Writehanded: The nature of gendered abuse

Written By: - Date published: 6:53 am, January 25th, 2018 - 152 comments
Categories: jacinda ardern, patriarchy, sexism - Tags: , , , ,

Disabled journalist, writer, feminist, social justice campaigner, and poet Sarah Wilson writes about some of the underlying attitudes in the attack on the PM being pregnant and draws comparisons with how beneficiaries and ill people are treated. Cross posted from writehanded.org

Amid accusations that our Prime Minister deliberately mislead the country by getting pregnant and will now be an unfit leader due to “baby brain” and motherhood, I’m reflecting on how it feels to be a woman in the public eye. 

You can almost always guarantee that when someone shouts “this isn’t a gender issue!” – it is. And the issues are many.

Imagine for a second that it were Clarke Gayford who was Prime Minister rather than Jacinda. The news of his partner’s pregnancy would have been met with back slaps and offers to shout the next round, and either pleasure or apathy from the rest of the country. There would be no conspiracy theories, because there would be no expectation that Clarke would share the information that he and his partner weren’t sure they could conceive. After all – fatherhood won’t change his ability to be Prime Minister. He wouldn’t be expected to stay at home with the baby. Despite paternity leave becoming more common, and many men – Clarke included – choosing to be the primary caregiver, this still wouldn’t enter people’s minds. Which demonstrates how much of the vitriol is about gender roles, sexism, and Jacinda being a young woman (her youth is of course another check mark against her – coupled with her gender it makes her fundamentally unreliable).

I’m often quietly (and ok sometimes very loudly) appalled at some of the things that get said in the public sphere in this country, and I only wish I had the energy to address all of them, because it’s honestly such a trash fire. Where do we even begin? How about we look at how Jacinda is being labelled a calculating bitch who kept secrets from taxpayers in order to use their money to have a kid and stay at home?

There’s a reason I’m starting there, and it’s this: I relate. Obviously I am the farthest thing from Prime Minister, but this accusation – lying, keeping secrets, misleading for the purpose of misusing taxpayer money – that’s one I’m all too familiar with. I’ve lived that.

While reading about the abuse that feminist and writer Clementine Ford gets online every day in her book Fight Like A Girl, I recalled being accused of faking my illness in order to get money for beauty treatments I didn’t deserve. “If she can be on twitter, she can get a job,” the comments went. “Look at her hair – she clearly has loads of money.”

Despite the obvious ridiculousness of these taunts, they hurt. And they are gendered. Nearly all of the abuse that I received made mention of my being a woman, whether it was overt or implied. There was a lot of insinuation that as a woman, I was less trustworthy. We are, apparently, better at lying and deception. I wish someone had told teenage me that when I was trying to convince my dad I hadn’t had a party and broken a bunch of shit while he was away for the weekend.

The other insults and labels – “whiny,” “bitch,” “lazy,” were all about me as woman as well. And they are nothing in comparison to what our Prime Minister, and Clementine, deal with. I read Clementine’s accounts of the explicit rape and death threats she receives every single day and I felt sick.

Why are people so afraid of women? And in particular, why are people so afraid of women beneficiaries?

I have a theory about the latter, and it’s to do with the current topic: reproduction. Cos you know what people hate more than a woman beneficiary? A woman beneficiary who had the terrible inpudence of becoming a mother. Even if we haven’t done it yet – we have the potential to, and that’s enough.

If you live in New Zealand, you’ll be familiar with people theorizing that “that woman just got pregnant get to a benefit.” “Oh her?” they say. “She just keeps having kids so she can get her government pay check and doesn’t have to work.”

Despite the disgusting and horrifying sexism of these allegations, they defy logic, because A) Having a child is incredibly hard work, very few people would decide they’d do that because it’d be easier than having a job, and B) The money you get as a beneficiary is barely enough to keep one person alive, let alone multiple people.

You only have to look at the treatment of Metiria Turei last year – and even, to a lesser extent, Paula Bennett – to see the truth in this. Both mothers, both former beneficiaries who could never shake those roots. Constantly under judgement because of their gender and reproductive choices.

I don’t envy Jacinda these next few months – years, to be honest. It’s probably only going to get worse as people continue to cast aspersions on her ability to be a woman and do her job.

I have comments turned off on my blog these days. I don’t need to deal with being harassed, threatened and insulted on top of what I already face. But every now and then someone will stumble on an older post, which still have the comments open (technical issue, basically I’d have to go through and close comments on each post individually which I’m just not spending energy on).

This week I got this delightful reply to an old post about feminism and food.


Image text: “You got it wrong. Healthy, adult women who sexually satisfy men every day deserve to eat and they are generally happy.

Healthy adult women who refuse to sexually satisfy men every day, don’t deserve to eat. They are generally bitter, nasty and they feel worthless because they are.

When women commit to sexually satisfy men every day, they usually don’t become fat. Excessive eating is just one of many foolish attempts to substitute for sex. Excessive drinking is another.”

It would be hilarious if it weren’t terrifying. I mean, there’s so little logic happening here. But that’s another reason it’s so scary. Because if someone actually believes something so ridiculous – then what sort of behaviour are they capable of in order to try and enforce it? What is this person like in everyday life? How do they treat women? They clearly see us as objects that exist entirely to please men. and if we weren’t doing so – what would happen?

I just don’t… so if I’m having sex with some dude, then I deserve to eat, and if I’m not putting out, then I don’t? Except if I’m not putting out, I’m fat – how did I get that way if I don’t deserve to eat? Maybe it’s the excessive drinking I am doing to do with the fact that I’m bitter and nasty?

Shaking. My. Damn. Head until this absurdity falls out of my ears.

Again, reflecting on when I used to be more of a public figure (with the blog, following my media fight with WINZ, and when I had an opinion column), I would say 90% of the feedback I received had a gender element to it. Even seemingly kind comments did – things like “You’re too pretty to be sick” followed by the implicit or explicit accusation that I was lying to get a benefit.

Jacinda hasn’t lied about anything, she hasn’t mislead anyone, she’s entitled to a personal life, to becoming a parent, to maternity leave, just like anyone else. If anything, the Prime Minister’s job is one that you can take leave from, because she has a backup and an entire cabinet to run things.

The country will be fine. Quit your concern trolling and get out of her uterus.


Moderator note: in cross-posting this post, it is intended to create an inclusive space for women’s politics. Please be mindful of this when commenting. 

152 comments on “Writehanded: The nature of gendered abuse ”

  1. Carolyn_Nth 1

    very well said. I like the way that Sarah puts Ardern’s pregnancy in the context of the way women beneficiaries are treated, especially if they have children.

    It has a lot to do with the quoted attitude that women are here to have sex with men.

    There’s also another attitude out there that women are on earth to have babies. That was activated when Helen Clark was PM. Remember she got all that abuse for being “barren”, ie doesn’t have children – and her sexuality was questioned.

    It is a relief to get older to no longer get so much sexual harassment. However, the “women are here to have babies” attitude, also means many consider older women to be somewhat useless. So they often don’t get ascribed the gravitas of older men.

    There are so many ways gendered discrimination bites. And it is often an undercurrent even when mainstream attitudes seem to have shifted somewhat. e.g. it’s no longer that unusual for men to stay at tome and do child care.

    • tracey 1.1

      So true about the getting older comment but with getting older comes fewer promotion and new job opportunities

  2. I feel love 2

    Well said.

