I disagree with former justice minister Judith Collins' criticism of TVNZ's attitude toward gender equality in its news coverage.

Ms Collins said in a news article yesterday she wanted the television channel to take women more seriously. "Women tend to be described as 'mothers' in news coverage, irrespective of what other skills they have. You rarely hear a man being described as a father."

What is wrong with describing someone as a mother? I'm proud to be a mother and I wouldn't mind in the least if someone described me as a mother of four.

I was a mother first and it's a role that's been the hardest and the most fulfilling one of my life. It's ongoing. It's made me the person I am today and it's hopefully helped mould my children into the wonderful adults they are.


Where would the world be without mothers and fathers? Ask any mother what she would rather do, spend time with her children or go out to work?

These days most don't have a choice: they need to work to make ends meet. There are, as with everything else in this world, exceptions to the rules.

Some mothers prefer to work, some dads prefer to stay home. But I'm sure these mothers still don't mind being described as a mother.

They might prefer to be called an accountant, police officer, cleaner or cook first but being described as a mother is not sexist or patronising.

It simply gives the person in question a bit more depth.

Why can't Ms Collins look at it from another perspective? Not only is this woman a police officer but she's a mother as well. All power to her for being able to fit in being a police officer.

Ms Collins also commented on a TV One news item about what to wear to work, which focused solely on women. She said "This is quite typical. I'm not PC but women are often categorised by their weight, looks and clothes and these get commented on, whereas men can come in all shapes and sizes and wear what they like and no one cares."

I'm not sure what she is upset at here - the fact that a shopping programme was aimed at women or the fact that women are categorised by their clothes, weight and looks.


The same can be said of men. If John Key turned up at the Beehive dressed in shorts and jandals I'm sure there would be talk. Women actually put a lot of pressure on themselves when it comes to dressing for work. They want to look smart, and there's nothing wrong with that. I've never seen Ms Collins turned out in scruffy clothes. She is always immaculately groomed.

And as for the shopping show aimed at women? Well, I don't know where Ms Collins has been but she certainly can't have been to any shopping malls lately.

If she did, she would see the vast majority of shoppers are women. Most men spotted at shopping malls are either standing outside women's clothing shops looking bored or on a mission to buy what they need and get out of there as quickly as they can.

She also believed women were portrayed on the news in "lesser roles".

Her example was about the zero-hours contract workers. The news item featured a female hospital worker, described as a mother, and two nights later the same subject was covered with the only worker interviewed a young woman, while females were filmed serving burgers behind a counter.

Well again, I say so what? Perhaps these women were the only ones who had the guts to go on national television to stick up for their rights. They aren't ashamed of what they do for a living.

A job title is just that: a title. Being a parent is a role that, once begun, never stops. It's a badge that men and women should wear with pride and honour.

-Linda Hall is assistant editor at Hawke's Bay Today.