I started the organization All Mothers Work in 2014, not only as a reaction to conventional socio-cultural notions of motherhood and labour (the name comes from a cry of frustration over the term “working mothers,” as though mothers who do not work for pay are not also performing labour), but also to challenge a lot of existing feminist thought on the topic. I was overwhelmed by the reception I got for my work; endless numbers of women found themselves so dissatisfied with both radical and liberal analyses of motherhood that some even refused to call themselves feminists because they felt so looked down upon, underrepresented and misrepresented. Like me, they found it to be a fulfilling, vital undertaking that was as hard and as valid as any paid work, and yet this was incompatible with what both patriarchal society and feminism were telling us we should be doing and experiencing. . . .
As a result of the influence of Firestone’s work, feminist analysis of motherhood too often reads as though there are only two choices: rejection of motherhood or collusion with patriarchy. It is futile, self-defeating and in my opinion inhumane to approach reproduction and motherhood as things with no value or worth, to treat women as though none of them really want to be mothers and as though they long to be freed from what must be viewed as the burden of motherhood, while seeing children as little more than parasites who don’t require a primary caregiver (which goes against everything we know about child development and how nurturing works) and who should be made to live away from adults as soon as possible. To me, this is seeing reproduction and motherhood in a patriarchal way. It denigrates motherhood, rejects caring activities, and reveals a lack of interest in what women actually want and what children actually need. . . .
I believe that the way forward is to embrace nurturing and caring more – using our own model. When we look objectively at the labour that can only be carried out by women, and also that which is seen as “women’s work,” we see that women’s labour is productive, life-creating, life-maintaining, life-facilitating, co-operative and egalitarian. Labour deemed male, by contrast, is all too often appropriating, parasitic, exploitative and hierarchical. It relies on women’s labour being performed invisibly and for free, which men obtain and maintain by normalizing and justifying their labour values as superior and natural, through the use of gender. We need to shift the whole of society over to those matriarchal values. That means stripping the concepts of nurture, care and the maternal of the meanings given to them by patriarchy, and creating and living our own.
If women were even paid a minimum wage for the labour extracted from them for free, women would be the leading global economic superpower, before any paid labour done by them was counted in. This is not nothing. This is absolutely huge. And yet patriarchal tropes about the work women do, paid and unpaid, still flourish.
The mother of David Dungay, an Aboriginal man who died after being held face down by five Sydney prison guards, said it was a “slap in the face” that the public prosecutor would not investigate whether criminal offences might have been committed by the officers involved.
Aboriginal women who are fleeing domestic violence and find themselves homeless are reluctant to access support services for fear of losing their children to the foster care system, they said.
“It’s harder for women to get support these days,” the Women’s Legal Service’s First Nations community officer, Gail Thorne, said.
The Redfern Legal Centre lawyer Samantha Lee said it was common for Aboriginal women who call the police to report domestic violence to end up in custody themselves.
“The police then go to speak to the husband and they form the view that they are going to take the husband’s story and put that ahead of the woman’s story, and what they do is end up arresting the person who has called triple zero and place them into custody.
“One of the problems is [police] are quick to judge and usually they are very quick to judge First Nations people and women.”
The parliamentary inquiry has been set up to look into “the unacceptably high level” of Aboriginal people in custody, the suitability of the organisations that investigate deaths, and how they could be improved.
Tasmanian Liberal Claire Chandler says the Australian Human Rights Commission is ignoring serious injury risks to women in sport and has called for urgent withdrawal of pro-transgender guidelines aimed at nine million players.
Senator Chandler, who has been pursuing the agencies over the policy process, said it was now conceded “that the guidelines have no scientific basis, no consideration of safety, no consideration of fairness in women’s sport”.
A legal opinion from Melbourne QC Stuart Wood to Senator Chandler says the 2019 trans-inclusion document created by the human rights experts is an inaccurate and misleading guide to anti-discrimination law and sport, with potentially “dangerous practical effects” if sporting bodies rely on it.
COVID-19 has left women, more than men, economically disadvantaged through unemployment, underemployment, lowered incomes, less secure work, greater household and family demands, and increased risk of domestic violence.But you’re unlikely to read about it in next week’s budget.Instead you’re likely to read about new (male dominated) construction projects and more work in the electricity and gas industries. And tax cuts, which predominantly benefit higher earners and so are of less use to females.
