Sunday, March 03, 2024

Fears of ‘mass bleaching event’ at the Great Barrier Reef as 1100km impacted

We get this scare every 2 or 3 years. The fact is that the reef is a living thing that waxes and wanes, as it has done for hundreds of thousands of years. Some recent years have seen record HIGH levels of coral growth

Heat stress is causing widespread bleaching across the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland.

Surveys by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Australian Institute of Marine Science showed the beaching was “extensive and fairly uniform across all surveyed reefs”.

Corals are a colony of marine invertebrates and they have a symbiotic relationship with algae.

They can turn completely white when water warms or cools dramatically, and they react by expelling the algae.

It doesn’t mean the corals will certainly die, but rather the bleaching makes them more susceptible to disease and hampers reproduction.

However, severely bleached corals are likely to die if the water temperature remains too high for too long. They can recover if the temperature stabilises.

James Cook University (JCU), stated in a press release last week that scientists had spotted the first signs of serious bleaching with “moderate to severe coral bleaching” seen offshore east of Rockhampton at the Keppels.

The bleaching was discovered during routine surveys in the tourist hotspot, which is also critical for recreational and commercial fishing.

Researchers believe fish are becoming less abundant around the Keppels due to factors including bleaching and overfishing.

The Guardianreports that bleaching had been seen across a 1100km stretch of the Great Barrier Reef from the Keppels in the south to Lizard Island in the north.

Of the 27 sites inspected at the Keppels, “most sites showing signs of bleaching”, with only corals in deeper waters unimpacted by the heat stress.

Scientist Dr Maya Srinivasan, from JCU’s Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Research (TropWATER), said the water temperatures around the Keppels were well above average, hitting 29C on multiple days.

“I have been working on these reefs for nearly 20 years and I have never felt the water as warm as this,” she said.

“Once we were in the water, we could instantly see parts of the reef that were completely white from severe bleaching. Some corals were already dying.”

She observed that the corals could recover if the water cooled. “We did see the temperatures begin to drop towards the end of the trip,” she added.

The Bureau of Meteorology warned in its recent climate outlook that temperatures were expected to be above the median for most of the country over the next few months due to record warm oceans globally and a weakening El Nino.

The current bleaching could be the seventh mass bleaching event to hit the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef in recent history.

Mass bleaching events were observed on the Great Barrier Reef — which is listed as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World — in 1998, 2002, 2016, 2017 and 2020, CNN reported.


Angry nurses rally at Gold Coast University Hospital, demand jobs back

A vindictive bureaucracy at work. They don't like admitting that they were wrong

Dozens of placard-waving nurses and other healthcare workers took part in the rally outside Gold Coast University Hospital on Saturday.

It followed fury this week after The Courier-Mail revealed leaked Queensland Health emails telling a veteran nurse that “we are unable to re-employ any staff who were officially terminated” for refusing the jab.

Queensland Health boss Michael Walsh said the edict was incorrect and wrote to all hospital and health services in the state on Friday telling them there was no directive not to reinstate sacked workers.

Health Minister Shannon Fentiman this week repeatedly denied there were any barriers to hundreds of workers who refused to comply with the vaccination mandate from returning to work.

But nurses protesting on the Gold Coast said they were still struggling to get their jobs back.

They included 23-year veteran intensive care nurse Michelle Williams, who said she tried to reapply at the major hospital she was sacked from in 2021 but was told there were no vacancies - only to see a job ad for a position.

“It’s frustrating, it’s really frustrating,” she said. “Patients are suffering and they’ve got very junior staff looking after them. “There’s so many of us with so much experience and our experience is just going to waste.”

Ms Williams said Ms Fentiman needed to “stop lying to us”.

“We want to come back to work, we’ve done nothing wrong except not follow this one (vaccine) direction,” she said. “We’re not criminals. We’re people who love our jobs, we love looking after patients and we just want to help people. “We just want to come back to work and do what we love doing, and that’s helping people get better.”

