MP Kate Ellis succinctly states her reason for not standing at the next federal election:
I have made this decision for one simple reason: I cannot bear the thought of spending at least 20 weeks of every year in Canberra away from my son, who will be starting school in the next term of Parliament, and from the rest of my family.
Ignorant Ellis doesn’t realise she is a victim of the patriarchy:
Like many women, I felt a crushing sense of disappointment when I heard the announcement on Friday that Kate Ellis was resigning from politics.
It wasn’t just sadness over the loss of an exceptional MP (and possible future Labor leader), although I felt that keenly. It was the reminder that no matter how hard women try, no matter how much we have to offer and no matter how essential we are to the fabric of public life, those structures still obstinately refuse to accommodate our needs.
Fairfax journalist Jacqueline Maley described this trend perfectly when she wrote, “It was a straight-up case of what I would call the Enormous Pull of the Tiny Face. It was also confirmation of one of politics’ saddest trends – those politicians who have their priorities straight, often leave politics, because they have their priorities straight.”
Ellis was more straightforward even than this, saying, “I haven’t wanted to leave him. I like being with him.”
Clementine Ford provides no link for the quote because she’s doctored it to give the impression Ellis’s womanly and motherly needs are not being met. Untrue, her son travels with her to Canberra. Here’s the full quote from a press conference:
JOURNALIST: Do you have plenty of support at home, especially if you are taking your son to Canberra, back and forth. Can you leave him in Adelaide and go to Canberra without him?
ELLIS: I could do that. I haven’t done that to this point and I said to someone earlier today, jokingly, I didn’t know that I was going to have the most adorable child that ever has been born, but I did, so that is a bit of a burden as well as an opportunity and I haven’t wanted to leave him. I like being with him. He’s travelled with me to date and I have been very, very lucky that we have been able to do that. So, there will be a point when he can’t travel anymore and of course I have support at home. Our home, you know, I am really blessed that I have got two amazing step children, we have a teen, a tween, a toddler and two cavoodles. There is a fair bit of chaos going on there. We just decided that I don’t want to be travelling anymore. I want to be back with the family that I love.
Ellis makes it abundantly clear that quitting politics is the right decision for her and has nothing to do with patriarchal oppression:
JOURNALIST: Again, anyone who gets into federal politics is going to face the same, or any female who wants to be a young mum faces exactly the same…
ELLIS: And every male that is a young dad and that is something about the nature of the Federal Parliament. I don’t think this is a gender thing. I have spoken to a number of my male colleagues, who find it really hard, but they have found a way. I have also spoken to a number of men who have decided not to go into the Federal Parliament for these reasons. It is a consideration, it is what people need to balance. I am just saying that I would hate for my legacy to be sending a message that you can’t be a young woman and go into Federal Parliament because I’ve made this choice. There are countless examples of dynamic, inspiring, talented women who have made a different choice and who it is working for.
JOURNALIST: But it can be a career/family killer, that is the message you are sending?
ELLIS: I guess I am sending the message that for me, I am also incredibly lucky that I was elected, arguably before I was ready, but I was elected young and I’ve had a number of years in the Parliament. For me, this is the right time for me and for my family. But as I said, for other people they’ll make a different decision.
JOURNALIST: If it means tucking your son in at night and being there for those milestone events, why not stand down now and have a by election? Because you’ve potentially got another two years of going back and forth to Canberra?
ELLIS: Yes. Well I’ve also got a son who is about to turn two. So he doesn’t, I guess for me it’s been when he starts school is the time when he needs to be here in Adelaide in a stable place. For better or worse, my son since his very early weeks has travelled around the countryside and he can do that for a bit longer. He can go to child care in Canberra when I am there. That is something that works for us, but it is not going to work forever. And for me, when he starts school, that is when it is a crunch time and that doesn’t happen until after this term.
Feminist Ford knows what’s really going on, however:
This is what patriarchy looks like. It isn’t just the stalking bogeyman that people hostile to feminism like to suggest, but rather a system of civil, structural and political governance that has been designed with men as the default vision of leadership, and with the expectation that all others will happily defer.
This is also why it isn’t enough to strive for equality within the system as it currently exists, because the system itself is flawed. Why should women – especially those charged with the bulk of the work of raising society’s next generations – be excluded from governance just because there has thus far been no drive to recognise how vital their inclusion is and adapt the system to accommodate it?
Why is it acceptable to anyone, let alone those who claim to represent a broad range of constituents, that such a tiny, homogeneous group of people are supported to make decisions about how we run our country just because it’s easier for men to check out of parenting?
Ford has been playing the victim ever since playmates informed she is fat and has very cleverly managed to make a living by preaching the all-woman-are-victims gospel.