Bloody hell!

Kevin Rudd has been taking lessons from Father Abbott.

At that point one of my friends introduced me, dropping in that I am completing a PhD. At this, Rudd rolled his eyes and in a terse voice lacking any sense of irony remarked that is the “excuse” that “all” young women are using nowadays to avoid starting families.

He made this remark to Nina Funnell, who is a researcher in the Journalism and Media Research Centre at the University of NSW. She has written a newspaper opinion piece about it. It’s an admirable takedown: you should go and read it now.

Update: A Shiny New Coin also talks about Rudd’s remarks, and there’s more at Skeptic Lawyer.

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18 responses to “Bloody hell!

  1. Attention Mr Rudd, Mr Abbott, Mr Brandis and most of you other male politicians: I am not a baby factory. My education is not an “excuse” to not have children. And even if it was, it would be none of your freakin’ business anyway. If babies are so important to you, then you should damn well put in place policies that make it easier. Promising paid maternity leave if we vote you in again IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH. (Sorry for the shouting Deborah.) And Abbott, vague policies with no funding details ain’t good enough either.

  2. Argh! This is just a day for it. Today I got asked by my father if I have had my fertility tested.

  3. The other thing that occurred to me was that Kevin Rudd was making a big assumption that she DIDN’T already have children – that you can’t have a public life and children at that age.

    I would have made the same assumption, but I’ve been proved wrong making it several times. There is a woman in my team with a very serious professional life who had her first child in her early 20s.

  4. Has anyone asked Julia Gillard if she’s shared her “excuse” for the dusty womb with the Prime Minister?

  5. Before we ask Julia Gillard anything, has anyone asked the PM for his version of the conversation? This story is so out of character for Rudd and his general message on women, education, productivity. Apart from that hostie who upset him it’s the first account I’ve read of his insulting a woman, or anyone for that matter.

  6. Before we ask Julia Gillard anything, has anyone asked the PM for his version of the conversation?

    As far as I can tell, Rudd has and his response is “no comment”. But, not to put too fine a point on it, I’ve got to ask what possible motive Nina Funnell would have to lie. Perhaps she’s one of these over-sensitive, sexually “thwarted” barren feminist types. 😦

    Meanwhile, I’d still like to know if Julia Gillard feels the needs to “excuse” herself for not having children (or not being legally wed for that matter).

    Finally, could I be cynical enough to ask whether you’d have given the same benefit of the doubt to Malcolm Turnbull — hardly one of the rhetorical bomb-heaving school of Aussie politics — if he was still Liberal leader.

  7. One more point, Patricia WA, “nice guys” can still be thoughtless patronising a-holes. Sad but true: Evolution is a life-long project. 🙂

  8. There’s a telling story on the Larvatus Prodeo thread about how Kevin Rudd responded to a young woman who uses a wheelchair: comment 101, by feral sparrowhawk.

  9. Also, why should we doubt the writer’s account. Perhaps we might think that she didn’t realise that Rudd was telling a joke, but so far no one has popped up from Rudd’s office to say, “It was just a joke.”

    It really is worth reading your way through the LP thread: You can take the boy out of Queensland…. Craig, you will see that quite a few people over there are analysing whether or not it was just a joke, but Helen has an excellent response to them: comment 106.

  10. I think it was an awful thing for Rudd to say. To me though I thought the article was a bit negative about mothers who choose to stay at home – whatever their educational level, age or economic status.

  11. Deborah:

    Wow… thanks for the pointer and it was educational yet depressing. It’s blackly comic watching various folks contorting themselves to find ways of calling Nina Funnell a liar without dropping the L-word. (Because assassinating someone’s character with attack word-weasel rather than a full frontal assault makes it all OK.)

    But even if Rudd was engaging in a bit of “deadpan drollery”, so effing what? Some people think racist and homophobic slurs are hilarious, and I suspect anyone who tried “get a sense of humour” bingo on crap like that coming from the mouth of Tony Abbott (or politicians on the Labour right) would get a pasting on Larvatus Prodeo. And deservedly so.

    I’m not getting too high on my moral horse here, because, Deborah, you know from experience that I’m not exactly the poster boy for tact, good taste and polite public discourse. But I’d like to think that I’ve got limits (they start well short of a strangers uterus, BTW). And when I’ve behaved like a penis-brain I can own it.

    And a bit of anec-data completely apropos of nothing, I have whanau who’ve lived in Queensland for decades without devolving into Neanderthals. Should I stage an intervention and get them back to civilization before they start grunting and dragging their knuckles along the ground?

  12. I don’t think I picked that up on the first read through, aaml, but now that you mention it, it is a bit negative. The only comment she makes about the value of staying home with children is neutral. Not the focus of the article of course, but the flavour of work-good / at home-bad is still there.

  13. Pingback: skepticlawyer » Chained to the kitchen sink…

  14. I’m not sure it’s good for me to be reading things that make my eyebrow raise in such an arch manner before I’ve really got up. Grrr!

  15. I resist commenting on these things, because…well, my barren post-graduate educated self gets a little fed up.

    I actually had to have this conversation with someone I know and respect recently.

    Her: “But don’t you want babies?”

    Me: “Yes, maybe , but I also want to have a career and a life. And it’s not like the opportunity has come up…depressingly single, remember?”

    Her: “Don’t you think that’s a little selfish?”

    Me: “I guess maybe it is. But I’m not sure why you think it is my responsibility to populate the planet?”

    And then my head exploded.

    I would like to think I’d have been more articulate faced with K-Rudd. Even if it was a joke, but the couple of times I’ve been in a room with him I’ve felt that it was supremely beyond him to actually make a joke.

  16. Deborah:

    Got to thank you for inspiring this week’s Public Address Radio piece. The text: “Sticking your nose in a strangers reproductive organs is every bit as gross as it sounds.”

  17. Happy to help, Craig! I’ll listen to it as soon as it goes up on PAS. And perhaps promote it a little here once it’s up for people to tune in.

  18. I thought it was a bit negative about Sahm’s too, I have been asked people as to why I am wasting my qualifications by being at home with my children, I think if you are female and in your thirties everyone has an opinion as to what you should be doing and that we seem to be fair game to most people for any issue. lets just blame women for everything that we see as wrong in society