Sat down at my desk today, open my browser to jump online and read the news. This was the first story that I decided to read: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/shacking-up-is-hard-to-do-why-gillard-may-be-leery-of-the-lodge-20100628-zexr.html#poll
Bettina Arndt, the author of the article outlines how Prime Minister Julia Gillard's choices about her marital status and living arrangements with her de-facto partner will provide bad examples for modern day women he may chose to follow in her footsteps. Choosing to cohabit with Tim Mather means that women across Australia, who look up to her as a role model may feel that they can risk losing their breeding years if they decide to move into a non-committed relationship.
First and foremost, I would like to thank SMH for popping this on their front page. Articles like this are there to remind us all where we stand, if we stand for anything. It gets people talking, interacting. Which is always, a good thing.
Secondly, I think this woman has it completely backwards (but I am aware, this is her opinion and before anyone jumps on my back - and I am entitled to mine). Sweeping generalisations that basically peg the female population as simple folk who should be focusing on marrying their husbands, having lots of babies is a load of rubbish. I don't argue that some women chose to be married, move in with their partner and have children. However, this is not the case for all the women of Australia. Marriage, I believe, has its roots in harmful, outdated notions of ownership and immutable gender roles. Marriage, I think, is a patriarchal and homophobic institution. It is an institution which hedges a sexual union between a man and a woman with a dense network of law, custom, social pressures, tradition and ritual. I also think that it's absurd to assume that in a de-facto relationship the woman is the 'victim' and the man can't commit. He won't propose? Who says he has to? Who says she can't do it? Who says they can't sit down together and have a discussion about it like adults? Society? Traditions? Sorry, that belongs to the days where women couldn't vote, own property or make decisions about her own body. Who's screaming at me right now but that's different? No it's not. Just because society says it's so, it doesn't automatically cement it as the true and correct way forever. Remember the woman who was arrested for wearing a bikini on the beach and (gasp!) showing her navel? (Double gasp!) Sounds absurd now. There are reasons why some people don't chose to get married... some have an ambivalence about religious associations (and the incredible expense). Perhaps some like to show their solidarity with our gay and lesbian friends who aren't allowed to get married. I'm sure it sounds silly, but really, there are plenty of silly reasons why people chose the get married.
I also believe, that children born to de-facto couples are NOT born into unstable relationships. Again, another huge generalisation. Does she believe it's uncommon to find married couples unhappy, creating unstable homes for their children? Married or not, in comes down to the individual, regardless of whether they are married or not. I was flabbergasted (is that a good word to use?) Prime Minister Julia Gillard being the exception to the rule when regarding women choosing not to have children. I know 4 women who have chosen not to have children. That's right, they decided they did not want to reproduce. And do not assume these women have chosen because of high flying careers. Funnily enough, (and I know this may be really hard for some people to accept), but some people don't like children, some people don't enjoy the thought of being a parent and some people feel that having children isn't the be all, end all life goal for them. Not everyone was programmed to breed.
I feel (strongly, can you guess) Prime Minister Julia Gillard is not sending a bad message and is not setting a bad example. I think she sets a good example. Not one that screams, 'woman can do anything' but more so, that the sexes are equal. One is not, and should not be classed better than the other. She holds her own, and is living her life the way she choses, not the way everyone else says she should live it. Her living arrangements and her relationship is, without a doubt, no one else's business but their own. I think it's highly unfair that because what she does isn't the norm, that she's socially unacceptable to be in the public eye.
I also think that quoting conversations between Germain Greer and Whitlam from 1972 is not a strong support for her argument. Society back 38 years ago is completely different from 2010. Sodomy laws which labeled homosexuality a "crime" were still part of Australian law in 1972, (and right up until 1994 - it wasn't until 1984 that the Australian Medical Association removed homosexuality from its list of illnesses and disorders). Can anyone honestly say that all societies values 38 years ago are a true reflection of today (2010)?
So, if your married - don't take too much offence to this. My point is, your choice to be married is your choice and no one else's and I have no right (neither does anyone else) to judge you as a unfit person because of this, as is the same with the choice not to be married. Someone's choice not to have children is their decision, and not anyone else's. I would sure as hell encourage Prime Minister Julia Gillard as a role model for any of my children. Much better than half of the sports stars who cheat on their partners, married or not or the actors and actresses who drink, do drugs and take no responsibility for their lives who are plastered across every media outlet every single day.
I am unmarried (and chose to be), and it plays a small part behind my argument. But I feel stronger about the fact that Bettina Arndt choses to advocate our society does not encourage change, equal standing between men and women in a modern Western society. I also am surprised that some still believe that other people's lives (whether in the public eye or not) are our business. Is she running the country to the best of her ability? That should be the question we ask, as THAT is what has the greatest impact on all of us, not whether she's unmarried and 'playing house' with her partner. How long before we start attacking her religious (or lack of) views? Our society is so colourful, full of different ages, races, backgrounds, opinions. It's a great place to be. That's why the rest of the world wants to come here. We're open, friendly, understanding, and laid back. I love the idea of our political system being knitted with different people. They represent how dif
I am not against the notion of marriage. Two people choosing to celebrate their union together in a formalised way is not a bad thing. I just cannot believe that some people in society still feel that others are labelled as 'bad role models' for not choosing to take the same path.
But thank you Bettina Arndt - we need this article to force people out of their comfort zones and inspire change and to inspire everyone in Australia to be passionate about something!
Ahhh.... so, how's your Tuesday?