The Lady Garden

Tea and Strumpets

I’m sick of this bullshit. Period.

I try really hard not to use gendered insults, but I think it is apropos in this case. Alasdair Thompson is a dick.

Because, ah, you know, once a month they have sick problems. Not all women, but some do. They have children that they have to take time off to go home and take leave of.

(Audio here.)

In fact, the interview could fill an bingo card. “”The two highest paid lawyers in my firm are women.” (Some of my best friends are black!) “Nanny state”, “Men and women are different”. “It sounds like I am sexist, but I am not”.

Here’s the thing Alasdair, I’ve never once, in nearly 20 years of menstruating, taken a day off work because of it. I am childless, so I don’t have child care issues. And I am probably lucky enough to not get paid less than my male colleagues. But that doesn’t hide the fact that there is a pay gap of about 11 percent in this country. It doesn’t hide the fact that this goverment isn’t doing anything about it.

I did an informal, not at all scientific, completely bogus, poll on Twitter. (Actually, maybe that’s where you go, Mr Thompson, to get your stistitstics?) Most of the women agreed with me, that they’ve never taken a day off. A couple pointed out that for some women, their periods are actually quite debilitating. But even if they are, even if some chick just decides she wants to stay in bed with a hot water bottle on her back, because the cramps hurt, who cares? Isn’t that what sick leave is for? And if she is productive the other 30 days of the month, why is she being penalised for those days as well? As for childcare issues, yeah, more men should step up, maybe. But should a woman be penalised in her hourly rate because of that? And do no men in your world take parental responsibility? Is there no such thing as “man flu”?

There are real, serious, important issues involved in addressing the age gap, and yes, some of them involve our genitals. Women do take time out of the workforce to have children. But would you rather we didn’t? There are real, serious, important issues, and systemic inequalities that need to be addressed. And they are not being.

And when you dismiss the issue, when you pretend it boils down to us women and our oogie bleeding once a month, you are part of the problem. And you represent the fucking employers. You should be finding ways to close the paygap, not ways to avoid thinking about it.

But hey, I am probably just PMSing. You can ignore me.

21 responses to “I’m sick of this bullshit. Period.

  1. LadyNews June 23, 2011 at 11:51 am

    I like how he did a massive backpedal: “He this morning said his statements had been taken out of context and said it was unfair to claim he was talking about women taking time off during their periods.” (from the Herald article here:

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10734009 )

    Oh, yeah dude, so what other sick days might occur on a monthly basis? What were you referring to? I like Helen Kelly’s rebuttal to his claims he wasn’t talking about periods: “”What else is he talking about? The electricity bill? I need to take time off because I have to pay the electricity bill? “. Srsly, dude, don’t pretend you meant something else. What on earth else could you have meant?? Pathetic.

    • Sally McRae June 24, 2011 at 9:39 am

      I think what he MEANT was women in general – not ALL of us but SOME of us are impacted by the moon phases…..think in the past this was where the term LUNATIC came from – so we obviously need the day off when the moon is in THAT phase. REALLY obvious when you think about it. If he had been LESS PC he could have just said “Women are all lunatics and therefore they get paid less per hour” Obvious now ah!
      From – a Woman!

  2. Emma June 23, 2011 at 11:56 am

    I almost – almost – feel sorry for the guy. It’s not often these days that someone cocks up in quite such an un-nuanced fashion.

    Also. Turns out we live in a world where all children belong to solo mothers. Because otherwise the statement “[Women] have children that they have to take time off to go home and take leave of.” makes no sense.

  3. Deborah June 23, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    “It sounds like I am sexist, but I am not.”

    Really, dude. If you have to assert that you aren’t sexist, you probably are.

    • Hugh June 23, 2011 at 12:17 pm

      Oh come on Deborah, be fair, it’s not like everybody who’s sexist doesn’t automatically admit it whenever asked!

      Slight sidenote, but this tumblr page: http://www.notsexistbut.net/ gives a pretty awesome overview of exactly the sorts of views self-proclaimed non-sexists hold.

