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226 responses to “Heigh-ho the Dairy-o…”

  1. Darlene

    Can’t stand Bettina Arndt and those CIS results look dodgy to me, however, young Ms Clare is being irresponsible (sorry if I sound like a dinosaur and a Today Tonight viewer). Not on my tax dollars, sister. Get an education and don’t have another child until you’re in a committed relationship.

  2. pablo

    Living in a country town I can vouch for the undercurrent view among bogans that the BB (baby bonus) and the single parent allowance is an attractive option for some. And the role of grandparents is possibly overlooked in the rush to fulfil the Costello quotient. Mums who don’t REALLY like the fact of being grandmums, just seem to like the idea of minding another tot for struggling daughter. Maybe it helps keep them feeling young and possibly it’s a case of life repeating itself. But like Darlene I wouldn’t want Bettina to be quoting the research on it back to me.

  3. amused

    Peter Saunders, from the Centre for Independent Studies, cites research showing most women who receive the sole parent pension after having a baby have already been on welfare.

    Yes it’s true. Unlike their sisters who have a baby, and who receive Family Tax benefit A and B. That’s not welfare. It’s reward for the effort of finding and keeping a spouse! Go Peter and Betty! It’s time the old fashioned values were re engineered. Perhaps the punishment for being young poor and feckless could be compulsory adoption, with the option of being able to keep any additional babies, once you have passed a certian tax threshold. Now there’s an idea that combines appropriate deference to established values plus the thwack of good old fashioned incentivation eh!

  4. adrian

    Just as union bosses is only bad when the union represents lower paid workers, welfare is only bad when it is paid to the undeserving poor.

    It’s so simple. They’re just not the same as us you know.

  5. Pavlov's Cat

    I too cannot stand Bettina Arndt, who seems determined to maintain a patriarchal society for as long as possible on all fronts. Trust her to put her finger on the weakest possible reason for objecting and go after it hammer and tongs.

    But I’m with you on this one, Darlene, on feminist and environmental grounds apart from anything else. This kind of willed dependence isn’t good for any human being and especially not for women — the opposite of ’empowering’ or any other buzzword you care to name — and nobody on the planet in its current state should be popping out 11 children.

    There’s a discussion on another thread about arts funding including the usual bleating about opera, elitist, whine blah yak etc, but I’d far rather my tax dollars went to fund a production of The Magic Flute or Dead Man Walking (anything but Wagner, really) than to feed and clothe a clutch of heartlessly, cynically conceived bambini created for the exclusive purpose of rakin’ in the white-baby federal dollars. If Australia wants another 11 citizens then there’s a much quicker and simpler solution than having some immature and greedy young woman grow them for us.

  6. Darlene

    “It’s so simple. They’re just not the same as us you know.”

    That’s just not true. They are the same as everybody else, which means that like everybody else folks like Clare have rights *and* responsibilities.

    Well said, PC. Remember when Arndt used to say things that mattered?

    “Willed dependence” is a wonderful way of putting it. It’s a dangerous trap to fall into for the parent and the off-spring.

    And yes, I am sure Today Tonight put its own little creative flourishes onto the issue.

    Also, it seems terribly anti-feminist to erase fathers from the parenting picture. If a mother has got to do it all by herself it hardly seems fair or equal.

  7. suz

    a clutch of heartlessly, cynically conceived bambini created for the exclusive purpose of rakin’ in the white-baby federal dollars. If Australia wants another 11 citizens then there’s a much quicker and simpler solution than having some immature and greedy young woman grow them for us.

    Why is what she’s doing heartless and cynical? I’m sure in her mind, having the babies and being a mother is to the forefront, not the issue of how she’s going to pay for them – yes, that means she’s assuming a certain level of welfare support, but I’d strongly dispute that that means she’s conceiving them for the exclusive purpose of raking in the dollars. She won’t be raking in too many dollars, for a start.
    And what makes her greedy? She won’t end up with any disposable income, so she can’t be described as greedy for money.
    She’s 20 years old. I’d bet anything she doesn’t end up with 11 children. I’ve known quite a few people in couples who stated that they wanted to have six kids and who stopped at two, when the reality sank in.

  8. suz

    Also, it seems terribly anti-feminist to erase fathers from the parenting picture. If a mother has got to do it all by herself it hardly seems fair or equal.

    She’s single and wants to have children. Maybe not the decision you or I took at age 20, but I think it’s quite moralistic to criticise her as ‘anti-feminist’, as though somehow one 20 year old in WA is responsible for putting men/fathers out in the cold. Taking on single motherhood doesn’t equate to “erasing fathers” (as neither does lesbian motherhood “erase fathers”).

  9. amused

    a clutch of heartlessly, cynically conceived bambini created for the exclusive purpose of rakin’ in the white-baby federal dollars. If Australia wants another 11 citizens then there’s a much quicker and simpler solution than having some immature and greedy young woman grow them for us.

    Careful, darlene, you are showing way too much of your social condescension. WTF does ‘cynically conceived mean’? Is that different from the way I learned? And ‘immature and greedy’ eh? Do ya reckon once she isn’t 20 anymore, and reaches, oh I dunno, 30 maybe, she might be a bit more mature? Or do you think someone who wants to have and raise babies for a living is beyond the pale?

    Really. While it is far more lucerative, and in my view more satisfying not to raise babies for a living, I simply don’t understand the boundless contempt for women who think it might be OK. They may be wrong about its charms and attractions, and certainly are about its financial possibilities, but what’s wrong exactly, with wanting to have and raise babies? And spare me the ‘what about the environment/planet’ claptrap please.

    Who needs ratbags like Arndt and CIS Sanders, when self described left liberals carry one like this about a silly and imature young woman, who, even if she succeeds in having 11 children, will be contributing young people (aka labour supply) to an economy apparently groaning for the lack of it. She is wrong about getting rich on it, and she would be better advised to get some skills and training along the way, but she does not deserve this kind of shite.

    This diatribe ‘reads’ just like those panicked articles blaming poor dark skinned woman who have lots of babies for all the ills of the world, including poverty, bad governance, and of course environmental degradation. Spare me.

  10. derrida derider

    Yeah, no way she’ll end up with 11 kids – she does sound silly and immature. But then all the fuss about the welfare cost misses the point – the health and education of the kids will take more taxpayer money than the meagre welfare payout. And its safe to assume that the kids will on average more than repay it in tax eventually anyway.

    The Costellos of the world don’t rabbit on about that when they talk of “one for the country”.

  11. Razor

    Just goes to show – if you want to encourage behaviour then you subsidize it.

  12. Gummo Trotsky

    This kind of willed dependence isn’t good for any human being

    Willed dependence or learned helplessness? One of the great social and cultural achievements of this Government has been to create, and over ten years maintain, an entire underclass of people who have learnt, via Centrelink and mutual obligation, that no matter what they do to improve their situation, they’ll get screwed by the bureaucracy.

    A not entirely unrelated achievement has been to convince the rest of the population that these people deserve this treatment. Clare Edwards’ belief that she has no other choice may show a lack of vision – is that because of innate tunnel vision or because she needs a hand getting the blinkers off?

  13. Darlene

    Amused, I presume you meant to direct those questions to PC as she is the one that composed those comments (although I agree with them).

    “And its safe to assume that the kids will on average more than repay it in tax eventually anyway.”

    Heard of inter-generational welfare dependency?

    It’s a very strange world when it’s regarded as aok for a 20-year-old without an income or a partner to give birth to even one child. There’s nothing empowering about being on welfare (and I’ve been on the dole at certain stages of my life, and I’m not proud of it).

  14. Pavlov's Cat

    Careful, darlene, you are showing way too much of your social condescension.

    Careful, amused, you are showing way too much of your careless reading. That comment was not Darlene’s but mine.

    By “cynically conceived” I meant “deliberately conceived by sperm bank (yes, it is different from the way you learned; obviously you didn’t read that bit either) at 20 when you’re still plenty young enough to have a good chance to give your kids a father and a half-decent childhood”, as distinct from “fifteen and accidentally pregnant because she couldn’t concentrate in Year 7 sex education because she hadn’t had any breakfast”, which I understand is a very common problem in the classroom and which I would be more than happy to fork out for. No doubt you think this is ‘socially condescending’ as well, but frankly I’m not sure why I’m bothering to engage at all with someone who hasn’t read the thread properly.

    Or do you think someone who wants to have and raise babies for a living is beyond the pale?

    If by ‘for a living’ you mean ‘on welfare’, then the answer is yes. Single motherhood on welfare is not something anyone should wish on themselves or on their children.

    And spare me the ‘what about the environment/planet’ claptrap please.

    Why should I care what you think is claptrap?

    This diatribe ‘reads’ just like those panicked articles blaming poor dark skinned woman

    How would you know what it reads like when you obviously haven’t read it? I don’t hold that many correct-line positions on things, ‘amused’; most of the positions I hold are fairly nuanced and thought-out, so spare me the knee-jerk crap responses to positions you think I hold because you haven’t properly read what I said.

  15. Beppie

    I don’t see what the big deal is. The woman wants 11 children as a single mother, which might not be the wisest thing in the world, but right now, TEN of those children only exist hypothetically. I mean honestly, all this story amounts to is “Woman plans to make potentially unwise decisions in the future”.

    Can’t we find someone more evil to demonise?

  16. Pavlov's Cat

    Willed dependence or learned helplessness?

    It’s a good question, isn’t it. I think I’d argue there’s a large degree of overlap.

    I certianly don’t think the poor misguided young woman deserves the full force of commercial “current affairs” even without the added horrors of Bettina Arndt, and I would very much like to know who it was who drew their attention to her in the first place, and what their motives were in doing so.

  17. MsLaurie

    To my shame, I must admit to having seen this on Today Tonight (*hides*).

    The woman in question did not strike me as especially stupid, or greedy. She sounded like someone utterly enchanted with her baby, as many new mums are, and wanting as much of that baby-rush as possible, hence “I want eleven!”

    She IS young to be embarking on single parenthood, and doing so purposefully, but somehow that purposefulness seems more empowering than a person who accidently became pregnant to someone they don’t particuarly like, and stay with only for form’s sake.

    She clearly adores her child, and that is surely an important factor as to whether or not her actions are appropriate.

  18. Gummo Trotsky

    Well, much as I hate to find myself agreeing with anything published in Quadrant, it looks like Tom Switzer might be onto something.

  19. Spiros

    Trying to raise 11 kids on your own is a stupid idea under any circumstances.

  20. Darlene

    “I certianly donâ??t think the poor misguided young woman deserves the full force of commercial â??current affairsâ?? even without the added horrors of Bettina Arndt, and I would very much like to know who it was who drew their attention to her in the first place, and what their motives were in doing so.”

    Heavens yes, in the years to come (not unlike the Paxtons), Ms Edwards will regret appearing on a current affairs program. Forever more she will be known as her 20-year-old self.

    If she was that “purposeful” she could of waited until she has the moolah to match the purpose. Honestly, if there’s one thing that almost as bad as creepy programs like Today Tonight with their horrible beat-ups, it’s “la la la everybody can do whatever they want la la la” beliefs.

  21. amused

    itâ??s â??la la la everybody can do whatever they want la la laâ?? beliefs.

    Well of course, they can’t, unless they have the moolah. Apologies darlene for wrong attribution.

    I am not a libertarian at all, PC.

    But tongue clacking disapproval directed at a young woman who wants to have babies as a career, strikes me as a pathetic target for ‘moral disapproval’. First, because it is such an easy target (ACA anyone?) and secondly, the real outrage should be directed at a situation where it just possibly could be seen by a young woman, to be a real alternative to learning, earning and having lots of babies, if she wants to. And spare me crap about ‘fatherlessness’ please. Of course it is better for everyone, parent and child, if there are two (good) parents. But what about some tut tutting directed at potential fathers, who don’t protect themselves from this kind of ‘feminine exploitation and idiocy’ by using a condom?

    This is pathetic.

  22. adrian

    It’s a very strange world when it’s regarded as aok for a 20-year-old without an income or a partner to give birth to even one child.

    This is getting friggin’ ridiculous. So if we assume that it’s not OK, because ‘we’ know what’s best for these people, then what do we do about it?
    Force people to go on the pill until they have an income and a partner?
    Withdraw or make unavailable welfare payments until a mother has a a partner or income?
    Compulsory sterilisation, because you know, these people never change.

    Or is OK to think it’s not OK, but do nothing about it except whinge?

  23. suz

    By â??cynically conceivedâ?? I meant â??deliberately conceived by sperm bank … at 20 when youâ??re still plenty young enough to have a good chance to give your kids a father and a half-decent childhood

    I fail to see what’s cynical about her actions. To me, cynical would be having sex with a man in order to get pregnant without telling him. She’s not tricking anyone. She’s deliberately asking men if they’ll co-operate with her to help her get pregnant.
    I also don’t see why anyone should assume that her already-existent baby and any others won’t have a decent childhood.

  24. suz

    As for “giving your kids a father” – would that also be a criticism of a 40 year old single woman deciding to go ahead and have a baby? Sounds awfully like Howard and co’s “a child deserves a father and a mother” to me.

  25. amused

    Hey gummo, that Switzer riff was excellent! Wonder how he will feel in a couple of years time. Yaiirs. We won the ‘culture wars’ because, look at all the conservatives who have gotten jobs telling everyone how right they are! But but but, still the slide into social anrchy and post modern relativism continues! I mean, look at the electorate! Seduced, seduced I say, by a glass jawed phony, who everyone knows, is just a media creation. Oh God! If only we had had the time-the time to bring back the real cultural heritage that the ‘marchers through the institutions’ have sought to smash in their maoist frenzy!

    Perhaps we could prevail upon Dear Leader to er, extend the electoral cycle, just a teensy weensy bit-you know, for a decade or more. What do ya reckon?

  26. adrian

    I also don’t see why anyone should assume that her already-existent baby and any others won’t have a decent childhood.

    Once you’ve pre-judged someone on the flimsiest of evidence you’re at liberty to assume anything you like.

  27. Pavlov's Cat

    But what about some tut tutting directed at potential fathers, who don’t protect themselves from this kind of ‘feminine exploitation and idiocy’ by using a condom?

    I’m sure there would be plenty of that, and not least from me, if that was what this thread were about.

  28. su

    like everybody else folks like Clare have rights *and* responsibilities.

    Or as the federal gov has it “mutual obligation”. Once the youngest child is at school a sole parent is obliged to show proof of job seeking, or attend 15 hrs pw of approved study or training and they cannot leave their locality unless they are moving to an area of higher employment etc etc. In other words they are treated little differently to the regular unemployed. I’m appalled that this woman is being described as greedy and cynical. Women’s work is never work is it; only self indulgence for which they are to be pilloried and insulted. Especially if she is young and naive.

    As for the CIS’ grab bag of woman blaming statistics. I assume that they would include everyone who has ever received unemployment benefits for any period of time and then been subsequently separated, divorced or widowed with children? Way to blame the woman and give men a free pass.

  29. mole

    Beppie

    Wins for the best summation of this “news” story in the fewest words.

    My better half used to be a member on a forum for a womans magazine. One of her friends online was a young single mum of 2 who had met 2 dropkick blokes and had a bub to each. They both did a runner on her as well. She now lives for her kids, both of whom have a genetic disorder passed on through her which causes learning difficulties. Apparently she has about a 80% chance of any other kids she has having the same disorder 9I think it was fragile x).

    Just as a stir she posted on this site she thought she wanted 5 all up and didnt care if the fathers were on the scene or not.
    I have never seen such vitriol and hate as she recieved from these “caring” ladies. It eventually drove her and my lady off the site alltogether, one even went so far as to hack her computer and call childrens services to “check her out”.

    There is definately a stigma to single motherhood, esp if the lady is ‘doing it herself”.

  30. Resin dog

    mole

    a better summation of the story might be ‘man bites dog’

  31. lill

    Personally, I think it’s a shame that young women still feel that the best they can do, both as a personal achievement and as way of ‘earning’ money is to have babies. What does it say about how these women are educated and what they feel their ambitions can be? I think it’s a sad remark that having kids is the be all and end all for so many single and partnered women. More money should be invested in helping girls to see themselves as valuable and able to contribute to the world in many many ways.

    I am not saying that having kids cannot be part of that parcel, but surely that is not all there is? I am a single mother, and helping my daughter gain the confidence and skills to go out into the world an ambitious and fulfilled woman is the best gift I can give her.

    And anyone who thinks ‘living on the welfare’ is a great ride is welcome to come and try it, thanks very much.

  32. zorronsky

    Oh to be able to root your way to MIDDLE class welfare. The dole 20,000 grand of off farm earnings plus 170,000 for a new life!! And no rugrats .

  33. patrickg

    I think Suz and Amused have made all the relevant points here.

    I would add, however, that people, we are talking about a Today Tonight story, here.

