Jacinda Ardern forced to clarify she’s a feminist following bizarre proposal question

The New Zealand prime minister also said that having a newborn baby works 'beautifully' with her role

Katie O'Malley
Tuesday 22 January 2019 13:24 GMT
New Zealand prime minister, Jacinda Arden would not propose to her partner

Jacinda Ardern was forced to clarify that she is a feminist after revealing she has no plans to propose to her partner.

During an interviewing with the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire, Ardern discussed subjects such as balancing motherhood, the murder of British backpacker Grace Millane and her hopes for a future trade deal with the UK post-Brexit.

At the end of the interview, however, Derbyshire asked Ardern whether she had any plans to propose to her long-term partner Clarke Gayford, with whom she shares a seven-month old daughter.

Clearly surprised by the question, the prime minister laughed and replied: “No I would not ask, no.”

In response, Derbyshire quizzed the politician on whether she was a feminist.

“Oh absolutely, absolutely I am a feminist,” said Ardern.

“But no, I want to put him through the pain and torture of having to agonise about that question himself, that’s letting him off the hook, absolutely not.”

Debyshire concluded the line of questioning, saying: “OK, fair enough. We await that day.”

The implication that Ardern was not a feminist because she wouldn’t propose to her partner caused outrage on Twitter.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and partner Clarke Gayford pose with their baby daughter Neve Gayford at their home on 2 August 2018
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and partner Clarke Gayford pose with their baby daughter Neve Gayford at their home on 2 August 2018 (Getty Images)

One viewer tweeted: “Would you have asked a male PM if he had trouble juggling parenting with his role? Not clever, nor if she would ask her partner to marry her. Why checking her feminist credentials?”

“Why the hell does it matter if she’d propose to partner or not,” wrote another.

Another commented added: “Instead of taking a jab at Jacinda Ardern’s feminism maybe Victoria Derbyshire should look at her sexist interview questions, including asking Ardern how she balances motherhood and running a country and whether she feels guilty about it.”

The interview was reminiscent to a similar discussion following Ardern’s appointment in 2017.

Appearing on the New Zealand AM talk show, the PM defended the right of New Zealand women to keep their plans regarding motherhood private from their employer after facing a question regarding her own wishes hours after she won the premiership.

“It is totally unacceptable in 2017 to say that women should have to answer that question in the workplace, it is unacceptable, it is unacceptable,” she told co-host Mark Richardson, who told the politician Kiwis had a right to know whether their prime minister might take maternity leave.

In her interview with Victoria Derbyshire, the politician — who is only the second world leader to have given birth in office — also discussed bringing up her daughter, Neve Te Aroha Ardern Gayford, alongside her duties as prime minister.

"The guilt of whether or not I'm a good enough daughter, sister, partner, mother... show me a woman who doesn't,” she told the show host.

She also explained that she is “a mother, not a superwoman” and that the view that the latter exists “does a disservice to all women, it raises expectations that no one can meet”.

Ardern, who met with Theresa May on Monday, told the host she was unable to compare motherhood to being a prime minister, saying they were “completely different roles”.

She said: “At the end of a day, when it’s easy to feel like you’ve got the weight of the world on your shoulders, at least the weight of your country, it’s amazing what just her giggling at me can do to bring perspective.”

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