Congratulations to Lara Giddings on taking over the reigns as Premier of Tasmania, the first woman in that state to get the top job. As a 23 y.o., Giddings was the youngest women to enter an Australian parliament. Now at 38, with almost 3 years as being Deputy Premier under her belt, ABC News Radio described her as a “career politician” in one of the earlier updates regarding her premiership. Though technically true, it seemed they were struggling with how they’d describe her without employing the usual sexist clichés.
That didn’t last for long. The media pack barely listened as the newly announced Premier outlined serious policies. The question they all wanted to ask was "As a single woman taking on the role, do you, are you concerned perhaps you're giving up the potential to have a family? Is it compatible?"
How many times must Giddings, and all childfree women of fertile age, be asked this question? This certainly wasn’t the first. Under “Private Life” in her Wikipedia entry are two short sentences, “Giddings is not married. She has acknowledged that her political career may mean that she never has children.” (Quoting this unenlightened Hobart Mercury piece entitled, ”Giddings: Politics over family”.)
Needless to say single/child-free male politicians are never subjected to this line of questioning, nor ever will.
For more eloquent writing on the stupidity of this situation, take a look at Anne Summers piece in the Fairfax media and Helen’s wonderful post over at Cast Iron Balcony.