    This is the same Today Tonight that loses literally dozens of court cases for slander, defamation, and misrepresentation every year.

    The fact we are

    a) discussing this at all
    b) acting like the story in question was _at all_ related to reality – any reality, and c) Making some kind of judgement, based on something we saw on Today Tonight – TT, for the love of god!!!!

    surprises me.

  34. Gummo Trotsky

    Actually patrick, I haven’t seen the Today Tonight report – just the Bettina Arndt article where she uses Edwards as an excuse to slag off all single mothers on supporting parents benefit – because, deep down, we all know that they’re just like the Clare Edwards shown on Today Tonight.

  35. Andy

    The woman in question did not strike me as especially stupid, or greedy.

    Allowing Today Tonight into your home is rarely a sign of intelligence.

    In the future, everyone will have 15 minutes of notoriety on current affairs TV.

  36. Pavlov's Cat

    Sounds awfully like Howard and coâ??s â??a child deserves a father and a motherâ?? to me.

    What, so I’m supposed to be utterly crushed by ‘You sound like Howard’?

    Apart from anything else, I don’t. Howard was slagging same-sex parents, and to imply that I was doing the same is not just inaccurate but bloody insulting. I doubt if anyone here would seriously deny that two parents are better than one and that is the point that I was making.

    itâ??s a shame that young women still feel that the best they can do, both as a personal achievement and as way of â??earningâ?? money is to have babies. What does it say about how these women are educated and what they feel their ambitions can be?

    Exactly.

  37. adrian

    Look, the solution to all this is BirthChoices:

    “We decide who gives birth, and the circumstances under which they’re allowed to.”

  38. Pavlov's Cat

    I don’t think even Bettina Arndt thinks that, adrian, much less anyone who’s been commenting here.

  39. suz

    Howard was slagging same-sex parents, and to imply that I was doing the same is not just inaccurate but bloody insulting. I doubt if anyone here would seriously deny that two parents are better than one and that is the point that I was making.

    Yes Howard attacks same sex parents but when he says “a child deserves the opportunity of having a father and a mother” (as he has said on several disparate occasions) he is also criticising single mothers. I believe he first made that kind of statement in relation to the Leisa Meldrum case some years ago – the single heterosexual woman who was seeking to be allowed to do IVF in Victoria. He has very recently reiterated this position at the National Summit on Marriage, Family and Fatherhood and as that name implies, it is part of an ideological package which posits heterosexual marriage as the ideal state for having children – this is not just an attack on homosexuality but on single parents and ‘cohabiting’ heterosexuals.
    Bettina Arndt’s attack on Clare Edwards is quite clearly part of the same ideological package and some of the comments here have surprised me with how much they buy into the elements of that package which denigrate single mothers.

  40. Mark

    I hadn’t read this thread before. Let me just say that I don’t think it’s appropriate to judge this woman’s choices, either on grounds of principle, or more specifically because what a lot of commenters on this thread are doing is turning her into the same thing that Arndt and Today Tonight are doing which is reducing her no doubt complex story and her individuality to an object of cultural criticism and debate and denigration rather than treating her as a human being with choices, however constrained and even unwise in some people’s eyes they may be.

    Suz, that is a very scary link. At the “National Summit on Marriage, Family and Fatherhood” (mothers apparently optional):

    The Marriage Manifesto was launched in the morning â?? this included a range of proposals for legislation including pre-marriage education vouchers and a number of measures to reinforce the importance of marriage and the natural family.

    The speakers in the afternoon focused on the importance of gender being male and female. A book â??21 Reasons why Gender mattersâ?? was launched during the afternoon.

    Wtf is this fringe crap being dignified by being hosted at Parliament House?

    â??This booklet collates much of the social science research on this vital issue.

    Great concern was expressed over the promotion and acceptance of homosexual relationships and the link with gender confusion was explored by several speakers,â?? said Peter Stokes.

    Salt Shakers endorses the Open Letter (with more than 6,000 signatures) that is being sent to all federal MPs today opposing all forms of relationship registration, apart from marriage betweena man and a woman

    The letter, organised by Festival of Light, was presented to the Summit by FOL Research Officer Richard Egan.

    It calls on the government to legislate to stop the states registering other forms of relationship, and called on the Labor party to drop their policy of supporting the introduction of state-based relationship registers.

  41. Anna Winter

    Suz, unless you’re suggesting that Dr Cat shares the views of Howard and Arndt, I don’t see how it was at all helpful to make such comments. You quoted PC, not Bettina Arndt, so I think it’s only fair to address what you think she was arguing.

    I shouldn’t be, but I am shocked at some of the rudeness directed at Darlene and Pavlov’s Cat for saying things that should be fairly uncontroversial: that young women should be encouraged to aim for more than a life of welfare and that fathers should, and often do, play an important role in the life of their children. And I think both of them deserve far more respect than what they’ve been shown here.

    Just because some people use certain language as a “dog whistle” it doesn’t mean others using the same language to argue in good faith should be punished for it.

  42. Pavlov's Cat

    some of the comments here have surprised me with how much they buy into the elements of that package which denigrate single mothers.

    Well, if I for one have given that impression then I certainly haven’t meant to. My beef is with the very deliberate choice and stated intention here in 2007 of a healthy 20-year-old woman to become permanently welfare-dependent and not to see any kind of personal or political problem with that.

    Given that it’s on feminist grounds that I find this willed dependence so depressing, I’m hardly likely to be denigrating single mothers. Saying two parents are ideally better than one isn’t ‘denigrating single mothers’, any more than saying it’s nice to have a reasonable amount of money is denigrating the poor.

  43. Mark

    that young women should be encouraged to aim for more than a life of welfare and that fathers should, and often do, play an important role in the life of their children.

    By whom should they be encouraged, Anna?

  44. Mark

    two parents are ideally better than one

    I disagree. I don’t see that at all. Far too sweeping a statement.

    I agree with Suz. With respect!

  45. patrickg

    I also disagree. I have seen many cases where one parent was demonstrably better than two. In fact, I would go so far as to say the abundance of lack of parents is quite independent from the quality of life a child receives.

    Certainly, the two things may overlap, but I think people are seeing a causal relationship where one doesn´t exist.

    Regardless of whether one sees the report, or reads it, it´s based on a no-doubt highly spurious Today Tonight piece, misrepresenting shit left, right and centre – and thusly, none of us can´t state with any certainty what the real facts behind this story are, and as Mark alludes, I´m sure they are larger than either the screen time of Today Tonight, or anything the Australian would deign to print.

  46. Anna Winter

    By whom should they be encouraged, Anna?

    By their schools, their parents, society, strident feminists… A life of welfare dependence isn’t much fun for anyone and isn’t much of a life’s goal.

    But my point wasn’t to defend PC or Darlene’s arguments, but to reinforce that just because they don’t agree with others on the thread doesn’t mean that therefore they obviously agree with Howard. Surely there are more alternatives and opinions to go around.

    What irks me is the knee-jerk if you think this choice is better then you obviously disapprove of those who don’t make it. Which is true of Howard and Arndt, but I don’t think anyone would dare suggest is true of Darlene and PC. They can correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think either of them were suggesting economic sanctions or public shaming…

  47. Mark

    I haven’t read the whole thread carefully, Anna, but I don’t see Suz as having suggested that Darlene and Dr Cat are “obviously agree(ing) with Howard”.

    Suz wrote:

    Bettina Arndt’s attack on Clare Edwards is quite clearly part of the same ideological package and some of the comments here have surprised me with how much they buy into the elements of that package which denigrate single mothers.

    That seems to me to be true. I don’t believe she’s been rude in saying so, although perhaps you were referring to other commenters as well. It is helpful to point it out IMHO.

  48. Anna Winter

    http://larvatusprodeo.net/2007/10/02/heigh-ho-the-dairy-o/#comment-408240

    But it isn’t fair to suggest that it is only one person – there have been a few with similar responses, and I’d simply invite them all to reflect on the difference between a discussion about what’s best for children and their (young) parents, and a despicable attempt at demonising lesbians and single mothers. Sometimes the language might sound similar, but that’s the fault of Howard and co for being sneaky with their words, and well-intentioned allies shouldn’t get the blame for that.

  49. Mark

    Your comment was addressed to Suz, Anna. I’m not commenting on what others have said. If they’ve been rude, then they ought not to have been.

    It seems to me that stating that:

    two parents are ideally better than one

    is indeed:

    quite clearly part of the same ideological package

    That, to me, is just a statement of fact. I don’t believe that Darlene and Dr Cat buy into the whole package, but along with Suz (and this is all I think she was saying), I’m surprised that they do buy into aspects of it, with which I disagree. It’s important to see this cluster of beliefs – and I don’t believe that the statement can be supported empirically or even ethically – do form part of one particular set of norms which are often used against people who don’t conform to one aspect of them. Of course, they’re so common just because they are norms but I am also surprised that people who I would normally regard as critical thinkers are being highly uncritical in this instance.

    I think, with respect, you’ve misread what Suz was saying.

  50. Mark

    Ps – down with heteronormativity!

  51. Mark

    a discussion about what’s best for children and their (young) parents

    I’d also repeat what I said earlier. This young woman’s response is highly likely to have been elicited by the reporter. I find it most unlikely that the situation is as straightforward as Arndt etc. have been making it out to be. It does appear to me that people have been treating it as if it is, and I think that’s problematic. I also think that it’s ethically unwise generally to start discussing someone as if they were exemplary of some broader alleged phenomenon. In this case, much as people might try to generalise the discussion, because of the context it’s inevitably a discussion of (and a judgement on) a named individual.

    I just think people should reflect on that. That’s all.

  52. Pavlov's Cat

    Thanks, Anna, particularly as I can no longer speak for myself; I am by now almost completely speechless at the notion that a feminist view of a young woman’s choosing voluntary welfare dependence should be regarded as somehow demonstrating that I am Teh Evil Conservative, but that’s ‘ideological packages’ for you.

  53. Mark

    That also seems to me to be a remark made with a degree of bad faith, Pavlov’s Cat, with respect, certainly if it’s a response to the arguments I’ve been making which have neither suggested that nor been personalised and which I think deserve more respect than that snark, if I may say so with respect.

  54. Mark

    Your comment also completely ignores the point I was making, and which I take Suz to have been making (and which I’ve gone to the trouble of explaining) (and patrickg’s comment), and I think it’s “unhelpful” for that reason.

  55. Pavlov's Cat

    are being highly uncritical in this instance.

    Oh c’mon, Mark, perhaps I arrived at the view that ‘two parents are ideally better than one’ (NB note use of word ‘ideally’) using my critical faculties. Just because I disagree with you doesn’t mean I’m not thinking straight.

    It’s an instance of what Anna means about the Rodent and his, erm, weasel words, I think; when I said ‘two parents are ideally better than one’ I was actually thinking of what I’ve observed in many families over many years: the harmless and incontrovertible truth that where there are children to be fed and clothed and taken to ballet and soccer and nursed when they’re sick and cheered on at cello concerts and hockey, it’s quite useful when there’s more than one person to do it. Yes, I believe two parents are better than one, for the same reason that I believe three parents are better than two. Down, as you say, with heteronormativity.

    If we really have arrived at a place where none of us is allowed to say anything that might be regarded as Rodentitude, for fear of its being regarded as symptomatic of the ‘package’, then the federal election really cannot be called soon enough.

  56. Pavlov's Cat

    That also seems to me to be a remark made with a degree of bad faith, Pavlov’s Cat, with respect, certainly if it’s a response to the arguments I’ve been making

    It wasn’t; it referred further back.

  57. Mark

    That’s not what I’m suggesting at all, Dr Cat.

    it’s quite useful when there’s more than one person to do it

    The other person or persons doesn’t have to be a “parent”.

    I’m also a bit sad that the battle which I used to think had some chance of being won against the use of the term “welfare dependence” (which is a term with huge ideological overtones and very deliberately introduced to sunder benefits and rights from each other and to introduce aspects of normative and ethical judgement of individuals into common parlance) has been lost.

    Words are important. I know you understand that!

  58. Mark

    It wasn’t; it referred further back.

    Ok, thanks for clarifying.

  59. Anna Winter

    I linked to the comment that was the reason for mine, Mark. I don’t think I misread anything.

    I’m at a loss to understand how the idea that it’s better for women to be able to afford children, and to have someone (male or female) to partner them in raising the kid, is so terrible. It was always made as a general comment, aimed at the majority of cases. Most of this thread has been a generalised discussion, not a specific one about the woman in question. As Dr Cat said:

    Saying two parents are ideally better than one isn’t ‘denigrating single mothers’, any more than saying it’s nice to have a reasonable amount of money is denigrating the poor.

    If encouraging women to aim for more than a life dedicated to birthing children that someone else has to pay for is unfeminist then call me unfeminist. That says nothing about the need for a safety net for unforeseen consequences. But choosing to have kids and knowingly walking into a life of complete dependence on the government is no more empowering than choosing a life of complete dependence on a husband.

    I agree with Darlene as well about the dangers to feminist goals of saying that children don’t need fathers. Of course there are parents that are so deficient that kids are better off without them, and of course kids can still thrive if a parent leaves, or dies. But if we’re all about sharing the burden, rather than leaving it to women, then it should go without saying that feminists should embrace fatherhood rather than leave it to the Bettinas of the world. (I’m not suggesting feminists aren’t doing this, btw.)

    It bothers me that having such a discussion leads to suggestions that we are playing into the culture warriors’ hands. The opposite of their hatred and ignorance isn’t an all-choices-are-equal stance. And more importantly, expressing a view about people’s choices shouldn’t be assumed to imply a desire to shame or starve the people making them in order to enforce the correct behaviour.

  60. Pavlov's Cat

    Mark, I used the expression ‘welfare dependence’ in its denotative and value-neutral sense of being, you know, like, dependent on welfare. If there is an acceptable equivalent I would be glad to know what it is.

    But choosing to have kids and knowingly walking into a life of complete dependence on the government is no more empowering than choosing a life of complete dependence on a husband.

    Or even much less so. At least you can negotiate with a husband and do deals and trade different kinds of dependency with him, which is more than can be said for the government.

  61. Mark

    If encouraging women to aim for more than a life dedicated to birthing children that someone else has to pay for is unfeminist then call me unfeminist.

    Are children a commodity, then?

    I haven’t been calling anyone unfeminist.

    But if we’re all about sharing the burden, rather than leaving it to women, then it should go without saying that feminists should embrace fatherhood rather than leave it to the Bettinas of the world.

    Isn’t this rather a false dichotomy?

    But choosing to have kids and knowingly walking into a life of complete dependence on the government is no more empowering than choosing a life of complete dependence on a husband.

    As is this.

    At least you can negotiate with a husband

    Really? Always? To what degree? From what position? There’s a very benign view of marriage being expressed here. I (dare I say it?) am surprised.

    Of course there are parents that are so deficient that kids are better off without them, and of course kids can still thrive if a parent leaves, or dies.

    A former s/o of mine chose to bring up a child without the father even knowing of its existence. I think she made the right choice, from what I know. I know of another similar instance. The reasons are complex, and particular to those individuals’ situations, but the principle should be comprehensible to those who support a woman’s right to choose, I’d have thought.

    And – aren’t there some rather enormous assumptions being made here about the necessity of male involvement? Where does that leave women who don’t choose to have a child by conceiving with a male through sexual intercourse? Where does that leave lesbians? And there are women who want to have children and who are straight but don’t want there to be a “father”? All these choices are being implicitly devalued – and in the name of a very (hetero) normative understanding of what constitutes “family”.

    I (dare I say it?) am surprised.

    And more importantly, expressing a view about people’s choices shouldn’t be assumed to imply a desire to shame or starve the people making them in order to enforce the correct behaviour.

    No, it shouldn’t. But there are definitely some adverse judgements being made about such choices. It might be as well to be upfront about that.

    well-intentioned allies

    I don’t question the good intentions, but I’m starting to wonder about the second bit!

    I used the expression ‘welfare dependence’ in its denotative and value-neutral sense of being, you know, like, dependent on welfare. If there is an acceptable equivalent I would be glad to know what it is.

    “Welfare” was originally an American term, and its introduction into Australian political discourse was a direct result of its demonisation by neoconservatives in America in the 1970s and 1980s – see, for instance, Reagan’s (false) tales of “welfare moms” who had multiple babies to collect the dosh. (Sound familiar?) As a result of the ideological discourse popularised by Charles Murray and other neoconservative propagators of the “underclass” notion (some of whom also specialise in overtly or covertly racist and class based distinctions between who should be and who shouldn’t be “breeding”), the idea of “dependency” was introduced to suggest that “welfare” was akin to a “drug” (and the link is very deliberate in the associations it has). People are to be weaned off it, this pestilence doled out to them by the nanny state (and there are a range of interesting tropes about “family” at work here too), through “welfare to work” policies. As we know, welfare dependence is transmitted cross-generationally and breeds “dysfunction”. Mark Latham was probably the most blatant exemplar of the judgementality and authoritarianism inherent in the choice of these terms, perhaps because of his, shall we say, lack of subtlety.