  3. Anon 3

    ” .. these allegations, they defy logic, because A) Having a child is incredibly hard work, very few people would decide they’d do that because it’d be easier than having a job, and B) The money you get as a beneficiary is barely enough to keep one person alive, let alone multiple people.”

    A) there are women who get pregnant for all sorts of silly reasons, without considering how hard it is – but even so considered for some it might be preferable to a paid job.
    B) child support is on top of the bene, there are even women who lie about contraception to get pregnant, and then sit on the dole + child support. Some will also have ways of making money on the side.

    Yeah there’s no need for sexist vitrol about it, but it happens so denying it out of hand isn’t going to convince anyone who is toxic about it.

    • Carolyn_Nth 3.1


      And now, how about some concern about the widespread damage such negative stereotyping feeds into?

      Life on a benefit is tough -even tougher for a women with children – and tougher than that if the woman has no partner. Any topup benefit is a pittance.

      Who would choose that route if there was anything better on offer?

      • Anon 3.1.2

        Damage such as? No, really, I believe there should be less (ideally no) reason for people to want to do this, and rehabilitation rather than punishment for those who do. I’m not in a position to see the damage of the stereotyping, and see no benefit to denying it happens.

        • Carolyn_Nth

          It’s damaging because the stereotype means more and more beneficiaries are having their regulations tightened, and they are put through increasing amounts of punitive hoops before they can get the support they need (or they just don’t get the help they need, and get money subtracted from their benefits).

          It’s been harder and harder for women on benefits to get the training etc to get out of poverty and get a decent job, which will enable them to support themselves and their families adequately.

          The National governments have brought in the most punitive sanctions for beneficiaries. But Labour is reluctant to wind back many of them, because of the widespread negative attitudes.

          This is not good for the women, or the society they live in. Ultimately we all pay financially and socially for thee numbers of women and children who are treated as undeserving, and thus marginalised.

          Part of the damage is the low self-esteem beneficiaries are pressured to accept about themselves.

          • Chuck

            The question you should be asking, is why do we have such a large % (and growing) of single-parent families? The majority being mum + kids.

            Solve the single parent issue, and that will go along way towards achieving better outcomes for all.

            • Sacha

              Sort out the deadbeat dads, you’re saying Chuck? Used to be the older men who guided the younger ones.

              • Chuck

                “Sort out the deadbeat dads” yep agree 100% Sacha. A good male role model is a major benefit to a boy (or girl).

                But hey can’t let the mums off totally…there are also deadbeat mums out there.

                • tracey

                  So cos there are a statistically insignificant number of deadbeat mums we shall continue to sheet little or no vitriol and financial consequence on those statistically significant men. Way to prove the Author right Chuck.

                  • Chuck

                    tracey last time I looked there is “financial consequence on those statistically significant men” its called child support.

                    It seems your issue is that I dare say that mums can be deadbeats as well…and based on your understanding of deadbeat that is a narrow definition of financial support.

                    To me, deadbeat also does cover financial support, but more importantly, it covers everything else a parent should do in bringing up their children. Your “statistically insignificant number of deadbeat mums” then blows out somewhat.

                • Sacha

                  I was thinking of older men fulfilling our responsibility to guide younger fathers, as is done in most cultures. More active and less accidental than being a ‘role model’.

                  • Chuck

                    Ok understand…and agree it would be of great benefit.

                    Other cultures also tend to have a couple of generations of family living under the same roof.

                    I do recall seeing a mentoring program calling for men to help with boys who did not have a male role model in their family situation.


        • tracey

          Can you post proof of a sufficient number doing this to be statistically important for society to focus energy and attention.

          Some Banks and finance company directors fucked up . Some new regs, bailouts and no widespread generalisations of how useless and money sucking directors are. Why not? A few are useless incompetent arseholes who start companies, take profit and close down to avoid legal liability.

    • weka 3.2

      “but it happens so denying it out of hand isn’t going to convince anyone who is toxic about it.”

      Neither is misrepresenting the post. From the post “very few people would decide they’d do that…”

      Hardly denying out of hand, that’s a clear acknowledgement of reality (some people do it, not many). I’m not interested in an argument about how many people do it because (a) neither of us have any evidence apart from anecdata presenting within the context of our own politics, and (b) it’s not what the post is about, so let’s try and not derail the conversation.

      • Anon 3.2.1

        I acknowledge that it’s a side issue. I argue that “defy logic” is dismissing out of hand because, well, it doesn’t defy logic. Acknowledging that some do only further weakens the dismissive arguement that “it defys logic”.

        • weka

          I don’t find that convincing myself but it’s a phrase used by a writer for effect (when she obviously acknowledged that a small number of people may do what you suggest). I think you are nitpicking.

        • McFlock

          Actually, I think that it does defy logic.

          Having a child to materially improve your immediate lifestyle is a logical contradiction, especially as a beneficiary. They add more work, cost more money, create more stress, and involve more oversight by authorities.

          I suspect most people can see that, and the few who do believe they’d be better off with a kid on a benefit are mistaken, and would have many other issues to boot.

          I only encountered one person who seemed to think it herself – she was a teenager with serious depression and a whole pile of other stuff going on. Seems to have pulled herself together since, but she sure wasn’t thinking logically at the time.

          But like most stereotypes, concentrating on the least-deserving or even ‘worst’ few distracts attention from everyone who is being seriously mistreated (including the fact that the ‘worst’ few don’t deserve mistreatment, either).

          • KJT

            If the right wing are so bloody concerned about young women”breeding for a living”, why don’t they insist on them having better options. Like living wage jobs, easily available upskilling and accessible tertiary education to name a few.
            Instead young people are put in poverty traps. Probably so they can’t compete for the good jobs reserved for the featherbedded children of the rich.

            Despite the myths about hoards of “welfare queens” however. It doesn’t appear to be a popular career choice. About 3% of those on the DPB. Most mums on the DPB are older women whose partner scarpered, or who had to leave. Not a good reflection on the men involved. Why don’t we have a go at them?
            Yes. There are a very few who live of the state and have a hoard of neglected children. But. They have other problems, needing help, not condemnation.

            About time parenthood was recognised as a socially use full job, and a UBI, formerly called, family benefit, was restored for all primary carers. Noting that the wealthiest’s objections to welfare rapidly disappear when they get it too.

            Metiria Turei exposed the amount of bad faith, prejudice and stigmatism young, Maori single mothers are subject to. English ripped off the system out of greed, and no one seems to care. Turei managed to pull herself out of poverty, and was crucified.

            What really pisses me off is that the type of self righteous pricks who jump on young mums, are often the same blokes who waved their cock at anything that moved in their youth. Funny they can’t see the hypocrisy.

            Rant over. For now.

        • tracey

          No it doesnt. She didnt deny it. You chose to dismiss her actual words as not meaning what she clearly said and thereby excuse yourself from addressing her core point. Probably helps you to remain feeling comfy in your life.

    • Cinny 3.3

      Crikey Anon. Here’s an idea….

      Free male sterilisation, advertised every where (billboards/tv/radio/net/print), suggested at Dr’s visits, at WINZ even. Drum the responsibility into the men, it takes two, add some alcohol and pressure, how many men take a moment then to reach for a condom? So many accidental pregnancies are the result of one night stand.

      Maybe we could just sterilise all the men until they are 29 yrs old, is that possible? Now that would have the potential to improve the mental health massively for women.

      Plenty of people milking the tax systems etc in business, loop hole cowboys in the board room.

      Where were we… oh that’s right… she’s pregnant, again, kiss another 18 years of your life goodbye lady, hey would you like some poverty to go with that, maybe upsize to an absent father, supersize includes mental health issues and major health problems for your child.

