Tagged: parenting

Oh look, Diane Vivian: Paula Bennett DID come for you

I really do hate to gloat, honest, folks.  But it’s not that often that I get a four-month turnaround on my political prophesying.

See, back in March, I criticised Diane Vivian, chair of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, for being a mouthpiece for Paula Bennett’s then-most-recent attack on beneficiaries.  Ms Vivian, you may recall, said

“Parents are putting their own selfish wants and needs before those of their children. What I am seeing from our perspective is there is a whole generation of that,” she said.

And in step the brave grandparents to pick up the pieces.  And good on them.  It’s a tremendous job they do and one which, I noted, doesn’t actually get nearly as much support as it deserves.  Like parents caring for their adult children with disabilities, our society likes to ignore the hard, vital work done by people when it’s family doing it.

Then, totally by coincidence, Diane Vivian got to head up a group doling out $35 million in extra funding to extended family members raising children.

At the time of my first post, Ms Vivian insisted

[Paula Bennett] is not using me at all I do this for the greater benefit of our people

And I surmised,

you’re not really getting the point, Diane. I’m sure it’ll click once grandparents are no longer convenient to push Paula Bennett’s latest spin.

And here we are today.  A mere four months after Paula Bennett used grandparents who raise their grandchildren as a meat-shield, exploiting their hard work to build a case that she doesn’t hate all beneficiaries, just the evil bludgers, after she claimed

“In general I have found them to be remarkable people doing a job that very few would. When I added all of those things together I thought it was a fair spend for a small number of people,”

… suddenly, the worm has turned.

Diane Vivian Chair of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust NZ says their phones have been ringing non-stop from upset grandparents who have received letters stating they now need to go into W & I for an appointment to seek work. Most of these people are aged 55 to 64.

Vivian says, it is time a Carers Benefit was looked at to enable them to safely care for these vulnerable children

Gee, Ms Vivian.  Do you think that argument might have been more compelling if you hadn’t pushed Paula Bennett’s lines about evil bludgers?  Hadn’t literally labelled an entire generation as selfish no-goods?

And now she’s come for your people.  How much less damage do you think could have been done if you hadn’t laid the groundwork of beneficiary-bashing for her?

Don’t forget – #voteWTF tomorrow at 8:30pm, TV3

A few of my closest pseudonymous Twitter pals and I will be live-tweeting TV3′s The Vote, asking hard questions like “can’t we just keep bashing parents and ignoring the shitty situations they’re living in due to ongoing neoliberal economic fuckups?”

Tune it to #voteWTF tomorrow night for good wholesome rage.  Warning:  contains Bob McCoskrie.

#voteWTF – Wednesday 19 June, 8:30pm, TV3

On this coming Wednesday’s episode of The Vote – our monthly break from the awfulness that I hear is 3rd Degree – a very angry-making important moot is to be discussed:

Our kids – The problem’s not poverty, it’s parenting. Do you agree?

I first heard of this on Twitter, was informed of this, and the fact that one of the “debaters” is to be Bob McCoskrie, on Twitter.  Then I visited the webpage for the show and found out who the rest of the debaters are.  On the side of “shitting on poor people”:

  • Bob McCoskrie
  • Hannah Tamaki
  • Christine Rankin

On the side of “acknowledging that poverty is a thing”

  • Celia Lashlie
  • Dr Russell Wills
  • Hone Harawira

Oh my god.  This is going to be a fucking trainwreck punctuated with occasional moments of beautiful Hone smackdown.  This totally calls for live-tweeting.

If you’re not already hanging on my every word on the Twitterz, you can follow #voteWTF.  I cannot promise lulz.  Only capslock.

(And if my usual Twitter account gets blocked for excessive tweeting, catch me on my jail account.)

If you want to do some homework before the debate, I recommend r0b’s Poverty Watch posts at The Standard.

Parenting and politics just don’t mix!

This week, we’ve seen some really clear examples of how parenting and politics don’t mix.

Nanaia Mahuta, MP for Hauraki-Waikato, had to take her five-month-old baby into the debating chamber late on a Friday night because 8 of her Labour colleagues apparently had far more important things to attend and no one told Chris Hipkins that this government likes to ram things through under urgency right after the Budget.

