This piece from yesterday’s Herald includes a fairly shocking glimpse of Kevin Rudd unplugged: ‘Rudd rolled his eyes and in a terse voice lacking any sense of irony remarked that [completing a PhD] is the “excuse” that “all” young women are using nowadays to avoid starting families.’
Penny had a strikingly similar encounter yesterday.
I haven’t mentioned this before, but after 37 or so years in the workforce – as an activist for women’s health, childcare, community health, and a consultant on those and similar fields – Penny is taking a year off to do a Graduate Diploma in Fine Art. Yesterday she ran into an older woman, a feminist public intellectual, whom I will call Lilith. When Penny told Lilith what she was doing, Lilith said (in a striking verbal echo of the Prime Minister): ‘In these gloomy times it’s not surprising that so many people are withdrawing from activism.’ She went on, ‘I’ll keep plugging away.’
Usually I’d follow an anecdote like that with a number of one-line comebacks thought of too late. In this case, though, Penny opened her mouth to talk about the work she’s still doing for asylum seekers etc, but Lilith had actually moved away, her assumptions about the role of art untroubled by the evidence.