    I don’t think that it has a “denotative and value-neutral sense”. Just as with assumptions about the desirability of two parents as opposed to one, the sense in which it’s used cannot be neutral as it’s informed by the context in which its sense has always already been inscribed. Language can never be neutral, and political language particularly not.

    In Australia we used to refer to social security benefits and people who received them as recipients.

    I’d settle for “citizen”.

  62. Mark

    Btw, personally, I support a guarenteed minimum income and I’m not in the slightest bit troubled by whether people choose to work, or surf, or bring up babies. In a society where the incentives are as strong as they are for most people, most will choose to work. But it doesn’t worry me in the slightest if people don’t, and how they choose to spend their lives.

    I question the degree to which work is seen as an unalloyed good in and of itself. For many people, in a society such as this, it’s going to be characterised by exploitation and alienation not fulfillment and self-development. Within the context of this discussion, the “choice” between “welfare” and “work” is usually one between being denigrated and existing on an insufficient paltry dole and being exploited for a sum hardly more (and in some cases less) sufficient. That ought to have been made crystal clear by the current government’s agenda with regard to moving single parents off “welfare”.

    I can well understand why someone might resist making that “choice”.

    Choice and dignity ought to be rights (and responsibilities) accorded to all. That’s my view of social democracy. I’ve previously argued that in the current Australian context, it’s a very radical notion. Evidently, that’s right.

  63. Darlene

    â??And spare me crap about â??fatherlessnessâ?? please. Of course it is better for everyone, parent and child, if there are two (good) parents. But what about some tut tutting directed at potential fathers, who donâ??t protect themselves from this kind of â??feminine exploitation and idiocyâ?? by using a condom?â??

    I absolutely agree on both counts.

    â??This is getting frigginâ?? ridiculous. So if we assume that itâ??s not OK, because â??weâ?? know whatâ??s best for these people, then what do we do about it?
    Force people to go on the pill until they have an income and a partner?
    Withdraw or make unavailable welfare payments until a mother has a partner or income?
    Compulsory sterilisation, because you know, these people never change.â??

    Nobody would want to children to suffer. I think I have said in relation to another issue that education is the key, but also it has to be understood that we live in a rights *and* responsibilities culture. Crikey, there seem to be a lot of middle-class guilt being expressed here, and also a lot of middle-class assumptions (oh, these poor folks are too stupid to think they could be good for anything but birthing them babies so we canâ??t possibly say it is wrong). Spare me.

    â??As for â??giving your kids a fatherâ?? – would that also be a criticism of a 40 year old single woman deciding to go ahead and have a baby? Sounds awfully like Howard and coâ??s â??a child deserves a father and a motherâ?? to me.â??

    What about supporting the notion of fifty-fifty parenting so women can be truly equal (and I donâ??t mean the kind supported by those repulsive fathersâ?? groups who only care about such things after a marriage breaks up).

    â??Personally, I think itâ??s a shame that young women still feel that the best they can do, both as a personal achievement and as way of â??earningâ?? money is to have babies. What does it say about how these women are educated and what they feel their ambitions can be? I think itâ??s a sad remark that having kids is the be all and end all for so many single and partnered women. More money should be invested in helping girls to see themselves as valuable and able to contribute to the world in many many ways.â??

    Here, here.

    â??And anyone who thinks â??living on the welfareâ?? is a great ride is welcome to come and try it, thanks very much.â??

    Indeed.

  64. Darlene

    â??I shouldnâ??t be, but I am shocked at some of the rudeness directed at Darlene and Pavlovâ??s Cat for saying things that should be fairly uncontroversial: that young women should be encouraged to aim for more than a life of welfare and that fathers should, and often do, play an important role in the life of their children. And I think both of them deserve far more respect than what theyâ??ve been shown here.

    Just because some people use certain language as a â??dog whistleâ?? it doesnâ??t mean others using the same language to argue in good faith should be punished for it.â??

    Thanks, Anna. The rudeness doesnâ??t worry me so much, but I am surprised because they are uncontroversial beliefs. There are young women out there who still think that mothering is all they can do because they lack self-esteem, resources and an appreciation that there are other choices that can be made. Itâ??s actually really sad.

    â??Given that itâ??s on feminist grounds that I find this willed dependence so depressing, Iâ??m hardly likely to be denigrating single mothers. Saying two parents are ideally better than one isnâ??t â??denigrating single mothersâ??, any more than saying itâ??s nice to have a reasonable amount of money is denigrating the poor.â??

    Absolutely true, and mine is on class grounds as well as feminist grounds. Try being a member of the underclass and see how empowering you find it, and see how empowering your kids find it.

    â??What irks me is the knee-jerk if you think this choice is better then you obviously disapprove of those who donâ??t make it. Which is true of Howard and Arndt, but I donâ??t think anyone would dare suggest is true of Darlene and PC. They can correct me if Iâ??m wrong, but I donâ??t think either of them were suggesting economic sanctions or public shaming.â??

    No, of course we werenâ??t. Gee whiz, I know what Iâ??m voting on election day and it isnâ??t for John and Co.

  65. Pavlov's Cat

    There’s a very benign view of marriage being expressed here. I (dare I say it?) am surprised.

    Really, why’s that?

    I can only think of two possible reasons: either because you think it’s part of the ‘ideological package’ of being a feminist that one must be anti-marriage, or because (given that I’m sure I’ve mentioned the unfortunate episode of the Child Husband at this site in the past; I’m a one-husband woman and I’ve had mine, thank God) you think that one personal experience ought to determine one’s attitude to the entire institution for life?

    I’m a bit surprised myself, Mark; if you think as mild a remark as ‘one can negotiate with a husband’ adds up to ‘a very benign view of marriage’ then your own view of marriage must be very malign indeed.

    And if we are expressing surprise, dare I say in my turn that I am a bit startled by the number of men on this thread who are eagerly championing the right of healthy young women in 2007 to choose to spend their adult lives barefoot and pregnant at home, coping alone with a bunch of children on a tiny amount of money that could be withheld (or even claimed back from them) at any time, gaining none of the education, training, skills or experience that could secure them a decent amount of money and a bit of presence and influence in public life.

  66. Mark

    That’s a distortion. See:

    http://larvatusprodeo.net/2007/10/02/heigh-ho-the-dairy-o/#comment-408373

    I’m not “eagerly championing” anything. I’m pointing out that this woman’s choices are understandable and not necessarily deserving of condemnation. That was the point of the thread, I thought.

  67. su

    Not on my tax dollars, sister. Get an education and don’t have another child until you’re in a committed relationship.

    but I’d far rather my tax dollars went to fund a production of The Magic Flute or Dead Man Walking (anything but Wagner, really) than to feed and clothe a clutch of heartlessly, cynically conceived bambini created for the exclusive purpose of rakin’ in the white-baby federal dollars. If Australia wants another 11 citizens then there’s a much quicker and simpler solution than having some immature and greedy young woman grow them for us.

    These statements are denigrating to single mothers. They are in no way a critique of the society in which a woman may have restricted educational opportunities or a narrow view of her own possibilities.

    And my god, the idea that anyone can “rake it in” shows a complete lack of knowledge about the amount of money involved and the ‘mutual obligation’ provisions which now accompany that money. Every time people go off half cocked about single mothers they contribute to the very classism that you say is a concern of yours, Darlene. The ubiquitous shaming of women who parent alone, whether they are employed or not is something you obviously have not experienced.

  68. Mark

    I can only think of two possible reasons

    You don’t say what the other one is.

    I’m quite conscious from both recent and past experience that to critique marriage as an institution is difficult, because people literally can’t hear what you’re saying.

    It’s a “discourse” in the correct sense Foucault intended – a structure which enables some things to be sayable and others not to be – and a complex of affects which are very strong indeed.

    Yes, I have a malign view of it.

    However, I don’t particularly seek to explain why now. For three reasons.

    (a) I have to go to work;

    (b) It’s a side issue insofar as this thread is concerned;

    (c) The critique – articulated for more than a century by libertarians and anarchists as well as feminists – is well known, I’d have thought. Or perhaps not.

  69. Gummo Trotsky

    Crikey, there seem to be a lot of middle-class guilt being expressed here, and also a lot of middle-class assumptions (oh, these poor folks are too stupid to think they could be good for anything but birthing them babies so we can’t possibly say it is wrong). Spare me.

    Well, so much for Anna Winter’s attempts to save your face Darlene – you’ve just gone and egged it all up again. Remember this from your first comment on this thread?

    Not on my tax dollars, sister. Get an education and don’t have another child until you’re in a committed relationship.

    Precisely the same sort of middle-class moralising that Arndt trotted out in her Hun article, the middle-class proprietorial attitude to my taxes that drives the demand for a draconian “welfare” regimen, with a healthy dose of middle-class resentment thrown in.

    Then there’s this sarcastic question to Amused:

    Heard of inter-generational welfare dependency?

    Standing alone, as it does, it gives absolutely no indication that you’re at all interested in why “inter-generational welfare dependence” might occur, and your concluding paragraph in that comment, despite your professed distaste for Bettina Arndt, has you once again in agreement with her.

    What about supporting the notion of fifty-fifty parenting so women can be truly equal (and I don’t mean the kind supported by those repulsive fathers’ groups who only care about such things after a marriage breaks up).

    What about supporting the notion that regardless of the mother’s moral standing in the community, every child in the community deserves certain basics. Why “fifty fifty”, assuming two parents – why not 25/25/50 (two parents plus extended family).

    And this point is out of order, I know, but what the hell:

    Nobody would want to children to suffer. I think I have said in relation to another issue that education is the key, but also it has to be understood that we live in a rights *and* responsibilities culture.

    Janet Albrechtsen would be proud of you Darlene.

    No doubt this comment will dismay those who’ve been trying to pour oil on the troubled waters and restore a little group harmony and civility around here, but I say stuff it. You want to pour vitriol into the troubled waters instead, well so can I.

    It’s a pretty weird sort of world where the Left’s response to smearing and stereotyping of one of “mainstream Australia’s” long-standing out-groups is to protest that TEH RIGHT has got the wrong stereotype and ours is so much better.

  70. adrian

    What su and Mark said.

    What amazes me about this whole thread is the rush to judgement, based on the flimsiest of evidence. Once that judgement is made it allows those doing the judging to make all sorts of outrageous statements, that in other contexts would be condemned by the people that are here supporting them.

    And please correct me if I am wrong, but it seems to me that the only rudeness evident here is the rudeness and distain directed at the subject of the post.

  71. Mark

    Indeed, adrian.

    I’ve said several times that it’s highly likely that the responses given to Today Tonight were very much coloured by the interview situation. And su is quite right to say that there’s a lot of denial about the reality of her choices, not to mention the fact that her actual situation is no doubt more complex. But we get this, from Pavlov’s Cat:

    There’s a discussion on another thread about arts funding including the usual bleating about opera, elitist, whine blah yak etc, but I’d far rather my tax dollars went to fund a production of The Magic Flute or Dead Man Walking (anything but Wagner, really) than to feed and clothe a clutch of heartlessly, cynically conceived bambini created for the exclusive purpose of rakin’ in the white-baby federal dollars. If Australia wants another 11 citizens then there’s a much quicker and simpler solution than having some immature and greedy young woman grow them for us.

    Later on, we’re told a story about “we’re really only discussing hypotheticals and not condemning anyone”. And apparently the fact that people might take umbrage at this sort of statement is “rude”.

    Bullshit on both. With respect.

  72. jinmaro

    Excellent points Mark, Suz, Adrian, Gummo Trotsky and Su.

    The notion of welfare dependency has also become solely associated, not with the numerous ways all citizens are dependent on the state for well-being, and which involve government funding, but with a particular type of dependency only. And this dependence becomes described and understood in a way that ends up being indirectly racist and sexist as well as class-based.

    Linda Gordon, Martha Nussbaum and others have argued â??welfareâ?? could accurately refer to the provision of paved streets, public transport, schools, parks, etc. laws that provide some protection against violence and abuse, etc. Even if we label welfare would have to include home mortgage tax deductions, business expense deductions, medical expense deductions, farm subsidies, and Medicare, and so on.

    Darleneâ??s and PCâ??s comments seem to be blind to the fact that while a small minority of households in the last 10-20 years may have undergone limited democratisation, where some individual womenâ??s negotiating power may have increased due to their relatively improved economic position – not only vis a vis their male partners, but the majority of other women – for most women, the situation has worsened. And the almost evangelical assertion of the â??work ethicâ?? today is one of the hallmarks of a growing unequal Australia which tries to ignore and deny this fact.

    Paid work is now perhaps the primary definer of social identity, social power, income and meaning. Everything else in Australian culture â?? children, art, community and love â?? is definitely secondary. And from that a lot follows. Like some of the appalling comments above.

    The history of feminism includes an increasingly lost understanding of the need to critique “work” in capitalist societies. Today, we have the unedifying spectacle of â??work-centred feministsâ?? attacking â??maternal feministsâ??. Such attacks are symptomatic of the triumph of an out-of-control exploitative and oppressive work ethic. They certainly stand in marked contrast to earlier, radical feminist critiques of the profound alienation caused by modern workplaces, and the burden the women’s dual role places on them, and on the men of the family too, not to mention the children.

    Finally, what is also absent from some comments is any sense of appreciation of the way in which income and social goods such as education and health care are distributed and why they are distributed unequally. Families and individuals today have increasingly been required to bear the costs of these social goods and services.

    The bottom line too is every child and woman deserves a guaranteed minimum income regardless of their motives in having children. It is the hallmark of a decent society that believes in human dignity.

  73. Mark

    Darleneâ??s and PCâ??s comments seem to be blind to the fact that while a small minority of households in the last 10-20 years may have undergone limited democratisation, where some individual womenâ??s negotiating power may have increased due to their relatively improved economic position – not only vis a vis their male partners, but the majority of other women – for most women, the situation has worsened. And the almost evangelical assertion of the â??work ethicâ?? today is one of the hallmarks of a growing unequal Australia which tries to ignore and deny this fact.

    Yes, spot on, jinmaro.

    That was what I was getting at with my question to Pavlov’s Cat et al about the alleged ability to “negotiate with a husband”. There are some huge class based assumptions (and stereotypes) being employed by some commenters, even as “classism” is decried (denied?)…

  74. jinmaro

    sorry – even if we label welfare as cash received from the government

  75. Pavlov's Cat

    Mark and jinmaro, I am in no need of a lecture on how language works, what (a) discourse is, how marriage works, or who is feminister than whom. Thank you.

  76. Mark

    In other words, Pavlov’s Cat, you aren’t interested in engaging with people who disagree with you. I’m not trying to “lecture”. Nor am I trying to “win” an argument or score points. I’m disappointed that you’re not prepared to be more critical of your own views, or open to those of others.

    And I continue to find this characterisation quite appalling:

    some immature and greedy young woman

    I note that you haven’t resiled from it. Or perhaps I’ve missed it.

  77. Pavlov's Cat

    In other words, Pavlov’s Cat, you aren’t interested in engaging with people who disagree with you.

    I have been trying to do exactly that for the entire thread. My argument is a feminist-based one about women’s autonomy and it has been persistently ignored except by Darlene and Anna.

    Yes, the comment about ‘some immature and greedy young woman’, made hyperbolically in the heat of the moment, is completely out of court and yes I do take it back.

    I would be a great deal more likely to be open to the views of others if they didn’t take the form of personal attack on the basis of having read my comments carelessly or not at all.

  78. FDB

    on the basis of having read my comments carelessly or not at all.

    Let’s be fair about that PC. It’s on the basis of reading something pretty full-on in your comments which has been found objectionable and only just now retracted.

  79. Darlene

    My face is without a trace of egg, thank you Gummo.

    I think I would refer to my stance as working-class common sense, but you can label in whatever way you see fit.

    Perhaps I should apologise if I desire to see women from all backgrounds get the opportunity to get an education, and not be caught in a welfare trap or have to carry the responsibility of parenthood of their own (alas, there seem to be a lot of men who support single motherhood – can’t think why).

    “Paid work is now perhaps the primary definer of social identity, social power, income and meaning. Everything else in Australian culture – children, art, community and love – is definitely secondary. And from that a lot follows. Like some of the appalling comments above.”

    Nobody agrees with that. But we all have to pay our bills. I don’t think anyone is blind to seeing females leave school at a young age and females who view motherhood as their only option and females who get caught up in relationships with deadbeats (you know the kind that have no problem walking away from their responsibilities) and females who end up raising children who repeat that process.

  80. Chris

    What about supporting the notion that regardless of the motherâ??s moral standing in the community, every child in the community deserves certain basics. Why â??fifty fiftyâ??, assuming two parents – why not 25/25/50 (two parents plus extended family).

