Dear Joe Hockey

21 May

Dear Joe Hockey,

Meet Archie. According to you Archie has the ideal parental configuration, that is, he has a male and a female parent as his primary carers.

Note I don’t say he has a “mother and father.” That’s because in my experience the attributes the dominant culture (as represented by you in this instance) associates with mothers and fathers aren’t necessarily founded in biology, rather they are cultural constructs and as such, can be assumed by either sex. I have seen male parents in my family engage in “mothering” while I’ve witnessed female parents happily “fathering” away and nobody much cares, as long as the babies are getting what they need.

While Archie meets your standards in terms of immediate family, after that it gets a little wild. This fortunate infant has four grandmothers, two of whom are called Jennifer because one grandfather married the same name twice, though not simultaneously because as yet, nobody’s done polygamy. I don’t see this in our futures either, as the women in our extended family are exceptionally feisty, and most of us see polygamy as favouring the male of the species. The prospect of having more than one male partner at a time leaves us uninspired, though several of us have engaged in serial monogamy.

That being said, Archie does have Mormon-by-marriage cousins in the US, albeit lapsed.

Archie also has five cousins whom we all call the Caramels, owing to their Indian mother and Anglo-Celtic father. These parents were married in two ceremonies, one Catholic and one Hindu. Archie himself recently enjoyed a Catholic baptism and an atheist Name Day, to cater for the disparate choices of his nearest and dearest. All four grandmothers were present including the bisexual one, and nobody got into any recriminatory fights.

Oh, yes, I almost forgot. One of Archie’s great-aunts is also bisexual, and her partner is transgender.

Archie’s parents both work and the extended family as a whole has a strong work ethic, even the sexually adventurous among us. We are all good citizens paying our taxes and staying out of jail.

As yet, we have no idea how Archie will decide to express his sexuality. We don’t much care.

However, all us four grandmothers  love him with a ferocity you don’t want to mess with. If anybody like you tries to put Archie down because of who he loves, they’ll have us to contend with.

Until I was seven, I was brought up by my grandparents. They were then forced to relinquish me to my birth mother and her new husband. A heterosexual pair. In that configuration I experienced physical, sexual and emotional abuse that I barely survived. What I’m saying to you Mr Hockey, is that you and those who think like you are making too many assumptions, and there are too many of us with too much experience who will continue to challenge your assumptions, and we will win.

My family is a big family and we contain many differences. The babies in our family grow up accepting difference because it’s in the familial air they breathe. This is one of the greatest gifts we can give them.

I am sorry for you and your kind, Mr Hockey. I am sorry for your small minds and shrivelled spirits. With my history, I know the miracle of finding human beings who love me and let me love them. I feel sorry for you, Mr Hockey, that you are compelled to judge and reject human beings who don’t fit your narrow vision of what families should be. Maybe if like me, you’d lived in darkness from which you never imagined you’d emerge, you wouldn’t be so damn picky.

I don’t think you will win this battle. There are too many of us who can say, echoing the magnificent words of Penny Wong: “I know what my family is worth.” I know what my hard-won family is worth, Joe Hockey. And none of us need you to tell us how we should be.

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43 Responses to “Dear Joe Hockey”

  1. Steve at the Pub May 21, 2012 at 8:28 am #

    You’re fighting a battle that isn’t there.
    Joe Hockey believes it is optimal for a child to be raised by their mother & father.
    End.of.Mr.Hockey’s.statement.

    Like

    • Mikey Bear May 21, 2012 at 8:39 am #

      Whilst he is entitled to his belief, he has no evidence to prove it is right.

      Like

    • hudsongodfrey May 21, 2012 at 9:12 am #

      Joe Hockey is wrong in a way that is impacting upon others who are entitled to engage him. Therefore the battle exists and moreover, given the paucity of his arguments, may soon be won.

      Like

    • Jennifer Wilson May 21, 2012 at 9:19 am #

      Hockey can believe what he likes. He has no right to attempt to shrink wider horizons in order to fit in with him.