      JS lololololzzz

      • McFlock 3.3.1

        Not possible atm (well, it is, but hormone-based male pills got put aside because they affected emotions or altered body type or other side-effects that are totally alien to any female contraceptive pill /sarc), but there are a couple of promising avenues on the horizon. The first I heard of is the gel to block the sperm getting away from the testicles, like a vasectomy but much more reversible. The other is a drug that targets a narrow range of receptors that affect sperm motility – fish that don’t swim don’t get nowhere. Both have been effective in animal studies, and I think

        But fuck yes – if it’s reversible, make a male contraceptive available to every kid from 11-up. Give them the HPV vax too.

        • Sam

          Best to just put a GPS tracker on all male appenditures that send alerts to police and employers every time a male gets a boner. This I would like to be the first to volunteer for.

          • McFlock

            My idea of a long term contraception from 11 is because it’s a completely passive backstop to a teen’s lack of impulse control. Not compulsory, just make it an option for parents to discuss with their kid.

            • Sam

              Youth will get interested the moment it’s hurts them. The moment the shoe pinches they’ll be jumping around. If they’re unemployed they’ll get interested very quickly. They’ll vote for the party that says you can get laid very quickly.

              Personally I don’t believe in love at first sight. If you are attracted to physical characteristics you will regret it.

              • McFlock

                If I follow your train of thought, sort of… but it took me a while to learn that last bit. They’re only kids, after all.

          • Cinny

            ROFL Sam !!!! Cracking up laughing here… boner alert system LMFAO that would be super amusing.

        • weka

          Is the drug a daily pill or something long term? Because I’m guessing that loads of women aren’t going to trust their fertility to man. Still a good idea, but it would be interesting to see how it affected actual pregnancy rates.

          • McFlock

            Dunno about the pill specifics.

            But trust shouldn’t come into it – really the primary method should be using rubbers. But condom failure / unavailability coupled with teenage impulse control would leave it up to the woman’s contraceptive alone, whereas a male contraceptive would add a backstop.

            I know of one kid in particular who was the result of a single mistake with a condom. Nice kid, but certainly made life difficult for his mum at that time…

            • Psycho Milt

              Thing is, condom failures are a miniscule cause of pregnancy. Arseholes not wanting to use condoms is a way bigger cause. Availability of a long-term male contraceptive would give the above-mentioned arseholes more material to work with when it comes to weaseling out of their contraceptive duties. Which isn’t to say it’s not a good idea, because a significant proportion of the male population doesn’t consist of arseholes – but the arsehole population would still turn out a lot of unwanted children.

              • McFlock

                Well, not wanting vs not having foresight to have enough on hand… but if we get ’em before they’re arseholes who are too lazy to bother reversing it, that’d still be a result.

        • tracey

          Hang on. Arent there lots or some men who wont use contraceptives cos having a child makes them a man and that is a badge of honour whether they take any responsibility for their child/ren or not?

          Just adding to the stereotyping 😉

  4. Ross 4

    Yesterday sports writer Mark Reason wrote on Stuff, and compared the PM to Serena Williams who apparently had a difficult (for want of a better word) pregnancy. He failed to mention that Bill English has had 5 (yes, 5) children while serving his rather large electorate.

    There is a fair bit of sexism going on here but I suspect there’s a fair few who still haven’t got to terms with the fact that National, for all their support, were unable to form the government.

    • tracey 4.1

      He disclaims that he voted Nats but fromnhis writing I suspect he needed a statement about his religiosity. Never was a writer more ironically named

  5. Chris 5

    The piece is alright, but I don’t really get the point of it.

    I must have been living in a different country to Sarah Wilson in the last week, as I have seen very little criticism of Ardern and her pregnancy news apart from a handlful of idiot nobody’s on talkbalk

    Personally think a dash of positivity of the fact that we as a country have now grown to a stage where this of the case might have been warranted.

    • Incognito 5.1

      Amid accusations that our Prime Minister deliberately mislead the country by getting pregnant and will now be an unfit leader due to “baby brain” and motherhood, I’m reflecting on how it feels to be a woman in the public eye. [my bold]

      It is in the first sentence!

      • Chris 5.1.1


        But who are all the people saying this?

        I have heard virtually no one

        • weka

          I think that speaks to your life Chris. Sarah has obviously heard people saying it (as have others). Does it really matter that you haven’t?

          • Chris

            Not really I suppose

            I was just genuinely interested

            And was pleasantly surprised there hadn’t been much

            • red-blooded

              Chris, there have been plenty of people celebrating with Jacinda and Clarke, and celebrating the fact that we’re a country that’s becoming more open to women making choices. But look at the comments sections under every positive article on Stuff, or The Herald – an overwhelming number of the comments are angry and negative, and most are misogynistic as well. Ardern has been accused of misleading us, conniving, being unnatural because she isn’t planning to be the primary caregiver, being unfit to be PM (because apparently you can’t be both a mother and PM, and because of “hormone swings” and “baby brain” – a phrase used by Mark Reason in an article yesterday in which he also said she had been “waspish” – a negative gendered word – in responding to Mark Richardson in that interview about baby plans before the election)… She’s been told she’s being unrealistic, we’ve been warned that she’ll actually resign when she has the baby (and some idiots even believe that this was all a secret plan and part of the deal with NZ First, so that Winston can PM for the rest of the term).

              It’s been the same on Twitter and other places. And there have also been plenty of commentary pieces saying similar things.

              Like you, Carolyn_Nth, I’ve been recalling the shit that was thrown at Helen Clark for be “unnatural” and “barren” and also thinking about the treatment given to other women leaders like Julia Gillard (constant criticism of her looks and voice) and Hillary Clinton (all those inferences that she was too frail and physically weak, and that she was unnatural because she was strong in other ways).

              It’s been great to see the majority being mature and reasonable, but there’s definitely still a dark underbelly of sexism in NZ and elsewhere. I think Ardern will continue to prove the naysayers wrong, though, and hope it’s going to be a positive turning point.

              • Chris

                Fair points


              • Obtrectator

                “But look at the comments sections under every positive
                article on Stuff, or The Herald … ”

                What comments are these, then? It’s been a long time since the Herald got fed up with receiving comments that didn’t happen to chime with its political stance, and withdrew the facility for making them on anything of real significance or interest.

                • red-blooded

                  Well, maybe it didn’t see this issue as being of real political importance, then. Or maybe the comments I was thinking of were more on Stuff.
                  I’ve read lots of articles and followed lots of discussion threads in the last week or so. I don’t think this quibbling detracts from the point of my comment.

              • Chuck

                I feel sorry for Ardern, she has found herself as the accidental PM…and in politics it’s rough at the best of times.

                Helen Clark gave as good as she got…if not better in her prime.

            • Pete

              Chris, I’ve seen it on the Trademe Message board. Don’t look for it on Kiwiblog, I think I’ve seen it there with the other swill. Don’t look unless you’ve got time for a good shower afterwards.

        • Venezia

          The Stuff website was full of misogynistic comments about Jacinda’s pregnancy.

        • Cinny

          Chris, there was a really really nasty piece in the british press with many vile as comments. I just figured it was old school brits and their backward thinking who had brainfades re Queen Victoria’s many pregnancies while ‘in office’

          Here’s the link for said nasty article

        • tracey

          Don Brash and Bill English speaking out of both sides of tgeir mouths. Mark Reason.

