Making those slappers cross their legs

In a long foreshadowed move, the National government has announced that it will fund contraception for women on the DPB (Dependent Persons Benefit). It’s all part of their moves to make all those lazy solo mothers do some work for a change.

And on cue, the National party cheerleader-in-chief is saying that it’s a great move, and it’s all just about helping people to afford contraception.

Right…. and if you believe that, I’ve got a nice bridge to sell to you.

You see, they’re not offering free contraception, and they’re not offering it just to people on the DPB. They are offering long term contraceptive implants to women on the DPB and to their teenage daughters.

Women on benefits – including teenagers and the daughters of beneficiaries – will be offered free long-term contraception as part of a $287.5 million Budget package for the Government’s welfare reforms. (Source)

In other words, you and your slapper daughters better not breed any more of your type.

I think the National party has got a myth in its mind, of generations of women on the DPB, never trying to do anything to get off it, and just sponging on taxpayers instead. Never mind that those myths have been comprehensively debunked. The Nats know that they can’t sterilise the slappers, but they are doing the next best thing, and drugging them to achieve the same result.

I think it’s all about punishing women for having sex. One of the ways that we can see this is in the relentless focus on women. Where is the focus on men who have children and neglect to provide for them? Where is the long term contraceptive for men who father one child here and another there, and the shaming and demonising of men who have sex? There is none. It’s all about the women.

More than that, it’s about social engineering. I think that the Nats must have decided that there is a culture of DPBism out there, and they’re aiming to stamp it out by focusing on the children of sole mothers. I’ve got no problem with trying to effect long term cultural change through persuasion – witness the success of anti-smoking and anti-drink-driving campaigns, but this campaign looks very close to coercion to me. And that’s because of those overtones of dirty slappers.

So what might make this sort of measure acceptable? Perhaps the government might assist with funding a range of contraceptive choices, instead of just those long term implants. That would mean that the government was genuinely looking to assist women who wanted to do what human beings do and have sex, but at the same time wanted to be able to afford effective contraception. And that means contraception that works for the particular women and her body, not just a one-size-fits-all model. And it would make it available to all women below a certain income level, instead of targetting it towards sole parents and their teenage daughters.

On the positive side in Paula Bennett’s announcement, the Nats have realised that in order to enable sole parents to work, they will need to fund childcare. So they’ve come up with $80 million for that. But it’s not for all sole parents.

The Guaranteed Childcare Assistance Payment will be available to Young Parents receiving Assistance under the Youth Package who are meeting their obligations to participate in education, training or work-based learning under the youth package. It will also be available to young parents who are completing their secondary education, are not receiving a benefit and have a child aged under 5 years. This payment will provide up to $6.00 per hour for up to 50 hours a week for up to 52 weeks a year for a child to attend an approved ECE service. The cost of this initiative is $36.1 million over the next four years.

The Government has provided an additional $43.9 million to Vote Education to ensure extra ECE places are available. We anticipate a peak occurring during the next four years which will see the need for an additional 1155 additional Early Childhood Education places being required as a result of parents needing care for their children while they study.

(Source – National Party Q&A on the reforms – PDF)

Helping young parents who are trying to study is laudable. But it doesn’t help other sole parents. This back-to-work assistance needs to be more broadly focused. And then there’s the massive elephant in the room: where are the jobs? And not just any jobs. As I’ve said before:

So what is going to be required to make this happen? First up, there’s going to have to be a number of employers who are prepared to offer 15 hours work a week, during school hours. There’s no point in requiring sole parents to work 15 hours a week if no such jobs are available, so I’m assuming that National will be putting some sort of incentives in place to encourage the creation of such jobs.

Those jobs will need to be provided by employers who don’t mind too much if a worker works say, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday one week, and different days the next, in order to look after sick children, or to attend events at school (parent teacher interviews, school sports days, all the usual commitments that come with having kids at school). So the work will need to be very flexible.

And the work will have to be just in term time. Kids do need to be supervised in school holidays, or otherwise, as Blogger on the Cast Iron Balcony Helen so fetchingly puts it, they will end up building meth-labs in the back yard.

But doing the hard yards to create flexible work environments that enable sole parents to work is just not nearly as much fun as hating on all those wretched women.