      Like

    • Hypocritophobe May 21, 2012 at 10:23 am #

      The trouble is Hockey is a proud R C on a front bench and government rife with them.
      (Plus, two notable king pins Abbott (almost priest) and Pell are (alleged to be) quite cosy,(politically) to say the least ) As we know this institution is used to getting its own way on all things bodily function, or anything perceived in it’s pseudo-moral firing line.
      And even if a lib front bencher disagreed dissent would be their demise.
      (They choose to keep their principles to themselves unless of course they are the church version,which are obeyed relentlessly)
      The battle is well and truly there,it’s just that one of the combatants(the army of zealotry) chooses to use subterfuge,sniping land mines and spying.
      Not science,communication,education and community engagement.
      Hockey could not say anything different.For those two obvious reasons.

      About the last shower.
      Not all of us came down in it.

      Like

    • crazyHorse May 22, 2012 at 9:11 am #

      Whether “it is optimal for a child to be raised by their mother & father” depends on the suitability of the mother or the father or both (particularly as a couple) to raise a [balanced] child.

      Like

  2. AJ May 21, 2012 at 8:44 am #

    I honestly feel a bit sorry for Joe on this one. We are all to some extent products of our conditioning, Joe has never had a reason to truly question his…and all prejudices are very hard things to break when you havent been much exposed outside of a cosy existence

    Like

    • hudsongodfrey May 21, 2012 at 9:17 am #

      If feel sorry for him too. Not in a way that excuses what he’s done. But perhaps because his party leader imposes a conservative line that he’s obliged to follow despite my sense that Joe may not actually believe the inanities that he’s mouthing.

      If as I suspect Joe possesses the intellect to overcome these prejudices then it seems to me that the greater pity would be that he eschews the opportunity to use it to establish himself as a genuine voice of reason in the wasteland that is become Australian politics today,

      Like

      • Jennifer Wilson May 21, 2012 at 9:23 am #

        I agree with both AJ & Hudson on Hockey. He seems to me a man who makes compromises for politics that are destructive for him as an individual. This is his choice of course, no one forces him to do this but it strikes me as something of a Faustian pact. There are times when I think Joe Hockey doesn’t believe what Joe Hockey says.

        Like

        • helvityni May 21, 2012 at 9:39 am #

          Jennifer, I don’t think Hockey is a bad man but he is not strong enough to stand up to his leader, he is toeing the party line here…I have also often felt sorry for the Labor’s immigration minister Chris Bowen, for the same reasons…

          Like

          • Jennifer Wilson May 21, 2012 at 9:56 am #

            Yes I agree he’s not strong enough to take on Abbott and the rest of the homophobes in the Coalition. I hope somebody breaks ranks some day.

            Like

            • Di Pearton May 21, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

              Isn’t that how bad things happen? Good (gutless) men do nothing. I have never seen any evidence of Hockey being ‘good’, any examples?

              Like

              • Jennifer Wilson May 21, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

                I was not buying into the good or bad thing! As I said, Hockey’s struck a Faustian bargain IMO.

                Like

            • hudsongodfrey May 22, 2012 at 11:13 am #

              I think a lot of us would like to see politicians from both the major parties break ranks and go with their consciences more often.

              But there might be a tinge of irony to the suggestion when I recall an earlier Q&A during which Graham (Richo) Richardson came to Penny Wong’s defence when she was questioned for not being strident enough in pushing for gay marriage.

              From Q&A – 26 July 2010,

              AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yeah, just Malcolm Turnbull openly disagrees with Liberal policy on ETS. Why can’t you openly disagree with Labor policy on gay marriage?

              PENNY WONG: Well, because, as I’ve said…

              GRAHAM RICHARDSON: (Indistinct)

              TONY JONES: Yeah.

