Jacinda Ardern was just elected the leader of the official opposition in New Zealand, she’s running to become Prime Minister in a month and a half and she does not have time for your sexist questions. The Labour Party’s new leader is no stranger to being asked the ‘Are you planning on having kids?’ question. Usually she has no problem answering it, but yesterday, her interviewer crossed a line that turned the sort-of-sexist question into a gender-specific attack.
The AM Show‘s Mark Richardson posed the kids question, but then proceeded to explain why he found the answer to be crucial to the future of the country.
‘I think this is a legitimate question for New Zealand, because she could be the Prime Minister running this country,’ he said, ‘If you are the employer of a company you need to know that type of thing from the woman you are employing … the question is, is it okay for a PM to take maternity leave while in office?’
Whoa there! Not only is that a question that would never be asked of a male politician (Would you take paternity leave?), the condescension in his comments is cringe-worthy. Thankfully, Ardern was quick to clap back.
‘It is totally unacceptable, in 2017, to say that women should have to answer that question in the workplace,’ she said, ‘It is a woman’s decision about when they choose to have children and should not predetermine whether or not they are given a job or have job opportunities.’ If she was holding a mic, we’re sure she would have dropped it right there.
Ardern certainly has some very vocal Twitter support.
For all men like Richardson: pic.twitter.com/vpI53mi1HC
— Squidfefe (@GhostofFrid) August 1, 2017
I didn’t realise Jacinda Ardern was the first person to ever run for Prime Minister who was also able to become a parent.
— Mathew Grocott (@mathewgrocott) August 1, 2017
“Would you like to tell me why you don’t think I can?” Jacinda Ardern to journalist
— Alicia Marèe Burrow (@Aliciamburrow) August 1, 2017
Less than 24 hours after being appointed Labour leader and we are discussing Ardern’s reproductive choices ⬅️ this is why we need feminism
— di frances (@di_f_w) August 1, 2017
In an interview with BBC the next day, she explained herself further, saying every time she answers that question, it’s a personal choice. No one really has a right to ask her about her intentions to start a family.
‘I made the decision a long time ago to answer those questions for a very different reason,’ she said, ‘Because people would often tell me about their own personal dilemmas with making choices between having to juggle demanding jobs–and I don’t just mean high-profile jobs… Women are constantly having to struggle with those issues and I thought perhaps by talking about my own struggle with those questions that that might be helpful.’
‘I never intended, however,’ she continued, ‘for people to make judgments whether or not that means that I was in a place to be in a political position of power. I think that’s a very different question and judgement that people are making at that point.’
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.