The Blind Pimple of Fairfax

You know when you get a blind pimple, and you know you shouldn’t try to squeeze it because not only will it hurt like crazy without any satisfying pop, but it will just make the pimple a whole lot worse? Well, Elizabeth Farrelly is a blind pimple. I know I shouldn’t read her opinion pieces when they’re about women, but I just can’t help myself.

Here is today’s women-aren’t-interested-in-work-because-they-have-wombs nonsense: Your chicks or your career? Do you really want what he’s having?

First there’s the insult to feminists:

the hairy-legged Guardian reader contingent

And then the insult to women in general:

How can you expect to leave work to collect the kids at five and still get promoted with your more dedicated male colleagues?

Just because someone is at their desk after 5pm doesn’t mean they are more dedicated. In my experience, those who are still there after 5pm have either fucked around all day, or they came in late, or they’re playing solitaire in the hope the boss sees them still “working” and mistakenly believes they are dedicated to the company. And those who leave at five-on-the-dot are usually going to the pub – with other male managers. Of course, there are exceptions to this, and many people have massive workloads, but just because someone is trying to achieve a balance between their work life and their personal life doesn’t make them less dedicated to their job.

Then she says something weird about how Architect Barbie’s biggest handicap is being an architect, not being a woman – as though somehow Barbie dolls are a realistic representation of the real world. When she writes about women, Farrelly makes very little sense and I honestly don’t know why half her shit gets published. And this piece makes so little sense that I’ve had to read it twice to work out what she’s saying. Was she drunk when she wrote it?

Apparently only those who see women as “just men with breasts” want equal gender representation in positions of power. Huh? I don’t hear anyone saying that women are just men with breasts. But Farrelly, don’t let that get in the way of you making shit up. You know, I was so pleased when trollumnist Miranda Devine left Fairfax to return to her natural home at News Ltd, but she’s been replaced with someone who is baffling. It’s hard to know where to start picking apart her arguments because it’s so hard to find them.

Other standard Guardian-reader assumptions are that women listen and talk better, intuit better, are more client-responsive and collaborate better. This last is clearly rubbish.

Men collaborate – I give you football, war, organised crime, the boys’ club. But even if female communication superiority is, as I suspect, real (unless we’re putting this, too, down to conditioning) there’s still a contradiction. Women are either different from men or they’re not.

Wait, I’m confused. Is she saying that only hairy-legged Guardian readers believe that women are better communicators and that she also believes that women are better communicators? At least you could understand Devine’s feminist-bashing opinion pieces.

And there’s still childcare. For yes, it’s unfair. But what’s to be done?

Perhaps the Dutch have this sorted, what with state childcare and parental leave.

But how to manage it?

How to manage it? Here’s a hint: ask the Dutch how they do it. For fuck’s sake, it’s not rocket surgery.

And then there’s something about how only “cretins and shysters” run childcare centres, and that the only productive, dedicated staff members are those who spend every waking minute in the office. Huh?

Sure, men love babies. But (tell me I’m wrong) women love them more. Essentialist, perhaps, but god help us if it ever changes.

Yep. She actually wrote that. Not only do women love babies more than men – which is a bullshit generalisation – but if the situation was reversed then THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT IS GOING TO END IN CATASTROPHE!

So the issue is not whether women ”want it” as much as men, but whether they want it as much as they want to nurture their chicks. I’m as ambitious as anyone I know, male or female. I put both my kids in childcare as littlies, and wept each time I left them.

See! It’s nature! Women aren’t supposed to work when they have children because I didn’t like putting my kids in childcare! The hairy feminists are wrong!

Yet I’m conscious of having made deep and ongoing career sacrifices for their sake. Yes, it’s hard. And yes, it still makes me furious.

Farrelly, what makes you think that only women feel this?

We don’t just have babies and pop them off to wet-nurse and boarding-school any more. Not only because we can’t. Because we won’t.

In Farrelly’s world, raising children is still something women – and only women – should do. So rather than work towards a society in which both parents are able to job share, to take parental leave, to achieve work/life balance, she thinks women should just raise kids and men should just earn money.

My dad once said to me that the biggest regret he has in life is that he wasn’t more involved in our childhoods. He said he had five chances to be involved and blew them all because it just wasn’t the done thing back then. He said he sees the ways his three sons are with their kids and it makes him sad for his own lost opportunity, but also happy that a father’s role as just a money earner seems to be a thing of the past.

23 responses to “The Blind Pimple of Fairfax

  1. When I read that story early this morning many of the same thoughts occurred, hairy legged guardian readers?men are less able to love children? and to rubbish pre school workers ,the biggest shyster there was a mate of the right who did it rip people off.ABC.
    The bloody fool . I gather this person is an architect and I wonder how many office buildings or factories or work places have had a crèche included in the design, even knowing it will probably be rejected, to at least give the idea that a creche can be incorporated to make life easier for staff.
    If both mum and dads work place had this facility either parent could take child to work and see them during the day without miles of extra travel and it could still be a commercial pre school .

