The first is on the ABC, 'An adoring family does not a feminist politician make'.
Prompted by Margie Abbott's praise for her husband, I'm discussing the idea that God gives men daughters to make men feminists. A sample:
Yes, a good feminist politician ought to be ethically consistent: as concerned with gender equity in the kitchen or rumpus room as they are in parliament.
But this 'ought', to briefly toy with Hume, does not necessitate an 'is'. Plenty of male politicians are beloved by their daughters and wives, but straightforwardly against feminist legislation. George W Bush, for example, has twin daughters, who said, during the 2004 election, "We love our dad too much to stand back and watch from the sidelines." Bush later told Oprah he was "blessed" to have his family, who made him the man he was. But the Bush government was steadfastly against Jenna and Barbara's reproductive rights, as women. Again: plenty of love from daughters, but little feminism to speak of.
Mrs Abbott's speech might convince some Australians that the Opposition Leader is not a macho bully; that he maintains loving and respectful relationships with many women. I certainly do not doubt this. But her speech does nothing to recommend Mr Abbott as a 'feminist' politician, particularly given his refusal to repudiate his old views.
As a consequence, anyone interested in women's rights and gender equality ought to remain as sceptical of Margie Abbott's husband as they are of this Christian God who magically delivers edifying daughters.(Photo: ABC)
'Every good boy deserves...to become better'.
I'm arguing that the language of parenting ought to be more sophisticated; that just saying to our kids 'good boy' or 'good girl' deprives them of the language of ethics -- and the tools to reflect and rebel. A sample:
[This phrase] helps a child perform the right acts, but not to reflect on what these acts are, or why they are valuable.
For example, when my son reads a book to his little sister, he is not simply being a ''good boy''. He is being generous, patient and sympathetic. His goodness requires not only that he put aside his own books for hers but that he recognise that she cannot yet read primary school texts. In other words, he has to put himself in her shoes, and remember the feeling of exile from Enid Blyton fantasy land.
My daughter is not simply ''good'' when she swings on the bars, twice her height from the tanbark: she is brave. And when she does it on bike racks over asphalt, she is not brave, but foolhardy.
These words do more than give names to what we already are. They help to think about what we might become; to give labels to the virtues we are in danger of missing or misunderstanding. Recklessness can be confused with courage, and liberality with profligacy; the words help to make our ethical aim more accurate.