  4. Isabel June 23, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    You know, even with me in a full-time parenting role, family responsibilities do sometimes affect my partner’s work schedule. If I’m home with someone too infectious and/or spewky to take out of the house *someone* still has to take the well kid to school and buy more pamol.

  5. Good Gravey June 23, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    “It sounds like I’m sexist but I’m not”: Duck. Walks. Talks.

  6. coleytangerina June 23, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    (I also posted this over at THM) One of the more subtle harmful messages here is that it belittles the women (and men) who actually do take time off for rough periods. It harks back to that whole early 20th century line of “it’s all in your head” for people with a huge amount of menstrual pain.

    Some people’s mental health suffers as a consequence of their periods, some people bleed so much they’re too exhausted to do anything but sleep, and some people end up doubled over with cramps.

    Last month I actually did have a day off work because of my period (the first period-related sick day since high school, which just shows how privileged I am with my uterus-health) because I was dizzy and nauseous and had horrible cramps. But you know, I probably just should have sucked it up and gone to work rather than being such a GIRL about the whole thing.

    • LadyNews June 23, 2011 at 1:39 pm

      Well, it’s all in your head so you should’ve just willed your body to stop feeling bad, or willed your period to go away, or something.

      • VM June 23, 2011 at 2:17 pm

        I used to be told that a brisk walk would fix it. Every few years I’d try it (rather than lie in agony with a hottie) but the last time I ended up pale, sweating, feverish and about to faint, just made it to a pharmacy where I got some good drugs. And I made sure I never ran out of drugs again, brisk walk be damned. And since I found the good drugs I’ve never had time off for period-related pains.

  7. Deborah June 23, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Another one for the bingo card: a non-apology.

    I do apologise to anybody and all those people who have taken offence at what I’ve said

    Women’s sick day comments outrage

    • Good Gravey June 23, 2011 at 5:37 pm

      Oh that one really got me. “I am sorry you are so pathetic you took offence at my perfectly innocent words”.

      Can someone confirm for me – in everything I read about what he was saying, he never actually used the word “period” or “menstruate” did he? It was all “monthly” and “sick”. At the very least he could have used the words. (hell I was going to type “usen the words” – yikes).

      • Moz June 23, 2011 at 6:50 pm

        No, no, he doesn’t want to risk his purity by mentioning “those words”.

        I mean, look at the trouble got into by even kind of talking around the topic. If he came right put and said them the whole world would probably explode.

  8. Pingback: Special snowflake bingo | A Bee of a Certain Age

  9. Vibenna June 23, 2011 at 10:58 pm

    Hope you don’t mind a comment repost: This is what I said at Kiwiblog.

    “… in the last few years I have managed scores of people, and appointed dozens. I prized the ability to appoint women with children because they were committed, stable, willing to work flexible hours and flexible contracts, and I could get highly qualified people that were tough to find elsewhere. Employing women with children gave me a real competitive advantage, and that showed up in all the business metrics I managed to. Prejudice isn’t justified by low performance. It is the cause of low performance.”

    I would add one thing that concerns me here. While I present this as a narrative of opportunity, there is also sense in which it could be seen as a narrative of exploitation. What do you think?

  10. Pingback: If it quacks like a sexist duck … « Ideologically Impure

  11. Craig Ranapia June 24, 2011 at 8:22 am

    Please put all the usual caveats in place for anecdotage, but I can’t say I’ve ever had leaky lady-parts act as a drag on my productivity in the workplace. Having to cover the arses of folks who routinely go out and get pissed on a school night and expect everyone else to indulge their hangovers? Grrr….

  12. Nick R June 24, 2011 at 11:36 am

    My question is – how representative is Thompson of the EMA’s membership? If they let him carry on after what has happened, I guess the answer will be: representative enough.

  13. Ben Cragg June 24, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    I just wanted to say thanks for such and awesome blog… This isn’t the first time that I’ve been all way to GRRRRRR! about something to be able to make grammatically correct sentences, only to turn here and have someone put my distaste into a well-worded, lucid post. Many thanks! Keep up the good work!

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