    Well aren’t courts beginning to recognise this by giving grandparents visitation rights, or to put it another way the right for children to have time with their grandparents?

  81. Jobby

    How is it a welfare trap if that’s what she actually wants to do? The opportunity may be there for her to get an education, etc., but it’s an opportunity, not an obligation.

    I’d also be a bit wary of ragging on: “females [who] leave school at a young age and females who view motherhood as their only option and females who get caught up in relationships with deadbeats (you know the kind that have no problem walking away from their responsibilities) and females who end up raising children who repeat that process” whilst arguing that you’re coming from a position of “working-class common sense”.

  82. Chris

    The bottom line too is every child and woman deserves a guaranteed minimum income regardless of their motives in having children. It is the hallmark of a decent society that believes in human dignity.

    Agreed – though I’d probably include men as well!

    But just because I believe society should provide everyone with a minimum income no matter how they got in to those circumstances doesn’t mean that people should expect social approval of all the ways people end up in those circumstances. For example, I believe that we should rescue people who get into trouble sailing across the ocean, but have no problems suggesting they were stupid if they went out on an unseaworthy vessel in the first place, greatly increasing the possiblity they would need help.

  83. Gummo Trotsky

    Working class common sense eh?

    For some reason, I’m reminded of a little gem of “working class common sense” that was imparted to me a couple of decades ago, during a family conversation: “Face it Gummo, nobody marries the town bike now, do they?”

    You can take your “working class common sense”, and all the implied claims in your use of that phrase and …

  84. joe2

    “There’s nothing empowering about being on welfare (and I’ve been on the dole at certain stages of my life, and I’m not proud of it)”…. so said Darlene.

    Love to know what you mean by that Darlene. Has it got to the stage where those on “welfare” -and i use the word advisedly- should not feel “proud”?.

  85. Darlene

    Without an education these days you are in a lot of trouble these days (and I am not saying one sort of education is better than another – education can be TAFE, university, beauty school, anything that provides you with marketable skills). An education and/or training isn’t an optional extra these days.

    I wasn’t “ragging” on anyone, that’s completely incorrect, Jobby. I was saying that we have all witnessed people in that situation, and that it’s not a good situation for them to be in.

  86. adrian

    How is it a welfare trap if that’s what she actually wants to do? The opportunity may be there for her to get an education, etc., but it’s an opportunity, not an obligation.

    Exactly. Underlying many of the comments on this thread is the assumption that we know better than the person concerned what is in their best interests.

  87. Darlene

    I hope that made you feel better, Gummo. Deadset.

    Okay, I retract this comment because it was a silly way of expressing my point:

    “Not on my tax dollars, sister. Get an education and don’t have another child until you’re in a committed relationship.”

    Joe2, I was expressing a view about my personal experiences. Feeling isolated and marginalised is not a positive way to live your life.

  88. Liam

    That’s some pretty strongly confected outrage, jellied, iced, with a cherry on top, especially after Adrian’s implied that PC’s argument leads to compulsory sterilisation. ‘Pretty full on’? I think not.
    I don’t see what’s wrong with PC’s first comment, nor why it should be resiled from. Willed dependence and learned helplessness *are* things to be condemned. Planned pregnancy in the absence of income *is* immature.
    Objectification of people’s personal lives *is* fair blog fodder. Poor, poor Britney Spears and braindead David Burchell, objectified recently on this very blog.

  89. Jobby

    Sorry Darlene, poor choice of words on my behalf. My bad entirely.

    But I’m not sure if I entirely agree: Yes, I’ve seen people in bad situations and wished that they could get out. But it’s easy to judge from the outside.

    But I also know a bunch of women who left school early, had children early, work in low paying jobs, etc., who are as happy with their lot as well-educated, wealthy careerists.

    Do I think that they’d be better off educated, having children later, working a decent career? Yes, I think that I do. But it’s not my choice (and my personal prejudices probably play as much a part in my personal belief that lifestyle A is better than lifestyle B anyway). If the opportunities are there, then the decisions whether or not to take them go with it.

  90. Laura

    Given the choice (what a strange thought) I think on the whole most children would prefer not to have to share the attention of a sole parent with ten importunate siblings.

    But the main thing I wanted to say is this: don’t be falling for the wedge, comrades, especially one flung by the combined crudity of Bettina Arndt and ACA….as someone pointed out early on, the whole scenario is completely imaginary and thus not really worth going for each others’ throats over.

  91. FDB

    Liam, I don’t disagree with the argument PC (or you) make one little bit. The wording was a little strong though, and I’d suggest if she didn’t have a history here as a well-reasoned and perceptive commenter she might just have copped a bollocking.

    The bottom line for me is that welfare is there to provide support for those who need it through no fault of their own, not as something planned-for by individuals to make their personal choices feasible. Obviously people make mistakes and fuck their lives up and they should get the support they need even if their situation arguably IS their fault. But other people like this young woman seem to be abusing this to the possible detriment of the children they so want to raise.

    Describing this as greedy is a step too far IMHO. Stupid and thoughtless is closer to the mark.

  92. Jobby

    The bottom line for me is that welfare is there to provide support for those who need it through no fault of their own, not as something planned-for by individuals to make their personal choices feasible.

    I suspect that drawing a line between those two options could be a lot harder than it first appears.

  93. jinmaro

    It is delusional to think that education per se will solve inequality, as Darlene seems to do, using it as almost an all-purpose mantra and solution in numerous comments on LP. The notion that education should exist just to serve the economy is a relatively new one and a very bad one. By far the majority of new jobs created today are low-paid or part-time or casual jobs. The Australian education system is not fair, democratic or egalitarian.

    Finishing high school or even getting a degree today is just part of the general trend towards requiring higher and higher credentials for what are still run-of-the-mill working class jobs.

    Why blame and shame some people for opting for alternative ways of living and being and doing?

  94. Darlene

    Thanks, Jobby.

    “But I also know a bunch of women who left school early, had children early, work in low paying jobs, etc., who are as happy with their lot as well-educated, wealthy careerists.”

    Absolutely, and more power to them. They are doing what they need to do in this life. Again, I repeat that education and training come in all sorts of guises. Even low-paying jobs require a fair share of training these days. Of course, it would be a shame if those women missed out on the opportunity to do other things because of their so-called station in life.

    I’m old enough to know that lots of girls used to leave school early due to pregnancy, and did get caught in the welfare trap or in the churn of low-skill employment.

    I remember seeing a documentary series by Gillian Armstrong from years ago (one of them was called Bingo, Bridesmaids and Braces, I think), and in the last one there was talk about going back to school. It was really sad to hear the lack of certainity and confidence in that suggestion.

    I feel a little song coming on:

    Girls in our town, they just haven’t a care
    You see them on Saturday floating on air
    Painting their toenails and washing their hair
    Maybe tonight it’ll happen

    Girls in our town they leave school at fifteen
    Work at the counter or behind the machine
    And spend all their money on making a scene
    They plan on going to England

    Girls in our town go to parties in pairs
    Sit ’round the barbecue, give themselves aires
    Then they go to the bathroom with their girlfriend who cares
    Girls in our town are so lonely

    Girls in our town are too good for the pill
    But if you keep asking they probably will
    Sometimes they like you or else for the thrill
    And explain it away in the morning

    Girls in our town get no help from their men
    No one can let them be sixteen again
    Things might get better but it’s hard to say when
    If they only had someone to talk to

    Girls in our town can be saucy and bold
    At seventeen, no one is better to hold
    Then they start havin’ kids, start gettin’ old
    Girls in our town…
    Girls in our town

  95. joe2

    Let’s face it, the story is a classic ‘welfare bash’, like the Paxtons, a while back.

    Peter Saunders, from the curiously known Centre for Independent Studies, seems to have written the script and Bettina the drivel.

  96. Jobby

    The Australian education system is not fair, democratic or egalitarian.

    Somebody’s obviously got an Arts degree. ; )

  97. Darlene

    “The Australian education system is not fair, democratic or egalitarian.”

    Isn’t it? Gee, you could have fooled me. I thought it was wonderfully egalitarian. In advance Gummo, that was meant to be sarcastic.

  98. Darlene

    “The Australian education system is not fair, democratic or egalitarian.

    Somebody’s obviously got an Arts degree. ; )”

    Tee hee, first chuckle to be had on this thread. Yes, I don’t know why I should be glorifying education when all I’ve got is an Arts degree and a couple of pieces of paper from the IPAA.

  99. Liam

    And the bottom line for me is that if someone chucks a stigma, we should all be willing to chase. Why is “stupid and thoughtless” any less full-on than “greedy”, since we’ve established that accuracy about Clare Edwards’ life is a minor concern?

  100. Pavlov's Cat

    don’t be falling for the wedge, comrades … the whole scenario is completely imaginary and thus not really worth going for each others’ throats over.

    Well spotted and said, Laura, thanks. Accordingly, I’m out of here, except to say that

    (1)

    she might just have copped a bollocking

    What do you mean, “might”?

    (2)

    The bottom line for me is that welfare is there to provide support for those who need it through no fault of their own, not as something planned-for by individuals to make their personal choices feasible.

    Thank you, FDB, for expressing my own view far better than anything I’ve said so far myself,

    and

    (3)

    Liam is one of my absolutely all-time favourite bloggers, and when I meet him at some future grogblog I shall buy him a particularly large and expensive drink.

  101. jinmaro

    Actually, I don’t have any degree, or any post high school qualifications. And it wasn’t through lack of opportunity, but rather deliberate choice.

    Nor do I have and have never wanted children.

    Yet like many people I know in the same boat, after years working in shit jobs, I have a good, reasonably well-paid job now – through luck mainly, I would say, and because I do job interviews well.

    Also I don’t have children, have never wanted them and privately feel more than a little sorry for women who do have them. But I would never welfare bash women who have multiple children and don’t get themselves an education and a sufficiently well-paying job to support these children beforehand – and totally reject the notion that these things need to go together.

  102. Liam

    I’ll take you up on the shout, gratefully, PC, as I’m too greedy and irresponsible to budget my fortnightly pay.
    As for “welfare” not being about making personal choices feasible: of course they’re about making personal choices feasible. I frequently take advantage of heavily subsidised public transport to free me from the burden of walking to work. I wouldn’t have bothered with tertiary study, nor would most other people I met at uni, if it were unsubsidised by the Commonwealth and priced accordingly. A lot of people wouldn’t ever see a doctor or dentist if there were no such thing as bulk-billing.
    Edwards’ plan for pregnancy is immature not because it would be funded by Centrelink payments, but because Centrelink payments are so manifestly inadequate to support the life of even one childless person.

  103. Anna Winter

    The bottom line too is every child and woman deserves a guaranteed minimum income regardless of their motives in having children. It is the hallmark of a decent society that believes in human dignity.

    I don’t think there was anyone on this thread who disagreed with that. Not a one.

    But that doesn’t mean we can’t discuss “motives”.

    I’ll repeat what I said earlier in this thread – it’s possible to have opinions about people’s choices and to express them without having to assure people that no, I don’t support some illiberal society where my preferences are enforced.

    “Live and let live” is not the same as “don’t you dare judge, or have opinions, or preferences, or ideas about how others can best live their lives”. What nonsense! Even if my opinions were exactly the same as Howard’s about the “best” people to raise children, given that I’ve said I don’t support enforcing my opinions, then I’m not the same as he is. They’re not, by the way, but Howard et al deserve condemnation because they want to try and force everyone to live as they wish – not because they have a different personal view.

  104. Mark

    Liam, I disagree that the sentiments expressed on this thread are “confected”.

    Pavlov’s Cat:

    http://larvatusprodeo.net/2007/10/02/heigh-ho-the-dairy-o/#comment-408452

    I don’t believe that I’ve been either reading your comments carelessly or attacking you personally. I do wish to note that you have failed to respond to any substantive criticism, instead claiming that people were trying to suggest that they were “feminister” than you, and completely caricaturing and mischaracterising the arguments made against your position. All these are standard rhetorical moves for a stoush, but their presence in your comments makes it difficult for you to turn around and claim others are not engaging, or you’re not engaging because you feel you have been misrepresented. I think there are serious issues to deal with here, and they’re being avoided, but clearly there is no point further making the case when there’s going to be no substantive response.

  105. Pavlov's Cat

    as I’m too greedy and irresponsible to budget

    Oh my, so am I, and what’s more my pay is irregular. I’d have to be having a good week.

  106. Mark

    And Liam, if you can’t understand the difference between objectifying Ms Edwards and leaping to media driven assumptions about her choices and criticising David Burchell who’s a “public intellectual” or Britney who’s a “celebrity” (and one with whom I have some sympathy, just quietly), then I’m not sure that you’re in a position to be so loftily adjudicating on the merits or otherwise of positions in this “debate”.

    Just sayin… With respect.

  107. Liam

    Mark, whether confected or organically baked with natural sugars, it’s still a sticky-sweet concoction.
    *Of course* a social security system worth anything is designed with inherent behavioural preferences, not just need. I’m as wary of enforcing political preferences as is AW, but I also don’t want to see an entirely behaviour-neutral system of income support. We already provide for implicit value judgements in the system by privileging support for education and training over, say, support for the maintenance of household pets. Yet who’s to say that someone mightn’t be happier keeping a budgie than learning a trade?
    The best-worst option that everyone here could agree on, I think, would be that Clare Edwards receive some kind of sufficient living wage for both her and her eleven children. Yes? The nasty paradox is that such an system would enable her and people like her to restrict their own future life preferences in terms of things like education and access to the job market.

  108. Laura

    Chill people. It’s just a media beat-up. She only has one baby!

  109. Mark

    I’d also point out that the argument about what constitutes a “family” and my questions (which segued from Suze’ comment) about the default assumption that men need to be or should properly be involved in a woman’s choice to have a baby regardless of her choices or her sexuality have been completely ignored.

    There are some substantive issues which ought to be discussed in this context.

    Sorry if I’m spoiling the chummy pat each other on the back mood. Maybe youse could all go have a beer together?

  110. adrian

    Liam, I was not implying anything of the sort. Neither is my outrage confected or decorated with any sweetners. I was trying, obviously without success, to highlight what I saw as the flaws in kind of thinking that condemns certain people for the choices they have made.

    As I have tried to point out ad nauseum, what I object to is the rush to judgement. I note that nobody has responded to this particular point.

  111. Mark

    Too busy working out whose shout it is, adrian.

  112. adrian

    Yeah, me too, but that comment wasn’t directed at you – more at those so keen to do the judging.

  113. Mark

    Got it, dude.

  114. Darlene

    “Beer… Now there’s a temporary solution.” (Homer J. Simpson)

  115. Darlene

    Ditto what Anna said at 1.14pm.

    And there are issues that can be discussed without assuming that just because Howard has made a wedge of it it’s now out of bounds.

  116. Pavlov's Cat

    Mark, I wrote a long reply to your 1.16 pm comment and when I attempted to post it the connection crashed and ate it; unfortunately I don’t have the time or the inclination to try to reconstruct it.

    If you are going to sneer at my feeble attempts to keep the tone on your own blog civil then I am certainly not going to waste time trying to make any more of them. I have retracted the comment you found “really appalling” and if there is anything else you require an answer to then perhaps you would be kind enough to point it out.

    With respect.

  117. Anna Winter

    Speaking for myself, I don’t think that saying that men should be involved in child-rearing is the same as saying that families without men are deficient.

    I don’t believe that anyone should be looking at raising a child on their own because it isn’t good for parent or child. But that isn’t to say it has to be biological mother and father. It could be infertile male using donor sperm, it could be grandparents, aunts and uncles, lesbian partner, gay men…

    Most importantly though, I think that we have a serious problem if the only way to express support for lesbian and single mothers is to refrain from saying that fathers should have an important role to play.

  118. adrian

    As far as I’m concerned this has nothing to do with Howard, although he of course is a past master at exploiting some of the assumptions made above.

  119. Liam

    the default assumption that men need to be or should properly be involved in a woman’s choice to have a baby regardless of her choices or her sexuality have been completely ignored.

    Quite so. Nobody’s argued that men need to be. Darlene at the top of the thread questioned the choice to have children with neither an income nor a partner, *not specifying gender*, and PC explicitly said she’d condemn fatherlessness-criticism if “that’s what the thread was about”. Which it isn’t.
    I’m not sure I *do* see that there’s a fine dividing line between so-called objectification of Clare Edwards and talking about Britney Spears’ many problems. Clare Edwards invited ACA around for a chat. Surely Britney Spears hasn’t invited all of the media attention she’s received—and surely suggesting brain-death in a commentator is an unusually value-laden and objectifying criticism of a public intellectual.
    Last of all, there’s precious little “rush to judgement” here. From the header down, I read a fairly puerile post of Gummo’s inviting furious agreement about how baaaaaad Bettina Arndt is, and a surprised reaction when the embracing warmth of consensus gets broken by the chilling finger of nuance.