  6. Judy Haldane 6

    A note to Anon’s comment that child support is received “on top of the bene” Any child support paid goes directly to MSD’s coffers. It is not paid directly to the person on Single Parent Support and is an offset to the SPS. This article by Sarah resonated so deeply with me, thank you Sarah. Some years ago I spoke to a select committee regarding the then National government’s proposal to further sanction women on the SPS for not getting back into the paid workforce quickly enough. I said to them I have a very strong work ethic and the hardest work I have ever done, bar anything, is/was being a full time mother. There has always been such fear of women, especially as mothers, down through the ages, and it continues unabated. Right now I’m supporting my daughter who experienced a difficult birth a few weeks ago and I have been starkly reminded of just how hard parenthood is. This beautiful little girl has managed to keep three adults, mum, dad and me “on our toes” since pre birth!

    • Rosemary McDonald 6.1

      “There has always been such fear of women, especially as mothers, down through the ages, and it continues unabated.”


      Probably at the root of most of men’s fears.

      Not being able to grow and birth another human being.

      Welcome to this world Little Sister….if we can’t fix what’s still wrong, at least your Grandmother will make sure you are strong enough to deal with it.

    • tracey 6.2

      Thanks for speaking up

  7. David Mac 7

    Our rental house scarcity is showing no signs of improving. It’s holding to it’s trajectory, fewer available each week.

    These circumstances allow the people letting houses to appoint tenants that meet more of their ideal tenant criteria. Tick more boxes. Boxes named: Solid employment history, good income, no pets, no smokers, no appearances at the tenancy tribunal, no arrests, a perfect credit history, no children.

    I see us fast approaching a situation whereby women dependent on a benefit to support their families will face a near impossible task: Renting a home.

    This post is much to do with how we view and judge women in a variety of circumstances. It’s the outcomes of our judgement and views that manifest into the very real material problems of this nature.

    It’s hard to blame those appointing tenants. We all reach for what we perceive to be the best available to us. No matter if we’re choosing a tenant, a flat or a T Shirt.

    If our rental housing stock continues on it’s current decline I’m afraid we’re going to find ourselves with a real stinker on our hands. We need to be embracing women raising families, unfortunately I see more reasons for stone throwers to throw more stones on the horizon.

    • red-blooded 7.1

      I’m not disagreeing with your general point, David Mac, but I’m someone with a rental property and I usually end up with a benefit-dependent mother and child or children as tenants. It’s a smallish 2 bedroom house near a school and I like having a small family as tenants, as they are likely to want a longer tenancy and tend to care for the house better than other tenants I’ve had in the past. My letting agency certainly doesn’t screen out single parents.

      • David Mac 7.1.1

        Hi red, letting agencies aren’t able to share what they’re really thinking, they’ll find themselves on the losing end of court cases. They are permitted to discriminate on only 2 criteria. Pets and smoking. 8 Children, employment status, collection of 20 broken stock cars, anything else, it is illegal to turn a prospective tenant down for any of those reasons.

        This is why when we ask: “Why didn’t I get the place Mr Barfoot?”

        We get the response: “I’m sorry, I’m not at liberty to share that information.”

        I’ve skewed a bit off subject with this tangent…..when I consider ‘So what is your point Dave?’ I fear I’m highlighting the bleeding obvious. The way our attitudes towards women manifest into the material building blocks of our lives: Our home, income, the opportunities presented to us.

  8. NZJester 8

    National love to use Gender or Race cards when they can. They know they have a big base of misogynistic and racist supporters they can rely on to be vocal on their behalf to keep spreading the misinformation once they put it out there.
    Even when there is clear evidence what they are saying is a lie the right ignore it and continue on with their spreading of the false statements.
    When forced to conceded what they said was a lie they make sure the retraction is hidden away

    • David Mac 8.1

      I struggle to see this stark line separating the left and right of NZ.

      ‘I care about people so I’m Left, you’re a people exploiter so you’re Right.’

      I see a NZ with a big socially conscious middle ground and relatively aligned views. Fringes out to the left and right.

      We all make gender and race judgements, it’s our verdict that counts.

      The way we view and treat women has little to do with who we vote for and nor should it. It’s an issue that requires across the board attention.

      • DoublePlusGood 8.1.1

        New Zealand does indeed have a large middle ground of people who are ostensibly socially conscious and care about people while at the same time exploiting people and making race and gender judgements.

        • David Mac

          Do you think most of us do what we feel is the right thing most of the time? I do. Yes, I am a serial exploiter, we all are.

          My trousers may of been made in NZ, but the YKK zip wasn’t, slaves made that. The cloth is Chinese, the loom that made it, the dye that coloured them, the forklift that warehoused them in slave made racking. The rivets, buttons, stitching thread, machine the cloth was cut with, the ship that carried them across the water. I have been part of the exploitation of all of those folk in those many chains.

          But sheeesh, what’s a guy to do?

          We all make gender and race judgements. To see and treat a woman as my equal requires my judgement.

          • weka

            “But sheeesh, what’s a guy to do?”

            Vote for the Greens, who have a fair trade policy, and whose core principles are based in social justice. Don’t even have to call yourself left to do it.

            But what I heard in Jester’s comment was Dirty Politics, which is the preserve of the right. It’s not that conservatives can’t be socially progressive (they can), it’s that in NZ politics, we have some people willing to misuse and work against that in order to gain power. That they will sow social discontent marks them as something other than traditional conservative, but the right is really going to have to sort this stuff out in the same way that the left is having to with neoliberalism.

            • Chuck

              “Vote for the Greens, who have a fair trade policy, and whose core principles are based in social justice.”

              Not any more Weka. The Greens have found out to be in Government they need to be like every other party in Palariment…be it left or right.

              The Greens openly say they have to “swallow dead rats” in order to try and get anything done. So much for principles ay!

              • weka

                I haven’t seen them say that. My understanding is that their position is they will compromise on policy but not on core principles.

                If you can tell me how a smaller party can be in an MMP government without compromising on policy, I’d love to hear it.

                • Chuck

                  The comments (By James Shaw) were on NZH and Stuff etc…I can link to them if you like.

                  I agree 100% with you weka…MMP = compromising on policy (and principles).

                  As this is the first time the Greens have been in power, they have discovered this fact of life.

                  • weka

                    Yes, please do link.

                    Their pre-election position is as I said above. It’s not news to them (the need to compromise), they’ve been aware of and preparing for this for a long time. Talking about it too.

                    • Chuck

                      “Green Party leader James Shaw has warned supporters to prepare to compromise and “swallow dead rats” if the party is to get what it wants in government.”


                      I agree again with you Weka – “the Party has been preparing for this for a long time.” The Partys issue is how to let down the hardcore Green supporter base without them going rogue.

                      You may say the “Core Principles” remain the same…however another way to say the same thing is…The end justifies the means.

                    • weka

                      “Green Party leader James Shaw has warned supporters to prepare to compromise and “swallow dead rats” if the party is to get what it wants in government.”

                      That article is by Clare Trevett, who has a RW bias and a reputation for writing inaccurate commentary. She is basically lying to you. I’m in the middle of writing a post about Shaws State of the Planet speech, and have both listened to the speech and read the transcript. He didn’t use the term ‘swallow dead rats’ and the Herald is being misleading by using that phrase in double quotes (which imply it’s a quote of what Shaw said).

                      His ‘warning’ about compromise isn’t a bit deal, it’s just him positioning the party as a government party and laying out how that will work. Like I say, this isn’t a new idea to the Greens, they’ve been preparing for this for a long time, and have a lot of experience of working *with other parties. That is normal GP kaupapa.

