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Barefoot & pregnant - comment on ABC phone-in Friday 8th December, 2006  

Barefoot & pregnant - comment on ABC phone-in Friday 8th December, 2006

In your phone-in this morning I was disappointed that you did not correct the woman who attacked the earlier woman by claiming that the earlier caller had called her "barefoot and pregnant".

The first caller was disapproving, as I do, of the policies of the current government which attempt to push women back into dependence and narrow, non-paid, roles. How *useful* it would be for the "back to the 1850s" nostalgists (who are also trying to go back to old-style industrial relations) if we went back to having a huge unpaid and pretty powerless group who'd look after the old, disabled and sick, as well as children, mostly in their own homes.

Think of the savings to the government if they could cut back on the amount of buildings, services and staff they had to supply! No regulatory bodies, either. After all, control and regulation is just "bureaucracy" and "red tape".

No matter that we have seen and experienced the waste of human potential, the suffering and abuse that such a system is liable to.

After all, we see even today in places the suffering and abuse that the contemporary version of the old Master and Servant Act style of industrial relations entails. Yet piece by piece and step by step a century or so of advances for the majority of the population, that used to be part of the definition of Australian ideals, that made us proud, and something to be aspired to by less-fortunate people in other countries are being pushed back and chipped away.

I see something very similar with women's situation. As a mid-40s widow who had to step back from full-time work to care for a frail parent for several years (without carer payment), and who must now in her 50s manage her own affairs into old age now this worries me.
Younger, I would be worrying how to bring up children and not lose all my 'market value' for the rest of a long life, ending up like some of my ancestors doing menial, low-paid, in-home work with very poor conditions once my children were grown.

Again, very convenient for the people who employed them, whether piece-work manufacturers, agencies who farmed out the work, or the families who privately employed housekeepers, nannies, and the like.

All this is, of course, covered over with a beautifully embroidered, colourful veil of rhetoric about womanliness, motherhood, the joy of children, etc, etc; twisting what is good about it into a weapon against those women and men trying to oppose the dirty little underside. Just like your later caller twisted (unconsciously?) someone supporting her rights into someone attacking her.

There isn't time here to speak properly to the very bad idea it is to encourage overpopulation through these kinds of policies. We need to work our way through the demographic bulge of the post-war boom, not devastate the world and our children's futures by trying to blindly perpetuate it. People have been explaining this for at least thirty years, and now I would have thought some of the problems are becoming obvious even to those who've been stalling and denying all that time, but somehow, if it doesn't fit their purposes, people will behave as (self)destructively as plague mice despite our supposed place of reason and consciousness.
I enjoy your program, even if I do find parts of it provoking. Just spent an hour on this I need to spend on important personal business, but the ABC is still our place to discuss important social issues.

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