  120. joe2

    “The nasty paradox is that such an system would enable her and people like her to restrict their own future life preferences in terms of things like education and access to the job market.”

    And Liam, to miss out on making ‘judgments’ about her, from a wiser, educated, understanding. There is already a huge industry of the graduated, skilled and employed telling poorer people how to behave.

    Many jobs would go without,’The Clares’.

  121. adrian

    Perhaps you are reading another thread, Liam:

    young Ms Clare is being irresponsible

    to feed and clothe a clutch of heartlessly, cynically conceived bambini created for the exclusive purpose of rakinâ?? in the white-baby federal dollars.

    having some immature and greedy young woman grow them for us.

    poor misguided young woman

    If she was that â??purposefulâ?? she could of waited until she has the moolah to match the purpose

    Personally, I think itâ??s a shame that young women still feel that the best they can do, both as a personal achievement and as way of â??earningâ?? money is to have babies.

    There are young women out there who still think that mothering is all they can do because they lack self-esteem

    Or maybe you just haven’t bothered to read this one properly.

  122. Liam

    joe2:

    graduated, skilled and employed

    Speaking for myself, one and a half out of three isn’t bad.

    telling poorer people how to behave

    Well now this is the nut, isn’t it. I happen to think that it *is* within the bounds of both a liberal and a socially-just political agenda to make criticisms of other people’s choices in their lives, because those choices inevitably affect one’s friends, family, and colleagues. I reject the libertariannish notion that lives are meant to be lived individually, unhindered as far as possible by anyone, and its corollary that, as Anna said above, “all choices are equal”. Clearly, they’re not. Anna said above, and I think it’s worth repeating:

    expressing a view about people’s choices shouldn’t be assumed to imply a desire to shame or starve the people making them in order to enforce the correct behaviour.

  123. adrian

    Yes, and we make criticisms of those choices based on information received from Today Tonight and the Government Gazette.

  124. suz

    Most importantly though, I think that we have a serious problem if the only way to express support for lesbian and single mothers is to refrain from saying that fathers should have an important role to play.

    But a comment was made here that the specific single mother under discussion should delay motherhood until she could “give [her putative] kids a father”. That took the discussion past the issues of income and age and into the realm of ‘ideal families’. That doesn’t look to me like expressing support for single mothers, but saying that a deliberate decision to become a single mother is a dubious decision due to the lack of an involved father. That comment bore similarities in my mind to the conservative position that kids “deserve” a father, so I remarked on that similarity and later elaborated on my remark.

    I can see that the emotional tenor of this discussion has at times been slightly at cross purposes, but I haven’t seen anything posted which substantially changes how I saw those earlier comments … I mean, are we just chatting or even gossiping on this thread about what people (including ourselves) do with their lives; are we speculating about our own ideal family units; or are we talking about the dominant conservative discourse around families and “welfare” in this country? Of course, all these things intersect – and sometimes – often, for some of us (and I assume that most readers know that I’m a lesbian mother) – they intersect in our own lives.

    I also asked earlier – and no one has responded to this – if those who are critiquing CE’s decision at 20 to have a child without an involved, supporting father would similarly critique a 40 year old single woman making that decision? What about a 30 year old single woman? Should no woman who in any way suspects she might have to rely partly on social security at some point during parenthood ever decide to have a baby? There’s been a lot of unsubstantiated talk of the ‘welfare trap’ – as though we can take for granted that Clare Edwards, however many children she does or doesn’t have, will never work again, least of all work while her children are young. Yet some of my best friends are single mothers (from choice!) who have received parenting payment for a year or two and who are now in employment. Let’s talk about ‘social security’ rather than ‘welfare’.

    Sometimes I get a sense in discussions like this (eg early comments that the actions of Clare Edwards were “antifeminist”) that women who are or have been in partnerships with men and who perhaps have to battle with men to do their fair share of domestic work feel that single women deciding to raise children on their own somehow sends a message to men that they are off the hook. I think Bettina Arndt’s politics stem from and thrive on that kind of blame-game between women – and Laura was so right in using the word “wedge”!

  125. FreeMarketMantra

    “Clare Edwards invited ACA around for a chat”

    She also had New Idea around for a little chat recently which is where I first read about her a few weeks back.

    If Clare Edwards did not want people discussing her decisions or having opinions then she should not have sough out the media to get her 15 minutes of fame.

    BTW she is already looking for the sperm donor for her next child.

    Me, I don’t think she is doing the right thing by herself or her planned offspring.

  126. FDB

    Liam:

    As for â??welfareâ?? not being about making personal choices feasible: of course theyâ??re about making personal choices feasible. I frequently take advantage of heavily subsidised public transport to free me from the burden of walking to work. I wouldnâ??t have bothered with tertiary study, nor would most other people I met at uni, if it were unsubsidised by the Commonwealth and priced accordingly.

    You think all Govt spending is “welfare”? I get the feeling people are pretending to disagree here.

    A lot of people wouldnâ??t ever see a doctor or dentist if there were no such thing as bulk-billing.

    No, the equivalent here is deliberately making yourself sick because you like going to the doctor’s.

    Anyway, to sum up what I see as the real issues we probably all agree on:

    1) It is not generally speaking in the interests of a child to be raised by a single parent with no education and ten siblings

    2) Single parent welfare payments are there to assist people in need, and any person who finds themselves in such need should receive such assistance UTTERLY REGARDLESS of how or why they find themselves in need, however:

    3) Single parent welfare payments are not there to provide incentives to have more babies, and anyone who deliberately brings children into a situation of welfare dependence should have a better reason for it than “I want more kids” [see 1]

  127. amused

    It’s easy really. If said young woman had a degree and got married to a rich husband and expressed the desire to spend the rest of her marriage having and raising 11 children , what would be the objection? Lack of ambition? Perhaps. But her choices would be of course ‘be respected’, and her right to do as she pleases presumably defended, even though as we know, her decision would attract a swag of taxation support by way of various benefits. Some might grumble about their taxes being spent in this way, others may not. But she would hardly come in for the venom and contempt that this young woman has done.

    Try as I might, I can’t ‘read’ anything other than tongue clacking disapproval for what has been presented as ( I didn’t see the program) a feckless thoughtless ne’er do well, carelessly spending tax payers (and by implication ‘our’) money on having children instead of having a ‘life’, wedded to training, income earning, and then if she can support herself, some modest reproductive activity, in keeping with her financial status and capabilities.

    I do not think a life devoted to reproducing and raising children ideal as a way of life myself, but then I wouldn’t choose a number of occupations, for a variety of reasons, including general dullness, lack of remuneration, and lack of any variety. So what? So what’s wrong with choosing to have and raise kids? It’s because some people here think it is terrible to depend on ‘welfare’, others because she has ‘chosen’ not to have a partner’ in the enterprise ‘baby making 2007-infinity’, and is therefore condemning her children to lesser chances than they would have otherwise. Well I refuse to get excited about my taxes going on supporting someone who has decided to raise her own children as a career option, as opposed to being trained as a child care worker, and working long hours for sh*it pay, looking after other people’s children. Or partially depending on ‘me’ and her partner as a means of being able to have and raise kids. I am childless myself, through choice, but if there’s one thing that has always infuriated me, it is self righteous women, who simply can’t stand the idea that some young woman somewhere, is having babies, instead of being a good girl, and working in some sh*t job somewhere, as deemed appropriate for a woman who should be ‘independent’, ie; not dependent on ‘taxes’ as opposed to depending on a husband, presumably.

    I hope she finds that being the kind of mother she wants to be, means that she modifies her numerical goal. That number of children could be bad for her health, but her doctor will be able to advise her. Otherwise I have nothing whatsoever to say about her choices, since I presume she knows what she is doing, at least as well as a woman who trains to be a child care worker in the market, or Ms Arndt, whose various career and other lifestyle choices, are of course, strictly ‘off limits’. I hope that young woman learn her lesson, and never ever goes near a TV current affairs program again, unless she is ‘lawyered up’ and feeling pretty feisty.

  128. joe2

    “Speaking for myself, one and a half out of three isn’t bad”.

    Liam , why rush to ‘your’ personal? The point I was making, was that the “correct behaviour” enforcers, are doing very nicely already, under Howard.

    There is money and jobs in ‘the standing over those further down the food chain’, in the ‘lets get rid of the welfare industry’. Picked up by many who believe the are ‘better educated’ and ‘skilled’.

    And, as Adrian suggests, many from the left, still go to water, when ruppy acolytes , hit the ‘welfare bad’ button.

  129. Katz

    It is undoubted that Clare is manna from heaven for tabloid current affairs. Clare may be an example of the Gerry Springer phenomenon wherein in some persons are willing to sacrifice their dignity and veracity for 15 minutes of infamy. On the other hand, Clare may be absolutely sincere in her stated attitudes to serial single motherhood.

    None of us knows what Clare likes about having children. Maybe she just likes carrying them to term, or birthing them, or bonding with them immediately after birth. She certainly hasn’t had any experience yet rearing them. She just thinks she might like that aspect of having children when the opportunity comes along.

    Clare’s choice isn’t to be condemned at least until it is understood. And maybe not even then. Her proposed lifestyle choice is certainly one that is enabled at present by public policy. It goes without saying that the policy did not intend to create anyone like Clare. Clare is an unintended consequence of public policy. Clare would appear to be an extreme expression of some not uncommon attitudes to the costs and benefits of single motherhood.

    Perhaps Clare is doing no one any good if she follows through on her stated intention of having 11 children. It may be bad for her. It may be bad for her children. It would certainly consume a bit of my tax. And it throws into doubt the rationale of a welfare state based on current principles.

    But I wish to address Arndt’s proposed solution:

    In our efforts to rid children of the tag of illegitimacy, we now steer clear of any public discussion as to whether it is a reasonable and legitimate course of action for a woman to deliberately choose to have children she can’t afford.

    Is Arndt seriously suggesting a return of the stigma?

    Does Arndt not realise that the most direct victim of that stigma wasn’t the errant mother but the blameless child? Her suggestion is evil.

    Fortunately, Arndt’s suggestion is also impossible. Folks don’t like paying for the upkeep of other women’s children.

    Fortunately Australians are far beyond any impulse to resurrect the stigma of bastardy. Intelligently, Australians accept the necessity of paying for the rashness, impulsiveness, selfishness, or sheer bad luck of others in order to prevent other more serious and more expensive problems.

    And pragmatically most Australians point out the Clares of this world to their own daughters. And most daughters learn the desired lesson.

  130. Mark

    Pavlov’s Cat, I had no intention of “sneering”. My apologies if that’s how you read my comment/s.

    I don’t believe that the points made about the nexus between the construction of family norms and women’s choices or jinmaro’s arguments have been adequately addressed, and it seems to me that neither are about who’s “feminister”, but are actually key to this whole argument. Whether you choose to answer them or not is of course up to you. But I don’t believe that responding to what I said about “welfare dependence” (in response to a question you asked of me) with the condescending comment that you “don’t need a lecture” is engaging.The other arguments you’ve just passed over in silence, though I think you need to address them if you wish to defend your point of view.

    However, I do note that you have retracted your original characterisation of Ms Edwards, and also note your desire to be civil.

    I don’t think the way in which you mischaracterised the views of those who disagree with you reaches that aspirational goal, though.

  131. Pavlov's Cat

    Suz, I think that’s a really interesting question about 20, 30 and 40, as are the follow-up questions you ask. I don’t have time to engage with them in a considered way till tomorrow, by when I’m sure the discussion will have moved on, and I don’t dare say anything more off the top of my head, on this thread at least.

    But to be going on with: the first thing I’d do in answering this question is establish that (a) the question of single motherhood per se and (b) the issue of assuming entitlement to a government-supported lifestyle choice for the foreseeable future are two quite separate ones.

    Like you, I have a number of good friends who are single mothers. I have actively supported single mothers (and their children) one way or another on and off for decades. It was an option I considered for some time myself. And I think Ms Arndt’s treatment of those two issues as though they were one is a despicable bit of bad faith, because she is quite smart enough to know they aren’t really.

  132. Anna Winter

    Suz, the woman in question is young, apparently not infertile, and – I don’t think – a lesbian. Discussing whether or not her particular choices are wise do not say anything about women in different situations. The combination of factors (which may or may not be correct, but they’re the factors we’ve been told about) appear to include youth, lack of partner, reliance on welfare/ social security and a desire for 11 children. Pointing out that she may be making her life much more difficult than it needs to be, and that perhaps her choices should not be encouraged, are not simply a way of saying that single and lesbian mothers are evil.

    I think Bettina Arndtâ??s politics stem from and thrive on that kind of blame-game between women – and Laura was so right in using the word â??wedgeâ??!

    And this is the kind of response that they are looking for. If you think that the response is to avoid saying things you believe to be true in order to avoid looking like you are “one of them”, then you are falling for the wedge. Bettina Arndt’s columns are successful because she combines obvious truths with ignorance and hatred, so that the reader links the things in their mind. They spout the obvious truth that fathers are important, link it with their vile assertion that lesbians are incapable of being good mothers, and presto! – anyone who agrees with the first is deemed to agree with the second. They win if the other side’s response is to stop pointing out the former in order to avoid looking like they endorse the latter.

    To truly overcome the wedge, the response should be that the former says absolutely nothing about the latter, and call them on their rhetorical tricks.

    As well with the welfare thing. Welfare is a good thing, a thing to defend, and also a thing that shouldn’t be relied upon. Choosing a life of welfare doesn’t mean that you deserve to be shamed, but pointing out that choosing to be dependent on it is unwise is not the same as shaming people who do so any more than pointing out that – for example – fresh fruit is better for you than fruit cups is shaming those who choose fruit cups.

  133. Laura

    Amused said: “So what’s wrong with choosing to have and raise kids? ”

    Nothing at all, in moderation. It’s the eleven children bit that seems selfish and immature, to me, and not because of social security payments or anything like that, but because it isn’t fair on children who ought to be reasonably well entitled to expect a decent amount of attention from a parent who isn’t half dead with exhaustion and distraction. Kids are for life not just for Xmas etc. But honestly, she’ll never, ever, not in a million years, make it to eleven. That sort of achievement is reserved for only the Righteous among us:

  134. Oops, I did it again

    Devastating blogtravail, Haiku Hoges. You certainly earned that drink, though it’s much the lesser prize.

    Now for your next mission, should you choose to accept it:

    “Britney Spears is an immature and greedy nutjob young woman who doesn’t deserve custody of her children.”

    Discuss.

  135. Mark

    Anna, I’m still surprised that so many people are prepared to take what she said (apparently – who’s actually seen the interview?) as if it were gospel and accurately represented her. And “choosing a life of welfare”? That choice is rarely unconstrained, and as I and a number of other people have been saying, it may be a rational choice compared to the alternative of low wage exploitation.

  136. Laura

    Anna, I think you’re right that falling for wedge tactics in part consists of ceasing to engage. But that’s not likely to happen at LP. It’s also about infighting.

  137. Anna Winter

    Yeah, Mark, but aside from the point that the woman herself is the one who told her story to the current affairs viewing public, I think we’re at the point where we are discussing the issues rather than the person. Her story is the topic, not her. Maybe it’s all bollocks, in which case what’s discussed here wouldn’t apply to her life. That doesn’t make it an issue not to be discussed though.

    But I don’t think we’re going to get anywhere if one side is saying that choosing to be dependent on welfare is bad, and the other side is saying maybe she isn’t “choosing”. Clearly the answer is in the middle somewhere. No choice is fully unconstrained, obviously, but if we’re heading towards a situation where we can’t condemn any choices because choices aren’t possible, then it doesn’t really matter what any of us say, does it?

    I feel like I’ve started repeating myself and have nothing new to add, so I’ll probably bow out now. I’ll just say that I don’t think there’s any contradiction in what we’re both saying. A life of welfare dependence is not fun or empowering. But welfare shouldn’t be withheld because we don’t like her choices. Her choices may be unfairly limited. Therefore we, as a society, should be providing more and better opportunities for young women like her. And if she were my friend I would be telling her, to her face, that she should aim a little higher both for her own sake and the sake of her children, while also committing myself to a political fight that helps increase her range of options. I don’t see why I should have to limit myself to just one of those…

  138. joe2

    “Choosing a life of welfare doesn’t mean that you deserve to be shamed, but pointing out that choosing to be dependent on it is unwise is not the same as shaming people who do so any more than pointing out that – for example – fresh fruit is better for you than fruit cups is shaming those who choose fruit cups.”

    Anna, having giving up a life of dependence from government, yourself, I congratulate you, and goodluck. Why then judge “welfare” recipients who have not had your good fortune ? As Mark pointed out earlier, the term is loaded.

    If you had ever needed to stand in the centrelink line for a very small payment, you would have found it bit different to picking up the fruit cups over the fresh fruit at the super-market, I assure you.

