Cassar has been trying unsuccessfully for a year to get pregnant at the age of 41. She isn't happy with the prospect of being childless and yet thinks she has made the right decisions in life:
[being childless] is one of the most difficult and deeply saddening issues I have had to face so far in my life. But I stand by the decisions I made that have led me here because they were the right ones for me.
So what led her to delay motherhood until such a late age? For some reason she decided not to have children until she was 33. And then when she did get to 33 she lost confidence in her marriage. She was divorced by age 36, met a new partner at age 37, married again at 38 - but by then it was too late.
To me, this is more evidence against deliberately delaying motherhood until your 30s. If things go wrong, you have so little time to recover. But Alison Cassar won't draw this conclusion, despite the sadness it has brought her.
But the passage from her column that I thought most curious was this:
And where do men figure in this debate? While I know that the physical reality is not as acute for men, I have lost count of how many women have said to me that they cannot meet a man who wants to commit to children. Where are the people telling men that fatherhood is a great thing and they should do it early, rather than put the burden on women?
Where are the people telling men that fatherhood is a great thing? Alison, the feminists you so admire spent much of the past 30 years portraying husbands and fathers as wife beaters, rapists and oppressors of women. The feminist message was that it was not violent strangers that women ought to fear but their own husbands. And it was the more traditional, family oriented men who were held to be the worst culprits.
The same feminists encouraged a sexual revolution in which women were supposed to be "liberated" to pursue relationships with men for sex alone, rather than orienting themselves to love or marriage. That then helped to create a player culture amongst men.
Alison, your beloved feminist movement also encouraged the idea of a sex war between men and women, in which men were the eternal oppressors and women the eternal victims. The idea of completion through a relationship with the opposite sex and of complementarity and cooperation between men and women was broken.
And what of the feminist campaigns for official and unofficial affirmative action programmes for women in education and the workplace - campaigns which have succeeded so well that women now earn 50% more degrees than men and 20-something women now outearn men? Are the men left behind really as likely to commit to fatherhood?
Alison, in 1994 the Australian Prime Minister of the time, Paul Keating, appointed a feminist, Kate Gilmore, to run a national campaign against domestic violence. The Australian government officially endorsed her strategy, which was to portray family men as follows:
You can see the tyrants, the invaders, the imperialists, in the fathers, the husbands, the stepfathers, the boyfriends, the grandfathers, and it’s that study of tyranny in the home ... that will take us to the point where we can secure change.
Do you think that kind of feminist politics is going to encourage men to commit to fatherhood?
Finally, Alison, if you want men to commit to fatherhood in larger numbers you might like to use your influence to change the politics of the newspaper you work for. What liberalism tells people is that independence and autonomy are what matters. That's why feminists have pushed for all sorts of policies to make women independent of men.
But what do independence and autonomy mean for men? They mean a bachelor lifestyle with few stable commitments. If a man wants independence and autonomy, then he certainly won't marry.
Marriage and fatherhood do bring great rewards for men, but also great sacrifices. The sacrifices aren't easily justified in liberal terms. We need to get beyond what liberalism holds to be of value and we need to restore some of the traditional dignity associated with the role of fatherhood in society.