ETA: And I’m also catching a whiff of racism about this move, I think. Via Tallulah, in response to a comment I made at TLG, we know that 43% of DPB recipients are Maori, and 10% are Pacific Islanders. So over half of DPB recipients have brown skins. I think it’s not just about making the slappers keep their legs together. It’s also about stopping those brown people from breeding.

It will be interesting to see how the Maori Party reacts to this policy, given Maori Party leader Tariana Turia’s previous statements about young parents: one, two.

Earlier posts on the National Party’s policies for sole parents:

  • Get those sole parents working
  • Keeping its promises
  • I did it, so why can’t you?
  • 9 responses

    1. [...] is only scratching the surface – have at it in the comments. And Deborah has a great post at her [...]

    2. “Where is the focus on men who have children and neglect to provide for them?”

      Here: Child support system to get huge overhaul

      As the majority of liable parents, they get reduced penalties for non-compliance, lower obligations for providing for their kids if the custodial parent is earning, and a discount for taking the kids for two nights a week.

    3. The contraception will be reversable and having it voluntary. If people expect the state to look after them – and I don’t have a problem helping those who need it – it isn’t unreasoanble for the state to do what it can to reduce future liability. Most people claim the DPB for a relatively short time but some claim it for many eyars and inter-generational welfare is a problem which must be addressed for the sake of those dependent on it and the rest of us who pay it.

    4. Homepaddock, I’m afraid I respectfully disagree. In my view, we have a modern social contract – namely that the state will ensure that the worse off are not economic slaves of the better off, and in return, the worse off will participate in society in good faith instead of (for example) turning to crime or revolution.

      So I do not like this policy as it is intrusive, restrictive, and selectively applied to a vulnerable group. We pay for pensioners, but they do not suffer similar restrictions, for example (such as being forbidden dangerous sports). So I say, if the state want to get involved in the contraception game, let them pay for everybody’s contraception! And let people have a choice! Let Pharmac sort it out ! We have existing mechanisms to do this honestly, if we want to.

      As it is, this smacks of eugenics. It is an ugly policy. Under the NZ social contract, the state has no right to manipulate the choices of the worse off. IMHO

    5. And I’m also catching a whiff of racism about this move, I think. Via Tallulah, in response to a comment I made at TLG, we know that 43% of DPB recipients are Maori…

      That’s drawing a long bow. It’s arguable on its own merits that the social welfare system doesn’t and shouldn’t offer an unlimited guarantee to support however many children someone who can’t keep it in his pants feels like sprinkling the country with. The ethnic background of the people creating children without means of supporting them isn’t relevant to that argument. In fact, I’m inclined to give Bennett some credit for not mentioning the ethnic breakdown: just picture the effect of the govt dishing out that “43% Maori” figure to the assembled media – you certainly wouldn’t want to visit Kiwiblog or listen to talkback radio afterwards…

      As it is, this smacks of eugenics.

      It has about as much to do with eugenics as sex education does, but it’s a handy smear.

    6. Mr Bee – if the contraception being offered was compulsory and irreversible I’d agree with you, but it’s not.

      It’s applied to a vulnerable group becuase that’s who need it most. Not all women choose to have children and this policy will help them.

      A social contract ought to balance rights and responsibilities on both sides. People receiving benefits have the responsibility to return to independence as soon as they can. Trapping women in welfare dependency – and the poverty that almost always goes with it – isn’t good for them or their families.

    7. So the contraceptive itself is covered – will the costs for inserting and removing it be? I don’t recall how much it costs in NZ, but I have an implant for which I paid $60 out of pocket to have inserted. Presumably the cost for removing it is similar, which may be a prohibitive cost for the people this policy is aimed at. What about in 3-5 years, when they stop working, will a replacement still be covered then, or will she just have to not have sex to avoid getting an ectopic pregnancy? Or will removal be covered now if that the implant causes her to have constant bleeding (a common, rather inconvenient, side effect)? Details are important.

    8. Portraitofalady | Reply

      Why wait until women are beneficiaries? If I had had $450 disposable income as a teen I would have got a Mirena. But no, apparently you can only get this if you’ve also had children, or have had a few abortions. Offering this to just beneficiaries, is not only ugly, but also too late. Prevention would be nice instead of whatever this is.

    9. [...] choice bit is important. Our Minister of Social Welfare is keen on getting beneficiaries to use long term contraceptive impla… But in the US study, women were offered a *choice* of contraceptives. When women could choose, when [...]

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