                      “The Partys issue is how to let down the hardcore Green supporter base without them going rogue.”

                      I’m left of the Greens, and have a deeper green politics, and I’m not concerned at all. Hard core GP supporters generally understand the kaupapa.

                      “You may say the “Core Principles” remain the same…however another way to say the same thing is…The end justifies the means.”

                      No, that’s not what it means at all. The GP has a charter, made up of four principles. They’ve said they won’t compromise on those, but they will make deals and changes around policy. I’m not sure why that is so hard to understand.

                      If you have some examples of where they are compromising on the charter, I’d be interested to see them.

                    • tracey

                      Thanks Weka. Report Trevitt to her Journo union and the paper cos that is deliberately misleading

                    • weka

                      I was going to tweet a screenshot to the Herald, but I can’t be bothered 😉

                    • Chuck

                      Weka I have emailed Trevett re – the James Shaw quote. And will update if I receive a response.

                      I have come across Sue Bradford using the term though.


                      Time will tell just how many “dead rats” need to be consumed by the Greens to achieve their end goals.

                      I guess my main point is the Greens are now at the coal face and the reality is they will need to support policy that may go counter to their core principles from time to time.

                      Being in opposition it’s so much easier to support/promote policy that supports your core principles!

                      UPDATE: from Clare Trevett…

                      “No he never used that phrase – I paraphrased his message as that and someone higher up has clearly added the quote marks, for a reason unknown to me.”

                      “I didn’t realise so will tell the website to remove it. Thanks for brining it to my attention.”

                    • weka

                      Nice one about CT and the Herald!! Good on your for telling them.

                      Sue Bradford hasn’t been part of the Greens for quite a while.

                      Re what you said above,

                      “The Greens openly say they have to “swallow dead rats” in order to try and get anything done. So much for principles ay!”

                      I’m still not seeing any evidence for that. I guess my question for you now is if you can give some examples of this,

                      “I guess my main point is the Greens are now at the coal face and the reality is they will need to support policy that may go counter to their core principles from time to time.”

                      Policy compromises yes, but I’d need to see specific examples of things that compromise their principles in order to be convinced.

    • Chuck 8.2

      Phil Twyford / Labour and his anyone with a Chinese sounding name must be an evil foreigner buying our houses!

      NZF and Winston are the worst of the lot…every election he plays the race card (which he knows is his core voter base).

      Oh, crap that’s the current Government…

      • Incognito 8.2.1

        Phil Twyford / Labour and his anyone with a Chinese sounding name must be an evil foreigner buying our houses!

        Take one piece of truth and mix with a whole load of made up utter nonsense and this is what you get: a manipulative and (mostly) false comment that only serves to continue opposition & polarisation.

        If you cannot write a sound & solid riposte (to the comment @ 8) why do you bother (us) with this?

        • Chuck

          I would say the comment @8 is made up of utter nonsense. If NZJester had said NZF instead of National then his comments would have been fairly accurate.

          And it is an inconvenient truth (to the left) the hamfisted way Twyford tried to paint the Chinese as buying up large % of Auckland houses.

          He is a little task for you Incognito…can you find an instance when say the Nat’s used a database to find people (from a particular race) surnames to determine if they were a kiwi or a foreigner, then used that information to score political points?

          • Incognito

            Sure, the comment @ 8 was not adding anything useful either. But countering nonsense with nonsense in a way that only adds further fuel on the fire of antagonism and polarisation is not the way to go. This was my point.

            Now, for some reason, you either missed that point or deliberately ignored it because your “task” for me is like a loaded question and why would I (want to) play this game?

            Unfortunately, I am weak and cannot resist and I will say this: National loved to play with (social) databases and the use of ‘big data’ to stigmatise people. I really don’t think you’d want to go there, do you? We’d probably end up having a ‘debate’ at the level of 5-year olds ‘arguing’ in a sandpit 😉

            • Chuck

              I could go there…but its too hot and nearly time to put a few bangers on the bbq! So agree a debate is not where this should go 🙂

  9. red-blooded 9

    There’s a really good opinion piece by Jennifer Curtin in The Herald today about gender issues for women in politics. It covers lots of the issues that have come up in this discussion (dammed if you do, dammed if you don’t), plus the fact that women often delay political involvement to accommodate children. In New Zealand, between 1984 and 2008, 19 per cent of women in ministerial positions had entered Parliament by the age of 34 (only one of these had children), the majority were over 40.

    By contrast, 37 per cent of men who became Cabinet ministers had entered Parliament by the age of 34, the majority of whom were fathers.

    She sees Ardern as helping to break down barriers and normalise women’s experience.

  10. SPC 10

    On the issue of disclosure, everyone knew

    1. that Ardern had not challenged for the party leadership because she wanted to have children.
    2. she took on the deputy leader job when offered to help out the party (knowing in any coalition government Peters would have been deputy PM) but ended up with the party leaders job when Little resigned – and answering that question from Richardson.
    3. then after the election discovers she is (to her surprise) pregnant, this while the coalition negotiations are under way.

    At this point disclosure would take two forms – to the public via the media or to the NZF leader. The later could be said to be an attempt to influence a choice in Labour’s favour by offering the inducement of the position of acting PM (and lead to subsequent negotiations about the duration of this period). The former would have led to all sorts of media commentary from those arguing that this precluded NZF forming a coalition with Ardern as PM.

    But her keeping the matter to herself was entirely consistent with her answer to Richardson.

    And on informing the public, she disclosed how the couple will manage the child’s primary carer arrangements. The other of the two parents will do it. And the planned for impact on her work as PM (we might all have suspicions about what happens to those plans, health leave after the budget and there might well be 2-3 months from birth before return to work and then a month or 3 part-time etc).

    • tracey 10.1

      Wasnt the Richardson thing in August and at that point she believed she couldnt get pregnant without external asistance. It is still illegal to ask the question and rule someone out on the answer. Richardson is the new Hosking. White wealthy male who mixes with people like himself and thinks the whole world lives lije him…

  11. mary_a 11

    Excellent blog Sarah. Many thanks.

    Women can do anything men can do. However one thing men can’t do and that’s conceive, carry a baby to full term and give birth. That one is totally unachievable for men.

    A woman being able to forge a highly successful career for herself and combine the two, proving they are extremely capable and strong, could be somewhat intimidating for some men. Hence maybe the reason for the spiteful and threatening insults towards Jacinda and other women because of who/what they are and the manner in which they assert themselves.

    Even in 2018 it’s still considered in some quarters, a woman’s place is to be kept barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen, ready and willing to serve her man, no matter what!

    I have no doubt Jacinda will be a great PM, perhaps the best we have and also be a successful mum as well, with loving assistance and care from Clarke and their respective families and friends. She is a wonderful inspiration for girls and women throughout the world.

    • KJT 11.1

      As a male, who left a high flying job while my kids were young, so I could spend more time with them, i consider more value placed on parenthood is good for both genders.

      We value someone who has found a more elaborate scheme to separate his community from their wealth, more than we do someone bringing up good future citizens.

  12. SPC 12

    The other issue raised is the questioning whether a woman can be a good PM and a good mother. Exactly the premise the glass ceiling survives on. Earlier this resulted in few women in parliament and thus a limited period for older women/already mothers to make an impact (such as Shipley).

    The childless such as Clark – get questioned over not being parents (Brash did it out of desperation because mothers in favour of WFF tax credits were returning Labour to office).

    Here the same ploy, to divide the Labour leader from those whose cause she represents, women, and their equal place in society.

