so yeah, in NZ there is a large enough contingent of religiously minded people (heck we have adepts of quiverful here in NZ so much so that the daughter of the famous Duggar Fertility Cult in the US was going to come here for visit and speeches – we were spared thanks to the earthquake in kaikoura at the time), the brethren, the gloriavale cultists and so on and they all vote. As the US has shown, the evangelics and arch conservative god botherers ‘religiously’ vote, while the secular are somewhat lacking.

      Is hoskings not married to some ueber catholic chick and family?

      so there might be reason to keeping this alive. i.e. this women is taking the place of a man while denying god her duty to him. 🙂

      • xanthe 5.1.1

        there are many reasons why they want to keep this alive ! and many subtle ways to fear-monger spin it. i predict they will spin this as long as they can get a reaction.

        as one tweet above put it.


        At the voting booths, September 23rd.

        nuff said……. for now!! choosing the field of battle is not a surrender

    • weka 5.2

      I wonder if you read the post? (I should probably stop doing all these tweet-heavy posts). It’s basically a shout out to feminists, and to lefties to talk about what is changing here. These are good things for the left and for women. I’m pretty sure TVNZ aren’t covering that 😉

      • xanthe 5.2.1

        yes i did read the post and the tweets

        and I agree that TV one really is the enemy here, I was disgusted to see that they were unable to even make a clean cut to the press conference and then they cut to get Corin’s spin before the questions started, and couldn’t manage to even do that either! crossed to tv3 and got a good clean feed.(the rest is history!) TV one was disgraceful

        the point I was making was that Jacinda has answered the question and put it in its place and now the task is to bloody well get her elected PM !

        for a number of reasons there is nothing nats want more than to make this a defining question of the election! and they clearly intend to do that , (and its all they have as far as i can see at this time) there is nothing they want more than people “protesting” about this now. lets not do that . lets let Jacinda set the agenda not support the TV1/nats one.

        • weka

          Yeah, I heard Dann was being an idiot. I did see Ardern put him in his place in the first press conference the other day, so I assume he’s going to react. Can’t wait to see Ardern in more MSM interviews. I don’t generally watch TV news unless there is something specific on of interest, so I’m lucky to miss lots of the bullshit.

      • weka 5.2.2

        “i am not sure why you would assume that i did not read the post.”

        I didn’t, I was replying to xanthe.

      • Karen 5.2.3

        I like your tweet heavy posts, Weka. I find twitter very useful for capturing the mood and also for some interesting links.

        I just found this link from Peeni Henare’s twitter and it seems very relevant to your post:


        Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan was the first sitting MP to give birth – that was back in 1970. Two years later she became the first Māori woman to be made a Cabinet Minister.

        Getting close to 5 decades ago.

        • Sabine

          that was a nice read.


        • weka

          Thanks Karen, good to have feedback about the tweets. I agree what’s happening on twitter is useful to know about, I’m not sure if the visuals of the embedded tweets is easier or harder to read.

          5 decades, that’s how old I am, lol. But I remember Tirikatene-Sullivan’s name from when I was growing up in a very Pākehā family, so she made a big impression.

        • Visubversa

          Ruth Richardson (remember her?) had at least one child when she was in Parliament. She even got a special room for breastfeeding while the House was in session.

  6. greywarshark 6

    Women in important positions manage their lives according to their own personal decision. Jacinda can do the same. This children thing is what was always asked when the pill was first introduced. It is just prurient in this case.

    Here is a question asked in August 2015 of Grainne Moss new CE of the Vulnerable Child Unit. It seems a sensible answer to a probing question.

    12. Most of the high achievers in 12 Questions feel guilty they don’t spend more time with their children. Do you?
    No. I’ve actively chosen to go to work and I take accountability for that. If I’m too busy feeling guilty then I’m not going to enjoy the time I do have with them. I never go home and tell my kids I had a bad day. I might say “I had a tough meeting, but it was really interesting because I had to figure out all these hard things”.

