July 11, 2004


New mother Gianna reflects on feminism and children:

Quitting work and having a baby was the best decision I've ever made. It's not that I don't want to work ever again; I will, of course. It's just that having a career doesn't seem nearly as important anymore. Some feminist I turned out to be ... I wish I'd done this in my twenties. All that partying, all those nightclubs, all those years at uni, all those years kissing ass working in offices, it seems like such a waste of time now.

Posted by Tim Blair at July 11, 2004 06:54 PM

Nice to be able to make a lifestyle choice on someone else's dollar. I'd like to quit work and sit on my arse watching Oprah as well, but Centrelink won't subside my self-selected indolence.

Posted by: Habib at July 11, 2004 at 11:50 PM

I wish Gianna and her baby all the best. I can't help thinking, though, how ideology comes off second best when it comes up against real life.

Posted by: Hanyu at July 12, 2004 at 12:42 AM

Now, Habib, there are plenty of women out there who would respect your choice to be a house-husband while they went out to work to put food on the table. There's literally... uh... tens.

God, I hope I'm reincarnated as a housewife.

Posted by: Dave S. at July 12, 2004 at 02:11 AM

Guys, lets not get too carried away here. Working wives who discover the joys (and difficulties) of new motherhood should not be discouraged. I much preferred less income (more than 30 years ago) to coming home to wife and happy, well-cared-for children. I also took my share of feeding, diapering, and laundering duties. Plus, I was the one (as a light sleeper) who got up in the night. This left my wife fresh to properly mother all day. Well worth it. I doubt, if she had had a higher-paying job than mine, and if I had wanted to stay home, that I could have done as good a job. Face it, women make better mothers than men do. (Although I think I did a bang-up job as father.) Though we're now divorced, I have nothing but respect for her staying home to mother.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at July 12, 2004 at 04:40 AM

You're all missing the point. This airhead thinks she betrayed her liberal, feminist roots by deciding to be a stay-at-home mom... as if those women can't have opinions of their own, and aren't entitled to the same respect as working women.

She also makes it clear that the pregnancy was unplanned and that she does not love the father, which implies no marriage. All right so far as that goes, but if she's one of those smug women who believe their children don't need a father or a father-figure in their lives, then I have an even bigger problem with her.

Posted by: Rebecca at July 12, 2004 at 06:01 AM

I'd like to quit work and sit on my arse watching Oprah as well, but Centrelink won't subside my self-selected indolence.

Here's a little hint Habib, there is one non-means tested benefit.

But you have to be blind to get it.

Hop to it!

Posted by: Quentin George at July 12, 2004 at 08:36 AM

There's a nice dis of office workers too. We are all "ass-kissers," unlike her saintly maternal self. Well bite me, I don't think changing to kissing the asses of social workers and family members (she's a single mother, no?) is all that great of a change.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 12, 2004 at 08:47 AM

Come on now- you've got to admire someone who uses the taxpayer to look after her after she pops out the result of a one-night stand- progeny with a higher statistical likelihood to be welfare dependant, substance reliant and regularly detained by the judicial system. (And also more likel to "suffer" from ADHD and the myriad other excuses for brats with noo discipline). If children are our future, I've seen the future, and you can too; just hire the Mad Max trilogy.

Posted by: Habib at July 12, 2004 at 09:41 AM

Oh be fair, I don't think Gianna is dissing office workers at all.

Raise your hand anyone who hasn't had to kiss ass at some stage to some dunderhead boss or client in their working career.
(chirping crickets)
The universiality of that small sell-out is exactly why Dilbert scores such resonance in the cube farms.

She's a new mum facing a new experience. Of course one's horizons would be expanded and one's views might undergo a sea change. It's not called a life changing event for nothing so let her get on with her life without the moralising. Good on Gianna for at least having the guts to admit her changed feelings.

Or would you really prefer her to be a cast iron ideologue incapable of change?

Posted by: bargarz at July 12, 2004 at 10:51 AM

She can have all the life-changing experiences she likes as long as it's not on my dime.

Posted by: Habib at July 12, 2004 at 11:23 AM

She could do what a single-mother friend of mine does to make extra cash - host and run 'adult toy' parties. She still gets to do all the mummy things without being a welfare loser and manages to have some interesting and profitable evenings.

Posted by: JakeD at July 12, 2004 at 12:48 PM

I'm leaning towards Habib on this one, Barg.

In my household, income tax is the single biggest expense we have. About a thousand a week disappears into the black hole of the tax man's pocket. I've got kids of my own, and I've made many lifestyle compromises that were not to my taste to ensure that my kids are brought up in a stable two parent home. Some of those missing dollars would assist greatly.