    The ages old patriarchy management of women through guilt.

    How many of those who favour women taking a long period off work to be “a good mother” favoured WFF tax credits or longer term paid parental leave?

    How many men who serve in glass ceiling jobs (including Cabinet or as PM) are ever questioned about whether they can be “good fathers”? Or if they seek to be, are they really committed to their glass ceiling job?

    • Sam 12.1

      If feminists were motivated by money then I would advise them to work on Wallstreet. Even if there was a 50/50 split between gendered Wallstreet CEOs, knowing what I know feminists could never reach there goal of pay parity because Wall Street is not a purveyor of values, that’s not Wall Street. What Wall Street is is a compensation vehicle designed to separate you from your money. Wall Street can never make you wealthy. As a matter of fact the Wall Street employees or executives work for the top tier capitalist class. But the way the compensation structure is put together, the employees can never become apart of that class. This is true for top tier lawyers or any economic class. So if feminists was truly driven by money and success I would advise them to become apart of that capitalist class.

      Personally what I am driven by is disruption and survival of the fittest so I’m a dog in all this by because I was born in the year of the dog so I am an organic dog in all this. So I would like the capitalist class to comprise of the best and the brightest but most importantly the most driven. So if I have more drive than the rest of you, you could be starter than me, you could be bigger than me, you could be stronger than me, you could be rougher than me. But at the end of the day, on average if I’m hungrier than you I will win. But at the end of the day if I’m smart and driven then I win faster than every one else. The way society is put together now, is not the way any of this works.

      So because the capitalist class does have concrete walls and glass ceilings, there isn’t much that can be done about it until you have a paradigm shift. Every paradigm shift that comes along you have an opportunity to make a change. Let’s go through quick paradigm shifts.

      -early paradigm shits- the wheel. Ok?
      -printing press
      -the invention of the steam engine then combustion engine
      -IC (integrated chip)
      -micro computers that are PCs when Microsoft took a lot of that out

      From the micro computer which brought the richest man in the world, Bill Gates who’s worth $80bln, remembering he chopped his wealth in half when he created the Bill & Malinda Gates foundation so if you take that $$80bln and multiplied that by 2 he’s ahead by a large margin ok? Then after that paradigm shift you have the Internet of hyper disruption. The Internet has created a whole new layer of not only billionaires that have invaded the fortune500 but it created a cemetery of both industries and companies. And this is the big secrete because a lot of people believe that technology can kill off a companies. But technology can not kill off a company so it can never destroy an industry. What kills a company or industry is the inability to alter the business model. Once your business model shifts and you can’t shift with it then you run out of cash and it’s gone.

      That business model shift comes about by smart people. By political winds changing. Usually when it destroys entire industries is because a change of technology. A change in technology then allows astute entrepreneurs to take advantage of it, or astute competitors who take advantage of the paradigm shift takes advantage of it.

      And all this is a skill set that can’t be learnt or taught because it’s about doing the right things at the right time by implementing risk management strategy and practising with real money.

      • SPC 12.1.1

        Sure, there is a difference between the glass ceiling in employment (albeit some jobs have nice bonuses and share offers) and (entrepreneurial) wealth creation.

      • Carolyn_Nth 12.1.2

        For feminists it’s rarely just about the money.

        But, gender stereotyping does impact very negatively on women with the lowest incomes, when money becomes a priority.

        Feminism is about a system, where at almost every level, women are given lower status than men, and often treated very badly as a result.

        For left wing feminists, or socialist feminists, it’s very much against the dog-eat-dog system that you seem to favour – because we want to live in a humane and nurturing society – an inclusive society where we care for each other.

        • Sam

          Well then what do woman want? They want more growth. Better homes, better jobs, better access to education, more nurses more police. That’s it. These are fringe items.

          The realities of the west means trying to override physical disadvantage. Woman bare responsibility for the child, men share those responsibilities but they do not bare the children. And when woman take time off to have children and loose promotion and lose of pay. And I believe the way society has developed with the Internet and travel abroad we will have more single woman and single mothers.

          I believe in facing facts and facing trends and these are trends. But there is nothing we can do fundamentally that can elevate the economy to higher plains<<<what can do that is talent like bright thinkers, musicians, researchers and other talented professionals who attract more talent and then we become a lively city. That can not be done over night but we are heading in that direction.

          • tracey

            Your view that it is what it is a cannot be changed is the same view as flat earthers. You are a servant of the status quo which is yoyr choice but to think you are that because it is just how it is is a slightly sad commentary on your own sense of powerlessness.

            • Sam

              If you want to be simultaneously abstract and concrete at the same time then sure, market realities can seem overwhelming. Just ask any one what they think about woman who get trapped (pimped out) for a valuable lesson in abstract concepts.

  13. JustPassingThrough 13

    Isn’t a lot of the criticism about Ardern not announcing her pregnancy before the election coming from women? I mean if anyone knows how tough it can be having a baby it’s a woman right?

    • SPC 13.1

      There is no such criticism, because she was not pregnant before the election.

      And most of the criticism, questioning her remaining on as PM, is from men.

    • Cinny 13.2

      Nah, not even.

      The most important thing is to be surrounded by a helpful, supportive partner, network etc, so happy for Jacinda that she has Clarke and her family there for her and that she is in a supportive work environment, financially stable etc, it’s all realitive. It’s bloody hard without those dynamics in place, all the women be like…. Jacinda, you’ve got this girl 🙂

      Strong support with a new baby makes a massive difference, that’s where/when the men should step up as well. Maybe more will as a result.

    • tracey 13.3

      Really? You think their partners dont notice? What a sad statement about the fathers you know.

  14. bwaghorn 14

    why would you let the blaterings of a few knuckle dragging morons upset you , lets face there will be two types pushing the anti shit, either morons who would never vote for a woman , and the toxic scum from the dp department , (and the dp wannabees)
    fuck them ,dont let them get to you

  15. eco maori 15

    Jacinda having a baby while being Priminster is the best thing that could happen to help the quest for LADY’S EQUALITY and excellent for her profile as a caring intelligent person to lead OUR country into a bright prousperious positive future. The neoliberals have being use a lot of tissue of late LOL.
    Some people don’t realise that WE can tell where they are on the issue of EQUALITY just by the way they behave treat and talk to Lady’s EASY AS to spot chauvinist idealistic who could never dream of a Lady’s being there boss. LOL.
    Ka pai Jacinda and Clark. Ka kite ano

  16. Antoine 16

    I’m sorry so many men have acted like douchebags, and that Sarah and so many other women have been treated badly.

    I will also say this; I have known women who were well into their pregnancy, and also I have known mums of small babies, and a general observation would be that they were not thinking totally clearly and were not at 100% performance. Jacinda will be no different and this will be a challenge for her as she tackles her very difficult day job.


    • Antoine 16.1

      (And yes, it’s different for dads, as they don’t carry the pregnancy, give birth, or have the various hormonal things going on. All going well, they can be less professionally affected than the mum)

    • Antoine 16.2

      To the extent that she keeps her professional capability up in the weeks following her return to office, it will be by distancing herself from the baby. There will always be a part of her that regrets that.

      (I’m not saying don’t do it, I’m just saying it comes at a cost)


      • mpledger 16.2.1

        Society has been set-up so that both parents have to work outside the home from when a child is quite young. If this is true for Jacinda then it is true for every working parent.