    You are where you are in the moment, and you just have to make the most of it, because the moment could change.

  7. It may be 2017, but in my experience there’s still a significant proportion of the population that regards pregnancy and childbirth as incompatible with employment, and child-rearing (especially of under-twos) as women’s work.

    The old men like Richardson or pretty much everyone at Kiwiblog who think this is a legitimate question base it on the (to them) patently true assumptions above. Same assumptions underlie their inability to grasp how anyone could see that as sexist.

    EDITED to add: Maybe it’s a good thing that their continued existence gets pointed out in the media now and then. Usually this stuff flies under the radar.

    • weka 7.1

      My theory is that at least part of this is the MSM having had 9 full years of ‘FJK-approved, do what you want, it’s all a game but the winner is the person with the biggest stick/most money/largest power’ politics. Being confronted with someone who has her own power, of a different kind but who likes like one of them, and who isn’t standing for that stuff will be challenging to some and refreshing to others.

      It’s the neoliberalisation of the culture. Truth, honesty, compassion, none of those values have been explicit for a long time, in fact the opposite, they’ve been actively worked against. But a lot has changed the other way in that time too, can’t stuff intergenerational feminism back in a box unless you try and go full Tr*mp.

      Haven’t seen an analysis of this, but I’m betting there are far more women in MSM now who aren’t of Richardson and co’s milieu.

      So yep, lancing the boil comes to mind.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 7.2

      Ignorance of the enemy is weakness. National Party values will persist until the species evolves.

  8. I liked the part when mid sentence she already started pointing at Richardson , carried on addressing Garner, and with finger still pointing , turned round and launched into him with ” But ,- YOU !!!! ”

    She stared straight at him and meant total business.

    L00L !!!

    So priceless !!!

    And shes standing with the family’s of Pike River. Perfect.

    • David Mac 8.1

      Yes and this is why it is being repeated in news segments, it rates. A majority of our population collectively called out “Go Jacinda.” Even Richardson fans will delight in seeing him copping a bit of fair game stick. I’m looking forward to Richardson interviewing Jacinda’s beau and asking him what the future holds for his penis.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 8.1.1

        Nah, the trash won’t have the guts. They’ll threaten his family from the shadows. That’s how the National Party rolls. Never turn your back on a coward.

  9. Sanctuary 9

    “… But ,- YOU !!!! ”…”

    That was Jacinda’s game changing, “show me the money” moment. Not the what followed, but the finger point and the putting in his place. Across the land women have exalted not the issue of if women should be asked if they plan to have children by a potential employer, but a woman who asserted her opinion in the face of a sexist man.

    The power of that moment is that while lots of conservative woman might think a mothers place is with her children, all women of all ages, political persuasions and social values are united in getting sick of being lectured to by men. The cut through was from farmer’s wives to beautiful young things in party dresses.

  10. dukeofurl 10

    A PM who is a mother with infant children is a very good example of how to change the work environment to suit the mother rather than the other way around.

    Taking a child to work would be the obvious one- not possible for a lot of working mums, but in a lot of cultures thats what happened anyway- maternity leave was just impossible.
    I have worked with women who have been back at work after 3 weeks, that was their choice of course, maybe it was economic necessity as well.

    With all the personal support a PM gets, no need to worry about driving, or housework and other domestic chores, they can focus on the baby and the job- briefings would be a breeze for a nursing PM !

    • red-blooded 10.1

      Some good thoughts, duke. i do wonder why we still see issues like housework and other domestic chores as the woman’s domain, though. Last time i noticed you didn’t need a uterus to operate a vacuum cleaner!

  11. Mrs Brillo 11

    The Parliamentary year – and consequently, its timetable, was originally based on the production cycles of farmers from the 1800s. Chaps with domestic and constituency help (known as wives, usually).

    It’s definitely time for a complete overhaul of working hours and conditions to suit today’s far more diverse lot of MPs and their needs – including the needs of all working parents. Plus we have electronic accessibility these days.

