The depoliticization of motherhood on Essential Mums


Jody Hopkinson is a solo mum who blogs about the loneliness/fun/sexual frustration/sadness/joy/good times/bad times of being a single mum over at ‘Essential Mums’ on Fairfax.

I would have thought Jody’s position on being a solo mum would include a political dimension, what with all the restrictions and negative policy thrown at solo mothers. Apparently Essential Mums don’t think so.

When Jody tried to put in her blog ‘Fun for Free’, she noted it didn’t publish. She contacted the editor of Essential Mums and was told to take the politics out of her blog. Jody asked if the editor understood what it was to be a solo mother these days but was told by the editor that they didn’t want any politics.

“You don’t want me to ever mention John Key again?, Jody asked.

“That would be great”, was the reply.

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The depoliticization of our public sphere discussion spaces is driven by a fear that politics bores and won’t rate and it’s driven by a corporate control of the debate so no dangerous ideas ever surface to challenge the very status quo their profit margins are dependent on.

Stopping a solo mother from blogging about politics on a motherhood blog space however seems to be a self-censorship too far.

Here is Jody’s column in full that wasn’t published by Essential Mums. You be the judge of whether or not her opinion has validity in a blog space about motherhood…

‘Fun for Free’
A picture of John Key currently doing the rounds on Facebook sees him posing with a bottle of Moet. And it set me to thinking. We don’t have Moet in this house. We can afford a dozen beers on the odd occasion. Mostly we drink Homebrand lemonade or ginger beer for kicks. And I understand our dear leader. As Prime Minister of my own house, duly elected some five and a bit years ago, the pressure is intense. I’ve a lot on my plate and it’s nice, nay essential, to take the edge off. So how do we do that in these financially strapped times? Why with fun for free of course!

One of the ways we have fun for free is vacuuming each other’s hair or giving each other vacuum cleaner hickeys. Well Wanda gives them to me squealing with delight, while Diana worries that it’s hurting me. Get your hoover multi-tasking. Who needs a hair dryer as well?

Our friend Liza, who is visiting from America, introduced us to fly paper which hangs from the kitchen ceiling; the first of which caught in excess of fifty flies! Wanda loved running to see how many flies were caught at different times throughout the day. “How many flies are there NOW?” At $3.30 for four fly papers from Bunnings, that’s fun for ALMOST free. The girls have long used an everyday household standard – the plunger – to open doors with – “See mum?” And we’ve expanded on that as part of the fun for free programme by seeing which body parts the plunger will stick to. Foreheads and hands – no; tummies, thighs and bums – heck yes! Obviously the beach where we live in the Bay of Plenty is a whole lot of fun for free. Another highlight has been playing circuses where Diana as Naked Dancer, and ringmaster Wanda, try to run under a billowing sheet shaken by fun for free mega mogul Liza, has been a huge hit. That circus is going straight to the pool room of fun for free for sure. As is the girls’ getting their scatological on. “MUM! LIZA! There’s cat poo on the lawn!”

The All Blacks are based here for training for a bit, so what have Liza and I done? We’ve gone looking for them of course. It’s not stalking…it’s fun for free!

Fun for nearly free is shopping for books for me and the girls. I never buy a book for more than five dollars. Fifty cents for a children’s book is about the average price I’d pay, and we have enough books to beat your average-sized town library in any book-off/fight club situation. (At a Waipuna Hospice shop the other day it was “fill a bag of books for five dollars”. Nice work Waipuna!)

I read Wendyl Nissen’s Domestic Goddess on a Budget recently where she advises New Zealanders to bring the house party back as the price of going out is to paraphrase Wendyl – cray cray. In response, I’ve started having a monthly shindig at my house. I have a barbecue, peeps bring their food and booze and we’re all happy. Okay, I don’t meet new dudes out and about like the days of yore but perhaps that’s not the way for me to find a stepdad for the girls anyway, And hula hooping to the Beastie Boys after some passion fruit margaritas what fun! (Fifty passion fruit off our passion fruit vine no less was fun for free. The melon syrup and cheap vodka DID cost.) More fun for free is getting cuttings from friends gardens to plant in my wee garden or trailing the neighbors grapevines over to my side of the fence kept us and the neighbourhood black birds fed all summer.

Now fun for free isn’t always the way we roll. On $540 a week, any extras like more than $20 worth of petrol, often go on my credit card which is at $4000 and counting. That’s a potential for worrying for free, or strike that – worrying with interest accruing daily.

Clothes don’t come for free if they’re new, but they do if they are passed on from friends or from the op shop. The op shop my friends, is a faux fun for free place to hang. As is Video Ezy and their rent a weekly move for one dollar Mondays. That’s some quality fun for heck may as well be free right there. Other fun for free ideas include making up stories for the kids, making funny faces, and improving my parenting by reading Buddhism for Mothers – not free but available for around $20 on Fishpond.

All of you partnered up ones could be having plenty of fun for free when the kids have put their plungers down and finally gone to sleep. But from what I hear from some mum-friends not enough of you coupled peeps are having fun for free south of the border. You need to hold your end of the fun for free maxim. Ie when you can, try to.