And Holly Walker, list MP for the Greens, has received kindly, compassionate words of advice from a constituent who wanted to remind her silly ladybrain that it’s a terrible, terrible crime for her to be pregnant while elected.

Mahuta and Walker just don’t understand.  Politics and parenting doesn’t mix.  They’d be well advised to look to role models like the Prime Minister, who understood that because he chose to have a son who attends a prestigious private boys’ school and chose to become leader of our country, he needed to set priorities and remember he can’t just demand that politics accommodates his choice to have children.

Which is why he didn’t attend his son’s overseas baseball game when it clashed with the funeral of two New Zealand soldiers.

Wait, no, the other way round.

Now, the thing is that Key did get some blowback for that choice – but because it was seen as a matter of his priorities, and the fucked-up-ness thereof, not because John Key’s choice to be a father is inherently in conflict with his choice to run for office.

All Mahuta has asked is that we reconsider Parliamentary rules laid down in the dawn of time when the notion of a woman MP would have been mindblowing – much less a breastfeeding parent MP.  All Walker has asked is that we, um, accept the existence of her pregnancy, and presumably make the same allowances that all working pregnant people should receive, because (a) pregnant people deserve basic human rights and dignity and (b) pregnant people are just kinda ensuring the propagation of our species and the creation of future taxpayers who are going to support all your judgemental asses in retirement thanks to this government’s short-sighted bullshit suspending payments to the Cullen Fund.

Yet apparently this is completely inconceivable, despite the point (raised on Walker’s Facebook thread) that it’s meant to be the House of fucking Representatives.  And pregnant people and breastfeeding people and parenting people deserve some fucking representation too, and if they cannot be accommodated by the institution which governs all our lives, where the fuck will they be accommodated?

~

Addendum: I note with raised eyebrow the National Council of Women‘s tweet on the matter.  Read it how you willETA: apparently just a case of sloppy editing.  My raised eyebrow stands.

When Paula Bennett is positive about a group of beneficiaries, be suspicious

So, it looks like Paula Bennett doesn’t hate all beneficiaries with the power of a thousand suns!

After taking a close, careful look at a particular group of beneficiaries – those being paid to look after children of parents who are “incapable or unable to do the job” – Paula’s decided that they’re not bludgers: they’re heroes.

Simon Day of Stuff then handily produces a profile of one of these heroes, a grandmother raising eight of her grandchildren.  Hmm … I wonder how he got all her personal and financial information?

And this should be a heartwarming story about people doing what’s best for the kids and the state being willing to support them when they take on the financial burden of raising (eight!) extra children, and coincidentally doesn’t this just prove that Paula Bennett is really kind and compassionate and not just out to screw all beneficiaries?

I guess that means that the beneficiaries she does screw over really are bludgers.

And this is why that narrative works:  because Paula Bennett has found someone else to do the dirty work for her, and that person is Diane Vivian, chair of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren.

Now, grandparents who step in to raise their grandkids when it’s necessary are doing fantastic work.  They’re providing a really important social good.  They deserve to have a group which advocates for them.

But that group, and its chair, should take care.  Because right now, you see, it’s really useful to Paula Bennett for them to be the ones slagging off parents:

There has been a generational failure in parenting in New Zealand, leaving grandparents to pick up the pieces, according to Diane Vivian, the chair of GRG, who raised three children and two foster kids.

“Parents are putting their own selfish wants and needs before those of their children. What I am seeing from our perspective is there is a whole generation of that,” she said.

 

… because right now, that feeds into the narrative that Paula Bennett wants:  look at me, I don’t hate all beneficiaries, just the evil bludging scum ones, and see, the saintly heroic grandparents agree with me!

Ms Vivian might just like to consider this, though:  what if that weren’t the order of the day?  What if Paula Bennett hadn’t front-footed this story for her own gain?  What if it had been the season for dumping on people raising kids who aren’t their own?

Then, Ms Vivian, you’re fucked.  Because the nasty little question you really don’t want journos like Simon Day to ask is this:

Why did you fuck up raising your own kids so bad in the first place?

