You Are Not The Jerk Whisperer

Last week, I responded to a column written by former Labor leader and resplendent stay-at-home dad/gourmet cook/native gardener extraordinaire, Mark Latham.

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My response was one of many “left-feminist” perspectives roundly criticising his remarks. This one is a doozy.

Not content with the number of people he has already offended, he went on the radio and threw in a few more jibes. I listened to it. To save you the trouble, this bit was the highlight:

When presented with the idea that perhaps Ms Pryor did not suffer from depression before having children and that perhaps this was a case of post-natal depression, Latham responded by saying her depression “can’t be that bad” because she is “studying medicine”. He even throws in the old “Physician, heal thyself!” line as some sort of criticism or attack.

Just a thought. Perhaps she is able to study because her depression is alleviated by the medication she was prescribed – presumably, by a physician?

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I mentally started rallying a suitable response to his latest clap-trap.

Then I stopped. It was like the clouds parted, the sun shone through and all that could be heard was a sound like the purest harp notes being struck…

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Before a voice whispered unto me:

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I’ve taken on more than my fair share of jerks. Even managed to talk a few around. But a full-time, card-carrying, certified Jerk Whisperer I am not. And this jerk? He’s not worth it. And here is why:

I could send Mark Latham hundreds of studies on depression and medication. I could line up all the world’s experts in the field to tell him in great detail about how and why depression is categorised as a mental illness and that it sometimes requires treatment with medications.

I could line up a million “left-feminists” to tell Mark Latham that they love their children and he wouldn’t care.

None of this would budge Latham’s point of view even a centimetre. Why? Because the Mark Lathams of the world don’t want their views challenged. He has proved himself ignorant and inflexible.

So I officially don’t really care what Latham says next. What frustrates me is that he is given a platform to air such rubbish.

He, like many people clinging to outdated or incorrect ideas, may defend his “right” to an opinion. But his opinion isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

His degree is in Economics, so he has no formal education in mental health. He also states that he has never suffered depression, so has zero personal experience of the condition. That doesn’t mean he can’t empathise or have some understanding of the condition, however Latham also claims that his child’s smile is “all the anti-depressant” he needs. Which is great, considering he doesn’t suffer depression and is naive or (perhaps more accurately) ignorant enough to think a simple smile would cure it.

As far as feminism goes, Mark Latham has made quite the hobby out of criticising it, be it Julia Gillard, Jane Caro or Lisa Pryor. It’s clear that he doesn’t understand what feminism is; or perhaps he does and just doesn’t support it, despite being a stay-at-home dad and husband to a criminal prosecutor (i.e. working) wife.

Mark Latham can have an opinion on depression and on feminism if he likes- but really, his views on these things are about as relevant and insightful as a goldfish’s opinion on gumboots.

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Linking with Maxabella for Weekend Rewind.

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