True to form, former Labour leader Mark Latham has put forward some rather peculiar and provocative opinions about “left wing feminists”.
He flings about a few ideas. Such as the view that women who suffer depression related to having children (post-natal depression, etc), just hate their children – and shouldn’t be having them! Also, that women who suggest that they should enter the workforce and not be compelled to stay at home with children all day, in the name of feminism, are suffering from a psychoneurotic disorder.
He also claims to be able to speak for women in “the Western suburbs of Sydney,” who, according to Latham, are happy to stay at home with their children to the exclusion of wanting to pursue their career. He characterizes these women as being more psychologically healthy than their “left wing” sisters.
Latham states that he loves being a ‘stay-at-home’ father, and therefore any other human being who doesn’t like being a primary caregiver and homemaker, is just plain wrong.
Latham is wrong for many obvious reasons. He doesn’t understand that the point behind the feminist movement is to give people THE CHOICE to stay home and raise children full time if they want to – but also a choice to pursue a career outside of the home as well. Just because he is happy being the primary caregiver, doesn’t mean it’s a suitable choice for everyone else.
His claim that women in the Western suburbs are all happy to play traditional female roles in the family is a gross generalization, and seems to have no impirical basis.
And his characterization of left wing feminists is just weird.
But the biggest mistake that Latham makes is by dismissing the experience of anyone who claims to experience depression. He claims these people are just weak.
A very thoughtful response came from a writer who is also a mother who suffers from depression and anxiety. In her post, “Stop Risking People’s Lives for Clicks, Please” Anna Spargo-Ryan chastises Latham for his simplistic and somewhat destructive interpretation of maternal depression.
“But the reintroduction of stigma surrounding PND – during PND Awareness Week, you fucking clown — is a dangerous activity. Imagine: a woman with a month-old baby, who is sitting on her couch and feeling nothing. Maybe she realises she needs help.
Maybe she’s even thinking about getting some. Then she reads something from someone in the national media that tells her she’s got it all wrong. That if she were an even half-decent person, she would find child-rearing a joy. That the author of that piece is a strong and real parent because he doesn’t need any help. That the only kind of parent you can be is an able, capable, joyous one.
Suicide is the leading cause of maternal death.
In contributing to stigma surrounding mental illness, you’re endangering these women, the ones who are on the cusp, who haven’t started a conversation yet. You’re endangering their families.”
Latham’s comments do not really dignify a response. They are illogical and lack any evidence. But his attempt to reduce mental illness to some silly neurosis of the educated elite is indeed dangerous. Nice words Anna