I mean, Ann Tahitahi, the subject of his second article, is doing a fantastic job.  A job which should be supported.  She shouldn’t, in my opinion, still have to be working graveyard shift while raising ten kids.

But Paula Bennett isn’t saying “good on you, Ann Tahitahi” out of true admiration.  She’s saying it for a political purpose.  And if her purpose were just slightly more sinister, she might be saying “why should Ann Tahitahi get paid to raise more children when on her first try she turned out neglectful P addicts?”

Diane Vivian might like to consider that before sticking her foot in the way of a gun barrel.  Right now it is convenient for Paula Bennett to be on your side.  Do not assume she will be on your side tomorrow.

21 great reasons to eyeroll at Family Fist

Mythical-concepts-of-Family First have issued a pamphlet (warning: links to Family First website) outlining the “21 great reasons” to keep legally discriminating against loving same-sex couples and parents.

I assure you you don’t need to read it, since it’s actually just the same old four ridiculous reasons they always bring up:

  1. Marriage is an eternal unchanging institution, the Bible says so, also we’re afraid of change
  2. We don’t hate gay people, we just think they’re icky different
  3. What about dogs, ponies, and underage children?  (This line of reasoning really never does get less creepy, does it?)
  4. THINK OF THE CHILDREN (not because of the underage marriage provision, obvs)

Which is where they roll out this hilarious image:

family first 1

A sad-looking white girl stares soulfully at the camera, captioned: “If I have two dads, who will be my mummy?”

I thought of a few ways to respond to this.  There’s the classic “lacking one bio-parent doesn’t mean you never see a person of that gender for your entire childhood” argument:

ovaries

A sad-looking white girl stares soulfully at the camera, captioned: “If I have two daddies, two grandmothers (typo in original), several aunties, a godmother, multiple female primary school teachers and a Scout Leader, I will obviously still be fucked up because the specific ovaries which spat out the egg which became me isn’t in the picture. Shit.”

Then there’s, “but despite continually insisting that you have SCIENCE on your side, you’ve simply never established that a parent of either gender is 100% necessary to the development of a well-socialised human being”:

A sad-looking white girl stares soulfully at the camera, captioned: "If I have two kittens, who will be my puppy?"

A sad-looking white girl stares soulfully at the camera, captioned: “If I have two kittens, who will be my puppy?”

But let’s be honest, after five minutes trying to engage with the bizarro logic of homophobic bigots, I just decided laughter was the best policy.

A sad-looking white girl stares soulfully at the camera, captioned: "If

A sad-looking white girl stares soulfully at the camera, captioned: “If a train leaves Timaru at 50kph at 2pm travelling a distance of 250km, and neither of my gay dads are good at math, can I get a homework credit?”

A sad-looking white girl stares soulfully at the camera, captioned: "When there's something strange in your neighbourhood, who are you gonna call?"

A sad-looking white girl stares soulfully at the camera, captioned: “When there’s something strange in your neighbourhood, who are you gonna call?”

A sad-looking white girl stares soulfully at the camera, captioned: "If I summon Cthulhu, who will summon Shub-Niggurath?"

A sad-looking white girl stares soulfully at the camera, captioned: “If I summon Cthulhu, who will summon Shub-Niggurath?”

Save the Family Court from your own apathy

Ben Clark has a great post up at The Standard, quoting heavily from Women’s Health Action and the Auckland Women’s Health Centre, about proposed changes to the Family Court which will basically make it more expensive, less supportive, and force families into pointless mandatory mediation, because when your partner has beaten you and your children but still insists on shared custody because they’ve got ownership/control issues, what you really need is a single hour of counselling and privatised mediation.

It’s based on changes already repealed in Australia which led to the death of at least one child.

Ben’s post lays out the arguments and asks people to submit on the Bill.  And as of writing this post, it has 6 comments on it, compared to 31 on a caption competition.

Of those six comments?  Three are people basically saying “I had a bad experience with the Family Court.”  Two are thoroughly disprovable “waaaah the Family Court hates men waaaaah”.  The commenters are good enough to leave “so I don’t care if it’s privatised and other families have to go through an even worse time than I had” unwritten.  Thanks.