  139. Danny

    Bettina: “to deliberately choose to have children she can’t afford.”…

    WE didn’t do OUR sums properly and, now she’s in high school, it turns out the ILLIGITIMATE child WE deliberately chose to have, WE can’t afford either.

    I guess the right thing to do with her, like other commodities, would be to put her on ebay. With the money we get for her, we could probably afford to get married, and all would be right with the world-according-to-Betty.

  140. Anna Winter

    Whatever, Joe2. Clearly you have no intention of reading what I’ve written, so I’ll leave you to your assumptions.

  141. Pavlov's Cat

    Mark, well, I did ask, and I’m sorry I have to do this so quickly — here are some of the more clearcut ones at least:

    the nexus between the construction of family norms and womenâ??s choices

    Yes, I agree that this is crucial. But I think the solution is a paradigm shift in cultural constructions of fatherhood (same-sex parents are way ahead in this regard for obvious reasons) and in assumptions about people’s working lives, including the arrangements, physical and otherwise, of the workplace — including allowance made for the lives of single mothers, yes, of course.

    Because the only way these problems will ever be overcome is by a radical rethinking right through public and private life of the relationships between different parenting roles, and between parenthood and working life. While I take some of jinmaro’s comments about work on board, I don’t much fancy working twice as hard to pay taxes to support those whose ‘choice’ is not to, and I bet nobody else does either. I certainly don’t think the solution is for 20-year-old women to choose to be dependent on the government indefinitely, and I would rather see those taxes spent on a massive education program about gender and society, starting with company CEOs.

    Or on a landing strip for the flying pigs, whichever comes cheaper.

    But I donâ??t believe that responding to what I said about â??welfare dependenceâ?? (in response to a question you asked of me) with the condescending comment that you â??donâ??t need a lectureâ?? is engaging.

    Actually, I took what you said about that phrase completely on board and haven’t used it since. I think you may have been underestimating the degree to which it has special resonance for sociologists and perhaps not so much for the rest of us. The comment about not wanting to be lectured to was specifically in reference to what I thought were your condescending remarks that ‘language is never neutral’ (in context, no of course it isn’t, but individual lexical items frequently are, otherwise how would writing a dictionary be possible?) and ‘this is the discourse of marriage’.

    My ‘point of view’ is that while I am a fervent believer in ‘To each according to his [sic] need’, I am also a fervent believer in the other half of that famous little equation, and certainly not any kind of believer in ‘To each according to his lifestyle choice.’ Above all I am a believer in the autonomy of women and a ferocious critic of a society that enables their willed dependence, whatever form it takes.

    I don’t regard this as a point of view that needs defending or justification, and if that makes me Teh Evil Conservative (and I’m sorry, but I maintain that that implication runs throughout a number of people’s comments, as Anna has observed) — well, hand me my cashmere cardie and call me Janet.

  142. jinmaro

    A life of welfare dependence is not fun or empowering.

    Neither is working in low-paid, insecure jobs. And yet,it is also true, that many people in these jobs also get a measure of satisfaction from them, separate to the issue of pay and work status.

    Has it never occurred to you Anna, that women may not actually primarily view themselves and their lives in this way? As welfare dependants? That they may, as many women do who have more children than they can emotionally or otherwise really care for, and have done so for aeons, they may do so for a host of other perfectly rational reasons that have nothing to do with stereotypes of low self-esteem, etc., that you and others refer to?

    Some women do have children, probably too young, too poor, too alone, because, for instance, they really want to be good mothers, either like, or perhaps not like, their own mothers.

  143. joe2

    Anna, i have read your posts, promise.

    I just find the wish to have the right to “condemn”, those who have less power than oneself, contemptible. I’m funny like that. The thread is a bit about the possible abuse of media power by a writer who I once respected as a straight shooter and open thinker. Too bad about her recent efforts. Cheers.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bettina_Arndt

  144. Mark

    Pavlov’s Cat, there are several points where language is being used here to mask disagreement (unintentionally I think). Someone (forgive me for not scrolling up so I can be more specific but I’m at work) said something along the lines of “everyone here supports a guarenteed minimum income”. I don’t think that’s true – because the proposal is not for the minimal levels of benefits grudgingly payed now and hedged around with nasty conditions (= “responsibilities”) but rather either through direct income transfer or through a negative income tax for a generous level of income to go to all adults in society as of right. Interestingly, there’s more support for this among libertarians than social democrats these days, though it’s a classic social democratic policy – both in providing equality of opportunity with a big kick along and in refusing the notion that work is a good in and of itself and to be valued no matter what its nature.

    In fact, because the entire bureaucracy of surveillance and punishment would be abolished, you could probably have lower taxes and still give everyone 20k a year or whatever. Just imagine – no centrelink, no dole diaries, no… this stuff is inordinately expensive.

    But the point about taxes is important. Other societies choose much higher tax rates for much greater levels of social equality and therefore genuine freedom of choice. It seems that this is inconceivable to many in the Australian context.

    Similarly, while the origins of the language of “welfare” and “dependency” might be better known to sociologists, adopting those terms shapes the way we think about these issues – and in a very negative way, in my opinion.

    With regard to Laura’s comments, I don’t see that being divided is a bad thing. Exposing some of these divisions is positive – if it causes people to rethink their position. That doesn’t mean I expect people to agree with my analysis, but I would hope that people would be prepared to test their own views against the arguments of others. If you end up where you began, at least you should be happier that where you are is justifiable.

    The fact that there’s been a lot of rancour about it (and the sidestepping and papering over of the cracks by invoking the figure of the “stoush” only proves that to be the case) is unfortunate. But unless we see all of us as sailing towards the New Jerusalem on the good ship Rudd, I’m unafraid of having an argument if it allows us to recognise better that some rather conservative assumptions have slipped in to the thinking of the “left”, and some notions which were previously regarded as mainstream (cf. the value of work and social democracy v. “where are my taxes going” themes) are now apparently quite radical.

    Similarly, I think a lot of assumptions are being made by many here which contribute to the reproduction and constant reinscription of a certain norm of parenthood and partnership which needs radical critique. As I said, “down with heteronormativism!”. Obviously I’ve erred by assuming that there was more common ground than there is. And while I’m happy to apologise if I’ve given any offence, I will not apologise for arguing in favour of a position which I think is juster.

    But maybe now that this thread has become such a nest of vipers, this is not the time nor the space.

  145. Anna Winter

    Has it never occurred to you Anna, that women may not actually primarily view themselves and their lives in this way?

    Why no, it hasn’t. Thank you so much for pointing it out.

    Seriously, if for no other reason than laziness, I don’t think that saying something as obvious as that a life dependent on a subsistence income paid by government is not something to aspire to should have to be qualified with “but also, lots of jobs are shit, and lots of people don’t get paid enough for working shitty jobs as well, and lots of women don’t get help by the fathers of their children and lots of women are lesbians and make very good mothers, and sometimes people have to get help from society because of bad luck which isn’t always because of bad choices and most women have complex reasons for wanting children and using words that Bettina Arndt has used at some stage in one of her columns is bad.”

    If it makes things easier, I’ll insert a little asterix into all my previous comments to direct them to this little disclaimer.

  146. Anna Winter

    Joe2, it used to be that people who were lucky enough to not have to rely on welfare were accused of thinking that people who do are taking the easy way out. Now here you are suggesting that my view that such a life is actually not much fun is proof of my privilege?

    Could it perhaps be empathy because I have both been there and done that, and more importantly, seen the struggle in my life as someone who helps people in similar situations? Or would that just make my comments harder to write off?

  147. amused

    It’s the eleven children bit that seems selfish and immature, to me, and not because of social security payments or anything like that, but because it isn’t fair on children who ought to be reasonably well entitled to expect a decent amount of attention from a parent who isn’t half dead with exhaustion and distraction. Kids are for life not just for Xmas etc

    Well in general I agree with you. Love the photo too. Says it all really about who is ‘allowed’ to have large families, and who are thought to be unsuitable for the task!

    The bleating about this is pathetic. What do people who disapprove, think should be done? If she is married, nobody would dare say anything, in public at least, least of all Aunt Betty. But if she is single and ‘depends’ on welfare, well of course we are all released to tut tut about dependence, the need for training, earning and the like, and the need to reintroduce stigma, ‘pour discourager les autres’. Now myself, I would never choose to do something this young woman is purportedly choosing to do, but give me a break! If she goes ahead, and is a good and loving mother, she has saved three women from their duty of having one for themselves, one for dad, and one for the country. In fact it is nearly four women she has saved from the trouble. I mean looked at another way, this is perfect ‘outsourcing’, of the troublesome requirement that everybody has to partake in the duty to ensure social ‘reproduction.

    The need for children to have a lot of attention from parent(s) I am sure is true, but do we have any evidence that being a full time mother of say 6 children, means less attention than being a part time employee who has four children, or a full time parent who has two children? I mean, I don’t care either way, it is their business, but the need for attention from parents can just as easily be an argument for full time parenting and generous parenting payments that permit it. I am happy either way so long as the kiddies are being well looked after, and as long as Aunty Betty and her revolting friend, CIS Saunders, are kept as far away from public policy as possible. Neither of them are very suitable to be around young women, and if I had children I certainly would not leave them alone with them!

  148. kate

    I think it’s interesting, and sad, that there is an assumption that having children at 20 (regardless of all the other circumstances) is less than ideal. It is biologically the time when women should be having babies. The problem, in social policy terms, is that it’s difficult to have children when your body is designed to do it, without permanently changing your prospects of getting education & training. So the problem is that with even one or two kids it is difficult to work for a living in such a way that you can get ahead financially speaking. That’s a problem whether you are married, single, shacked up or gay or lesbian (or any other family type). You should be able to combine parenting with work, Tafe or Uni. You should be able to combine breastfeeding with getting out and living in the world and discovering who you are and what you’ve got to offer.

    Also, pretty much every mother in the country benefits from the Family Tax Benefit, so talking about a single mother’s welfare dependence is pretty rich. Personally, I couldn’t afford to have my kid without the FTB, because we’re a fair bit older than Clare Edwards, and we even went to uni, but we’re still broke.

  149. Mark

    Can I just add (and I’m going to run a mile after I say this…), that the apparent need (whether it’s a function of habit, the form, or whatever) to write and argue in such a way that you are “winning the argument” or all the stylistic and discursive tricks of the “stoush” trope are probably a big part of the problem. A lot of this thread just makes me depressed about the value of blogging generally.

    That’s it from me on this thread. Bye bye.

  150. jinmaro

    Well, you and others here have cut to the core of things that are very important Mark, and the debate has illustrated just how far things have gone awry today in the left-right ideological battle. It also goes some way towards revealing just why we are in the sorry mess we (the majority, certainly “the left” and most definitely the most disadvantaged) are today – politically, economically and socially. And, that can only be useful (I think).

    I don’t think it is a personal failing either that some have argued in the way they have. Rather, it shows just how far we have regressed as a “democracy”, the extent and depth of this regression and the insidious power of the forces of darkness, the really greedy ones.

  151. Darlene

    Clare has talked to the current affairs and New Idea. Clare really is a product of our age. Mmmmm.

    Actually, I think this thread has been interesting for the reasons outlined by Liam.

    “The fact that thereâ??s been a lot of rancour about it (and the sidestepping and papering over of the cracks by invoking the figure of the â??stoushâ?? only proves that to be the case) is unfortunate. But unless we see all of us as sailing towards the New Jerusalem on the good ship Rudd, Iâ??m unafraid of having an argument if it allows us to recognise better that some rather conservative assumptions have slipped in to the thinking of the â??leftâ??, and some notions which were previously regarded as mainstream (cf. the value of work and social democracy v. â??where are my taxes goingâ?? themes) are now apparently quite radical.”

    It depends what version of the Left you are referring to, I guess. What a sad day it is to think that progressive politics is about leaving women to carry the load on their own etc. Anyway, I’ve said all I can say on this thread as well.

  152. Mark

    I said I would go away, but I’ll have to resurface to point out “leaving women to carry the load on their own etc.” is a careless and offensive mischaracterisation of what I’m saying, Darlene. Though it kinda proves my point about false dichotomies and shoring up your own position in a “stoush” by denigrating others and imputing views to them that they don’t hold, and that any careful and fair reading would suggest are totally in the eye of the beholder.

    Anyway, it’s not the first time that I’ve taken quite some degree of offence on this thread. What a fucking waste of time blogging can be.

    C ya! Have a nice evening!

  153. j_p_z

    Mark: “all the stylistic and discursive tricks of the â??stoushâ?? trope are probably a big part of the problem. A lot of this thread just makes me depressed about the value of blogging generally.”

    Ah, damn. And I was all set to write something sort of pointy and combative here, but now all the wind’s really kind of knocked out of me. No joke. I think instead now I’ll just go take pictures of the dog wearing a cute cardboard party hat. In the long run, that’s probably a better use of everyone’s time… 🙂

  154. Darlene

    Fair enough, Mark. This thread has made me a bit cranky (and a bit upset, as well). Of course, the “stoushing” has come from all sides, and probably started with Gummo’s use of the word “nice people” in the post. If that wasn’t meant to separate us into tribes of “naughty” and “nice”, what was? I stand by what I have had to say, but regret the tone I have used to say some of it. I just know that when I was growing up, girls from certain types of backgrounds weren’t expected to amount to much at all. That’s a hard thing to overcome, but I hope young women these days know they can.

    Regardless, I do think it has been an interesting thread (for, as I said, the reasons outlined by Liam).

  155. Pavlov's Cat

    Anyway, it’s not the first time that I’ve taken quite some degree of offence on this thread.

    And you are not alone.

  156. jinmaro

    No, j_p_z, don’t dissemble. It’s not we have come to expect from you. Fill ya boots.

  157. joe2

    Clare Edwards, come forward, and think beyond eleven.
    Your country needs you.

    They are ‘cheaper by the dozen’, for a start.
    And why not a ‘bakers dozen’, in the oven, for the treasurer?
    It has to be good.

  158. Plaid Perfume On My Breath

    “What a fucking waste of time blogging can be.”

    Hmm, for comparison’s sake, looks like one soul here is lucky enough never to have read the Letters section of the New York Review of Books.

    Take heart, laddie. Your efforts do a whole lot more good than you reckon; recall the parable of the sower. I can pretty much guarantee you that somewhere between Darwin and Durban, there’s at least a couple of surly teenagers who are destined to someday rule the world, who even now are getting a fair percentage of their minimum daily requirement of vitamins and clues from your site, and it’s their little personal secret they never tell their classmates about.

    Of course, the aliens from Remulac are almost certainly using this place to study our weaknesses too, so it’s not like it’s *all* good news.

  159. suz

    Anyway, it’s not the first time that I’ve taken quite some degree of offence on this thread.

    And you are not alone.

    That sort of comment is the stuff of paranoia – by which I mean, it makes me paranoid, because I suspect I’m someone who’s caused offence and yet as far as I’m concerned, I’ve entered straightforward analyses and responses to the comments I’ve read here with which I am in disagreement.

    PC told me when she thought something I wrote was insulting to her and why, and I explained that I meant something different from her interpretation of what I’d meant (I’m not sure that resulted in clear communication of our positions, however.)

    I don’t disavow what I’ve written: I’ve tried to clarify my position where necessary. I think all the elements of this discussion do have important implications for feminists and the left.

  160. suz

    Laura: It’s the eleven children bit that seems selfish and immature, to me, and not because of social security payments or anything like that, but because it isn’t fair on children who ought to be reasonably well entitled to expect a decent amount of attention from a parent who isn’t half dead with exhaustion and distraction.

    Agreed that in this case it indicates immaturity to fantasise about having 11 children, though in instances like, for example, Angela Shanahan, having a large family within marriage is held up as the pinnacle of mature experience.

    I had a schoolfriend who was the oldest of 11 children. Consequently, she swore she was not going to have any children at all. I’ve often wondered if she kept to that.

  161. Mercurius

    I, for one, think this thread was all John Howard’s fault. 😉

  162. suz

    Anna:Pointing out that she may be making her life much more difficult than it needs to be, and that perhaps her choices should not be encouraged, are not simply a way of saying that single and lesbian mothers are evil.

    But I don’t think there is any way that saying – publicly – that ‘her choices are not to be encouraged’ can be made entirely separate from the ideological climate that’s been created in this country by Howard and commentators like Arndt. And irregardless of that climate, I would not say something like “her choices are not to be encouraged”. I think about it in different terms. I can appreciate that commenters who do say that about Clare Edwards don’t intend to say that single and lesbian mothers are evil. What I’ve argued is that, regardless of motive or intent, accidentally or not, such comments do fit in some way with that conservative and – as Mark put it – heteronormative view. I would hope that on LP we’d be able to discuss something like this in detail and in good faith.