Ella Leach, secretary of the Nurses Professional Association of Queensland, said Ms Fentiman had not responded to an invitation to attend or at least endorse the rally.

Ms Leach said the minister had been sent the names and experience of 350 sacked health care workers who wanted to return and “Shannon should be reaching out to them directly” instead of making them reapply.

“There’s just zero excuse … we want her to take some actual action,” she said.

“These people were born to be nurses and health professionals - they want to work. It doesn’t make them happy hearing that the system’s crumbling, it makes them desperately angry and upset. “All they want to do is work.”

Ms Leach was herself sacked from Queensland Children’s Hospital for refusing the vaccine - in January this year, four months after the mandate was lifted, and despite being seven months’ pregnant. She launched unfair dismissal action against Queensland Health.

Ms Leach said many sacked healthcare workers who had reapplied for jobs with Queensland Health were still being rejected because of their “disciplinary action history” in refusing the vaccine.

“These people have decades of experience and they are desperately needed,” she said.

Ms Leach said 6000 nurses were predicted to retire in 2024 but Queensland Health was hiring nurses from interstate or overseas, with incentives of up to $70,000.


The incorrectness of clothing

To cope with the outrageous creep of authoritarian behaviour and inescapable globalism, sometimes citizens of the West refer to themselves as ‘peasants’. Call it a bit of lingering British gallows humour.

Increasingly, that is exactly how the Labor Party views Australians – as the ‘peasantry’. Our ancestors, who lived under the thumb of feudal lords and warring barons, paid less tax. You, and your family, are among the highest-taxed people to live and it is about to get worse.

No matter how hard Australians work, Labor’s greed has erected a perspex ceiling on wealth which it lowers a notch every year, pushing the middle and working classes down.

When Prime Minister Anthony Albanese talks about ‘closing the pay gap’ between men and women (gendered terms Labor can only define when there’s an election on the horizon), it is being done by making both poorer.

Equality in poverty, that is the mantra of socialism – Labor’s eternal paramour.

The beauty of capitalism has meant the creation of cheaper markets and cut-price products. These have helped to maintain a level of comfort in challenging economic times. Selling these cheap, admittedly inferior, products has kept a generation in work and the economy ticking over. It’s not perfect, but it is better than looking down over the edge of the gulag, shovel in hand, dirt blowing in your face.

As long as there is a free market, there is hope for recovery. There is hope for freedom.

While these markets make our lives livable, the World Economic Forum (and the ‘desperate to please’ political leaders hanging on their every word), have decided that this cheap capitalism is a threat to the planet because it creates ‘evil carbon emissions’.

I suggest it is a threat to their political power.

The list of carbon restrictions grows every day. Last week we learned that Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has found a new capitalist foe to conquer – fast-fashion.

Alarm bells first rang at the World Economic Forum with the headline, Suits you – and the planet: Why fashion needs a sustainability revolution. It was a report based on the moaning of two ‘experts’ who insisted that 20 per cent of wastewater is produced by the fashion industry and 10 per cent of global emissions. These statistics rather miss the point that something, somewhere, will always be responsible for emissions. Humans need to wear clothes and the Australian Union movement made it impossible to manufacture them domestically where we’d have more control over the environmental result. Instead of regulating China, they are coming after Western retailers.

‘We cannot afford the trajectory of fashion increasing to maybe as much as 25 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 … how do we take out fossil fuels from the fashion industry?’

Of course, the ‘change needs to be radical … we have to reduce production and consumption of fashion by between 75 and 95 per cent. We’re not talking about snipping a bit off’.

The report is casually talking about destroying the fashion industry that keeps the clothes on your back.

That report was written in 2021 and subsequently ignored during the Covid years when the imminent threat of the evil fashion industry vanished for a while.

The ‘burn it to the ground’ rhetoric of the WEF has since camouflaged itself as ‘Fashionomy’, wearing the sheep’s wool of the new favourite buzzword ‘circular economy’.