    Come on, now, we’re a sensible, practical country as a rule – how did we let this obvious area for reform get away on us?

    • Gabby 11.1

      Sure. MPs are really well paid now and very few are farmers. They could be working a proper year like all the other poor slobs.

  12. Priss 12

    I heard Gary McCormick on RNZ’s Jim Mora’s panel yesterday indulging in some kind of quasi-masterbatory session whether or not he should be asking if Jacinda Ardern was going to have children.


    If you’re going to touch yourself, use internet porn. Stay out of politics, dear old chap, bless you!

  13. Dspare 13

    This Guardian piece raises some good points about the media narratives imposed upon woman in politics:

    In 2017, this reduction to biology is just plain creepy. Like being asked if you fear that your breasts will spontaneously lactate over a cabinet meeting, or sessions of parliament be interrupted by the inevitable horde of bears attracted by the scent of prime ministerial menstruation…

    What infuriates is that the messages about women in leadership aren’t even consistent. The first female prime minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, was maligned for her choice to remain “deliberately barren”, as if it made her less likely to understand the demands of family life. Similar criticism has been levelled at the fearsome Angela Merkel and – the as yet, undefeated – Theresa May.


  14. Sanctuary 14

    Scenes from a West Auckland shopping mall: following two 30 something women up the escalator, a snatch of conversation: “I was thinking of voting National,but I really like her…” in the food court, four school girls crowded around a table, reading about Jacinda in the newspaper.

    By jiminey cricket, I think this leadership change might work, especially with women voters.

    • Johnr 14.1

      Not just woman voters Sanctuary. Im a white honky floating voter in my 70s who has never missed voting for 50 years, but this election nobody pushed my buttons, and had decided not to vote, until I watched Jacinda on the nation last w’end. She was in control. Impressed the hell out of me, and with subsequent events, I’m excited to vote Labour

      • In Vino 14.1.1

        Agree. Nearly 71, I am greatly relieved to see an articulate, intelligent politician deal so well to the grubby journalists we must now tolerate. If Jacinda can maintain that style which seems so natural to her, we are in for some treats.
        She has sincerity, intelligence and articulacy. So far. On that basis she will make all her opposition look like plodders. Lange did that, but gave us Rogernomics, so I now doubt either his sincerity or his political awareness.. But Jacinda admires Norm Kirk, and I remember him as impressive in the same way as Jacinda. Do the Norm Kirk thing, Jacinda. You will get the oldies’ vote!

    • Ross 14.2

      You’re more optimistic than I am. I don’t think Ardern’s elevation to Leader will have much impact at all on support for Labour. Time will tell.

  15. Tanz 15

    At the risk of being stoned, I don’t have a problem with employers asking women if they are planning to have kids. i was asked that in interviews and I was also asked about study plans and long-term plans. So what. Employers put a lot of time and training into employees, and I thought such questions fair, and don’t see them as
    sexist at all. When I did go on parental leave my employer was extremely understanding and helpful, and went out of their way to be supportive.
    I just don’t see such questions as sexist, women having kids is often just a part of life,
    even if it has been down-graded by certain groups.
    And what makes you think men don’t get asked their fair share of personal questions re jobs.
    Having kids is so satisfying, yet these days, it is knocked down or made to seem like less than a career.

    • weka 15.1

      “So what”

      Because it’s illegal.

      • Tanz 15.1.1

        Is it also illegal to ask about study or long-term plans? People are so easily offended these days.

        • weka

          Read the post and follow the links, you might learn something.

        • McFlock

          Never struck me as being about causing offense.

          I think it’s because not all employers are as understanding as yours, so they assume that any woman who gets pregnant working for them will up and leave permanently rather than taking less time off than some folks take on holiday because they have good support structures, the spouse will be taking the bulk of parental duties, or a myriad of other reasons that’s nobody else’s damned business. So those less progressive employers would just not hire anyone who at all looked like they might get knocked up. Which is discrimination, and illegal.