Social security? Forget it. Family A & B just aren't applicable to us 'wealthy' types. Childcare subsidy? Bwahahahaha...Oh my sides are split.

No, I don't think my wife and I need them. I don't think I'm 'entitled'. I just look at them as an opportunity to return some of MY income to MY pocket.

And it is the overwhelming sense of ENTITLEMENT that irritates the living crap out of me. What gets right up my hairy nostrils is the lack of gratitude welfare recipients display. They don't have to, because they're 'entitled' to receive my taxpayer dollars. Well bash that. I don't want people kissing my feet, but I don't want to hear them belligerently demanding their right to my support either.

Yeah, I'm probably a hypocrite. I was on the dole many years ago. But here's a tip for you. Nothing breeds conservatism quite like eating shit pie day in and day out while climbing the career ladder and raising children at the same time.

Anyway, I doubt whether Gianna worries too much about the opinions of Habib and I. She's got us over a barrel, and she can afford to sneer.

Posted by: Al Bundy at July 12, 2004 at 01:05 PM

Gianna is the typical wide-eyed naive liberal-when-it-suits until reality sets in. Call it growing up. (And that is not to patronise Gianna, her story is there so she's the example.)

The converse are the ones who are still kissing ass and find themselves childless, like the New Yorker cartoon where the thirty-something woman sits bolt upright in bed and says "Oh my God! I forgot to have children!"

For the former scenario, I blame the ever-growing bureaucracy. By its nature it needs to spread its tentacles ever further and for this reason needs a growing welfare constituency. It wrongly encourages the rights and entitlement ethos, along with its mates in the social welfare lobby, instead of - as was its original purpose - merely to administer govt largesse to those in genuine need.

Al, you're right about nothing breeding conservatism like the family/career/children thing. I'm surprised anyone emerges at the end of that with liberal sentiments intact.

Posted by: ilibcc at July 12, 2004 at 02:28 PM


Haven't you discovered your Aboriginal heritage yet? It can be very lucrative, and as a Lebanese-Aboriginal even more so. You don't even need to bring out the boot polish. I recently saw a picture in the corporate newsletter of my employer's Aboriginal Liaison Officer posing with various smiling senior executives for ATSIC day or something, and the "Aborigine" was the palest person in the picture. Note that aboriginality is an obligatory requirement for this position, in case you were wondering; white folks need not apply according to the job description.

Posted by: Clem Snide at July 12, 2004 at 04:30 PM

Here is the general lesson that this story reinforces for me: you shouldn't buy your politics prix fixe - you have to go a la carte. Almost no one out there is offering an internally consistent or even time-consistent package - certainly not the major parties.

The same holds true of feminism - Feminism's success in shattering traditional roles and limitations to give women a broader range of choices for their lives is fabulous. But, as our friend in this story has found, many feminist leaders today throw into the package a new set of expectations that effectively negate this message of choice.

My wife has had a period of her life one might label "corporate executive" and another that you could label "stay at home mom" and is embarking on a third labeled "entrepeneur". She owes a debt of gratitude to the women's movement that she can be so many things. She also owes a poke in the eye to the women's movement for the amount of angst she endured worrying that her "stay at home mom" phase was somehow trivial or a capitulation.

Posted by: Warren at July 12, 2004 at 05:39 PM

Methinks Habib needs to come into the 21st Century and leave the 19th behind.

Posted by: Niall at July 13, 2004 at 08:01 AM

Now, Habib, there are plenty of women out there who would respect your choice to be a house-husband while they went out to work to put food on the table. There's literally... uh... tens.

Well, here's at least one! I've been supporting my husband all of our married life (five years now) while he works on building his business. He works at home, and when our baby gets here (hopefully in 9 months... ;-) ), he will be "Mr. Mom" and take care of the baby. We would both prefer the more traditional arrangement, but financially that's just not in the cards right now. We'll do the best we can.

Posted by: Mary in LA at July 13, 2004 at 10:17 AM

Hey Niall- it was 19th century social democrat/marxist thought that brought the calamity of the welfare state upon us. The rest of the world has moved on, witchy-boy; try and keep up. We no longer need great hordes of the not-too-bright to be cannon fodder and grist to the industrial mill, we need the intelligent to breed if mankind is to have any future. Welfarism is artificially interfering with natural selection. Milton Friedman wasn't even born until the 20th century.

Posted by: Habib at July 13, 2004 at 10:23 AM

So that's what's wrong with Niall: he's misplaced cannon fodder. Instead of having a job suited to his abilities and a place in life, he's been forced to think for himself in a world beyond his capabilities. That would make anyone bitter.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 13, 2004 at 11:46 AM