‘Sharing the circular economy knowledge and the negative impact of the fashion industry will help people to be a part of the second-hand clothes cycle, and clothing repair shops can become the new option to encourage customers not to waste their money. If the community reduces textile waste, makes savings in the family economy, and helps the growth of the local economy, we will see an impact on the development of a sustainable lifestyle, helping mitigate climate change, and supporting sustainable cities.’

Notice the change in language? If the government knocks 95 per cent of the retail industry out, and all those jobs along with it, we won’t see a ‘growth in the economy’.

With no original ideas, Ms Plibersek has warned the clothing industry – one of the largest employers in Australia – that it must ‘turn its back on fast-fashion’ and if it doesn’t mend its ways, well, the ever-loving State will be forced to intervene.

‘Government is not sitting on our hands on this issue. The federal government has put the fashion industry on a watch list,’ said Ms Plibersek.

A watch list? Like a Stalinist watch list where government critics were lined up and quietly disappeared?

Her speech was a regurgitation of the World Economic Forum’s statistics from 2021, which is no doubt where Labor sourced them.

‘It’s the responsibility of government and the fashion industry to examine how we can be more sustainable in design, the materials used, and the role of the circular economy in extending the lifespan of the garment.’

Well, it’s only the ‘role of government’ to interfere with business if we’re talking about a fascist regime. I will leave you to decide if that describes Labor’s choice of words.

‘As an industry, there needs to be environmental sustainability of business models and the way products are marketed.’

This speech was part of Ms Plibersek’s ‘ultimatum’ to the fashion industry, although One Nation does not remember the Labor Party mentioning these demands during their election campaign. It’s an urgent ultimatum created five seconds ago – a doomsday that didn’t exist until Ms Plibersek decided it did at the launch of the Australian Fashion Council’s new initiative ‘Seamless’, which is another hopeless layer of bureaucracy we believe will punish and micromanage Australia’s fashion industry. A group of busy-bodies with infinite demands.

‘Seamless’ wants its members to pay a 4-cent contribution to the program for every item of clothing imported or created. According to the ABC, this is worth $36 million a year – and $60 million if they get their wish and make the clothing tax mandatory. Every single cent of which has been taken from the retail industry.

‘Improved affordability of clothes is a good thing. Parents shouldn’t have to choose between a new pair of school shoes and paying the electricity bill.’

What was that, Ms Plibersek?

Is the Environment Minister aware that the cost of school shoes isn’t the problem – it’s the nearly doubled cost of energy thanks to … Labor’s ‘green’ energy agenda? Australian parents know exactly what’s causing the cost of living crisis. Don’t blame the fashion industry for Mr Bowen’s expensive errors. If kids don’t have shoes to wear to school, you can thank the high priests of Net Zero.

But why this sudden assault on one of Australia’s most important industries?

We may speculate that this is Labor pivoting from electric vehicles after it became obvious that Europe – and thus Australia – will not be transitioning to ecars. Labor is desperate for a distraction to stop the press from calling them liars, so why not attack retail?

Well, there are good reasons to leave retail alone.

The clothing industry in Australia is worth $23.2 billion. It employs (directly) 121,000 people – and probably another 100,000 in industries dependent on its success such as IT, transport, storage, cleaning, accounting, training, surrounding cafes … the list goes on.

There are more than 16,300 businesses, most of them small to medium, many run by family entities. As of August 2023, fashion retail was paying out $4.9 billion in wages.

Which, we must remind Ms Plibersek, is heavily taxed and helps top up the coffers of the State.

The fashion industry was severely damaged by government interventions during Covid. Countless generational family businesses closed. People ended their lives having seen their life’s work evaporate overnight on the whim of health advice. The margins which used to drive a healthy industry have been cut by greedy shopping centres, excessive power costs, increased wages, and the introduction of impossible Fair Work complexity – not to mention rising manufacturing costs, fuel costs, and green tape. All of these things have meant that businesses in the fashion industry are barely scraping by. That said, the fashion industry is trying, so hard, to survive.

A sensible government would be desperately searching for ways to salvage those businesses that survived the great Covid culling. Perhaps they might consider cutting the excess taxes, or tearing up red tape?

