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Feminist Pendulum Has Swung Too Far

Feminist Pendulum Has Swung Too Far

Sunday 13th May 2001 Penny Webster Speech -- Other

Mother's Day Speech

Good Morning.

Today is Mother’s Day, and the message that Helen Clark has sent to every mother in the country is plain and simple: have daughters, or else.

Ms Clark stated proudly last week that she rejects employment nominations for crown businesses if she isn’t satisfied that enough women are getting the top jobs.

Our forefathers thought that a woman’s place was in the kitchen. Today, Labour and Alliance would relegate men to the dole queue.

This nonsense is an example of the swing in New Zealand from a patriarchal society to a matriarchal one. We have gone too far when women are patronised by being awarded jobs based on their gender rather than their merits. We have gone too far when men with skills are overlooked for women without them.

For years, men gave themselves preferential treatment. We should learn from history and not compound the errors of the past.

The Government, more than any other organisation, has an obligation to be blind to gender, race and creed.

We only have to look to the corporate sector to see that women are quite capable of getting jobs based on their own merits. We have women heading huge businesses; we have women entrepreneurs; and women leading non-Governmental organisations. These women got to the top on their own.

There is an unhealthy attitude that being a male is something to feel guilty about. I think it is a danger when white, middle-class males are made to feel they need to apologise for themselves. As Richard Prebble said, these are the people leading the brain drain. And as a country, we can’t afford to lose them.

What we need is balance, not PC nonsense from Labour.

We must scrap that bastion of politically-correct nonsense, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. I have a Private Members Bill going into the parliamentary ballot which would do exactly this.

This Ministry has an annual budget of $4.3 million, with 35 staff. The Ministry’s job is to liase with NGOs and give comically nonsensical policy advice to the Government. As women are already well-represented by politically active organisations such as National Council of Women, Rural Women New Zealand, Maori Women’s Welfare League and the Equal Employment Opportunity trust - to name but a few - one wonders how this waste of taxpayers’ money can be justified.

In 1999 the Ministry published a comprehensive list of women’s organisations and groups, under the title, “Directory of Women’s Organisations and Groups in New Zealand – Te Rarangi Ingoa O Nga Ropu Wahine Kei Aotearoa Nei”. This publication recognised 353 organisations and groups.

How many groups exist solely for men? Many traditional male organisations have been forced to accept women – for example, Lions and Rotary. Has the pendulum swung too far? I think it has, and I have spoken to many women who agree.

When I suggest we should have a Ministry of Men’s Affairs, people laugh. And so they should. But how is that idea any more farcical than having a Ministry just for women?

The Ministry is an outdated relic from the Labour government of the early 1980s. It may once have had a purpose. But that has long-since been buried in PC drivel.

It is up to our leaders – and let’s face it, they are predominately female – not to repeat the mistakes of the past. After all, they themselves are of the generation who fought so hard to try to address the imbalance.

Right now, our sons are failing in New Zealand schools. This is another result of the pendulum’s swing. It is important that today, of all days – Mothers Day – we stop to ask ourselves what message we are giving to our sons and our daughters.

Let’s not pit them against each-other, but encourage both equally.

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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