April 25, 2004 | Unknown

Hits and Mrs

Politicians’ wives, or ex-wives, have been in the news a bit of late. In Australia, we seem to hear from the missus when she can confirm her husband was the drongo we always suspected him to be.
America, meanwhile, prefers to see its political spouses gazing lovingly like a bride on her wedding day, even after years of marriage, infidelities and a failure to spend more time together than is required for photo opportunities.
Before hubby Howard’s campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination went pear-shaped, Dr Judith Steinberg Dean was ridiculed for not obeying her politician’s wife vow, “I promise to smile like Posh Spice when in the vicinity of anything camera-like, not say anything remotely interesting and will not inflict my lack of singing talent on anyone above voting age”.
Michael Kingsley in an article in Time suggested that our knowledge of Howard Dean was somehow incomplete without some wifely insight. Perhaps learning that Dean doesn’t leave the toilet seat up or that he cooks a mean Spaghetti Bolognese might have changed American political history. Nevertheless, a person’s relationship with their significant other is irrelevant to their capacity to do any job unless they are planning to form the new Sonny and Cher.
Given the widespread cynicism about the dissembling of politicians, it doesn’t make sense to think we could find out anything more about them by impelling their wives to become public figures. As Judith Shulevitz perceptively argued in the New York Times Magazine, “when we make a political marriage part of the story, we do not penetrate the spin. We merely shift our attention to more spin”.
While local government in Brisbane is a long way from American presidential politics, we have seen the supportive wife role played to the point where for the first time since dinosaurs walked the earth, or Roy Harvey was Lord Mayor, we have a Lady Mayoress.
Unsure of what the job entails I carried out intensive research by entering “Lady Mayoress” into a search engine. For your information, a Lady Mayoress is someone who beams while wearing an awful frock and secretly must be as jealous as a peahen at her husband’s robes and over-the-top jewellery.
Apparently Lisa the Lady Mayoress, wife of Campbell Newman the Gentleman Mayor, will be doing unpaid “charity work”, which rather than delivering Meals on Wheels is probably more the sort of stuff Paris Hilton’s mum does when she’s not putting the hem down on her daughter’s skirts. Mrs Newman also plans for “City Hall to have a heart again”, a goal more palatable than the opposite, but probably not to be attempted in the vicinity of Council employees.
Would, however, Campbell give up his employment to be a male equivalent of a Lady Mayoress and should anyone in this day and age anticipate, and get, such a role simply because of their marital status?
I defer to Germaine Greer as paraphrased and quoted in Shulevitz in an attempt to answer this question: “by the 21st century a woman ought neither expect to achieve a position of power “nor be expected to relinquish her privacy and her own work…simply because she has married a man who has a prospect of success in politics”.

Posted by Unknown at 5:33 pm | Comments Off on Hits and Mrs |
Filed under: Uncategorized

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.