Instead, Ms Plibersek has put her high heel on the head of Australia’s fashion industry and pushed it down under the surface of Net Zero to suffocate on bureaucracy.

‘If it’s the fashion industry that makes the profits, then it must be responsible for doing better by the environment.’

That’s a very communist-style thing to say. Does Ms Plibersek apply that rule to the renewable industry as it cuts down our old-growth forests, rips apart private farmland, and clogs up our seas with cement and steel? Or does the government hand out billions in subsidies?

‘And for those who manufacture in Australia, it means thinking hard about what they can do to create and sell products that have a longer shelf life, while still being affordable.’

Spoken by someone lacking experience and understanding regarding how the price of a clothing item is created.

How does Ms Plibersek expect the (very few) Australian fashion manufacturers to pay their staff more, cover excessive energy prices, pay additional taxes, pay more for transport, more for rent, more for storage, more for materials, more for IT services, more for accounting services, more for HR bureaucracies, and additional costs for the environment – all while lowering the cost and eventual sale price of the product?

If Ministers cannot understand basic maths they should not be proposing complex policies with the ability to decimate one of the most important industries in this nation.

The unintentional consequences of this cannot be overstated.

It is reckless, cheap, and nasty politics aimed at painting the fashion industry as the new climate criminal. An industry that Labor has been desperately trying (and failing) to unionise against the wishes of family-run entities and small businesses.

What is Ms Plibersek’s end result? An Australian industry dominated by union workhouses with a ‘Net Zero’ sticker on the front where citizens can choose which hessian bag they want to wear?

‘I have suits from an Australian designer that uses lots of remnant fabrics that would otherwise end up in landfill,’ said Ms Plibersek.

Has she walked down the poorer end of George Street where fast-fashion is packed wall-to-wall? There she would see students and the elderly picking out jeans for $5 and jackets for $12. Those customers know these aren’t the best clothes around, but fast-fashion allows them to have a wardrobe of sorts to distract them from the otherwise nightmare reality of surviving Labor’s Net Zero revolution.

If those stores vanish, people may be able to afford one pair of jeans – jeans with patches and repair marks – the same set of clothes worn until they fall to rags like the peasants of old living in a threadbare world.

‘I repeat what I said in June last year: I am watching. If I’m not happy with industry progress, I will step in and regulate.’

Did you hear that? That government is watching. The government is threatening you. The government will come after you.

Keep that in mind when the next election rolls around.

Ms Plibersek is coming for the clothes on your back


Vilifying Israel is the left’s new form of anti-Semitism

The Left actually hate us all. Jews are just a scapegoat

Henry Ergas

When the crowds, wearing keffiyehs and waving Palestinian flags, gathered in Sydney immediately after October 7, their chant wasn’t “where are the Zionists?”; it was “where are the Jews?”. Nor were the writers and artists whose names and details were recently “doxxed” by Hamas’s local supporters targeted for being Zionists; they were targeted for being Jews.

And if angry protesters surrounded Raheen in Kew the other night, it wasn’t because it was a Zionist hub; it was because it is owned by Jews.

Now, as we reel from the news that a pro-Palestinian militant in Melbourne allegedly kidnapped and tortured a man, there can be one question and one question only: How has it come to this?

That Labor is less culpable than the Greens for fanning the flames of hatred is beyond doubt; however, as the party of government, it cannot avoid its responsibility. Anthony Albanese has repeatedly claimed, with palpable sincerity, that the government aims at balance; but whatever its intentions, it has, at best, appeared equivocal – and, at worst, has risked encouraging the rage against Israel that is undeniably a rage against Jews.

Time and again, it has called on Israel to respect international law, with the implication that it hasn’t. Time and again, it has lamented the plight of the people of Gaza while ignoring the fact that hundreds of thousands of Israelis have been forced to flee their homes by rocket attacks that, starkly violating international law, target schools, hospitals and homes.

