David Miller Online
Coping With Powerful Women
One of the major stories in the media in the past week was the announcement by Michelle Boag that she intends to rid the National Party of its deadwood. According to Ms. Boag, the party needs an injection of new blood that will deliver the party some energy and vigour and hopefully return the party back into government at the next election. Unfortunately, I happened to be reading the article in last week’s newspaper when my friend Lisa was looking over my shoulder. The reason this is unfortunate is that Lisa could not help but point out that Ms. Boag is another example of women controlling the country. She also commented that as a male, I should be worried.
According to Lisa, my agreement with Ms Boag has nothing to do with the logic of her argument. Instead, she believes that I, am intimidated by powerful women such as Ms Boag, and the fact that all the top positions in this country are held by women is somehow threatening to me.
This is not the case. First of all, National needs to find a new direction as it is still suffering from the hangover following its election defeat in 1999. Since that time the party has made little headway in demonstrating to the New Zealand voters that it is the credible alternative to the Labour- Alliance Coalition. Even if Ms. Boag has her way and gets rid of the old guard, it may be too late for National to make any headway at the next election. There is a saying that oppositions do not win elections, governments lose them and this is certainly the case in New Zealand. One of the reasons Labour and the Alliance were successful in 1999 was due not only to the tiredness of National but because they looked like the government in waiting, fresh and idealistic. National has not got anywhere near to this point in the past two years and even sagas such as the Christine Rankin case and the budget blow out have done little to dent the government’s approval rating.
Second, it is no great surprise to me that women are in all the top jobs. My father is of the opinion that the women are the stronger sex and has expressed this thought to me on more than one occasion. At the risk of losing my inheritance, I should point out that my parents have been married for over thirty years and in that time my father has had plenty of time to do what he is told and has long since given up trying to control the amount that gets booked up on the credit cards.
So therefore I have no trouble agreeing with Ms. Boag. I do not have any troubling gender issues to deal with, but if one asks Lisa this is exactly what is happening. She is wrong. Ms. Boag is both a successful career woman and powerful political figure. Add the element to glamour to this equation and instead of feeling threatening, I happen to find her rather attractive. This statement surprised Lisa, and we then began discussing gender issues. Soon the conversation turned to marriage. Not surprisingly, Lisa informed me that if she were ever to get married she would not automatically assume her new husband’s surname and most likely would keep her own.
This horrified me. Is it not traditional for a wife to change her name? Well apparently not. When I pointed this out to Lisa, she called me a sexist pig. Then she wanted to know why I would not be prepared to change my name if I got married. I could not do that I said, trying to get back some points in the debate. After all I am known as David Miller. It is not just a name, but a brand, such as Nike, Coca Cola and McDonalds and one cannot simply give away a powerful brand name. As one can imagine this got me nowhere. “Who on earth recognises you?” Lisa demanded. “It is not as though you get mobbed when you walk down the street is it?”
True, I have not been asked for my autograph as yet, but as I pointed out Lisa my Scoop readers do recognise me. This was the only come back I could think of and by this time I was well on to the back foot. “Your Scoop readers don’t recognise you” she replied. “Not even the cleaners recognise you”. Actually this is not true, rumour has it that the cleaning lady thinks I’m named Devon and that my column comes out on Thursdays.
So here I was pondering where the National party is in relation its chances at the next election, and thinking out loud. The next thing I know, I am not only losing for an argument as to why a women should change her name upon marriage but now I am forced to try and find a way to avoid changing my name. All this trouble has occurred because I expressed my view on Michelle Boag. Perhaps as a male struggling to survive in the 21st Century, I should not be complacent about women assuming all the powerful positions. Perhaps I should be worried, even if the women in the top jobs are as glamorous as Ms. Boag.