May 08, 2004 | Unknown

Baby Hunger: I’ll have fries with that

Sunday’s recent reports into age-related infertility have got me convinced my thirty-something-year-old eggs aren’t fit to make a rubbery omelette, let alone a little me.
While I could admit some guilt for allowing myself to rundown rather than reproduce, I prefer, like the ABC’s Virginia Haussegger, to blame mums, the feminist variety this time, because aren’t they responsible for everything from bad cooking to sons who use hair-care products?
Apparently, Haussegger was indoctrinated by the anti-baby “mantra preached by feminists in the 1970s”, which must have been selectively intoned since I don’t remember hearing it, although I might’ve been sick the day it was taught in Mothercraft.
Despite the fact that criticising feminists can give a girl’s writing career a boost, I suspect their supposed influence during the years of Alvin Purple and The Paul Hogan Show isn’t the major explanation for women’s procrastination when it comes to procreating.
It does seem some women think, as Helen Dalley suggests, that “I can probably sneak in another five to eight years…and then I better start having babies”.
The concept of extended youth is endlessly promoted today via cosmetic companies, plastic surgery, diets and fitness videos released by tight-faced celebrities. If a shot of Botox can smooth out pesky lines, why shouldn’t we believe fertility problems are also easily remedied?
Anyway, the extended adolescence of everybody, especially me, means we’re probably not going to admit there’s grey on top or things inside nearing their use-by-date.
That “certain narcissism in our culture” author Sophie Cunningham “think(s) children can…snap people out of…” is also encouraged by pop psychology and confessional literature and television. While this focus on the self suits me, feminism is about women as a group, so I’m not sure why it should be held accountable for the “Me” generation and structures and ideas that capitalism and patriarchy own.
When Haussegger asks, “how is feminism helping to sort through the enormous load of expectation it has created for women to succeed beyond being “just mothers”, I wonder whether she can imagine what it’s like when nobody expects anything more of you than motherhood.
Since women have worked hard to stake their claim as whole human beings with many needs and interests, a more appropriate question is, “when are men going to challenge the status quo and help create a society where the home and the labour market are friendly to the family and every member in it, including them?”
An important rejoinder to Haussegger came last year when Zelda Grimshaw reminded us that, “the world (our feminist mothers) envisioned for us saw parenting shared between the sexes, and supported, financially and socially, by the community. They imagined a world that would allow us to fulfil our need to nurture without foregoing our creative and intellectual lives”.
Well said, but I’m off to pick up a few tips from Janet Albrechtsen on how to remodel myself as the pin-up of conservative, middle-aged men and thus give my career the kick along it needs.
Hate student politics, then read this.

Posted by Unknown at 12:25 pm | Comments (2) |
Filed under: Uncategorized


  1. THANK YOU! This expresses EXACTLY what I’ve been thinking about this bogus blame-game about falling fertility and ‘feminism’. When will people see that the real issue is equity and FAIRNESS??

    Comment by anne — May 11, 2004 @ 6:08 pm

  2. Thank you both for your comments.
    Equal rights as a parent starts a long time before you get to the Family Court. My point was that men should challenge the status quo (eg a labour market that demands people work 60 hours a week and doesn’t allow them time for other stuff) and a society that requires that being a man (or a woman) should be based on very limited notions.
    It is still the case that women do the most in terms of housework, child-rearing etc etc and in a world where status in the paid workforce counts for much more than work at home, they lose a lot for their efforts.
    I would like to see it emerge that parenting is truly an equal thing with one parent working in the paid workforce a few days a week and the other a few days a week. So where are the teeming hordes of men protesting in favour of such a change? I think I have seen your blog, Mr Pundit.
    Thanks Anne, suffice to say, I agree with your point, it is about equity and fairness and contrary to ideas that we are living in some sort of oppressive matriarchy, women still do not have it.

    Comment by Darlene — May 12, 2004 @ 10:26 am

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