“If we want women of that calibre to have families, and we should, well we have to give them a fair dinkum chance to do so.”
Tony Abbott, Leader of the Opposition.
I’m a bit late to the ‘women of calibre’ party given the above was stated more than three weeks ago. It’s not for lack of thought; it’s for trying to articulate how I feel about defining someone who possesses ‘that calibre’.
For overseas readers, Mr Abbott was discussing the Coalition’s planned introduction of a new paid parental leave which would pay six months’ full salary to new mothers earning as much as $150,000 a year. This means a woman at this salary level would receive $75,000. (It also means a teacher on $50,000 would get $25,000, and a shop assistant on $32,000 would pocket $16,000. Not bad for my Maths A brain.)
Many people got caught up in a ‘woman of calibre’ being judged by her salary figure, but I’d like to broaden the brush stroke to the argument.
Why shouldn’t we encourage women of calibre to breed?
Furthermore, why shouldn’t we encourage men of calibre to breed?
What a person earns is irrespective; being a person of high calibre goes beyond the monetary. You can be as poor as a church mouse and still be of good calibre.
Let’s refresh with the Oxford Dictionary’s definition:
Calibre: [mass noun] the quality of someone’s character or the level of their ability.
Based on this, let’s drill down a bit further:
Quality: [noun] the standard of something as measured against other things of a similar kind; the degree of excellence of something.
Character: [noun] the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.
Ability:[noun] possession of the means or skill to do something.
What’s inspired me to put pen to paper on this topic is the number of parents who, I believe, should not have children; children born into homes where tolerance, kindness, patience and love are scarce. They are people of low calibre; questionable characters lacking the ability to raise kids as required.
In the past weeks, stories like this and this and this have made me feel the sting of tears in my eyes; pain for children who never had a chance simply by being born to the wrong people. The five-week-old fighting for life after being thrown into her cot. The three-year-old who died from her father’s cruelty. The four-year-old boy beaten to death for wetting the bed.
Even now as I type, my face feels hot imagining what those children went through at the hands of people who are supposed to love them more than anyone else in the entire world. What a betrayal.
I’d like to commend those in our society – rich, poor, and in between – who do their absolute best to raise children to feel safe and protected. To be educated, both in school and home environments. To know right from wrong. To be respected and, in turn, have respect for others. To be compassionate and considerate. To have (dare I say it?) a strong calibre.
I think of people who have overcome adverse circumstances to raise productive and contributing society members. People like my good friend who, after falling pregnant at a young age, fought single mother stereotypes and ensured her child grew up surrounded by love, security, an excellent education, the opportunity to follow his dreams, and a dog and cats. She, my friends, is a woman of calibre.
So, based on the Oxford Dictionary definition, do I think Betty has parents of good calibre? Yes – I do (although I’m slightly biased).
Both Mr POW and I, and our siblings, were raised by parents who loved and supported us. Our extended family and friends share our value system and morals. If, God forbid, anything happened to Mr POW and me, I have no doubt Betty would be raised with the same ethos which, as a parent, is a reassuring position to be in.
What does being a man or woman ‘of calibre’ mean to you? Are you one?