So let Mr. Key enjoy his Moet; we the people while not eating cake exactly sure can put a hot dog together with a loaf of two dollar white bread and some budget sausages, down on the beach. And Homebrand Tomato sauce is just as good as Watties. That’s a fun fact for free right there. ENDS.


  1. Given women are contracted by Fairfax as political bloggers without much content restraint, it seems they have created a distinction between “people/women” and “mothers”. The latter of whom should want to talk about children and family welfare without any politically charged context. Obviously.

    So disappointing.

  2. Sadly, I’m not remotely surprised at Jody’s column being censured. This IS Fairfax. The Fairfax comments section is populated with the online version of rabid hateful talk back callers. The comments are heavily weighed in on the side of general ignorance, blind prejudiced opinion and National Party (read John Key) voters. Despite having a policy of not publishing readers comments that contain racist or misogynist content they frequently do, yet, my comments, when I used to foolishly bother trying to balance out the “views” regularly got blocked, despite complying with the policy. At one point I made a complaint about abuse from another commenter which was totally ignored. It seems the moderators can’t handle any criticism of the National Govt and would appear to have quite an agenda, so theres no way they will allow a blogger to say what they block others from saying.

    For a blogger to poke a bit of harmless fun at the PM, even if it is a just a tiny mention in an upbeat article, would go against Fairfax’s “don’t mention the war” attitude. Although has a facade of “fair and balanced reporting” they appear deeply conservative and in denial about the reality of the lives of many NZer’s, whose well being and economic security have deteriorated under the Key Govt. This sounds like Jody’s reality in respect to her economic situation, even if she does have a fab approach to life and doing the best she can to have fun on a tight arse budget.

    Fairfax are one the reasons NZer’s need platforms like The Daily Blog, The Standard and all the contributing voices from NZ’s intelligent bloggers who do the media’s work of examining the implementation and impact of govt policy. Otherwise there would just be a void

    • Although has a facade of “fair and balanced reporting” they appear deeply conservative and in denial about the reality of the lives of many NZer’s, whose well being and economic security have deteriorated under the Key Govt.

      I suspect that they prefer to propagate the myths that people on benefits are living the high life.

      • That is a great piece on hardship myths DTB. Yep, that is the kind of view that fairfax like to provoke in their readers, in my opinion. Otherwise why would they attach a comments section on this article a few weeks ago about the increase in begging in Wgtn’s CBD and “solutions” to the “problem”. (cynical and authoritarian solutions at that)
        Sure, in the article they interview the manager from the Wgtn Night Shelter and get their view as an attempt to show balance. What they don’t talk about is the number of Wellingtonians that don’t’ have a problem with beggars and the everyday interactions that occur between pedestrians stopping to talk with beggars and the goodwill evident between them.
        Check out the classic fairfax comments. A few good comments there but they are outweighed by the ignorant and cruel ones.

  3. Slightly off topic and not meaning to be sarcastic but I highly recommend brewing one’s own beer for any one on a low income. It’s really cheap, just as nice and not overly alcoholic. I’m on just above the minimum wage and couldn’t really afford to buy beer but last summer started making my own and now don’t really have to worry any more. The initial outlay only has to be about $60-$80 which is still an outlay when one doesn’t have any money. This is for the plastic container and a few bits and pieces like a thermometre. After that it costs around $14 for the brew stuff and another $4 or so for the sugar, plus bottle tops. The beer ends up costing about 25cents per stubbie. It takes about an hour and a half max to do the initial mixing, let it set for about a week, and about another two hours to bottle it. Beer is a great drink that has been given a bad name by misuse and goes well with food and is actually quite healthy for you in small amounts.

  4. OK. Where was the politicky stuff in this piece? Other than The Name, of course.

    Or was it about the fr** advertising for H**etc? That might have generated some concern for the moderator…

    • I think the politics that upset Fairfax was her doing stuff and having fun while not spending money. Can’t make a profit with shares in the casino/movie theatre/pub if people are going around having fun using their imaginations instead.

  5. Jody’s blog made me laugh, made me think and made me wonder why in the world she would be stopped from publishing her blog! It’s not just the “depoliticization” of motherhood here that is out of whack. It’s the way in which parents are treated like they really shouldn’t have a voice or an opinion on anything other than changing a nappy! The topic of devaluation of parents has come up recently in blogs on Kidspot Social – we don’t censor our contributor’s blogs, as long as you play nice. Share a political view, share a budgeting tip, share a frustration … we welcome contribution from mums, dads and whanau.

  6. Most people with any social conscience, their views are gagged.
    Only trivia is allowed an airing. Hence “Jody’s Blog”.
    It’s Censorship . Yes in NZ we have Censorship
    Censorship by subtle means. Subtle but pervasive…till people forget it even exists. Till people forget any standards or principles exist…
    (And it’s not just NZ.) Dumbing down of people, too busy to notice or care people..soon they dont even care. (can see evidence in above irelevant comments)
    WHO owns “Fairfax” media?-there’s a clue. They own others overseas as well..

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