But all that is mere kindling. If the fire has burned so high and spread so fast, it is because there is, on the Australian left, a dense undergrowth of anti-Semitism on which the blaze could feed.

That anti-Semitism is not the conventional Jew-hatred that marked the Australian labour movement from its earliest days. Explicitly based on repulsive stereotypes – Jews, wrote the Sydney Worker in 1932, are naturally “unscrupulous, callous, resourceful, insidious and cunning” – the traditional anti-Semitism centred on denunciations of “Shylock” and “the money power”.

Reaching fever pitch in the Depression, which the Labor press blamed on “the London Jews” who “conspired with the Bank of England” to protect their “fat rake-off”, it resurfaced, in the late 1940s, during the battle over bank nationalisation. Discredited by the Holocaust, that anti-Semitism was eventually consigned to a shadowy existence on politics’ lunatic fringe. Yet the underlying pathogen survived. Mutating into a new form, it obtained a fresh lease of life in the intellectual chaos of the 1960s New Left and, later, of Corbynism.

The new form’s essence was simplicity itself: each and every one of the traditional anti-Semitic tropes – Jewish arrogance, vindictiveness, tribalism, unbridled desire to dominate and the global tentacles with which to do so – was projected on to the state of Israel. What could no longer be said directly about Jews could, it seemed, be said with impunity about the Jewish state; and, by implication, about the Jews who were its champions. At the same time, just as traditional anti-Semitism cast Jews as the uniquely evil source of the world’s ills, so this new variant cast Israel not as a complex society with real people embroiled in internal and external conflicts, but as a caricatural representation of all that is illegitimate in the international community.

Responsible, according to prominent British academic Jacqueline Rose, for “some of the worst cruelties of the modern nation state”, the Jewish state stood as a fundamental obstacle – if not the fundamental obstacle – to a better world. It goes without saying that Rose made no attempt to test her contention, as any comparison to historical reality would have demonstrated its complete absurdity. All that mattered, for her countless disciples, was the conclusion that so monstrous an evil could only be cured by being eliminated.

The existential fight to the finish between “the Jew” and the “healthy elements” in society that permeated traditional anti-Semitism was thereby seamlessly transposed into the disease’s new form. There was, however, an additional feature of the variant that became increasingly pronounced as its prevalence grew. In conventional anti-Semitism, “World Jewry” was the West’s mortal enemy.

But in anti-Semitism’s new guise, the Jewish state, far from being the West’s “Other”, was transformed into the distilled, if entirely mythologised, image of what the radicals viewed as the West’s most despicable features. Israel was not the West’s antithesis; it was its apotheosis.

Here, after all, was a country that, in an age of appeasement, rejected fashionable pieties, defending itself from every attack. In a world of disposable selfhood, where you are whatever you want to be, it remained stubbornly attached to an identity gained by birth and forged by faith. And most of all, at a time when the “nowheres” were triumphant and the nation denigrated as a straitjacket, it harboured an intense, widely held patriotism.

There was, however, even worse: like Australia, Israel bore the indelible stain of “settler colonialism”. But rather than cringing apologetically, it celebrated the country the settlers had built: a country that, for all its faults, is a prosperous democracy in a world of tyrants, provides world-class education and healthcare to all of its citizens and that cherishes life, instead of worshipping, as the Islamists do, at the shrine of death.

Little wonder then that it provokes our leftists into uncontrollable fury. Consumed by self-loathing, trapped in a vision of Australia that imputes perpetual virtue to themselves, perpetual guilt to everyone else, they cannot forgive Israelis for standing proud. And when they act out their tantrums, it is not just at Israel that they are shouting. It is at all those who believe Australians too should stand proud, and unashamedly defend the achievements of our country, our culture.

Israel deserves our support. In the end, however, it will take care of itself. As for the Jews, we know hatred. Yet we also know the strength of faith and the power of resolve.

But what about Australia? Each civilisation, said Edward Gibbon, breeds the barbarians it deserves. Ours, brimming with rage, are no longer at the gates – they have stormed the citadel and seized important parts of the commanding heights. Marching arm in arm with the Islamist apologists for terrorism, their calling card is venomous threats and poisonous anti-Semitism.