              GRAHAM RICHARDSON: Look, I’m amazed somewhat by these questions, really. You would not have had many of the things that have now happened that she’s already referred to if people like Penny weren’t in the Labor Party and weren’t pushing for them. There are a lot of people in the Labor Party who don’t agree with this stuff. At the moment there’s nowhere near a majority but there will be. There will be over time because Penny will work for it and it will get up in the end. But give her a break, for God’s sake. She’s part of a caucus. There’s a whole lot of them. She doesn’t run the government, she’s a part of it. A part of it. There’s a think called cabinet solidarity…

              AUDIENCE MEMBER: She can have an opinion.

              GRAHAM RICHARDSON: …and if she wants to break it she gets nowhere. You’ll lose someone who fights for your cause. That, my friends, is dumb. Big time dumb.

              Like

          • Hypocritophobe May 21, 2012 at 10:29 am #

            We could apologise for the likes of Turnbull too.Why bother?
            They choose to put the party line before their beliefs, or they believe the party line.
            (I don’t called that ‘principled’, it’s obedient at best.)
            Either way if it conflicts with what *you/I/we*believe in there is no need to apologise for them.They are who they are.And choose not be be anything else.

            This a lust for power and to be in with the in crowd of their peers.Nothing less.

            Like

            • samjandwich May 21, 2012 at 11:08 am #

              I think I would call it “exemplary patience”. It’s hard to hold back on expressing your opinion like that.

              Look at all of us for example, how frustrated we’d be if we all kept our feelings bottled up:-)

              Archie sounds like a lucky kid. Nice gender-neutral, prisoner-chic pyjamas too. Did it take long to find a set that weren’t blue or pink?

              Like

  3. hudsongodfrey May 21, 2012 at 9:08 am #

    Yours sounds like as wondrous a family as anyone’s and why shouldn’t it given that it seems pretty well established by now that functional families seem to depend on the nature of the regard in which members hold one another rather than just the nature of those individuals themselves.

    I remember being told even as a child that you choose your friends not your family.

    In fact we know that as education in modern societies has become widespread we may have joined the first few generations of mankind who have become genuinely self aware as societies. We’re thus able to reflect upon certain norms and far from idealising them ought really to come to recognise them for what they often are. Growing up in a family that loves and nurtures you as one might hope may by no means be guaranteed, but it is also by no means a guarantor of success in life.

    I think that a lot more kids survive to overcome dysfunction or even abuse within the familial home than the ideals and reverence in which we appear to hold the archetypical nuclear family would dare let on.

    It seems telling therefore, when examining the kinds of accounts that mostly famous people give of their formative years in autobiographies, interviews and the like, that despite recurring themes of overcoming dysfunction the reflection we’re most apt to make is upon the failure of those parents to live up to anyone’s ideals.

    Were a child of gay parents to dish the dirt on their upbringing I simply hope we’d be mature enough as a society to blame it on the parenting skills of the individuals involved and not their sexual orientation. Fearing that we might not, and seeing that as a failure in itself, I would nevertheless identify the problem as being one of a prejudiced interpretation rather than on balance adopting certain prevailing delusions about some kind of one size fits all solution for enabling malignant or abusive individuals to engage in successful child rearing.

    Joe Hockey is scarcely so stupid as to fail to see these modes of prejudice in his moments of clarity for the horrid malformed ideas that they truly are. He merely suffers regrettably from the politician’s curse of a willingness to believe things on that basis that they might get he and his party elected!

    Like

  4. Mindy May 21, 2012 at 10:21 am #

    Beautifully said Jennifer. Archie is gorgeous and I hope you both bring much joy to each other for many years to come.

    Like

  5. Ray (novelactivist) May 21, 2012 at 10:25 am #

    Hockey directly contradicted himself, as they all do. Mum and Dad is optimal, but Gay parents can make wonderful parents… Well, which is it?

    Like

    • Steve at the Pub May 21, 2012 at 12:50 pm #

      Er…. Ray, those two statements are not contradictory.

