Friday, 15 February 2008

festival of love

well, that's the literal translation of "eid-ul-muhabbah", the arab version of valentines day. i'm not going to wax lyrical about love, romance or other related topics. mostly because it's been done a million times already, and by people much more gifted than moi! the reason i bring it up at all is because i did a brief guest spot on the panel today, which you can find here. my bit is towards the end of the clip.

can't say i'm a particular fan of valentines day. i put it in the category of mothers day, fathers day, and even christmas, easter, & halloween. events that are driven more by commercialism than anything else. i'm not sure why people buy into the theory that the more you spend the more you care. maybe it's because they don't really care as much as they should, so spend up to ease their sense of guilt. anyway, i'm more into recognising people regularly and in unexpected ways regardless of what "day" it is.

it's apparently love of another kind that has lead to katherine rich leaving parliament. i guess we will have to take accept ms rich's reasons at their face value, although i thought it a little arrogant to act like she would definitely have been a minister if she stayed, as if there's no need for an election. there's still a strong chance national will not be forming a cabinet at the end of the year. of course it seems strange that it is the non-conformist of the national front bench who is leaving, and no matter what she says, there will always be suspicions that she was pushed or resigned in disgust of a right-wing agenda she can't agree to.

as many have already said in various media, she did seem more like a labour person than a national one. had national not had so few women MPs, i suspect she would have been gone long before now. voting against the party, or failing to follow the leader's line is genrally an unforgivable offence. you can do it once, if you're lucky twice. but that would be about it. no party is successful when there's disunity in the ranks - it shows that the leadership is not in control. so it's hard to believe she wasn't under some pressure to conform or leave.

in any case, it's a loss to parliament. even in this country, where women are apparently treated as equals (i say apparently because there is still plenty of data to show they aren't), there are still too few women MPs. it's still difficult for women to be selected as candidates for electorate seats. when they get selected, it's difficult to win.

MMP has definitely helped increase the number of women, with the list providing an opportunity to get women through. however, the actual numbers that get through via the list are relatively small. and there seems to be a perception that list MPs are of less value than electorate MPs. even though they contribute significantly to the work of parliament, even though the list selection process is extremely tough and those on the list bring significant skills, they are seen as second-class MPs.

women face tougher criticism. they are criticised for their appearance in a way that men generally aren't. i can't believe people have written letters to the editor complaining about helen clark not wearing a skirt for dinner with the queen. this is important to her running the country how? then there are comments about her hairstyle, her deep voice.

the mechanics of taking part in politics are difficult. there's a huge amount of travel time, meeting are often at the time when dinner has to be put on the table or kids helped with their homework. teleconferences don't wait until the kids are in bed. attending as many community events as possible means long hours. it's usually women with highly supportive partners willing to take over child-rearing duties who tend to be successful; or else women for no children at all. it's certainly a very difficult path for single parents. yet if we want our parliament to be a true representative of the country, it's important that we have a higher number of women parliament. all indications seem to show that the number of women will decrease rather than increase.

don't know how we could make things easier. but we should certainly be more forthcoming in appreciating the personal sacrifices made by our political representatives. i wish katherine rich all the best for her future career. a pity that it had to end so soon.


Kate said...

Hi, My name is Kate.. from Auckland. I'm a new reader of your blog.. my husband sent me your link after he saw it on Russell Brown's website (I think) - anyway, I've made you something for your blog and I'd like to send it to you.. could you email me when you have time please? It's just a new header image, so if you aren't interested, don't worry!

Thanks :-)

stargazer said...

woohoooo!! i did it!!! thanx so much kate. it looks really pretty.

Chris Abdul-Wahhab said...

Hi Anjum,

In an otherwise satisfactory post, I thought your Arabic Valentine's Day translation is rather out of place. Why Arabic? Is Arabic your mother tongue? In any case I didn't realise that the mutawwa-een (Islamic police) would tolerate Valentine's Day, or anything red on February 14, in a significant part of the Arab heartlands. I'm not sure where you got that rendition of the Arabic word for the day. I would have imagined يوم فالنتين (Yom Faalenteen) to be a better version. If you really want to use the word "love", perhaps يوم حب (Yom hobb). By the way I am no expert in Arabic and my mother tongue is certainly not Arabic. I shall stand corrected by a native Arab, but the term you have used doesn't sound Arabic to me at all. It sounds rather like a mixture of Arabic and Hindustani.


stargazer said...

the Arabic term is “eid-al-muhabba” (see first line of the post!!??), almost certainly coined by commercial interests trying to make money out of the day. valentines day is spreading in asia too, but not everyone is happy about it. bal thakheray, a hindu leader with much influence in bombay, has spoken vehemently against it in india, and there has been major opposition to the celebration of valentines day throughout that country. many countries are trying to preserve their own cultures and traditions in the face of what they perceive as cultural imperialism.