The Witching Hour

The Witching Hour

Inspired by fb articles I read today, including one in the Guardian by Shalailah Medhora, I had to comment.

Hi there,

You write an interesting article reflecting on Gary John’s opinions. I know there are always those who take advantage of any system of government handout, just ask any large non-tax paying company, but there seems to be a general misunderstanding about witches, oops I mean women, in the news lately. My fb comment in response to the article was:

Fine guys, while you are at it how about recording the DNA of all men at birth so that when they leave the women single and pregnant they can be traced and taxed? You blokes okay with that then?

I am not completely joking when I say this. Women are taking a huge wrap for men who are absent and it’s not fair. At present if fathers don’t take responsibility for their progeny they have to be served with an order and if they can’t be found, they are not accountable. Lawyers give advice that recommends men to deny, run and hide. When they are found, served the papers and made to get a DNA test they are taxed accordingly, so the amount the government doles out to the mother and child, is met, at least in part if not completely, by the father. Of course if the Dad is unemployed then the government pays. So the woman slaves away as a mum and the dad does what ever an unemployed dad does and the mum get all the flack. Of course we blame the woman.

It’s endemic. Working in a variety of account’s department I can tell you that, unless the accountant is female and even then sometimes still, it is an issue. When collecting child payments many businesspeople really don’t think it’s fair on their male employees. Taking money out of the pay cheque for their children! It’s not just that they don’t want to play the ‘tax collector’ for the government but the idea of ‘big government’ and so called ‘money grubbing ex-wives/girlfriends’ get conflated somehow. Some business people agree with many of these fathers and see it as some sort of female retribution rather than ‘doing the right thing’ for the kids that the men fathered in the first place. Who would have thought that the person who helped make the baby had to help pay for the baby? 50/50 parenting means there is less payout for the government, paper work for business or cost to the father but not all men are willing to take up the responsibility – especially when they have entered into a new relationship with the next woman. Read: potential single mother. Yes, cynical but entirely plausible. Watch out Gary, get a prescription at the ready!

I won’t go into how much money wealthier couples enjoy with middle class welfare but the fact is that the money that poor women get is basic. Further, most single mums are just divorcees, who happen to have kids. They are not single women who rushed out to get pregnant so they could collect a pissy $15,000 a year! These are women with children who men have left behind or from whom women escaped. They are women who agreed with their partner that the relationship was not working – who cares – it takes two to tango and it’s as much the man’s fault as the woman’s that there is a child to cater to, love and pay bills for. So care of the children remains. In the end the ones who receive a benefit are the women who don’t get enough money from the fathers to support the kid(s) that they (both mother and father) are responsible for. And by the way, many of these women work part time accepting slightly less from the government for each dollar they earn. So for every single mum there is a dad (yes, or two) out there! Gary – why don’t you go and harass them? Go and find them, tell to them everything you are directing at women. Perhaps they should be neutered? If sexually equitable that’s that what your politics suggests.

You know most people have no idea of what actually transpires. What amounts are paid and why. What proofs are called for and what hoops are jumped through. How little money is actually paid out. How soon it is cut off. We know but don’t think about the fact that the mother’s and father’s poverty affects the child’s outcomes and that extreme poverty with no money at all will affect them even more for their entire life. Sensational rants don’t help. If things are so corrupt that men use women to have babies so they can have an income, as Gary suggests, then consider, if the government income dries up what stopping them from resorting to an even older MALE trick and getting the women to go on the game for them? Hey? This is not a female rort – it’s subjugation! And it’s ‘blame the victim’ time again.

The weight of responsibility for anything related to sex, that women have had to endure for, well, forever, is madness: having babies, children of all ages, the evil eye, original sin, the loss of the Garden of Eden, men’s ‘uncontrollable’ sexual urges, STDs, gay men (we mothered them wrong), gay women (must be something wrong with us man haters – but okay to fetishize about them), abusive husbands, rape, jealous rage, murder provoked by infidelity – all been attributed to us women at one time or other. Men – please man up here! These things are not our fault. The responsibility of raising children is no more ours than yours, yet for centuries we have carried that burden and died rather than neglect our responsibilities or transgress as Mothers or diminish what it is to be human. We are there when no one else is and when we are, we get blamed for all that goes wrong and for all that it costs. Ask your self, “Where is the father? What is the father doing right now? What is it costing him?” The true cost if society really wants to know is vast. To be insulted by hypocritical types like Gary and other dyed in the wool misogynists and to be taunted and ignored by a large proportion of the public duped by this sort of claptrap, is yet another burden. Fortunately we know we are doing the right thing to the best of our collective abilities and purses, and we are proud.

Anthony Burgess once reversed the roles of males and females, dressing bearded men in bride’s dresses. It was funny. This role reversal is a test that determines if something is sexist. What if all single mothers turned up on the respective fathers door steps and dumped all the babies off? How would that be? Become a single dad and collect those generous government payments, while we all go back to work. And while you’re at it, take care of your old mum and dad and do the volunteer work down at the charity shop. Yeah I’d like to see that. Not so funny?

I would love to see some strategies that had men taking the responsibility for their actions. Most of which probably won’t work in our current patriarchal society but hypothetically it would be interesting, it would reposition the argument somewhat and it would be an absolute hoot. I also think the vibe at the moment is ripe for extreme oppositional propositions. (Suffragette/Bernie Sanders/Women in Film/Chris Gayle/Peter Dutton/Jamie Briggs/Obama against guns etc.) The issue is hot and at risk of confusing the political rave let’s look at soft sexism – I feel many males (including western white ones) think we females are lucky to be protected by the patriarchy because of a “look how hard the Muslim women get it” type argument. Sheesh! Conversely some, even those who disagree with scarf wearing, think in terms of arguments like, ‘women ask for it’ because well they’re a temptation and a man’s a man after all. etc. The idea that man is central, that the male is the lead actor and that women and others are there for pleasure, entertainment, to be an audience, to be a partner, to be a mother, a housekeeper, to be the female love interest in the male protagonist’s movie is so ingrained. Chris Gayle certainly thinks he is a star and God’s gift to women but I imagine his sexism is strongly laced with elements more to do with his massive ego, which in itself dependant on being a ‘chick magnet’. This point of view is so common. As a teacher, I am constantly amazed by the variety of opinion and the extremity of opinion held by my students. None of who are planning to be single mothers, despite the fact that they are not wealthy, by the way. But most can’t see the privilege, the construct of how our society orders our lives. When I draw their attention to it, they make excuses for it, wonder why the hell I am so naive as to think it could be otherwise or are truly shocked.

And yes these problems, in the context of a ‘happy ever after’ Australia, are first world problems to be sure. I acknowledge that we have come a long way but are not there yet and we need to hold on to what we have won. After all, it was only a few decades ago that we got legislation that ‘ensured’ equal pay. We can never go back. We need to go further and help others travel this path towards equality; The young who have not experienced the inequity of the ‘olden days’, the poor women of the world who need our support, the disenfranchised women who live in cultures that resist change and deny women a voice, the oppressed and abused women everywhere, the children who deserve to rejoice in a better world and most especially the menfolk, need to see a different point of view, a balanced one.


Thanks for listening,

The Witch of Westwick