In a BBC interview, New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern was asked if she planned to propose to her partner, Clarke Gayford. Victoria Derbyshire also questioned the prime minister – one of only two world leaders to give birth while in power – over whether she was really “feminist”.
Ardern discussed a post-Brexit deal with the UK, the murder of British backpacker Grace Millane and the changing nature of global politics – all typical, relevant questions.
But then Derbyshire turned the questioning to whether Ardern would propose to her partner, a New Zealand television presenter.
She laughed loudly in response to the question, seeming surprised, and replied, “No, I would not ask, no.”
Derbyshire responded: “You’re 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.”
“OK, fair enough,” said Derbyshire. “We await that day.”
Derbyshire then went on to question if she experiences “guilt” juggling running a country and being a mother.
Ardern said it was “sometimes a struggle”, but ultimately it gave her giving her an “insightful” experience that resembled how regular women balance their work and family responsibilities.
New Zealand-based political commentator Bryce Edwards said it was unusual for her to have her “feminist credentials” questioned: “Certainly, a lot of New Zealanders would see such probing of the prime minister about her relationship with her partner and her plans for marriage as being inappropriate.”
Many on social media expressed their confusion at this line of questioning, one saying that to ask “this inspirational woman” about proposing to her partner was “quite anchored in another age”.
Another called the questions “cringe”. “Nevermind rocking it as the New Zealand prime minister, it's all about a ring and parental guilt... *looks about, checks it isn't 1955*”.
It’s disappointing that Victoria Derbyshire resorted to tired interview tactics of asking incredibly personal – and private – questions to Jacinda Ardern. Would a male prime minister be asked about marriage plans and childcare?