Virginia Trioli. In the world of Australian journalism, she’s it. Virginia is a Walkley Award Winner, author, broadcaster, the host of ABC News Breakfast and recently, she also became a mum.
She writes beautifully – and has written for Mamamia many times in the past – and we recently caught up with her to talk about motherhood, feminism and her secret to achieving work/life balance.
MM: You had your first child earlier this year, how is being a mother? Is it what you expected? Has it changed you?
VT: I’ve never been happier. I’m sorry, I hunted around for ages trying to find a phrase that wasn’t a cliche, and I can’t find one — because all the cliches are true. My heart is full, my baby is wonderful, our family is lucky and blessed. I was so fortunate I could take a year off, because there is no pressure on me to do anything else but care for this little boy. I think I am a much more flexible person now, because the phrase “just go with it” was clearly made for life with a baby. I can see more clearly now how being a step-mum has prepared me for this task — the patience and empathy required — and I am more grateful than ever for the relationships I have with Russell’s wonderful children.
MM: What do you think of the whole ‘mummy wars’ terminology? Is it something you engage in professionally or personally? Do you think the media fosters the ‘mummy wars’?
VT: I genuinely don’t know what that term means, nor where it came from. If women exchange different points of view over parenting and work/home challenges, and — heaven forfend — they even disagree with each other, why is that a war? I think the term attempts to reduce a discussion between women to a purple jelly-wrestling match, and I simply refuse to engage with that, which I think is the best way to kill off the term.
MM: How would you define your kind of feminism?
VT: I have long felt a connection to the very early discussion that Australian feminists had in the 60s about ‘liberation’ versus ‘equality’ feminism: the idea that women should try to construct an entirely new way of living their lives rather than, as Germaine Greer put it, trying to ‘live the lives of unfree men’, and I still see that as an important goal. Many blokes are just as oppressed by gender expectations, and if we button ourselves up into their suits, their choices, their lives and stop trying to imagine a more nuanced life for ourselves, then I think we miss the opportunity for true liberation.
MM: As a woman on television, you’re subjected to constant scrutiny about your appearance. How do you deal with that sort of pressure? Do your male colleagues receive the same kind of scrutiny?
VT: You know the answer to this question already! Isn’t it astonishing how persistent this scrutiny and discrimination is? For every story I could tell you — about the hair/lipstick/dress/breasts comments — there are a dozen other women on TV who could tell you something worse. I have no idea how to make it stop. On my good days I laugh; on not so good days, I ignore it. On my bad days, I tell the critic to shove off.