Today saw Australia’s first female Liberal Premier settle in to her new job as the 45th Premier of New South Wales. Gladys Berejiklian was elected unopposed as the leader of the NSW Liberal party after Mike Baird’s resignation, therefore now has the history-making title. Something else that probably made history today was that she was only 15 minutes into her first press conference before she was asked about her family status. You know, about not having children or a husband. Because how could Gladys possibly have balanced the books so well for New South Wales as the Treasurer without having to do the household budget for a couple of hungry kids and a husband?
Stepping up to the role as Premier of NSW from being the Treasurer, Gladys has also been the Minister for Industrial Relations, Minister of Transport, Minister for the Hunter as well as being the Deputy Leader of the NSW Liberal Party from 2014 until today. How could Gladys have been in politics for so long without having to justify her marital and sexual status?
Well today a journalist put all of our concerns to rest, finally having the courage to ask during her first press conference as the Premier and this is what happened:
Journalist: Julia Gillard was prime minister and she copped a lot of questions about her marriage status and her child status, many of them unfairly. How prepared are you for those sorts of questions?
Berejiklian: I have been in public life for a long time. I have been a senior minister for six years. I am ready for anything.
Journalist: So was Julia Gillard and she did get questions about it and there will be questions about it. Are you prepared for those questions?
Berejiklian: Sure, ask me one.
Journalist: The obvious question is do you think this is a disadvantage politically because people have kids and they have families and people identify with that like they did with Morris Iemma…
Berejiklian: Take me as you see me. [New Deputy] Dominic Perrottet has made up for me, he has four kids. I am someone who has always been myself. Not all of us can plan how our life turns out. I am a very happy person. If you asked me 20 years ago would my life look like this? It probably wouldn’t be how it looks like. But I am grateful for the opportunities I have had. I also want to say again, not because I have to but because I want to, the closest people in my life are my family. I am not going to judge anybody on their personal circumstances. I am here to govern for everybody and I hope that people judge me on my merits and what I can do.
The obvious question is actually, why are we even asking someone about this? Why would you even think that because someone isn’t married with kids they’re disadvantaged in regards to representing the people? Stop assuming and more importantly, stop asking.
No matter what job you do, your personal life should not be brought into question. People don’t have children because they simply don’t want to or perhaps they can’t. As someone who falls into the “can’t” camp I am often thrown suggestions as if I have never thought of them, like surrogacy and adoption. I know they exist but choose not to engage in those options because my husband and I don’t want kids. We also get asked if we have nieces or nephews, as if that is supposed to soothe any pain from not having children.
I’ll go ahead and answer any burning questions people might have:
– I had cervical cancer when I was 22 and also have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Endometriosis and Adenomyosis. One of these issues could stop a woman from having a child, and I was lucky enough to get them all.
– My husband and I are God Parents as well as Aunty and Uncle to some incredible kids.
– I turn 30 soon, my husband is 32. Please don’t tell us that we will change our mind.
– No, we don’t have pets either.
I know, what kind of humans are we? Selfish ones according to some but those insults don’t stick to us. We are open about our choices however many aren’t and I know the questions and insults can hurt so many people. We know couples who have struggled for years to have children and hate Christmas time. They feel overwhelmed by the questions and as though they’re letting their families down because they haven’t gifted their parents with grandchildren.
If you’re struggling to have kids and you’re faced with these questions – take a leaf out of Gladys Berejiklian’s book because she answered the journalist today with so much class. What a woman. If you have chosen not to have kids, also ~try~ to give a response that doesn’t come across like it is from the Roast of Justin Bieber. Male or female, with or without kids, married or single, straight or LGBTIQ, let’s all stand up to the questions about family status because it has nothing to do with the people asking. Your body, your life, your choice.
And Gladys, I look forward to seeing you nailing your new job as the Premier of New South Wales. Congratulations xx