      Like

      • Mikey Bear May 21, 2012 at 1:04 pm #

        However there is no evidence that mum and dad is optimal. A correct statement would be that two (or more) loving parents are optimal.

        Like

      • Ray (novelactivist) May 21, 2012 at 4:32 pm #

        Hmm, technically perhaps, but not in the context. What would be interesting is a study that compared all the possible forms of parenting.

        Like

  6. Steve at the Pub May 21, 2012 at 1:25 pm #

    It was Joe’s off the cuff opinion. It wasn’t a statement of empirical evidence or anything else.
    His statement was clear.
    He knew he’d been “got”. The look on his face was quite telling. In a less gentlemanly environment he’d have given Tony Jones a hiding afterward, out the back.

    Like

    • Hypocritophobe May 21, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

      He wouldnt need to resort to it.
      He would just play the Abbott Patented get Out Of Jail free card.

      “If it wasn’t pre written, and sworn before the High Court, take it as bullshit aka a non-core Howardism.”

      Like

  7. Steve at the Pub May 21, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

    Hehe, that particular card won’t get him very far.
    Not that he has to worry. His statement was a simple one, and a very good effort of wriggling out of a setup. Jones doesn’t do himself any favours though, that’s about the third childish setup on a conservative politican he’s done on the show.

    Jones has turned what could have been a landmark panel discussion & current affairs show, and made it into a farce.

    Fire.him.now.

    Like

    • Hypocritophobe May 21, 2012 at 1:51 pm #

      Bloody Hell Stevo,you watch QANDA and 7:30 report.
      If you can lock in Insiders you may get an OAM.
      (Or at least a GFP)

      Like

    • Ray (novelactivist) May 21, 2012 at 4:33 pm #

      Yep, getting less and less impressed with smug Jones…

      Like

      • helvityni May 21, 2012 at 5:12 pm #

        Smug and angry when he interviewed Combet, and rude as hell, another Uhlmann…

        Like

  8. Steve at the Pub May 21, 2012 at 2:06 pm #

    Insiders too boring. And way too early in the morning! I don’t get to bed until close to 4am, much later if there’s been an incident.

    Like

  9. Catching up May 21, 2012 at 3:46 pm #

    I can only support you one hundred percent.

    It is not the gender, whether married or not. It is not even being bought up by a single parent. What counts is the quality of those surrounding one.

    It is not long ago, that unmarried mothers were not though capable of bringing up their child. Further more the child was labelled a bastard. This was something that the child was made so ashamed of, that many spent their lives in fear of being found out.

    That’s to Mr. Whitlam, them days are behind us. Giving the mother enough money to survive on bought that to an end.

    Also making divorce easier, meant that many mothers where able to move their children out

    of violent and toxic marriages.

    I was one of those fallen woman who had a bastard. My mistake was believing she would be better off in a conventional family. I went onto have three more beautiful children. In that marriage that society deemed necessary My beautiful baby was sexually abused from a young age.

    It was hell, and the scars remain deep until today. All in the family were harmed.

    Taking marriage vows and putting a ring on ones finger, does not guarantee safety for the child.

    I agree with Senator Wong, Everyone’s family is important and worthwhile.

    There is no ideal family. They come in all genders, ages and colour.

    Like

    • Steve at the Pub May 21, 2012 at 4:02 pm #

      Two unintended (or were they?) consequences of Whitlam’s twin efforts that you refer to CU.
      1/. The unmarried mothers benefit led to (no surprise): An explosion in the number of single mothers. (Reward an activity & there’ll be more of it).
      2/. The making easier of divorce made it too easy. The automatic “no fault” provision has allowed a quick exit not only for those who have made unwise choices & have to get out, but has allowed anybody who so pleases to (without penalty) simply opt out of a contract.

      Like

      • Catching up May 21, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

        I disagree. Most single mothers are not unmarried teenagers.

        Most of the marriage that those women moved out of were hell.

        Most were married when they had their children..

