But occasionally it serves to display humanity at its finest. Amplified. And today is one of those days.
Twitter is currently awash with posts under the #MyMum hashtag that are heartwarming, life-affirming, inspiring, sad and more.
— Belinda Barnet (@manjusrii) May 8, 2019
These posts are far from the platitudes that are often on display at this time of year about mums. They are real stories that individuals are sharing about their own mothers’ lives.
What, people are answering, could their own mum have achieved if things had been different and she could have attended university?
What opportunities was she denied? What could have been? How did she persevere regardless?
The chauvinism of my mum’s father stopped my mum. “No daughter of mine is going to university, to become an intellectual snob!” She didn’t think to rebel.
She reflected later to me that she found the law fascinating while working as a secretary in a law firm.
— The Cathy Wilcox (@cathywilcox1) May 8, 2019
Mum didn't get the opportunity to go to university – she was a first-generation migrant and my grandparents wanted her to find a safe job and get married. But god she should've. She has so many big ideas, she's creative, articulate and can get along with anyone. (9/12)
— Benita Kolovos 🧼🧴 (@benitakolovos) May 7, 2019
#MyMum had to leave school at the age of 12 to work the farm as her family was so poor. She came to Australia without a word of English, worked on tobacco farms & then factories till her body couldn't take it anymore to raise 2 kids & give me & my sis the freedom & life we have. pic.twitter.com/MngZsbCeMN
— Kon Karapanagiotidis (@Kon__K) May 8, 2019
I was the first person in my family to get to go to uni. My mum had to leave school at 13 to work for her family. Mum went back to school later in life, but never really got to live her dreams, and then ill-health and age meant she had to quit.
— Amy Remeikis (@AmyRemeikis) May 8, 2019
#MyMum was told by my grandfather that she shouldn't go to "Gymnasium" (which prepares students for uni in Germany) but should instead do an apprenticeship because education was pretty much wasted on girls. After I was born, she got her bachelor degree and masters in social work.
— Kristine Ziwica (@KZiwica) May 8, 2019
The responses are all worth reading.
This conversation was sparked by the comments that Bill Shorten made on Q&A on Monday night about his late mother Ann Shorten.
On Wednesday the Daily Telegraph in Sydney ran a front page story suggesting he had ‘invented’ the sob story to win over voters.
— PatriciaKarvelas (@PatsKarvelas) May 7, 2019
This is being described as an own-goal by the Liberals who reportedly leaked the story. It have given Bill Shorten an opportunity to speak with genuine emotion about his mum. But this is not merely a campaign “moment”.
It’s started a genuine conversation about the way women’s lives are – and have been – shaped. It has put in the spotlight the many sacrifices many women have made: the talent that has been wasted.
Talk of Shorten's mum highlights how much wasted talent there was in older generations of women, who were limited by what society told them they could/should be. Imagine where we'd be if these smart, capable, driven women were given the opportunities to follow their dreams?
— Shalailah Medhora (@shalailah) May 8, 2019
As Fairfax Media political correspondent David Crowe put it:
“It was foolish because it was wrong – and not only about Ann Shorten. On a deeper level the coverage showed a complete lack of awareness of the sacrifices made by so many women who had the brains for careers they could not pursue.”
— ABC News (@abcnews) May 8, 2019
While in many regards we have certainly moved on, it would be foolish to believe women have the freedom to live out their dreams. That women aren’t still making sacrifices.