Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Lobbying the Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner

I sent off the following letter to the newly appointed Australian federal discrimination commissioner in response to an inquiry currently being conducted to explore the provision of maternity leave or the more gender neutral parental leave (see my previous post here)

I have read an article that quotes the new federal sex discrimination commissioner in her support for paid maternity leave.

I find this a rather curious stance to take, for while on the surface support for paid maternity leave seems to be very progressive, when we look at examples of best practice internationally we see that the most effective models (ie Scandanavia) are ones where discriminatory language is avoided and all people regardless of gender are given access to the same parenting choices.

Furthermore an insistence on the essential role of motherhood invokes 1950's ideas of families in which gender was the key determinant for social and career opportunities . It further forces women to be confined within this role and denies the important contribution that fathers can make.

If we want equal participation of women in the workforce and government we need equal participation of men in families and with children. Traditionally many social norms have discouraged men from fulfilling this role therefore we need affirmative action programs to help men bridge this gap, in essence we need support for men as parents, which will in turn support women in their careers.

If all the women are working who will care for the children.......................................

Biological determinism was used in the past to keep women in the home, with the idea being that the biological role of mother was supposedly incompatible with a whole range of career choices (this idea has now be rebuked) . However, now it seems the same logic (biological determinism) is being used by feminists to support the argument of paid maternity leave as opposed to parental leave because women have certain biological needs associated with motherhood.

Which in fact may be true, but do men have no needs as fathers, do children have no need of their fathers, do men not love their kids, do men not have the right to choose to spend time at home with their kids, do I as a man and a human being have the right to be supported in my role as a parent.

Much research has proven the important role that fathers fulfill and at present we live in the most under fathered generation in living history. Prior to the industrial revolution most families grew up in an extended situation with children exposed to both parents on a daily basis.

The industrial revolution began to remove fathers from the family, while the modern post industrial society continued to support this trend. The feminist revolution, divorce and the family courts have ousted men from the home and the massive rise in juvenile delinquency is certainly related to this fact.

Children need and have a right to have access to both of their parents and in order to develop a balanced adult identity.

A program of paid maternity leave may also leave women open to further discrimination in the workforce with employers deciding that it is cheaper to employ men because they have no such access to such support.

By legislating for parental support instead you can circumvent his problem and indeed this what the world leaders in this field have done.

So lets join with worlds best practice and not invoke antiquated notions of family that clearly discriminate on the grounds of gender.

I have made a submission to the Productivity Commission on this issue (submission number 1)


GR Klein

1 comment:

GR Klein said...

Below is the response I got to the above letter.

Dear G R Klein

I acknowledge receipt of your email dated 23 April.

Ms Susan Booth, Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Queensland, has asked me to reply to you on her behalf to thank you for your message and to let you know that the contents are noted.


Heloise Misso│ Executive Assistant

Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland

Level 1, 189 Coronation Drive, Milton QLD 4064

PO Box 2122, Milton QLD 4064

Phone: 07 3247 0901 I Fax: 07 3247 0960