A tangled skein of gender-related issues seem to be in the media lately. For example, the Daily Telegraph reported recently that bosses might be less likely to hire women now that maternity leave has increased to a year, and women are to receive benefits in kind that they would have had they still been at work, for example gym membership. (A single male friend of mine wondered about the gym membership. I told him to talk to women with children in secondary school. He did, and, somewhat wiser, now concurs with the measure.)
There's a lot going on there, however. For example, is it really the job of employers to maintain their employees' pelvic floors? Saint Lawrence, when ordered by the prefect of Rome to produce the treasures of the church, produced the poor. I don't believe that government should be bigger than it needs to be, but should not the state provide for the treasures of the country - its children - instead of demanding that employers do this and recoup their costs from poor consumers?
In another story, the Telegraph again tells us that HarperCollins have offered an apology to Australian aborigines because, in the Australian edition of The Daring Book for Girls, authors Andrea Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz suggest that girls play the didgeridoo, something that is the subject of a gender taboo pertaining to Aborigine culture. Mark Rose, head of the Victorian Aboriginal Educational Association, says that the suggestion is the equivalent of "encouraging someone to play with razor blades", and is warning that girls who do so could "face infertility".
(Gender issues have touched my family's lives as well. When my sister-in-law Patientia attended an orthopaedic consultant as an out-patient regarding joint-pains, once he had ran out of tests he told her: "Your problem is that you are a housewife. You're not busy enough, so you're imagining these pains. Get a job, and get a life." Personally, I'd say that being a housewife is pretty hard work, without a minimum wage and paid holidays, let alone gym membership.)
Gender politics - literally - seem to be on the agenda in the US as well. Something quite remarkable has happened: as a correspondent on Michelle Malkin's website states, "The feminists have suddenly decided that a mother should be home with her children in lieu of a career."
This remark was made in the context of the forthcoming US elections, where Republican presidential candidate John McCain has chosen Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, ie to become Vice-President should he be elected.
Two things are happening here to rain on the ideological parade of those who people the liberal-socialist axis.
Firstly, having trawled through bios, it seems to me that the candidates are more in touch with people from backgrounds liable to economic upset than presidential/vice-presidential candidates have been for some time. It comes as no surprise to me that this should happen in a right-wing party; in the UK, Margaret Thatcher, a shopkeeper's daughter, was the Prime Minister to see through the cant of union bosses grown fat on their members' hardships. Her successor, John Major, was the first Prime Minister ever to call for a classless society. Now that the nominally democratic socialist Labour party has reneged on its promise to offer a referendum on a European superstate, its pet papers are presenting attempts to consult the people on this as "a challenge from the right".
Secondly, three days after her selection as running mate, Sarah Palin announced (not "admitted", as the New York Times said) that her daughter was pregnant. Wonderful news. But suddenly Democrats and left-leaning folk generally became moralists to an extent that makes Queen Victoria look like Paris Hilton on ecstasy. Their problem doesn't seem to be the pregnancy so much as that the pregnancy is continuing. The Sharp Right Turn blog posted a YouTube video of Obama Barack speaking to a crowd, saying, "If [my daughters] make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby, I don't want them punished with an STD at the age of 16".
There's lots to unpack there, for example the view of STD's as punishments (from whom?), but the description of a baby as a punishment says it all. I'm sure US politics is no Buckingham Palace garden party; but to Mr Obama's credit, on the same day as Mrs Palin announced the news, he gave out the order that families were "off limits", on pain of being fired. That, however, hasn't stopped a miscellany of starlets declaiming on the issue. Some atrocious material has been forwarded which, insulting as it is to Mrs Palin, amounts to nothing less than a concerted campaign of abuse directed at a minor. As high-minded as I'm sure Obama's motives are in calling for a cease-fire, I'm sure he also wants to put a damper on the strange compulsion of left-leaning stone-throwers to bring the fragile edifices of their own construction crashing down upon all their ears.
As passionate as I am about the prospects for the British election, when it comes, it has to be admitted that the US elections, especially now, are the most important in the world. I pray for strength for Mrs Palin as the most shockingly sexist mores are borne from the scrapheap by people who demand that these same standards do not represent their own - many of them not much more sophisticated than becoming infertile by touching a didgeridoo. And may God bless all of her family.
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