        Most teenage mothers go on to marry

        What also occurred at the same time, was the advent of the pill. This led to a dramatic decrease in unwanted births, both inside and outside marriage.

        Abortion also became available.

        Woman found it easier to leave bad marriages. The ability of earning enough to live on happened.

        At the end of the day, there is no reward for being a single mother. It is not a life that many choose.

        Provide the facts and figures for your allegations.

        In the beginning there was a increase in divorce numbers. Mainly because of the inability of women to separate before this time.

        What is surprising to me, is the number of parents that do not bother to marry.

        Most choose to have children within relationships.

        Like

  10. Hypocritophobe May 21, 2012 at 4:27 pm #

    Come on Steve fair shake of the ‘source’ (sic) bottle.You cannot run around accusing others of ‘setting up conservatives’, or of being on one side or the other, and claim to be free of such ideological shackles yourself.And then display them amply y’self.

    Or as someone else once said better than I could;

    “Face it Steve. You’re smart enough to know that all the “experts” on your side are liars and frauds, and that the conspiracy theory on which you rely is nonsense. You’re a willing sucker for stuff you would see through in a moment if it didn’t suit your political/tribal allegiances.

    And for Steve, read everyone on the political right in Australia with the exceptions of
    (a) People like Greg Hunt, who know it’s a con, but lie or keep silent to hold on to their jobs
    (b) Malcolm Turnbull

    Unquote
    *******************************
    And as for ‘rewarding activity’ who was the sleazy midget Liberal Health minister Wooldridge who leaked info so his specialist mates could get MRI machines for next to nothing,before a govt loophole closed.I’m afraid the side you pretend not to barrack for has perfected scamming/bullshitting/setting up etc.
    Go have a read at IA if you want to know some truths.How is TAs latest recruit doing anyway?
    The Libs have perfected the devaluing of accountability, and democratic principles.
    They are the Pork Barreling juggernaut.
    When you admit that I’ll believe your claims to be a free think non-partisan truth crusader.

    Like

  11. Steve at the Pub May 21, 2012 at 5:11 pm #

    Hypo, don’t type & drink, you aren’t making sense!

    Like

  12. Hypocritophobe May 21, 2012 at 11:06 pm #

    QLD, leads the race in this sh*t

    http://freedomfrompornculture.wordpress.com/

    Guess who is behind it?

    Like

  13. doug quixote May 22, 2012 at 7:12 am #

    Well said Jennifer. It is too easy for the mentally lazy to hide behind the orthodoxy spouted at them throughout their lives.

    ‘Mentally lazy’ describes Hockey perfectly.

    Like

  14. annodyne May 22, 2012 at 12:11 pm #

    I hope SamJandwich was not being spiteful in his remark on the style of clothing worn by gorgeous Archie.
    JW – I too was raised by grandparents until age 5 I went to loathesome heterosexual parents who never divorced or adulteried. I lasted till 16 and ran away. still loathe them, one down one to go, no loss.
    I believe the genesis of the gay-marriage debate was decades ago when a lifelong mate was cruelly denied the superannuation of his deceased male partner – out of parental disapproval i believe. and i am sure it was Australia, possibly Melbourne.

    Like

    • Jennifer Wilson May 22, 2012 at 1:01 pm #

      Yes, I think you are right about the superannuation incident. You do know that people raised by grandmothers are exceptional, don’t you? 🙂
      PS I didn’t buy Archie’s stripey suit. When I first saw it I thought rugby teams, not convicts!

      Like

  15. Hypocritophobe May 22, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

    Well I’m sure Archie will grow up to be bigger and stronger and better looking than George Clooney looks in the same gear!

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/incoming/article764073.ece/ALTERNATES/s615/George+Clooney+in+a+scene+from+O+Brother+Where+Art+Thou

    Which by the way is one of my favourite flicks,with a great soundtrack, as well.

    Like

    • AJ May 25, 2012 at 8:24 am #

      WOW look what the new theme did to your link!

      Like

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