  2. Oh crap. I committed the cardinal sin of reading the comments. *sigh*

    We complain all the time that womens roles are undervalued, and it’s true, they are. Whether it’s at work or at home our role is still sub-par to mens. Except when it comes to children. Here, I suspect, is why women like Elizabeth, Janet and Miranda (the grand trinity of pseudo-feminism) end up sucking the dick of the patriarchy. Because as parents, as mothers it’s the only time we are thought of as MORE important and more competent than the men folk.
    Of course, that also leaves us as the convenient scapegoats when shit hits the fan. It’s always the mothers fault for letting her daughter dress that way, it’s the mothers fault for not leaving before little Timmy was abused by his father, it’s the mothers fault for her kid being overweight etc etc etc. You always hear “But where was his/her mother?” Never where was their father.
    But we gloss over that because we are the mighty bosoms of the world and we do it better than men.

    That men cannot nurture or desire babies is not only, as you put it, a bullshit generalisation, there’s no basis in life for it being even remotely truthful.

    I married the most knuckle dragging neanderthal known to mankind. (I shit you not. He often has me shaking my head wondering how the frack I ended up here- I just put it down to his good clubbing skills and my ineptitude at ducking.) But he is the biggest marshmallow when it comes to babies and kids. He went and got himself a vasectomy after our 3rd child purely because (a) “more than 3 children are not practical Pirra. You can fit 3 kids in a sedan. Co-incidence? I think not. NO. I will not drive a window licker. ”
    and (b) everytime he held a friends baby he would inevitably want one himself. And if he was free to pop my birth control pills down the toilet like he did when I fell pregnant with our first child, he will do so and god knows how many children we would end up with. He equates having children with getting tattoos. It’s addictive.

    And if Elizabeth can use her own feelings of child care as a valid indication of her rightness, then I can use my neolithic testosterony real men don’t eat quiche husband as proof that men do love babies just as much as women.

    • Absolutely.

      What’s a window licker?

      • Rhiannon Saxon

        Concerned drivers need to know!

      • Anything that looks like it could be used to transport groups of people who may or may not have some kind of disability.( The man has no sense of PC whatsoever. After 17 years I no longer apoligise for his assholian nature.)
        So people movers basically. Anything KIA, even 4WD, and Ford Territories.

        • As one of seven, I was a van kid. And I hated it. Especially since the suspension was rubbish and it squeaked over every teeny bump – so, basically, all the time. It was so embarrassing.

          • Rhiannon Saxon

            As one of eight, I was also a van kid. When I was little we had an ancient Kombi in which we needed to wear blankets to school in winter, and then later we got a long-wheel-base Hiace Commuter….six kids AND their bikes! *sigh*
            Interesting thing about the Kombi (actually, it’s not VERY interesting) my parents were often accidental gender-role-breakers and so Dad never learnt to drive – Mum used to go into LABOUR and drive her van to hospital…! (And once she picked up a hitchhiker, possibly a terrified one, on the way.)

            • Wow! I had such a bland childhood.

              • I am one of nine, but since we didn’t all grow up in the same house we didn’t need vans. We did have one though. My step-father was/is a carpet layer. I used to hate that ugly thing. But we went one worse, we had a panel van. thank god Mum and I smashed it in an accident (we ere both okay.) They took me to the drive in to see Pink Flyod the Wall in that van…so I guess there was a fun element to it, although… I had nightmares for weeks about giant vaginas trying to eat me.

                Rhiannon, I love that your mum picked up a hitchhiker whilst in labour driving herself to the hospital! I thought having parents who measured journeys in how many joints it took to smoke to get there was intense but wow, I think I love your Mum. Want to swap?

                • Nine? Shit. I thought things were crowded in my household. Although, when I think back, it didn’t feel crowded. I guess because I didn’t know anything else.

                  • Yes, my mum is the shiz. Perhaps she would not like to hear herself referred to as the shiz. I am constantly impressed that I can ring home and ask for Mum and Dad will say something like – ‘She’s not here, she is camping with a Wiradjuri group near Cundobelin as a delegate for a reconciliation group from the Quaker Peace Committee’…
                    And Mum hates camping, there is nothing to lean against. She is easily the bravest, hardest-working, most intelligent, one of the least judgemental and also MOST self-deprecating person I know.
                    She has almost no personal vanity and never lies. And regularly feels the need to correct her children’s grammar.
                    AND I googled her recently and was impressed by how many entries she has. (ABS publications and so on.)

                    Re-feeling crowded – nowadays I cannot BELIEVE that the last year I lived at Mum and Dad’s (until I was 18) there were Mum and Dad, three of my brothers, two of my sisters, me, and my sister’s daughter living there – we all had our own (tiny) bedroom – but only ONE TOILET between us!
                    Really! How did we hold it in?