    I think Bettina Arndtâ??s politics stem from and thrive on that kind of blame-game between women – and Laura was so right in using the word â??wedgeâ??!

    And this is the kind of response that they are looking for. If you think that the response is to avoid saying things you believe to be true in order to avoid looking like you are â??one of themâ??, then you are falling for the wedge.

    I don’t hold to any romantic view of feminism as a coherent unity and I don’t expect other feminists to always agree with me. I don’t avoid saying what I think is ‘true’ (although I’m wary of that concept) and don’t ask other women to suppress their thoughts and responses. The idea of toeing any kind of party line of ideas makes me feel claustrophobic. But if something someone says here sounds uncannily like “one of them”, then I expect to be able to look at and ask why that is. We’re on a public political forum, after all.

  163. Mark

    Amen, suz.

  164. Anna Winter

    But I don’t think there is any way that saying – publicly – that ‘her choices are not to be encouraged’ can be made entirely separate from the ideological climate that’s been created in this country by Howard and commentators like Arndt.

    What I’ve argued is that, regardless of motive or intent, accidentally or not, such comments do fit in some way with that conservative and – as Mark put it – heteronormative view. I would hope that on LP we’d be able to discuss something like this in detail and in good faith.

    Agreed in part, especially when having a public debate in such a climate. But this thread was different in that it was composed almost entirely of people who have debated around these here parts for a while, and who all know each other to be feminists, and of the left.

    There is obviously disagreement on many of these issues, and this had the potential to be a really good debate between people who agree on most of the really important fundamentals. Instead, some of us found ourselves having to deny that we either agree with hateful views, or have been tricked by a political climate that we’re too dull to see through.

    I get that one has to be careful when people use certain phrases, or expresses certain ideas. But it’s those who misuse language that are to blame for that, and I think that, on this thread, with these people, it shouldn’t even have been about the benefit of the doubt, there shouldn’t have been doubt. That’s the only way to conduct debates like this one without turning it into a poll on who’s the better lefty…

  165. jinmaro

    A question that interests me is exactly what depths of hunger and need exist in a probably not atypical young woman who at age 20 declares she wants 11 children – by IVF, or whatever means. Is it perchance that she’s seen revered celebrity women say the same and garner admiration, personal equilibrium and self-respect, and so why not she? It’s not an unreasonable question for any young woman to ask (assuming that Clare did – I haven’t seen her speak for herself).

    And from this perspective, her perspective, with this felt need, unexamined and hypothesised as it is, I’d have to agree. It is perfectly reasonable. For on the face of it why shouldn’t Clare want to have so many children, whether by different fathers, through IVF, adoption, theft or whatever means available in the 21st century. Angelina Jolie has said much the same about wanting a dozen plus kids, regardless of biological paternity. So why not Clare?

    The hunger/need/desire is similar, the means are not. But what fuels such a drive? For some women it is economic. I think some women who have four kids to get the maximun social security payment as a single mother do so at least partly for financial reasons. But I doubt it’s the only reason. And I think the reasons are far deeper than the ill-educated, lack of self-esteem, despairing, dumb/naive trope.

    I suspect at least partly the answer to the question *why* is similar for very differently positioned women; even if the outcomes and costs are certainly not.

  166. David

    Jinmaro I agree with that post.

  167. Beppie

    Oh bloody hell. I can’t believe that this is still the most active comments thread.

    The Chaser got it right tonight folks: this is the sort of story that gets manufactured when you’ve clawed through the bottom of the barrell and found a journalistic black hole on the other side. Nothing to report? Let’s find a mother to demonise! And let’s demonise her for something she hasn’t actually done and may never do!

    With all this speculation about what’s motivating her, you know what one option is? She got paid a bit money to talk to Today Tonight and New Idea about all these kids she hypothetically wants to have, recognising this might be the best chance she’s got of putting away some savings for herself and the one kid that she already has.

  168. amortiser

    When Bill Hayden introduced the Single Mother’s benefit legislation in 1973 he said that the major beneficiaries of that legislation would be the children of the women concerned.

    At the time it was estimated that there were about 12500 beneficiaries to which the benefit would apply and about 20000 affected children.

    It’s quite amazing what an effect this piece of enlightened thinking had. It flushed out hundreds of thousands of women and children who were unwilling to make their situation known. Thanks to Bill Hayden, the stigma of being a burden on ones family and community was lifted. At long last such people could look forward to support as a right. No longer would young women be forced to give up their children for adoption and forever wonder what the fate of their children would be. Adoption in such circumstances was rightly regarded as a form of child abuse.

    The efforts of the Howard government to wind back these reforms and the willingness of current affairs programs and tabloids to pour scorn on welfare recipients is a serious blight on a so called civilised society.

    What many completely ignore are the benefits provided to the economy by such welfare recipients. Typically they spend all their money and considering the large numbers and aggregrate sums involved the multiplier effect through the community must be quite staggering yet goes totally unrecognised.

  169. David

    Let’s find a mother to demonise! And let’s demonise her for something she hasn’t actually done and may never do!

    That’s true. And the sociological reasons (not referring to particular individuals) for its success are a general culture of blame, middle class resentment (poor victims… tax is THEFT!) and sexism (bad working class mothers). From broadest to most specific.

    I do agree however with the suggestion that people should be strongly advised against deliberately becoming single parents if they are poor. I mean if they start off with this idea when they make the baby, not if they are leaving a bad relationship. This is simply because they will probably go on to lead a very tough life. It’s ethically unsound as well: if nothing else because it will undermine the credibility of social democracy in many people’s eyes. Nevertheless, I don’t think the solution is to stop their welfare cheques. This would condemn people to absolute poverty. How the hell do you ensure only the “deserving” and/or “responsible” get welfare? And the children will suffer no matter how innocent they are. So many of the women are horribly battered, emotionally and physically; many are in no psychological condition to take “responsibility”.

    Mark, many libertarians do advocate negative income taxes etc, but the ones I’ve heard about are pretty ungenerous. You couldn’t live on it. Could you refer me to any studies estimating the cost difference between abolishing Centrelink and giving a guaranteed income. I really doubt giving everyone $20k would work out cheaper.

  170. Nabakov

    Can’t help feeling this meta stoushing thread ain’t gonna end up with this kinda brain freezing end game asymmetry

  171. Mark

    It’s just a hunch, David, but 20k isn’t much more than 12k (the dole). I’m a bit too tired to look up the budget papers and find out exactly how much Centrelink costs… If I had my way, it’d be somewhat higher. I’d happily pay higher taxes, though again I don’t know if that would be necessary. If you had it as a negative income tax, you could do away with a lot of existing “benefits” paid through the tax system.

  172. David

    It’s just a hunch, David, but 20k isn’t much more than 12k (the dole).

    Yeah but you’d have to pay it to every citizen, wouldn’t you?

    It also winds up having some disincentive-to-work effect, although not as much as rational choicers would assume. (There was a big US experimental evaluation about this.)

    I’ve heard people say that these ideas would actually require quite a big increase in taxation, despite their commonsensical appeal. I was genuinely interested if you knew of any research.

  173. Lefty E

    See, I just cant believe anyone who gone through the first 6 months of parenthood and want to do it 10 more times is of sound mind.

    Thats the credibility and/ or mental health problem, as far as Im concerned.

    But hell, give her the pension, sure.

  174. Bingo Bango Boingo

    What many completely ignore are the benefits provided to the economy by such welfare recipients. Typically they spend all their money and considering the large numbers and aggregrate sums involved the multiplier effect through the community must be quite staggering yet goes totally unrecognised.

    amortiser, I agree with the general thrust of your comment: supporting single parents is pretty fundamental. But I suspect that many people ignore the ‘multiplier effect’ idea you’ve put forward because it doesn’t make much sense. The money paid to welfare recipients is not created out of thin air, it is taken from taxpayers. To the extent that those taxpayers would have saved the money, rather than used it for consumption, income transfers to non-savers (like single mothers who ‘spend all their money’) detract from the economic welfare of society as a whole. There are a million good reasons to support the system of wealth redistribution that assists people like Clare Edwards, but I’m afraid that yours is not one of them.

    Cheers
    BBB

  175. Paulus

    I agree with Mark in supporting a guaranteed minimum income, but one should not over-estimate the benefits of abolishing Centrelink.

    According to its website, Centrelink dispensed $63.5 billion in payments in 2005-06. Its own expenses were $2.3 billion. You’d only therefore increase the pool of payment funds by 4% if you abolished Centrelink (and you’d still need some bureaucrats anyway to run your GMI and make sure people weren’t applying several times over under false names).

    The most well developed GMI proposal is a libertarian one: John Humphreys’ “Reform 30/30” plan.
    http://www.cis.org.au/Publications/policymonographs/pm70.pdf

    A GMI is a very expensive proposition: even though Humphreys has designed it to only give about $10k to people with no other income (i.e. LESS than the current dole), his GMI still costs around $15 billion more than current welfare expenditure.

  176. The Happy Revolutionary

    The money paid to welfare recipients is not created out of thin air, it is taken from taxpayers. To the extent that those taxpayers would have saved the money, rather than used it for consumption, income transfers to non-savers (like single mothers who ’spend all their money’) detract from the economic welfare of society as a whole.

    Yeah, but once that tax is taken from your pay, you’re unlikely to see it again in any case, whether it’s spent on ‘border protection’, or used to feed single mums. And I dare say the vast bulk of Centrelink payments go straight to big business, via the unemployed. Economically speaking, it doesn’t make a jot of difference whether those much-maligned single mums spend their cash on bread and milk, or fags and pokies.
    Obviously, a condition of 90% unemployment would not be sustainable, but a bit of it suits government and business quite nicely.

  177. Mark

    I was genuinely interested if you knew of any research.

    I’ve seen some in the past, David. It doesn’t come to mind at the moment, and it’s late.

    It also winds up having some disincentive-to-work effect, although not as much as rational choicers would assume. (There was a big US experimental evaluation about this.)

    And that stands to reason when you think about it. There are many incentives to work in a society like this other than financial.

    Thanks, Paulus. There goes that idea. Perhaps we could abolish corporate welfare as well.

  178. Mercurius

    Er, I did, for y’all convenience, write about this very topic. Yesterday in fact. It even has welfare figures calculated from the budget papers for you.

    The post began here on LP. Just above this one. Sorry you missed the rest of it.

  179. Adam Gall

    Mission accomplished for Clare, then. I hope she’s able to leverage some remuneration out of her new found notoriety. At the very least, she deserves a job in advertising or some other public communications role for having such good instincts when it comes to the ‘hot spots’ of contemporary Australian culture.

    I’m very interested in the way that ‘potential’ people (as opposed to actually existing people) are given so much weight when it comes to ethical disputes and negotiations. It used to be a feature of evangelical discourse, but it’s increasingly mainstream.

  180. Paul Norton

    Some commenters have referred to the environmental impacts of Clare achieving her goal of bearing 11 children. This is a matter to which I’ve given some thought, and which I’ve touched on in some things I’veI’ve written.

    Whilst my arguments of 2002 need updating in the light of subsequent developments, I continue to maintain that:

    (a) the main drivers of environmental degradation in Australia are not population-related;

    (b) one woman aspiring to bear 11 children is not something to be too worried about given that the overwhelming majority of Australian women have no such aspiration, as reflected in aggregate fertility outcomes;

    (c) the invocation of environmental concern about population growth as a major consideration in determining public policy related to family support, work-family balance, reproductive health issues, etc., can lead to reactionary and authoritarian outcomes (not that I’m suggesting that any participant in this discussion either desires such outcomes or is oblivious to the risks thereof).

  181. lauredhel

    The environmental argument is particularly odd, to me. If environmental-population-limiters were serious, they’d be whining about rich people having too many children, not poor people.

    And if the government were actually serious about wanting More! Babies! For! Australia! on the cheap, one woman having eleven of them would be likely to give them their money’s worth, in spades. Far more cost effective than eleven women having one baby each.

    I subscribe to neither path. Being a feminist has taught me that attempts by government to exert rigid control over women’s reproductive choices are doomed to be implemented in misogynist, classist, racist, and ableist ways. A safety net is a safety net. You don’t get to go around judging whether someone was pushed or jumped, because there be dragons. You WILL wreak evil, whether you think you intended to at the start or not.

    The thread seemed to go like this:
    – A couple of people opened with outrageous and condemnatory remarks.
    – Other people objected strenuously to the outrageous and condemnatory remarks.
    – The original people tried to defend the remarks, realised they were indefensible, then retracted them, but still kinda tried to defend them, or at least defend their subsequent defense of them, even though they’ve nominally retracted the actual remarks. (Stoush.)
    – Everyone’s still mad. (More stoush).

    All of us have inner racists, classists, misogynists, ableists. FSM knows I have. I’ll try not to parade it here, but I expect I might at some point, and I expect to get called on it, and I expect I’ll be embarrassed and defensive and feel like crap. Sometimes these little nuggets of shit bubble up to the surface, no matter how well repressed they are. The hard part is to grab them as they bubble up, identify them, and get rid of them instead of painting the walls.

    And we never actually win this war against the shit, but we gotta keep playing, because the alternative is worse.

  182. Jobby

    What in all hell is an ‘ableist’?

  183. Laura

    OED:

    Ableism,

    Discrimination in favour of able-bodied persons; prejudice against or disregard of the needs of the disabled.

    1986 Daily Tel. 8 Nov. 15/2 The Labour party in Haringey has come up with the ‘ism’ to cap the lot… ‘Ableism’, presumably coined to describe those sinners who discriminate in favour of able-bodied persons for jobs on building sites. 1993 R. HUGHES Culture of Complaint iii. 162 But certainly clause (3) made it clear that he was against racism, sexism, ableism, lookism and any of the other offences against social etiquette whose proscription by PC was already causing such mirth and laughter among the neo-conservatives.

  184. Pavlov's Cat

    But I don’t think there is any way that saying – publicly – that ‘her choices are not to be encouraged’ can be made entirely separate from the ideological climate that’s been created in this country by Howard and commentators like Arndt.

    I don’t … ask other women to suppress their thoughts and responses.

    Sorry, suz, but these two things seem to me to be directly contradictory and mutually exclusive.

    Sometimes these little nuggets of shit bubble up to the surface

    You what?

    – Everyone’s still mad

    Fancy.

  185. Liam

    All of us have inner racists, classists, misogynists, ableists. FSM knows I have. I’ll try not to parade it here, but I expect I might at some point, and I expect to get called on it, and I expect I’ll be embarrassed and defensive and feel like crap.

    Lauredhel, any model of argument that ends in shame and internalised guilt on the part of one party is an unhealthy one. I’m optimistic, and tend to think that adults *can* express directly oppositional political opinions robustly without unnecessary rancour, even to the point of being outrageous, transgressive or in questionable taste—even on the Internet. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.
    BTW, you left out sexist from the shopping list. [cough]

  186. Scatamouche

    You what?

    Yairs, I wondered about that one too. Not as much as I wondered, though, about this choyce nugget:

    And we never actually win this war against the shit, but we gotta keep playing, because the alternative is worse.

    I mean, I ask you: what’s worse than continually playing with shit? Sounds hellish to me, on second thought, if not circle.

  187. Anna Winter

    It seems to me that a belief in respect for women’s autonomy is not incompatible with judging people’s choices. I mean, if you respect someone enough to be able to make their own choices, then you should respect them enough to handle the judgement of others without going to water.

    Autonomy doesn’t mean the right to behave however you want and not have your choices examined by others. Especially when your choices have an effect on other people’s lives. And yeah, this comes with the disclaimer that it’s possible that this is a beat up and whatever. But what seems to be coming out in this thread is that people can’t comment on really dumb decisions because of fear of offending other, unrelated people who didn’t make the same dumb decisions because their situations seems superficially similar, or because it might encourage the conservatives. And that is a recipe for political irrelevance, I fear.

    Earlier in the thread someone objected to the use of a phrase like my tax dollars, or similar. I understand that objection in that it implies “my money”. But words aside, it is not strictly a right-wing conservative thing to question the use of “our” money. We’re a community, we pay according to our means, and people receive according to their needs. To criticise someone for taking advantage of that system says nothing about those who have a genuine need. Because when people take advantage, others who have needs miss out.

    Personally, I’m still one to take the view that we should put privacy and personal autonomy above the small risk that people will take advantage of something that is, as we all agree, a pretty meager living. But to repeat myself like a broken record, that doesn’t mean we can’t express an opinion that such a choice is still wrong and misguided.

  188. lauredhel

    I’m arguing for people making good-faith attempts to channel any shame and guilt that results from an examination of personal privilege and prejudice into something ultimately constructive. At the same time, I’m recognising that that’s a difficult road to travel, and everyone’s going to fail multiple times. Privilege is hard.