    • Incognito 16.3

      On the other hand, I have known men who were thinking totally clearly and were at 100% performance, all the time & every time. You know, because they got the Y-chromosome, which is responsible for clear thinking and performance, and for being a man apparently. Some of those men were so good that they received a knighthood for services to manhood and the brotherhood. When those individuals walk into a room people, mostly women, faint because they’re awestruck and others start to tremble with fear because of strong odour of testosterone (AKA sweaty smell) emanating from those alpha males. Often, people are only an inch away from ripping off all their clothes and climbing into the nearest pohutukawa (Kauri are off-limit now) to chase possums and eat bugs. Antoine, you really made me laugh 😉

      • Antoine 16.3.1

        Honestly not sure what to make of all that

        • Incognito

          I was also making “a general observation” to complete your “general observation” 😉

          So, now we have a more complete picture of the human condition.

        • weka

          Incog was mocking your comment, fully and delightfully.

      • veutoviper 16.3.2

        Excellent response, Incognito! Made my day and should be voted comment of the day, week.

        I was not quite sure initially whether A’s comments above were serious or tongue in cheek, but his comments since your response seem to indicate that they were serious … LOL

        • Antoine

          Yes serious. Of what I wrote, what (if anything) do you disagree with?


          • veutoviper

            The generalisations – ‘one size fits all’ aspects of your comments. Example

            “…a general observation would be that they were not thinking totally clearly and were not at 100% performance.”

            Also ‘mansplaining’ … ?????????

            • Antoine

              Any mums here prepared to stand up, put up their hand and say “I returned to work after 6 weeks, I felt great and was totally on my game, and never felt a moment’s guilt about going back so early”?

              If so, I’ll accept that my ‘general observations’ have exceptions and go mansplain somewhere else.


              • Antoine

                (Or we could leave it and go talk about something more consequential like the 100 day plan?)

              • weka

                “Any mums here prepared to stand up, put up their hand and say “I returned to work after 6 weeks, I felt great and was totally on my game, and never felt a moment’s guilt about going back so early”?”

                What you are essentially saying there is that the PM has to either be a man or act like a man. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a pregnant, or lactating/post-partum woman being the PM, unless you think that role has to be defined in patriarchal terms. Patriarchal terms say that a young, white man is the exemplar of humanity and all systems are designed around him.

                I don’t think any person should be expected to function at 100% all the time, that’s a daft patriarchal myth (and if you really believe male PMs have been, I suggest you take away their alcohol/drug of choice and see what happens).

                If instead one believes like I do that women having babies is a not only a normal part of life but an essential one that should be the centre of politics, then one sees that JA having a baby as PM is revolutionary because it will require politics and parliament to change. Not enough, but it’s a start.

                Where you see a post-partum woman not thinking clearly, I see a woman who has enhanced capacities in areas such as compassion and bonding. This is *exactly what NZ needs in a leader at this time.

                • Antoine

                  > Where you see a post-partum woman not thinking clearly, I see a woman who has enhanced capacities in areas such as compassion and bonding.

                  Ah, that sounds nice when you put it down on paper like that, but the reality ain’t always so great.

                  [edit] e.g. bonding with the baby can be hard enough, let alone bonding with some other blighter


                  • weka

                    Still mansplaining I see.

                    • Antoine


                      Weka, I admire your idealism but have you actually spent much time around post-partum women lately?

                      If you have, I will cease mansplaining and leave the thread.


                    • weka

                      yes, I have. Not only am I a normal part of the community where for the last 30 years I’ve had friends and colleagues who’ve had babies, I’ve also supported women with that, and I’ve done basic study of things like the function of hormones in birth and lactation (physiology as well as from an evolutionary and sociology perspective).

                      “I will cease mansplaining and leave the thread”

                      I’ve seen you say similar in the past. That reads to me like if you can’t mansplain you don’t want to be here. The other option is you stick around and learn something.

                    • Antoine

                      I did think your comment above “What you are essentially saying there is that the PM has to either be a man or act like a man [etc]” was quite inspirational and thought challenging, so that’s something to take away.


                  • Carolyn_Nth

                    So, it’s all about hormones? that kind of naturalistic biological thing?

                    In which case, I think all men should be exempt from the top leadership positions. Testosterone drives guys to such competitive aggression, they lose rationality, and start entering whole countries into war on the basis of their “machismo”.

                    They are a danger to humanity.

              • KJT

                Any Dads prepared to put their hands up and say I was totally on my game and working normally in the six months after a baby, or even when their wife was pregnant. I wasn’t.

                Children are a life disrupting event. But it is long past time where family priorities should be accepted in the workplace.

                • Sam

                  What’s +1 about KJT comment?

                  It’s not correct. As long as you remain the functional adult you were before having children and not totally ignore the child then there isn’t a bad thing any one can say about you.

                  Not only might he be wrong your pushing a false understanding of the way things work.

                  • red-blooded

                    I think what’s resonating about KGT’s comment is the acknowledgment that a new baby- especially the first baby – disrupts both parents’ lives and that this can change their focus, their priorities and their lives beyond the family. That’s just the nature of parenthood, if one is an involved, caring parent. Good on him for acknowledging that this is not just an issue for women.

                    It doesn’t have to be seen as a diminishing of capabilities, though. Short term, people may be tired and a bit distracted, but it’s also often linked to a widening of focus, it can prompt people to think more about longterm issues (beyond their own lifetimes) and it can help people to become more empathetic and fully rounded. Surely these are all good things for a leader, no matter what their gender?

                    • Sam

                      Leadership is one of those things that dosnt care for bias, race, gender or what ever. If you come correct leadership will reward you, if not charlatans face harsh punishment.

                      It’s become increasingly difficult to differentiate between moral arguments and economic ones.

                      Economic arguments tend to focuse on preventating crises so costs don’t run away, and moral arguments deal with crises after the fact and it’s so easy to confuse the too.

                      Having more resource and people power can address economic arguments but investing in unproven moral arguments in the future require not only resourcing it needs to be paired with a strategic goal.

                      So understanding what a single person/parent is now and identifying stuff that should be done or dropped instructs what the post Freudian relationship might look like.

                  • weka

                    KJT said, “But it is long past time where family priorities should be accepted in the workplace.”

                    That seems pretty self evident to me.

                    • Sam

                      The greatest joys in my life is seeing my children race off ahead of me.

                      They are like the opposite of all the things I missed out on.

                • Antoine

                  Hey yeah KJT, join the club, I too felt pretty shabby in the weeks following my wife’s C section. But not a tenth as shabby as what she did, I have no doubt.

                  And no, I wouldn’t have encouraged her to go back to the office after 6 weeks.


                  • KJT

                    The majority of new mums, have to “go back to the office” shortly after the child is born. Because our current economic system makes it essential. Most families do not earn enough to have the luxury of a “stay at home” caregiver for their child.

                    No. I would not recommend that anyone go back to work soon after major surgery. However that is the reality for most people.

    • mpledger 16.4

      A lot of first time mums are under a lot of stress because their routines are totally changed, the skills they are using are totally new and there is very little down-time.

      If a mother has the right level of support those things needn’t make such a big impact and the experience can actually be positive rather than negative.

    • Cinny 16.5

      I’m hearing you A, but then again we could say that someone with a sore hand doesn’t think clearly or a tired person, a grumpy person, a person with a headache or a hungry person etc etc.

      It’s all about having fantastic support, just like any life/physical change.

      • Antoine 16.5.1

        I agree with your core point that Ardern is going to need, and hopefully will get, fantastic support.


      • Rosemary McDonald 16.5.2

        Being in pain…either chronic or acute ….can affect cognitive performance, but, on the other hand….performing cognitively demanding tasks can alter (positively) pain perception.

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24722475 (one of many on the subject)

        We are indeed wonderfully and fearfully made.

        Returning to work…whatever that entails…can probably assist with the post partum issues Antoine is soooo concerned about.

    • tracey 16.6

      I have known many men who are neither pregnant or impactrd by hormones who do not think 100% clearly and do not perform 100% productively yet get pay rises and promotions.

      • KJT 16.6.1

        Being an arrogant, overconfident self centered, macho fool seems to be, almost, a requirement for management jobs. And male MP’s.
        Just like it is for male TV ‘personalities”. (The requirement for female ones, is to be able to look adoringly and smilingly at their male counterpart, while he talks over them, and spouts endless bullshit).
        People still think a good leader, is the loudest and most forceful person.

        Like promoting like, perhaps? Or maybe they simply burnt sofas together, while putting in the time for their bean counting degree?

  17. Pete 17

    I read the Mark Reason column when it first appeared.

    He compared Serena Williams to Jacinda Ardern with their pregnancies.
    He didn’t compare Ardern playing Williams at tennis, he didn’t compare Williams with Ardern at being a politician. The only evidence he had is what Williams said of her own experience.

    Which was enough for him to know how it was going to be with Ms Ardern. Of course every single pregnancy and birth is exactly the same and every one has the same affect on the people involved.

    “I don’t see that the potential physical and mental repercussions have been addressed,” he wrote. “No-one could logically claim that Ardern can be sure of performing to the best of her ability as PM.”

    The Ardern pregnancy has seemingly had mental and other repercussions which see others, including journalists, potentially not performing to the best of their ability.

    His column is a lot of fancy words trying to mask and beat around the bush about saying his simple truth: “I can’t handle it.”

  18. Wei 18

    “Imagine for a second that it were Clarke Gayford who was Prime Minister rather than Jacinda. The news of his partner’s pregnancy would have been met with back slaps and offers to shout the next round, and either pleasure or apathy from the rest of the country.”

    I suggest that there are profound physiological differences between men and woman, and the physical and physiological and even psychological impact of a pregancy on a woman is far higher (or potentially so) than it is for a man.

    Men do not carry a baby for 9 months, nor do they suffer from morning sickness, nor do they experience the pains of giving birth. They are also tend to not be prone to post-natal depression.

    That is not to say that Jacinda has done anything wrong . All I’m saying is your analogy is less than perfect.

    Treating people fairly and equitably is not the same as assuming everyone is exactly the same in all respects, and should be treated in exactly the same way.

    • weka 18.1

      This is true*. And the fair and useful solution to that is to change parliament so that pregnant and postpartum women can be there naturally. At the moment it’s design for men without children present.

      *to an extent. The other side is that being pregnant and giving birth also brings benefits. And men have their own set of weaknesses when becoming a father.

      • veutoviper 18.1.1

        I also agree to an extent with Wei’s comments – and with you comment that parliament needs to change so that pregnant and postpartum women can be there naturally.

        However, your comment that at the moment “its design is for men without children present” is not strictly true. Various changes to the physical facilities have been made over the years since Ruth Richardson first had children while a MP etc to enable them to be on the Parliamentary Precinct; and from memory Katherine Rich nursed her baby in the House itself from time to time while she was a MP/Minister. A Parliamentary Child Creche was also set up some years ago in an adjacent building available to both MPs, Parliamentary workers (including those in the Press Gallery) and other local State Servants.

        Considerable changes have also been made since the change of government and Trevor Mallard became Speaker in providing increased facilities and services for MPs to have their children on the Parliamentary Precinct. These include suitably equipped rooms close to the House for MPs’ babies and their parents and non-MP carers. This has enabled the two current MPs, Willow Jean Prime and Kiri Allen with young babies, to be close to their babies, including having them brought to them into the House for breastfeeding/bottle feeding and nursing while the babies sleep. Trevor Mallard has also been seen a number of times in the Speaker’s Chair holding one or other of these two little ones – and not just when they were introducing/debating the PPL changes. When asked last week whether she would have her baby with her in the House, Jacinda Ardern replied that it was unlikely as Trevor would probably grab the baby!

        I have no doubt that these facilities and services will be reviewed etc over the coming months – and that they would also be made available to male MPs with young babies if wanted/needed – eg Simon Bridges became a father again just before Christmas.

        [Trevor, being a dog person, also now seems to allow (pet) dogs in the buildings from time to time. Various (inside and outside) photos of dogs belonging to Trevor and Press Gallery reporters have appeared on Twitter in the last few months – but I have yet to see any of dogs in the House itself! ]

        • weka

          nice outline. Yes some things have been done, some good things too. I wasn’t talking about physical space specifically though, I was meaning parliament the institution. So putting in some better physical spaces and supports is great, and it’s still doing that within a patriarchal establishment. The gruelling hours, the aggro in the House, the processes used, they’re all designed by men at a time when (white) men were in control. Had women designed parliament (building but also how it functions) it would look very different.

          Putting in services and spaces so that JA can have a baby and be PM is a good thing. I want more than that, I want the whole damn thing changed so that government is organised around the needs of women and children. That would radically change NZ to a compassionate society that takes care of women and children and thus everyone.

        • tracey

          And yet yesterdays fluff piece with Shipley allowed her to totally eraseher snide and overt comments that Clark was disqualified from some discussions due to not having given birth despite her own children being raised at boarding school

    • Incognito 18.2

      I suggest that there are profound physiological differences between men and woman, and the physical and physiological and even psychological impact of a pregancy on a woman is far higher (or potentially so) than it is for a man. [sic]

      I find this a most fascinating comment! My response may rub a few people the wrong way but I’ll try to argue my point(s) such as to cause as little offence as possible although I realise it is a contentious topic that can evoke very strong emotional reactions.

      Indeed, there are anatomical and physiological differences between men & women. I’d argue that they are not as profound as you’d think and that men & women have much more in common than that separates or distinguishes them. For example, it is now medically quite feasible to reassign one’s sex and from a physio-anatomical perspective this can be very successful (but depends on the individual, of course).

      I also think that transsexualism & transgenderism can help us to gain a better understanding of the differences & similarities between men & women in general rather than viewing and treating them as exceptions or outliers (or worse) to the norm.

      Similarly, the male & female psychology may indeed show differences on a population scale, but this does not necessarily inform us much about individual differences because I believe that these traits, as do physio-anatomical characteristics, span a much wider spectrum than so-called normative models or stereotypes would suggest or like us to believe. In addition, I don’t think the body-mind dualism is very helpful in this context.

      I believe that many (but not all) of the differences, especially the psychological ones, are more perceived (illusionary) than real and these perceptions come from social and cultural conditioning, for want of a better explanation. Rightly or wrongly, religion & patriarchy have played a major role in this, in many cultures over many centuries if not millennia.

      You may ask where I am going with this. As I said, the so-called differences between the sexes are taken out of proportion and this is heavily influencing and polarising any debate. Rather than focussing on our ‘otherness’ we should try and overcome this largely artificial separation and focus on what we have in common as humans. Jung’s two primary Archetypes of Animus & Anima might provide a more fruitful avenue to pursue because it guides to a necessary (and inevitable!) integration for wholesome (psychological) development of individuals and thus ultimately of the collective psyche as well. I strongly believe that only then can we progress with these (and other) issues in a real sense instead of making incremental changes slowly over time that are often dictated ‘from above’ and (sometimes) even reversible …

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