Clotty's little ladies of Vegemiteland


I know you came here for the profanity and disturbing metaphors but indulge me while I do a little bit of actual jernalisms. Lets look at this week’s Lady Budget. Because to accept the endless fanwanking of the professional kommuntariat that the budget was indeed a cunning plot to rescue the government’s cratering vote amongst the non-male demographic, was to agree with the deeply clueless muntwaffle of pundits like the ABC’s Andrew Probyn that the collapse in that vote was a piddling thing, easily dealt with by giving the little ladies of Vegemiteland some extra pin money.


Let’s look at one issue of some interest to some of the little ladies of Vegemiteland. Endometriosis.

This chronic, incapacitating condition is thought to affect the lives of at least ten percent of Australian women. Note the phrases ‘thought to’ and ‘at least’, because it’s only recently that the medical profession has taken the issue seriously and begun to collect and analyse data. And probably only because more women have begun to move into the senior ranks of the profession. Previously, endo was often dismissed as simple period pain, or hysteria or a mysterious effulgences of the feminine bodily humours. It is now understood to be widespread and devastating in its effects. The government’s own estimate of the cost of productivity lost to endometriosis is more than seven billion dollars a year. (They’ve got surprisingly good figures for that because of course diminished share holder value is the real issue here).

So, on Wednesday night, amongst its many, many feminist awokenings, the gubbermint decided to go to war on endo! Huzzah! China will be relieved.

There were nine –count them, nine!– mentions of endometriosis in the official budget papers. And six of them confirmed that endo really sucked. (Worthy insight, budget manfellows. Give yourselves a congratulatory penile squeeze). Also mentioned was the Pelvic Pain Foundation of Australia, which appears to be getting the bulk of all new funding to…

Deliver extra school talks.

Helping to reduce “student absenteeism attributed to endometriosis and pelvic pain” by seventy-five percent!

Er, nice work, Pelvic Pain Foundation. It’s really good that they can take their current series of talks from eighty schools in South Australia and sixty in Western Australia to… another twenty nationally.

But… er… what else you got?

Not much, beyond a pretend promise that “women are likely to face lower out-of-pocket costs”, because other budget measures will somehow magically result in lower out-of-pocket costs. But not because there’s any actual extra funding to help meet those costs, such as specialist gyno appointments (of which there will be many at about $140 a pop, with a maximum $30 medicare rebate; or diagnostic ultrasounds costing $280 with a $30 rebate; or birth control pills, used as a treatment for endo, for which there is currently no cure; or surgery, the only sure way to diagnose endometriosis. The cost of going under the knife runs to thousands of dollars per procedure, with most women needing multiply surgeries over the course of their lives. No money for that either.

Perhaps they could have kicked Andrew Laming off a couple of committees, like they promised, and used the money saved for…

Dialing even further into this lady-friendly policypalooza, you find weird, contrary plot holes. With the pill being prescribed as the only pharmacological response to endo, for instance, there is probably some fun to be had asking the happy clapper at the Lodge whether he still believes doctors and pharmacists should be able to refuse such prescriptions on the grounds of religious freedom.

And while I wouldn’t want to criticise the Pelvic Pain guys for doing basic education work, I’m gonna guess that most women with endo will tell you it’s not the patient who needs help recognising their own symptoms. It’s often the people around them who insist that period pain is normal, or they simply have a low pain tolerance, or they’re weak and they should stop whining. This widespread ignorance is a large reason why many young women don’t realise there is anything wrong with them, and endure decades of often crippling pain without seeking help.

Even then, the solution doesn’t start with education. It starts with research and treatment, and there is nothing in this budget for that.

We did get another massive cut to universities and research funding, though. So there’s that, I guess.

This is just one, small specific issue, but it is typical of the Morrison government’s meta narrative of blame shifting, ducking responsibility and defaulting to empty marketing douchewaffle. This wasn’t a feminist budget. It wasn’t a secret Labor budget. It was, as with all of Scott Morrison’s endeavours, a bit of a fucking mess, hidden behind a lot of flashing banner ads.