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Fuck Politeness

This is a revolution, not a public relations movement

Hat-tip to Mindy at Hoyden About Town

Oh my good GOD. See I’m one of those nasty single mothers setting a bad example for impressionable girls anywhere who might see me and realise that humans can cope with a lot and still have choices, so I might be biased. As you would NOT expect from a ratbag single mum, I’ve just returned from a full day’s canteen duty at my son’s high school. Since uni’s out I decided I could spare one of my two rare days off (usually study days) to volunteer. I came home ragged with tiredness and thought I might lay down quietly for fifteen minutes to regroup but I’ve just read Bettina Arndt’s latest offering (here – sorry my net is playing up so not all my widgets are working: and instead, my body’s rigid with rage.

It’s an offering on what a horrid example Ms Gillard will be setting young women everywhere when she moves into the lodge should she win the election. Take a moment to chew on the absurdity of this claim could you please? I mean HONESTLY: she will move into the lodge as Australia’s first female Prime Minister, having won an election in her own right. What a magnificent example she will set to young girls! And we want to talk about the absence of a ring on her finger??

Arndt is in fine conservative form. De facto relationships are apparently less committed, less stable, less consciously chosen – Arndt discusses the issue of many couples ‘sliding rather than deciding’ as if couples never simply ‘slide’ into marriage and children cos it’s ‘what you do’, and as if all relationships involving a shared domestic relationship are the same. When I was nineteen I lived with my boyfriend for nine months with no decision that I wanted to share my life with him, simply to see how we went. As it turned out, not so well and I moved on.

Why on earth would you compare that to Ms Gillard’s relationship for heaven’s sake? It is plainly obvious to anyone with half an inkling of intelligence that de facto relationships can be every bit as committed to respectful, committed, long term relations as marriage. And guess what? Everyone can have them.

The rates of marriage dissolution suggest that marriage itself is not so stable – yes, there’s a study that allegedly supports the idea that de facto couples with children are ‘more likely’ to split than married couples. But let’s talk about how *much* more likely, let’s discuss the quality of the relationships of the married partners who stay together, let’s talk about reasons such as societal pressure not to leave a husband/wife, let’s talk about the problems in marriage, and let’s PLEASE acknowledge that the breakup of a parental relationship is not always an unmitigated negative for the children involved!

Ages of the children vary, circumstances of what they were subjected to within the relationship vary, reasons for and the amicability of the split vary (and I’d like to see some date on amicable splits in de facto versus marriage relationships). And it’s really simply just high time that we all backed the fuck OFF the notion that children not living in a nuclear familial unit are just worse off than kids in nuclear family units, just cos. For one tiny example, my son’s father lives in Germany, pays no child support and carries on like a goose. He rarely calls. And yet my son is a happy, funny, socially and academically successful child with a thirst for knowledge and a love of life. Me leaving his father when it became apparent that his father was an addict, and our lives would become enmeshed in his addiction and dysfunction was simply put the best thing that could have happened in his life. And yeah – we were married. Whoopty-fucking-do for marriage. As a contrast, my cousins would have had a vastly better experience of childhood had their mother been supported in leaving their father. And HER life would have been much better, and that is important too.  Oh yes, they were married. That’s why her priest could pressure her so effectively into staying with the abusive alcoholic prick.

Also according to Ms Arndt, those of us who didn’t marry (or didn’t stay married to) our childrens’ other parent, ‘drag’ our children through a ‘succession of chaotic blended families’. EXCUSE ME? That’s right, I said EXCUSE ME! You simply CANNOT generalise like that. Your bigotry is appalling.

First up, why are blended families of necessity chaotic? People are remarkably adaptable, and if they choose rather than slide into a blended family scenario (sure, you’re convinced that sliding only happens outside of marriage, you’re on your own there though) then they have full capacity to seek assistance in proactively managing the challenges of ‘blended families’ (which by the way can simply be referred to as families you know).

Second hey WHAT is with you and this ‘succession’/ ‘dragging’ thing? You seem pretty clearly to be implying that parents of children who don’t marry and may want to negotiate another relationship are irresponsible parents dragging through a ‘succession’ as if we can’t exercise our own good judgment about relationships and when and where and how to share an abode, and as if we can’t take our time as well as those who were married and moved on, and as if we have less ability to be able to choose again ONCE (given that appears to be your measure of a responsible parent).

There is NOTHING inherent in finding yourself a single parent after a de facto relationship that makes you more likely than someone who found themselves a single parent after a marriage breakup that make you more likely to ‘drag’ your child through a ‘succession’ of de facto relationships. NOR is there anything inherent in a commitment to de facto OVER marriage that makes a person more likely to be unable to find a relationship they want to be in for the rest of their life.

I mean Christ on a bike lady.

I have a child and am more cautious and more protective of my freedom than I have been at any other point of my life. I have been married – to my son’s father. It was bullshit. I am not saying that marriage itself has to be bullshit (though I eyeball it suspiciously very often). But that marriage was. So I left. And I’ve done it tough. And guess what. No dragging through a succession (or in fact ANY) of “chaotic blended families”. I’ve been on my own with my son ever since. And I’ve had a couple of relationships that didn’t go anywhere for various reasons, and so we never got close to discussing shared abodes. I’ve been in a committed relationship for three years now and we’re having long discussions about when and whether to share a house, how it would work, what it would mean, how we’d negotiate finances, how we’d manage space, what our expectations would be with regards to each other’s children. We’ve booked in to attend couples counseling in order to work through these concerns proactively before we move in. All hallmarks of a decision I would say, and I ask you how many marriages have that level of forward planning.

You’re banging on about Julia Gillard’s ‘real reasons’ for delaying moving into the Lodge? I suggest your real reasons for having a problem are that Ms Gillard has chosen not to have children, has chosen not to get married and has a wildly successful career and appears to all intents and purposes to be a funny, happy, intelligent and well rounded woman and THAT bothers the hell out of you as an example for our girls, since they might realise that they don’t NEED to slide into marriage and babies. I suggest your ‘real reasons’ are that you’re opportunistically seizing another moment in the limelight after your recent crap about how women should put out in marriage even when they don’t feel like sex.

Please also note: Some people are consciously, ethically against marriage as an institution. Some people are not interested in the whole monogamous relationship gig at all. Also, you are a twit.

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