Gender responsive budgeting could make a substantial contribution, documenting the extent to which investment in childcare and other services is more likely to create jobs, and jobs for women, than spending on construction.
While the current government appears uninterested, the tide is turning.
Almost half of the 37 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development now have some form of gender budgeting. The former head of the International Monetary Fund has declared it good budgeting.
Tara VanDerveer has been the head women’s basketball coach at Stanford University since 1985. She once compared the world of women’s sports before 1972 to a family dinner table where the boys were served steaks and the girls were served cold hot dogs without buns or even ketchup.
And quite frankly, girls only got the “benefit” of cold hot dogs if there was any money leftover after buying all the steaks — often, there wasn’t.
Title IX, the 1972 federal law barring discrimination on the basis of sex in education, changed everything. It required that men and women receive equitable educational opportunities.
Given the history behind Title IX and how it was passed specifically to protect girls and women from a system that favored boys and men, it’s appalling that the ACLU and other organizations are now trying to undo Title IX so that a transgender girl can simply steal the steak from the biological girl seated across the table, leaving her with nothing.
Nineteen states in our country allow biological males who self-identify as women to play on women’s sports teams in schools. This means biological boys, with all the advantages of the male body, are being allowed to steal athletic opportunities from biological girls in multiple ways.
Historically, medical research has often taken a one-size-fits-all approach, lumping women and men together despite growing evidence that the sexes differ in how they catch and fight disease.
A stark example was the heart drug digoxin, which was widely marketed in the late 1990s on the basis of a trial that showed it to be effective and safe. But over time a higher incidence of side-effects in women emerged. When the same dataset was analysed on the basis of sex, it showed digoxin decreased mortality in men – but increased mortality in women.
Covid-19 seems to be a case in point when it comes to differences between the sexes, with men thought to be up to twice as likely as women to die from the virus. But a new analysis suggests that scientists involved in the race to develop medical interventions for the coronavirus have paid little attention to these disparities.
“Women are not just small men. We have different hormones [levels], smaller kidneys and more fat tissue where drugs can accumulate,” said Dr Cara Tannenbaum, a scientific director at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. “There’s so many reasons why things can go wrong.”
Terese Edwards, the chief executive of the National Council of Single Mothers and Their Children, said the $550-a-fortnight supplement had been “life-altering” and its reduction was causing “distress and fear”.
She pointed to a survey of 600 single mothers conducted by the organisation that found the income boost had reduced stress for 88% of respondents because they could now afford to pay their bills.
Toni Wren, the executive director of Anti-Poverty Week, said government data showed about 1.1 million children lived in families receiving the supplement in July.
That included 500,000 children whose parents were receiving the jobseeker payment.
“Our main concern is that now it is one-in-five Australian children whose parents are receiving that payment,” Wren said.
Enough already. When people try to be cheerful about social distancing and working from home, noting that William Shakespeare and Isaac Newton did some of their best work while England was ravaged by the plague, there is an obvious response: Neither of them had child-care responsibilities.
For those with caring responsibilities, an infectious-disease outbreak is unlikely to give them time to write King Lear or develop a theory of optics. A pandemic magnifies all existing inequalities (even as politicians insist this is not the time to talk about anything other than the immediate crisis). Working from home in a white-collar job is easier; employees with salaries and benefits will be better protected; self-isolation is less taxing in a spacious house than a cramped apartment. But one of the most striking effects of the coronavirus will be to send many couples back to the 1950s. Across the world, women’s independence will be a silent victim of the pandemic.
Leaders, parents, workers, educators and community organisations are joining forces to call for a universally accessible early education system.
The campaign is supported by Goodstart Early Learning, Early Childhood Australia, ARACY, The Mitchell Institute, the ACTU, The United Workers Union, The Australia Institute, The Parenthood, Chief Executive Women, The Centre for Social Impact, The Smith Family, ACOSS and more.
By global standards the cost of childcare in Australia is prohibitively expensive. Combined with our tax system it actively disincentivises women from working beyond three days a week.