However, as the incidents accumulate, each more shocking than its predecessors, they may finally have gone too far, inciting the reaction we desperately need to have. Nothing can erase the horrors of recent months. But if we fail to act on their lessons, it is us, not the barbarians, history will call to account.


Nothing ‘false’ about my choice to be a stay-at-home mum


I thought we were done with misery-guts feminism. It turns out not by a long shot. This week prominent director Diane Smith-Gander claimed women were making a “false” choice to stay home to care for kids. She was quoted as saying women were being forced to make this “false choice” by taking on lower-paid work in order to care for children. She bemoaned a society that perpetuated a “gender stereotype that Dad goes out to work and Mum stays home with the kids”.

Reading that took me back to a conversation from my late 20s. Some girlfriends, all young mums of little kids, were hanging about a playground by a Sydney beach one morning. Kids playing, shrieking, grubby little mouths and dirty feet, one kid probably crying because there is always a kid crying.

The young women spoke in hushed tones, swearing each other to secrecy. We agreed never to tell anyone quite how much we loved staying at home caring for our noisy, messy, beautiful little children. The pact was a joke. But only partly.

We knew better than to rave in public about loving being stay-at-home mums – for two reasons. Hanging about playgrounds, wiping little noses and hands and bums wasn’t what we were meant to be doing after graduating from university with fine degrees, suiting up and working hard for big flash law practices and other professional firms. The other reason was we didn’t want our husbands edging us out of a role we loved.

I turned my back on a legal career with a big law firm because I wanted to be at home with my kids. If someone had offered me a heap of money to return to work when they were babies, I would have said “no thanks”. That’s not for me, that’s not what we want for our kids. So I stayed home, had help with the kids, worked from home and earned less.

There was nothing false about these choices. Nothing coerced or unpleasant, which is the underlying message in Smith-Gander’s claim about false choices.

Some years later, I was encouraged by a senior politician to stand for a safe seat in politics. It was flattering. I had the full support of my husband. But I decided against that, too. I didn’t want to be a member of a political party. More important, my kids were moving into their early teens and while they most assuredly didn’t think they needed me at home, I suspected they might. I didn’t want what the books call “quality” time because you can’t pick and choose those moments when kids need you most.

So I remained at home, writing, managing work and deadlines, and being there for the quotidian challenges and enchantments of children pushing the envelope in different ways.

One afternoon, racing to finish some work at home in my office, one child kept coming up behind my chair with questions about sex. That was the inconvenient moment she picked for The Talk. I was busy, so to tide her over I plucked from the shelf beside me a book that I had bought months earlier in anticipation of this moment. The book was possibly meant for an older age bracket.

Being a fanatical reader, she appeared to devour it faster than she did Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Soon enough she was lurking behind my chair again, seeking clarification, stumbling over a big new word from one of the later chapters that I wrongly assumed she wouldn’t get to so soon. I wished my office was not at home.

I was far from the perfect mum, but that’s not the point. Each of us makes deeply personal decisions, tweaking this, changing that, as the years go on. We fumble through, mostly doing our best, in the belief that the decisions we make to work or look after kids, or both, are the best ones.

There are many trade-offs, of course. If we go to work, we miss out being at home with children. The more time we spend at home, the more we trade from our working lives. The sliding scale doesn’t render our decisions any less free, informed – and thrilling.

Many highly educated women I know started out in interesting, well-paying jobs, on paths to stellar, clever careers, but chose to step away. Working long hours in big professional careers, jumping on planes maybe for a meeting here, a meeting there, eating croissants on International Women’s Day with like-minded women, nannies for during the week, and on weekends, is not for everyone.

Many women, including me, would rather wipe the bums of many babies than live like that. My choice to alter the trajectory of my career, trading potential professional success for raising kids, was a no-brainer because raising three children will always be, for me, life’s greatest success.

