Let’s do this – Dr Liz Gordon

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I probably wasn’t the only one out there who was a little bemused by Labour’s election slogan, ‘Let’s do this”.  Let’s do what? I thought at the time.  Now the ‘doing’ is at last unveiled as we learn that our Prime Minister is going to have a baby.  Oh! Happy tidings!  Of course, it makes sense of the election slogan – what is to be done?  Babies are to be made, of course.

Accidentally, it is a brilliant tactic to improve the popularity of the (aptly named now) Labour Party.  It provides national leadership around growth and productivity and should increase business optimism. Jacinda, already a symbol of a new generation taking the lead, will stand as a sort of Statue of Liberty in her own right, with bump.   

Another great outcome is that Trump probably won’t try and grope her at the various leadership forums, although you can never tell with Deranged Donald. Winston will be able to play pater familias, a sort of benign Rt. Hon Daddy, a role that might well suit him. A softer, warmer, guy.

Oh, but there are naysayers.  Yes, I saw them on social media.  One woman muttered that it used to be the marriage before the (baby) carriage. Not to mention the give up work comments and the ‘no babies in politics’ comments.  How dare Jacinda allow a tenant to move into her womb!  These attitudes and the ingrained (but minority) culture they signal are a bit scary in 2017, but I am glad to know they still exist – that women still have to fight for their freedoms, and especially the right to have babies without withdrawing fully from economic life.

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But the comment do raise another juicy possibility for the women’s magazines – our own royal wedding!  Perhaps Clarke and Jacinda could double up with Harry and Sally (no, that’s not her name, but I have temporarily forgotten – oh yes, Meghan) for a nice little shindig at Windsor in May?

Actually, I would prefer the first couple not to get married. This will allow Jacinda’s opponents to get out all the hate at once: “an unmarried, single mother, living in sin and spawning an offspring when she should be at the office – disgraceful!” …. you get the drift.

Perhaps the toymakers might think of a new doll or game based on the power-mother, or the stay at home or go fishing (I doubt there will be much of that for a while) father?

I am a little concerned at the rigorous agenda she has set for herself. Pregnancy puts a lot of strain on the body of most people. Of course, Jacinda may be one of those women who do not add an ounce to their bodies other than the perfect bump carried neatly out in front, no problems.

But if she is anything like the rest of us, the last couple of months will be a mess of exhaustion, swelling, pain in back and legs, the constant need to pee, and problems ad infinitum.  The pressure on women to be super-people surely comes to a head when with one hand you are growing a baby and with the other you are running the country.

And it will not cease once the baby is born. Babies are noisy, unruly, sleepless and noisy (oh yes, I already said that). Sleep may be elusive.  The six weeks off will go like a flash.

There is so much to do.  The media will need to crank up for the baby-naming competitions. Karl or Rosa?  Or perhaps names from New Zealand’s history – Apirana or Whina?  Perhaps it is twins – Jools and Linda?

I notice the news has spread around the world already, with reporting in all the best places.  Well done, Jacinda, for this great boost to our image.  New Zealand may now become a destination not only for gay couples seeking marriage, but also for romantic getaways for families who want to conceive. “Having a hard time conceiving?  Come to New Zealand for a productive time”.

Sorry about all the bad jokes.  I am honestly delighted for the Arderns, for the Parliament, for all women and for the country.  This is a role model that others can aspire to.  But I am also serious about taking it easy, and perhaps stretching the 100 days to 120.  There is plenty of time.  Jacinda might still be Prime Minister when little Che or Kate reaches intermediate school, and starts delivering pamphlets for her. And she still will barely be fifty.

 

Dr Liz Gordon began her working life as a university lecturer at Massey and the Canterbury universities. She spent six years as an Alliance MP, before starting her own research company, Pukeko Research.  Her work is in the fields of justice, law, education and sociology (poverty and inequality). She is the president of Pillars, a charity that works for the children of prisoners, a prison volunteer, and is on the board of several other organisations. Her mission is to see New Zealand freed from the shackles of neo-liberalism before she dies (hopefully well before!).