    I don’t think the emotion of “guilt” is 100% across-the-board negative or unproductive or useless. Guilt is the emotion you feel when you know damn well you’ve done something wrong. Guilt is self-reproach, personal knowledge of culpability. It’s how I feel just before I apologise for something. There are a whole lot of people in this world (speaking more widely than this thread, now) who should bloody well feel guilty about things they’ve said and/or done, and there should be a whole lot more apologising going on. Guilt can be a motivator for change, _if it’s reasonable guilt and the change is achievable_. (I can’t emphasise that last part enough. “Guilt” has become a negative buzzword because a whole lot of people feel guilty for things they have no reasonable control over. I’m trying to use it in a different way, now. If you have a better word for what I’m trying to express, I’m listening.)

    You want to be able to pronounce ugly personal judgements disguised as “political opinion” in “transgressive” (read, rude, prejudiced, judgemental) ways without any pushback? If so, yeah, you’re a dreamer. That’s one rule for the pronouncers and a different rule for everyone else.

  189. jinmaro

    The hard part is to grab them as they bubble up, identify them, and get rid of them instead of painting the walls.

    And we never actually win this war against the shit, but we gotta keep playing, because the alternative is worse.

    Nietzsche’s law of the eternal recurrence of the repressed, right? So true. Very perceptive.

  190. lauredhel

    I mean, I ask you: what’s worse than continually playing with shit?

    Pretending it’s not there when you’re neck-deep and drowning in it?

    But – *shrug*, go crazy. Not everyone’s a conflict theorist.

  191. Laura

    Good post Anna, I especially admire your and Liam’s willingness to soldier on. Maybe there’s something to that factional politicking after all. But you know why I think people got (justifiably) pissed off here? Because instead of just debating the matter without also commenting insultingly on other people’s motives and mannerisms, comments were bracketed fore and aft with stuff about how everyone else was judging everyone else, being unreflective, retrograde, disapproving, blah blah blah. It didn’t seem to be enough to disagree, the disagreement had to be served up with a little garnish to the effect that the opponent was condemning, tut tutting, ad nauseum.

    BFD how or why people think & say what they think & say. Just take arguments on their merits or not at all. This isn’t the place for that sort of Greenfieldian bitching.

  192. Liam

    I’m arguing for people making good-faith attempts to channel any shame and guilt that results from an examination of personal privilege and prejudice into something ultimately constructive.

    Lauredhel, what you’re describing is pedagogy, not politics. Disagreement with others on matters of politics isn’t failure, it’s just disagreement.
    If every argument had to end in a personal knowledge of culpability and self-reproach, I’d never argue with anybody; nobody would. You say that political opinion here has been disguised as “ugly personal judgments”: I say that’s one side of an argument that’s yet to be settled.

    eternal recurrence of the repressed

    Yes, it’s an iron rule. In any given situation anywhere on the internet, mention “questionable taste” and Fyodor instantly responds to the bat-signal.

  193. Laura

    In any given situation anywhere on the internet, mention â??questionable tasteâ?? and Fyodor instantly responds to the bat-signal

    yeh how does he do that? It’s incredibly disturbing, like suspecting you’re being stalked by the bastard offspring of Mr Darcy and the creepy dwarf lady in Don’t Look Now

  194. The bastard offspring of Mr Darcy (more Larry than Colin, truth be told) and some dwarf chick. Rupprecht to his mates.

    Pretending it’s not there when you’re neck-deep and drowning in it?

    Who says? A fucking idiot makes some idiotic decisions, then publicises her idiocy and suddenly WE’RE all floating in nuggets? Get a grip, FFS.

    It seems that calling said idiot an idiot is verboten when the idiot in question hits the right ideological buttons. Bullshit.

    But – *shrug*, go crazy. Not everyone’s a conflict theorist.

    No, I suppose not. Or a cabaret chanteuse, either. But we can dream, can’t we?

  195. Liam

    Laura,

    This isn’t the place for that sort of Greenfieldian bitching.

    *Now* I’m insulted. My arguments might be half-arsed, but at least the half-arse is all my own.

    the bastard offspring of Mr Darcy and the creepy dwarf lady in Don’t Look Now…

    Me, I see him more as a Forsyte family cousin enrolled mistakenly at Delta House. But yes. The uncanniness proves the existence of Satan, if not God.

  196. lauredhel

    “You say that political opinion here has been disguised as â??ugly personal judgmentsâ??:”

    Liam: adrian’s post on 3 October 2007 at 2:23 pm. No point going round in circles again on that one.

  197. jinmaro

    sounded like gibberish to me.

  198. jinmaro

    the man needs a mask to spew sexist, class hatred. Wow. And profoundly, stolidly unfunny, whatever the “aspiration”, is it?

  199. Anna Winter

    Perhaps a re-reading of Laura’s comment is in order, jinmaro.

  200. The bastard offspring of Mr Darcy (more Larry than Colin, truth be told) and some dwarf chick. Rupprecht to his mates.

    Anna, I reread Laura’s comment and couldn’t find the sexist class hatred. She was pretty unstolidly funny, but.

  201. jinmaro

    You defend Scatamouche’s last comment, Anna? You are quite happy to let it pass?

    And I have found Laura’s comments throughout the entire thread, most of which consisted of her trying to shut the debate down, without expressing any opinion, and the latest more revealing comments, completely unhelpful and in bad faith.

  202. j_p_z

    from photo caption at 3/10/07, 3:39 pm…

    “VAGINA: It’s not a clown car”

    Odd, that. Perhaps I’m just getting old, but I could have sworn it was the feminists who are always banging on about how nobody should tell a woman what to do or not do with her body. But then I keep forgetting that all the lefties have a divinely-given cheat sheet, and know what the correct answers are to all the choices. Silly bugger that I am, thinking that the choices were free.

    btw, the individuals in the photo look to me not like clowns, but like human children. But it’s probably easy to confuse the two, since clowns are traditionally painted white, and the creatures in the photo are also white, and therefore bad.

    Since it appears from some on this thread that having 11 children and expecting someone else to pay for them is a dumb idea, I certainly hope someone here will send a rather strongly-worded letter to the president of Mexico…

  203. joe2

    Paulus quote…
    “According to its website, Centrelink dispensed $63.5 billion in payments in 2005-06. Its own expenses were $2.3 billion. You’d only therefore increase the pool of payment funds by 4% if you abolished Centrelink.”

    Wouldn’t you need to work out how much money heads off to job networks, as well? While Centrelink might look lean and less mean, all it’s dirty work has been hived off to private enterprise and charities.

    I still think that Marks case for a no fault , no judgement, guaranteed general payment for all, might still have legs from a social and economic perspective.
    Downward envy/disdain is such an ugly look.

  204. jinmaro

    I am sure some folks here will take you up on that suggestion, j_p_z, but you get a free kick because at least you are funny (sooo important in a man) have read muchly and can write like a dream.

  205. Anna Winter

    I guess humour’s only good in blokes, then. Personally, I think Laura’s one of the funniest members of Teh Hivemind, as well as having something useful to say, which I think is preferable to jokes aimed at groups that only exist in the imagination.

  206. suz

    me: But I don’t think there is any way that saying – publicly – that ‘her choices are not to be encouraged’ can be made entirely separate from the ideological climate that’s been created in this country by Howard and commentators like Arndt.

    I don’t … ask other women to suppress their thoughts and responses.

    PC: Sorry, suz, but these two things seem to me to be directly contradictory and mutually exclusive.

    Hmm, well I don’t think they are at all.

    You seem to be interpreting the first paragraph above as an injunctive to silence or suppress ideas that aren’t ‘politically correct’. That’s not what I mean at all.

    What I mean is simply that I don’t believe that public utterances about single motherhood, fathers, welfare, choice, etc, can be divorced from the social context – the ideological climate – we all live in.

    When I said ‘I don’t ask other women to suppress their thoughts and responses” I meant it – but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to assess their words and articulate my own responses in turn. Being critical of what someone says isn’t the same as a demand that they not say it in the first place. (Though I know what it feels like to wish I’d not said something when it’s been received critically.)

  207. Pavlov's Cat

    Well, perhaps we should agree to disagree about it. In its effects if not in its intention, it’s a remarkably effective form of censorship.

    Anna, yes, Laura cracks me up too.

  208. tigtog

    j_p_z on 4 October 2007 at 6:10 pm :

    â??VAGINA: Itâ??s not a clown carâ??

    Odd, that. Perhaps Iâ??m just getting old, but I could have sworn it was the feminists who are always banging on about how nobody should tell a woman what to do or not do with her body. But then I keep forgetting that all the lefties have a divinely-given cheat sheet, and know what the correct answers are to all the choices. Silly bugger that I am, thinking that the choices were free.

    Arguing that choices should be free from coercion is no guarantee that choices will or should not ever be analysed, criticised or even condemned. Some of this criticism might be in poor taste, and thus will be criticised in turn, but criticism is far from coercion. You seem to be implying that the two are the same.

    Criticism and coercion might coexist very closely in a social dynamic where one person holds the threat of physical deprivation or harm over another, but that’s hardly the case with feminists who’ve never met Michelle Duggar, now is it? If her choices are being constrained in any way, it’s far more likely to be by those who are close to her than by those who are critical of her choices from a distance.

  209. Fanny Robin

    Suz, you’re a hands-down warrior sister. It waz perfectly clear what you meant but good on ya ma’am for spelling it out.

    Heh, do you think the ALP backroom bovver boys & girls are on a mission to soften up the citizenry for a “all idiotic, greedy, sluttish, drugged-fucked welfare dependents out now” onslaught come 2008?

    Just askin’.

  210. Bingo Bango Boingo

    FFS jinmaro, Fyodor is having a lend of you. Wake up. Actually, don’t wake up. I’m enjoying the spectacle of Fyodor and Anna running comedic rings around the relentlessly earnest.

    Cheers
    BBB

  211. Rob

    Fabulous thread. Sorry I missed most of it.

  212. jinmaro

    a natural ally I would say BBB.

  213. Anna Winter

    Heh, do you think the ALP backroom bovver boys & girls are on a mission to soften up the citizenry for a â??all idiotic, greedy, sluttish, drugged-fucked welfare dependents out nowâ?? onslaught come 2008?

    Dammit, Liam, they’re on to us.

  214. su

    Who says? A fucking idiot makes some idiotic decisions, then publicises her idiocy and suddenly WE’RE all floating in nuggets? Get a grip, FFS.

    Oh look we are back at the start again.

    It seems to me that a belief in respect for women’s autonomy is not incompatible with judging people’s choices

    Noone is arguing that that isn’t the case but when Mark and Jinmaro attempted to get beyond blaming this woman to examining the context, there were no takers; everyone was too busy trying to justify themselves.

    And we do want to talk about the context don’t we. Or is Fyodor’s summation the last word in feminism these days?

  215. Paulus

    Joe2, actually I do support a GMI for various reasons, particularly the way it gets around the nasty poverty traps inherent in the current tax/welfare system. I was just pointing out to Mark that it would be an expensive proposition, and I don’t think you’d get that much from cutting Centrelink and the Job Network (relative to the expenditure on the allowances themselves).

    But this is coincidental to the main point of this thread, which is to serve as an arena for the LP moral outrage rollerball deathmatch. I watch it with morbid fascination, wondering how many LPers will ever speak to each other again after it’s over.

    All we need now is for John Greenfield to join in, and the entertainment would be truly sublime.

  216. Darlene

    This thread has been an interesting one, Rob. I reject lauredhel’s analysis of it at 1.08pm (am?).

    If nobody’s choices can be judged or at least dicussed, we’re in big trouble. Oh so you are seeing that mass murderer again? That’s fine dear.

  217. Pavlov's Cat

    It waz perfectly clear what you meant but good on ya ma’am for spelling it out.

    Yes, Fanny, it was indeed perfectly clear what she meant; my analysis of what her comments mean in practice is what we are disagreeing about. My understanding is that the right to express disagreement is one of the things suz is saying she supports.

    And if you want to be a convincing member of a self-rightous pile-on, you really ought to have started further up the thread.

  218. Casey

    Its been all turmoil and mounting madness I say: Its been a physical, turbulent natural reflection of Lear’s LP’s internal conflicts. At the same time, the storm strand embodies the awesome power of naturethese extraordinary minds, which forces the powerless king lp bloggers to recognize his their own limits and their human frailty and to cultivate a sense of humility (in the morning, maybe). The storm strand may also be seen to reflect that nature the lp’ers themselves are angry about the events in the playschlock horror commentary by Bettina Arndt (they all seem to agree on that). Finally, the meteorological chaos also symbolizes the political disarray that has engulfed Lear’s Britain lp’s lefties as they argue about the creeping contaminations of the left (or not) in the rubble of Howards crumbling empire.

    Yes its been fascinating. And you are right paulus, its just not Shakespeare without Mad Tom Greenfield is it?, although there are some interesting contenders in the Andrews strand who could play a nutter.

  219. su

    Oh so you are seeing that mass murderer again? That’s fine dear.

    And if you want to be a convincing member of a self-rightous pile-on, you really ought to have started further up the thread.

    Well we could start again. Given that all of us (me included) are perturbed that a woman might see a lifetime of childbearing (something that was non-negotiable in my grandmother’s generation) as her best/only option; I see a number of possible questions;

    Why is it that child-rearing is seen as an alternative to work rather than work in itself? I have been to uni, worked full-time and worked part-time. Since I have had children, who admittedly require a lot more care than might ordinarily be expected, I have felt rather embarrassed to accept money for part-time work, which I see as recreation compared to my duties in child rearing. In my ideal world child rearing is perceived as an occupation with appropriate remuneration not as a hobby to be encouraged in the middle classes and demonized in the working classes.

    How do we support women who have children at a relatively young age to continue their education? I don’t believe most high schools or tafe institutes are resourced in a way that allows them to accommodate the needs of such women.

    Lastly and most importantly, how do we change the culture at large so that a woman is not penalized for aspiring to a trade/ other form of education? Women are underrepresented in large sectors. Not all women are suited to academic life but there are relatively few choices for women who do not fit the academic mold and we know from recent surveys that it is these women who are most disadvantaged in the workplace. At school women face all kinds of misogynistic attitudes that can easily lead them into a situation where they have children very young . In trying to live up to expectations which by their very nature, women are meant to fail, women can very easily find themselves in a situation not unlike Clare’s. A woman of 20 makes many unwise choices, but if you start off with relative privilege, be it financial, social or intellectual, your choices may not lead you to the same place as Clare. Her choices cannot be critiqued except as part of the larger social system in which she lives.

  220. Laura

    All fair enough Su, and eloquently said, but Clare Edwards hasn’t technically executed her choices yet. There’s all the difference between calling her out for having an ambition to have 11 kids and calling her out for actually having 11 kids.

    Nice work, Casey. Who do you fancy for Cordelia?

    You remind me of RH’s LP staging of Hamlet. Hang on, I’ll dig up the http://larvatusprodeo.net/2006/04/29/saturday-salon-52/#comment-71260 . Ah the old days. Like now except more old.

  221. Casey

    ah, laura, RH’s was brilliant and my effort but a pale reflection of that dark master’s work.

    i cannot cast the sainted Cordelia, quite yet, as, like, forsooth, some furious goddess or god will thump me hard the minute i declare my hand im sure….

    …and besides its too early for deaths, the storm is still rages, lear still fragments on the heath…and the peanut gallery is safe!! Safe i tell you.

  222. jinmaro

    don’t waste your breath su. The vituperative ones will never listen to you nor care about you either, or me.

  223. jinmaro

    To criticise someone for taking advantage of that system says nothing about those who have a genuine need. Because when people take advantage, others who have needs miss out.

    Anna Winter

    This is disgusting and classic Howardism. You say you are left? You are not. A complete disgrace.

  224. Pavlov's Cat

    Yes indeed, those vituperative ones, there’s just no holding them back.

  225. Bingo Bango Boingo

    Can one be stolidly vituperative?

    BBB

  226. Kim

    This thread should have been put out of its considerable misery some time ago.

    If you want to keep on with your “witty” comments, or any other blah that you may have wanted to post here, you can take out your frustrations by emailing me.

    In the meantime, some accusations of being “puerile” were being thrown around. I think a number of commenters should reflect on that. If it’s not possible for people to argue something on its merits without judging others, reacting with horror that they may differ from you, stereotyping people, being overly dogmatic, taking criticism far too much to heart, dismissing contrary arguments, and generally carrying on like a porkchop, then I’d suggest that many of those who were so quick to stigmatise Ms Edwards as “immature” might like to get a mirror out and take a look. You know, in my experience, immaturity isn’t limited to 20 year olds. And nor is preciousness.

    If you’re not capable of arguing without taking offence at the merest hint of disagreement, and want to escalate everything into a series of screams and yells about how others aren’t playing fair, and generally can’t conduct a debate without respecting others’ right to differ…

    Well, fill in the dots. We could all reflect on how this thread got way out of control, even if some people kept themselves under control, made some good points, and tried to retrieve the discussion.

    But go away and have a think.