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The best of The Spinoff this week: Arise, Jacinda, saviour of the left (maybe)

Compiling the best reading from your friendly local website.

Toby Manhire: Jacinda Ardern and Kelvin Davis: why this is terrible for Labour, and why it is brilliant

“At her first press conference as leader of the Labour Party, Jacinda Ardern has promised to run “the campaign of our lives”. She and new deputy Kelvin Davis, who were unanimously elected by caucus, certainly have a hill to climb. In the spirit of uncertainty and hyperbole, here are some reasons this upheaval could be brilliant, and some reasons it could be terrible.”

Madeleine Holden: An incomplete account of the sexism in Jacinda Ardern’s first 24 hours as Labour leader

“So, on day one of Ardern’s leadership, instead of focusing on Labour’s policies or her leadership strategy, we are instead reopening a retrograde debate about whether all women should have to reveal the plan for their uteruses to people who may employ them, and whether discrimination on that basis is acceptable.

In case it’s not obvious, asking Ardern about her plans to have children implicitly reinforces the sexist notion that a woman’s primary role is motherhood, no matter how accomplished she is in other areas. It also feeds into an existing obsession with the personal lives of female politicians in particular – remember how often Helen Clark’s childlessness was used as a barb against her, supposedly rendering her unfit for everything from legislating about child welfare to understanding the plight of “ordinary” (read: parenting) New Zealanders?”

The Spinoff Parents: Mothers hit back at the sexist shit Jacinda Ardern is facing

“When we have the chance to have a woman prime minister and the focus is on if she’ll have children (and if she won’t – why not?) then it tells every other mother out there, every young woman, that she must choose between the two.

Mothers are a political force. Every day they make political choices. Every day they work to better this country, whether it’s raising their own babies or raising those in the community. The personal is political and mothers have been silenced politically for too long. I think that’s why so many mums are standing up and saying: Actually, you can get fucked for asking her this.

It’s a way of telling every employer who has ever given you grief for wanting a family, but has given your male colleague a pay-rise, that they’re turds. And that feels good. But under all of this (good) rage – is the message that we will not be told that as mothers, or women who want to be mothers, we don’t have a right to political life. We are already political. We are changing New Zealand for the benefit of the next generation, whether you think we can or not.”

Jackie Blue: Dr Jackie Blue has some information for Mark Richardson

“Several studies have shown that the gender pay gaps rises markedly when women take on caring responsibilities. In fact, for women, it is virtually impossible to recover any ground they lose while taking on caring responsibilities. This will continue until the culture within our workplaces changes and it will continue until our tv show hosts stop implying that having children will render a woman incapable of doing her job.

One host, who appears to have attended boy scouts as a youth, insisted that asking women the question about future plans for their womb in an employment interview was about preparedness. ‘Because you might desperately want that person, because they are going to be a great employee – you need to be able to prepare in advance. Everyone needs to be able to prepare in advance.’

This is where we absolutely must change the conversation around having children.”

Henry Oliver: The complete-ish history of Jacinda Ardern’s DJ career

“Not only is Jacinda Ardern the new leader of the Labour Party (which, according to my social media feeds is going great – she’s already the next prime minister), every profile of her ever written will be sure to include that she is not one of those usual boring politician types, she’s a DJ! Look!”

Morgan Godfrey: The left was fucked. And then it wasn’t.

“Enter Jacinda Ardern, a paradox all of her own. Few politicians have arrived with so much goodwill towards them, and few have arrived with politics as indistinct. She’s a “democratic socialist” and a former president of the International Union of Socialist Youth, but she’s also – John Key-like – a “pragmatic idealist” and “relentlessly positive,” whatever that means. Isaiah Berlin said Winston Churchill, for all his excesses and madness, was carried by his “genuine vision of life”. What’s Jacinda Ardern’s vision of life?

All right, that’s a ridiculous comparison, but one thing Ardern shares with big figures like Norman Kirk, David Lange and, yes, John Key, is she’s a natural. In politics The Natural is always understood to represent “the future of the party”, a charismatic pragmatist who the base sometimes distrusts and the elites insist is a necessary compromise with the future. The Natural’s origins are humble and her best asset is emotional intelligence, the thing making political choices seem like the mechanism for meeting human need rather than the outcome of competing social forces.

This is where Jacinda Ardern is unusual.”

Paul Verić: On suicide, on kiwi stigma, and on love: a school headmaster speaks to his boys

“Not many things scare me, boys. I don’t lie awake at night worrying about that many things. I sleep very well, other than on this one topic. This one word deeply concerns me. It makes me feel sad, helpless, and guilty that we should have done more. What did we do wrong to not help that young person get back on track? That word. That terrible word. That word that shouldn’t even exist as a concept – shouldn’t be even required in our vocabulary.

Suicide.

This word upsets me because I see potential in every life. I see possibilities. I see opportunity and I see hope and aspiration. No situation, no circumstance can ever, in my opinion, ever be stronger than the ability for anyone to recover from adversity, pain, or despair. There is always hope and always something to live for.”

Hilary at home on the Shore (image: Joel Thomas)

Duncan Greive: ‘I’ve just always been really nosy’: A few beers with Hilary Barry

“Barry is likely the most beloved presenter on television right now. Her colleague Mike Hosking has a greater hold on the nation’s psyche, and is almost certainly better compensated (more on that later), but is an intensely divisive figure who is essentially loathed by a solid chunk of New Zealand’s population. Trying to find someone with a bad word to say about Barry would be a long and fruitless day.

Ever since she first started reading the news, arriving with an impish grin she couldn’t hold in, she’s had us in the palm of her hand. It’s the humanity which does it. Unable to stop nervous giggling when reporting on a tragedy, or tears coming after the departure of a colleague. The sense that her emotional responses to events mirror your own, rather than being contained in some airtight newsreader vault. Watching her read the news (or, latterly, discussing it), you feel like you have sense of both what is happening, and a proportional response to it.”

Alex Casey: Helen Clark is on a permanent Twitter AMA

“I’ll never forget the first time Helen Clark interacted with The Spinoff on Twitter. I think it was a fave, or maybe a retweet. Maybe she replied to something. Okay, I’ve forgotten almost everything about it – apart from the fact that it almost definitely happened. Over the nearly three years we’ve been knocking about the internet, it still sticks out as one of our most glorious celeb interactions. I’m saying that knowing full well that Fran Drescher retweeted us recently.

But I am a fool because, as it turns out, a precious Helen Clark Twitter interaction is a bloody dime a dozen these days, cropping up about as often as a discount fidget spinner or a male broadcaster with opinions about party leaders’ wombs. At seemingly random intervals, Helen will hit the tweetdecks with all the gusto of Kanye West on a rant about buttholes. But what she’s contributing is even better.”

Gillian Breckell: Oh! The Places You’ll Go (The Parents Version)

“Congratulations!

Today brought a baby.

You’re off to Great Places!

Or is that a maybe…”

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