  3. Reading that I felt like I had fallen through a time machine into the 1950’s all it needed was a nice recipe and some advice on how to catch a good husband so you can have a fulfilling life. Or I have had a stroke.

    Fuck me if I came out with shit like that every woman I know would tear me a new one and I would deserve it.

    One thing I have never heard where is his/her mother? I have often heard where are his/her parents?

    Also Pirra’s husband is correct real men don’t eat quiche we eat egg and bacon pie

    • Neil, my husband won’t even eat egg and bacon pie unless it has an actual pie top. Otherwise it’s quiche dressed up as pie and you can’t fool him. (And don’t even try to convince him it’s a fritatta. Or a Spanish Omlette.) Quiche is quiche. And real men don’t eat it.

      He’s just lucky he’s so damn pretty.

  4. “When she writes about women, Farrelly makes very little sense” It took me half the article to figure out what the fuck she was on about.

    I’ve never got this “only women can raise kids” shit. Only women can give birth – I’ll give you that. Only women can produce breast-milk (well, apparently not entirely true but I really don’t want to think of that other) – granted as well. Beyond that, the world’s your green-lipped mussel.

    If wifey and I were ever to have kids (it’s a bit late now, but never mind) I know I would love to stay at home and look after them. Hell, I wouldn’t even have to sacrifice that much of my job. As primarily a “knowledge worker” I can work anywhere, anytime. And wifey and I are on comparable salaries so which one gave up work wouldn’t matter all that much. Hell – if I gave up work I could claim I was “retiring” and end up with 26 weeks’ pay as a retiring allowance under my current contract. Financial incentive much?

    There is some research suggesting that putting kids into daycare is not as good for them as having at least one stay-at-home parent, but as with everything, there is research that says the exact opposite. But even if it is beneficial to have a stay-at-home parent, it does not mean that it has to be the woman, nor does it mean that whoever stays at home has to give up that much of their career.

    Let’s not even get into same-sex parents.

    There is one thing I will agree with. Doesn’t matter who you are, whether you are a man or a woman. You have to make choices about balance. You always have to figure out how much time you want to commit to the different elements of your life. Kids, partners, social activities, the choice and balance is still required.

    Chuckle – men with breasts – the way I am these days I thought she was talking about me.

    Pirra – I hear you about the abuse issue. If the father is a violent piece of shit, somehow it is seen to be the mother’s fault. WTF.

  5. Wow – not even to get into the rage that so many points of the article induced (yeah, I was stupid enough to read it) but I want to add to the my partner would be so much of a better parent/carer/at home parent person than I would. ( So, maybe according to Elizabeth, I’m really in a relationship with a woman – because, it is impossible that a man would be better at child-raising than a woman)

    And that is the thing that makes me so angry when I read this shit. Essentially, I am currently studying/work experiencing for community engagement in the resources industry. The fact of the matter is – when I get a job, because of the industry, I will earn a lot more. And on top of that – I have no maternal instinct, and don’t want children. But the partner and I have figured that, if we ended up both wanting them, he would be the stay at home carer (he wants to, he actually loves playing with children, he doesn’t love going to work, whereas, I am the opposite).

    So – outlining my situation, and comparing it to Elizabeth’s summation of all things ladyish, I am not a woman???

    • Oooh, maybe you really ARE a man with breasts! Or, perhaps, Elizabeth is full of shite.

      I hate hate hate writers who say that ‘women’ do this or that, and ‘men want this or that’ etc…
      Really…so I want what Margaret Thatcher is having?
      Such a tedious, tedious thing…

    • Natalie, maybe you’re a man? Or maybe it means you’re not a “real” woman?

  6. If you think Farrelly’s anti-feminist tropes on motherhood are a blind pimple, check out this latest from Jennifer Wilson at the ABC’s blog The Drum Unleashed, titled … ahem … ‘Feminism’s Last Taboo’ (and, yes, I’ve had a rant here about this women before. My apologies if I’m getting boring.):

    So just what is ‘feminism’s last taboo’? According to Wilson, it appears that the ugly truth about maternal abuse is much more serious than we realise. The trouble is that it’s something that feminists just won’t let society talk about.

    So we mothers just can’t win.

    According to Farrelly, feminism is discouraging us from taking on the bulk of the burden of childrearing (as if we weren’t doing that already). According to Wilson, feminism is discouraging us from taking on the bulk of the responsibility for letting our suburban neuroses screw up our kids’ psyches (as if we weren’t doing that already).

  7. I’m late to this party I know but I wanted to announce that my partner just volunteered to stay home on Fridays so he can spend more time with our daughters before they start going to school. He is so yummy. Today was the first day and I left them dancing to mamma mia and he had a beatified look on his face. We are now working 4 days (me) 4 1/2 days (him).

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