      • Ross 15.1.2

        It depends how its framed. If an employer explains that their busy period is in six months and asks if the employer is able to commit to working over that period each year they might be a little upset to find that the employee has no intention of working in 6 months’ time. Open and honest communication is essential from both parties.

  16. Mrs Brillo 16

    Why are none of those enterprising journos attempting to interview Ruth Richardson about how she managed a ministerial portfolio while breastfeeding, in Parliament?
    We have been there before, you know.

    • JC 16.1

      Dear Ms Brillo….. and (Katherine Rich )…. dear I say it!

      But Please wash your mouth Out when you mention Ruth!

      Some Lite Reading for You!


      • Mrs Brillo 16.1.1

        On another thread I have already mentioned reading that book. I bought it when it was first published.
        Her experience as a cabinet member while pregnant and later breastfeeding would be totally germane to the current rather obsessed discussions about prime ministerial motherhood. I do not see what her policies have to do with this topic.

    • McFlock 16.2

      maybe they’re afraid that our PM will breastfeed at APEC and the Orange One will get scared.

    • JC 16.3

      Dickey Mouse here… and getting late Ms B … intended to add this link also for your edification ….



      • Mrs Brillo 16.3.1

        I’m probably old enough to be your grandmother and I already know how to suck eggs, ta.

        • D'Esterre

          Mrs Brillo: “I’m probably old enough to be your grandmother and I already know how to suck eggs, ta.”

          Heh, yes, I couldn’t agree more! It really pisses me off when people who weren’t born when we lived through the Rogernomics era, try to tell us what to think about it.

  17. @ In Vino

    … ” Jacinda admires Norm Kirk, and I remember him as impressive in the same way as Jacinda. Do the Norm Kirk thing, Jacinda. You will get the oldies’ vote! ” …

    There you go , listen to what Norman Kirk says … ” Let us remember that the New Zealand Labour party , is a New Zealand party – not an IMF party , not a World Bank party , not a SUBMISSIVE party , … but the NZ Labour party is a New Zealand party ! ”…

    And that was in the first minute of his speech !!!

    Contrast that with the shit neo liberal free market attitudes prevalent in today’s political world in NZ.

    Norman Kirk NZ Prime Minister – Big Norm LP – YouTube
    Video for big norm song▶ 51:06

  18. ST 18

    I say ‘Good luck Jacinda’. She’s thought her options through and will make the best decision for her family.

    I still have doubts about myself returning to full-time work after 2×1 year parental leave – I can see now my 2 kids needed me after 1yo. And I still doubt my decision to pursue full-time work.

    No under-7 yo kid should have to wake up at 6:30am and get to ECE/school by 8:00am, so both parents can arrive at work by 9:00am for their full-time 7.5hr job. I don’t take my full 2x 15min + 30min breaks which means I am short-changing myself, in order to put in my 7.5 and leave early to get my kids (1 from full-time ECE at 4:30pm, 1 from after school care and he really wishes I could be there for him when school finishes (2:45pm) instead of picking him up 5:30pm from care).
    Dinner is 6:00pm when we’re lucky (ie. not stuck in traffic during commute) so bedtime gets to about 9:00pm when we’re unlucky. Then the following morning usually ends with confrontations and unhappiness. It means my kids are being short-changed by our current lifestyle of both parents in full-time work, and no live-in personal assistant.
    Both parents plain tuckered out by weekend, let alone chores, etc. Let alone maintaining kids’ oral health.

    So, yeah. Jacinda is a grown woman with good critical thinking skills and excellent unwavering values. She’ll do good for her family and I wish her well.

    It’s 2017 and for some reason, some leaders want females to “lean in”. The current system is fsked and needs to change so we can all lean in. And have a healthy family.

    Myself, still probably Green-Red politically as still very unhappy with Clark’s Labour changing Daylight Savings End/Start (affected how often I saw daylight).

  19. lloyd 19

    Why aren’t all male politicians over fifty asked if they have prostate cancer and how will it affect their work ability?

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