Not every woman can choose to stay at home with their kids. I freely acknowledge my good fortune in being able to make my choice. There are many women for whom the choice to stay at home to care for little children is much more financially difficult than it was for me. But to demean any of these choices as false is obnoxious paternalism. It’s also deeply insulting to women who would have loved to have had children and would have loved to have stayed home to care for them.

So why does Smith-Gander presume to speak for women? How can she and her ilk possibly know about our lives, our personal decisions, our deepest desires, what we value? It is terrific that this high-profile corporate woman has risen to the top of her chosen fields. Given Smith-Gander is older, perhaps she experienced some big and nasty hurdles to get there. Good on her for pulverising them. I have nothing but respect for her choices. Her views about stay-at-home mothers, well, that’s another matter.

How great it would be if respect were reciprocated. Instead, there is an underlying assumption that caring for kids is a second-rate job, a forced and false choice. It’s a common affliction among gender ideologues to perpetuate miserable generalisations. Their message is that caring for kids is a burden. They never, ever talk about it as a prize.

The Albanese government’s National Strategy to Achieve Gender Equality discussion paper, from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, devotes a chapter to women who “bear the burden of care”. The joyless language perpetuates this idea that caring for little children is a rotten choice. It asserts that “patterns of care” are “generally driven by social and economic structures that reflect and reinforce gendered care norms”. Nowhere does the paper mention that many women desperately want to stay at home to care for children. Norms be damned. Many of us make that choice from meandering paths.

I wasn’t mentally prepared to fall pregnant at 27. I thought I had a lingering stomach bug. I fainted with shock when the petite female doctor told me it was a baby. For months I could barely say the word pregnant. I was annoyed at these foreign big breasts that arrived many months before the baby did. Why the rush? My reticence turned into a fierce desire to stay at home to care for our kids.

For some, the deep, primordial tug from a newborn child defies ideology and ambition. It can’t be measured in dollars. We are bombarded with the work side of the equation: we are told women need to work to maintain an identity, to exist on equal terms with men, to support the family and to maintain their own financial independence.

But the culture of “I work, therefore I exist” denies the falling in love with baby so central to most women’s experience. I would have fought off my husband like a banshee if he’d said he wanted to stay at home and care for our kids. He did stay at home for many, many weeks, and those periods were some of the most special times of our lives.

There is a misery to the views of Smith-Gander and other gender ideologues that is untethered from the privilege and pleasure of caring for kids. The ideologues pine for a wretched world where men and women all work exactly the same way and every workplace is made up of equal numbers of men and women, and women’s choices to live differently are demeaned as false.

The other glaring omission from all these discussions about women and work is the wellbeing of children. Back in 2017 there was a kerfuffle when American psychoanalyst Erica Komisar published Being There: Why Prioritising Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters. As The Wall Street Journal reported at the time, one agent told her they wouldn’t touch a book like that. Conference organisers disinvited her because her book, they said, would make women feel guilty.

Alas, as a society, we still don’t seem interested in exploring whether having a mum – or dad – at home in the early years is best for a young child.

The Prime Minister’s Gender Equality paper repeats recent Australian Institute of Family Studies data showing that, as at December 2021, women in 54 per cent of families usually looked after the children, while 40 per cent of families reported equal sharing of responsibility. Only 4 per cent of families reported that a man usually or always looked after the children.

In other words, even with women pouring out of universities at higher rates than men, leaving with more degrees than men, filling the professions in equal numbers, many women continue to embrace what Anne Roiphe in A Mother’s Eye calls the “whole complicated warm messy frustrating dear and dreadful business of raising children”.

Change is afoot, of course. And if gender ideologues treasured the important job of caring for young children instead of treating it as a chore, maybe more men would choose to do it sooner.

For good reasons, Western women have spent years telling the patriarchy where to get off. Why would a man presume to know what we want? It’s time to let that go. Right now, the biggest enemy of women’s choices is a small group of professional women who have the temerity to tell women what we really want.

Is there a polite way to say “f..k the matriarchy”?




No comments: