14 August, 2017

Making progress, or not?

One of my very early posts (in fact, it was my fourth post here) talked about the common statement, "as a mother ..." and bemoaned the fact that normal human compassion is so often qualified to that of a mother or more generally, a parent. I'm pleased to say though that recently I heard someone say (one of the presenters on the afternoon show of our national radio) "as a human being." I think he might have even started to say, "as a father," but stopped himself, and used the more inclusive term. I was gratified, and amazed - maybe times are changing?

A post a few weeks later raised the idea of media training for all of us, so that we could learn how to dodge intrusive questions, just as politicians do. Unfortunately, even politicians struggle with this, as we found when just a week or two ago a young (37) woman was appointed leader* of one of the two major political parties here. Seven hours later, she was asked (by the same presenter mentioned above, but in his television role) the first question about having children (she has said in the past she would like to), much to the discomfort of the female journalist sitting next to him, and we indulged in joint eye-rolling at the question, crushing my hopes for continued progress for women. However, the resulting public furore about this (and subsequent discussions in the media) made me more hopeful that society is changing, and that it is no longer acceptable to always see women as walking wombs first.

*Both parties have previously had female leaders and Prime Minister



  1. In many ways I blame social media and a culture of "look at me" for this. Maybe it was because I was too young to realize, or maybe I wasn't paying attention because I wasn't at that phase of my life yet, but it seems to me that the "as a mother" thing didn't gain as much momentum until the rise of social media.

  2. I have pretty much decided that I am never going to begin any sentence with "As a [anything]." I rebel!

  3. I'm with Tortuil, why qualify your thoughts at all with something extra? Why not just own your opinion or thought? I'm glad that newscaster stopped himself and said "as a human." That's so much better, so much more inclusive. Grrr to the second paragraph, but hooray for the discontent around the baby questions. Moving forward, bit by bit!

  4. A shred of promise......A few months back the local news was covering the story of, I think it was a fallen police officer, and father who had gone above and beyond in his service to the community. While the person talking about him did say that being a father fueled his drive to serve other children in the community, he at least prefaced his comment with "not that you have to be a father to be able to relate well to children" which for me was better than nothing, a step in the right direction.

    1. I agree. You're starting, occasionally, to hear things like this. Tiny steps ...

  5. I like "as a human being...". Many of the parents I know seem to bite their tongues and stop themselves when they're about to say 'as a mum' or whatever: I think there's a general realisation underway that it sounds smug and w*nkerish. It would be good if the media could also work on not headlining news stories with "Mother-of-two..." etc etc - they rarely use 'father' in equivalent stories (e.g. "Father dies in crash horror"). It's sexist and yes, walking womb-y. It states that the most important fact is that the woman has kids, not that she's lost her life... Surely that's the salient point, not that she's a mother.

  6. This reminds me of how Pamela used to take stories she'd found that used the "as a mother" phrase and rework them in her blog to read "as an infertile..." ;) I still hear the phrase ("as a mother/father/parent") tossed around, but perhaps not QUITE as much as I did a few years ago? Or maybe I'm just learning to ignore it. Either way, yes, progress!