7 COMMENTS

  1. Dr Liz Gordon, you are obviously one pf the many -the vast majority in industrialised western nations- who just don’t get it. You say ‘Jacinda might still be Prime Minister when little Che or Kate reaches intermediate school, and starts delivering pamphlets for her.’

    This is a perfect example of the commonly-held expectation that the future will be very much like the recent past. It won’t.

    A decade from now there will be no ice in the Arctic for much of the year….leading to numerous positive feedbacks that will cause even faster overheating of the planet than we are experiencing now. Coastal erosion and flooding will be ‘off the chart’.

    A decade from now atmospheric CO2 (currently about 409 ppm) will be of the order of 440 ppm…. not far off the so-called safe limit of 450 ppm. The planetary overheating we have experienced thus far will be like ‘a picnic in the park’ compared to that to be experienced when atmospheric CO2 is more than 200 ppm above the recent long-term average -which it will be quite soon because no one in a position to do anything about the fossil-fuel-based system it is doing anything about it, other than making matters far worse faster.

    A decade from now the boom in short-term methods to prop up the global economy -especially fracking- will be well over. Indeed, there is much evidence that the commencement of ‘falling off the cliff’ due to energy constraints will commence in the period 2018 to 2020. Needless to say, the NZ government has no strategies whatsoever for dealing with the consequences, and all current policy is predicated on denial of reality.

    A decade from now the current financial system will have imploded, leaving billions of people ‘up the creek without a paddle’, because the current financial system is a scam, a Ponzi scheme, which is predicated on continuous expansion of the economy, which is not possible when energy supplies are declining.

    What Jacinda should be doing is protecting her progeny’s future and preparing NZ for the huge discontinuities that will devastate status quo over the next decade: what Jacinda will almost certainly do is ignore energy depletion aspects altogether and pretend that tweaking the financial system slightly will generate worthwhile outcomes……a bit like telling the orchestra to keep playing as the Titanic because ‘it’s unsinkable’.

    The is one thing we can be certain of: Jacinda’s baby will be born into a world in a worse state than it is in now (as will be will NZ). And the child will most definitely not enjoy the kind of childhood its mother enjoyed.

    • Great synopsis of the shitstorm before us. Would make a fine Hollywood blockbuster if it weren’t so real. Past high time for calling out & transformative action in our daily lives.

    • That woman are expected to be more responsible than before does not mean equal responsibility. While many fathers go above and beyond regardless of expectation, being a good father (or at least, not a bad one) remains a relatively low bar to clear. As long as you don’t completely disregard your children and remain the normally functional adult you were before you had them, most people won’t find a bad thing to say. Fathers are expected to need to change comparatively little about themselves or their lives upon having children, but the actual work of parenting will obviously still need to be done by someone in the his case.

      Prior to children there is little to no difference in time spent working for either parent afterwards. What I am saying is that having children changes the expectations and time use for women, but less so for men. That men continue to work similarly as before they had children confirms this. There’s not much more I can say about it, it’s not a complex argument.

      When ever I her about babies my mind starts to wonder and I think what a wonderful time to be born. I hardly think… Oh if the only I had of been born ten years earlier I’d be the most powerful man alive and magic away climate change.

    • Yep, sorry to say so, it will be a gloomier future, for sure, one way or another, for the coming generations. Some forget that with all that excitement about a baby to be born, there is another side to the story, that most rather ignore, choosing to put on blinkers.

      • With Winston Peters in the mix I’m not as pessimistic as some. To people who have already had children this whole affair is a whole lot of meh. And we don’t go getting excited because that adds to the melee…

  2. Anyone would think women have never had a baby before. I suppose a PM having a baby is a POLITICALLY historical event, but hardly a biological miracle.

    Good luck to Ardern and her partner.

    And screw the trolls. What would THEIR mums think of them!!

  3. What is happening in the political arena, I ask?

    Will we have months of baby talk now, or will there still be some real politics, politics for change?

    I know how the MSM are working hard to shape the new narrative.

    Do we want that narrative, or real focus on real matters of substance that are important to us all?

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