This is patriarchy, people.  Because the majority of abusers are men, because women are largely expected to be the childcarers, the work of the Family Court predominantly (but as linked above, not because of gender bias) revolves around women and children.  Which apparently means it’s part of the Grand Feminist Agenda to Steal Your Children (because of course they’re possessions which you deserve to control, you big ol’ manly man.)

Because we ring-fence domestic violence as “domestic”, as private, as something we don’t want to discuss (unless what we really want to say is “aren’t those brown people evil?”) the Family Court doesn’t get recognised as the vital public service it is.

And now it’s being gutted and its processes are being privatised.  If it were a power generating company, there’d be screams of protest.  If it were a national park, there’d be marching in the streets.  If someone were suggesting the fucking Rugby Sevens be relocated to the Tron, there’d be barricades on Lambton Quay.

But it’s just the Family Court.  So who cares, right?

The sad reality of “family courts hate men!!!!” whinging

… is this, MRAs:

For actual hard, crunchy numbers on the topic, I refer you to The Little Pakeha.

Of those that go to mediation and are decided on by both parents, 65% go to the mother, 11% to the father, 12% to a third party and 12% shared.

Of those decided by a judge, 19% go to the father, much higher than the 11% when the two parties decide by themselves.

The real kicker though is when you look at the percentage of male applicants and the percentage of female applicants who are awarded custody. That is, the person who brings the case to court because they want more than their ex-partner wants to give them. Of all female applicants, 69% are awarded custody. Sound like a lot? You might be surprised, then, to find that of all male applicants, 65% are awarded custody, nearly the same amount.

Oops, looks like there’s only about a 4-point difference between the sexes in custody being granted to the parent who applied for it.

Men getting awarded custody less (that is, of cases which actually make it to the court system)?  Might just have something to do with men applying for custody less.  Because it looks like whatever assumed junk is in your trunk, there’s a 2/3 win rate for those who choose to go through the system.

The annoying thing about this “issue”?  Is it’s one of those real-life examples where patriarchy does hurt men too.  Because in heterosexual-couple households, men aren’t expected, much less supported, to take parental leave when the baby arrives.  And in a double-income household they’re likely to be earning more so if it’s a matter of financial stability, it does make sense for Mum to be the one who suffers the career break.

People still seriously use phrases like “he’s babysitting this weekend” when referring to a dude taking care of his own children.  That’s how we treat men being primary caregivers – and we always assume it’s a temporary arrangement, probably because “she” is so strung out / exhausted / needs Girl Time / a manicure / whatever.

Women get granted custody more because women are assumed to be the default caregiver.  Men apply for custody less because their lives and expectations aren’t geared around childrearing.  In one case I personally know of?  A dad seeking 50/50 custody was told by his relatives that “the kids need to be with their mum”.  So there’s fuck-all social support for the guys who do give a fuck.

And I’m sorry, MRA wankheads, but that has fuck-all to do with feminism.

Women are more comfortable when they get thrown out of places for breastfeeding

It’s a sad, oft-repeated story:  breastfeeding parent goes to family-centred community space, baby gets hungry, parent feeds baby.  Using breasts.

Then some sanctimonious asshat complains about it because they can’t (a) avert their own fucking eyes or (b) mind their own fucking business or (c) reconcile their own juvenile fascination with BOOBIES with the tragic reality that sometimes breasts aren’t for you 

And instead of reminding that busybodied douche to avert their eyes, mind their own business, get over their issues and oh, also there’s a law which protects breastfeeding parents from discrimination …

The facility decides to throw the breastfeeding parent and their children out, and not even give them a refund.

And then, once they get snapped for breaking the fucking law, the local government body which operates the facility pretends that the breastfeeding parent was just confused, or made a mistake, or maybe even lied for attention, because honestly as far as they’re concerned:

“The staff member was concerned about the comfort of the breastfeeding mum and offered her access to the centre’s mothers’ room or alternatively a chair for the convenience of both mum and baby,” the council statement says.

Yes, Moreton Bay Regional Council, that’s exactly what happened.  I’m sure your staff member was just looking out for the parent, just offered her a chair, and then like a total bitch she chose to take offence and create a scene, probably for the sweet sweet newspaper dollars.

WW-bitch-please