06 | 30
2013

#Misogyny and #sexism – Australian political rhetoric

Categories: ACT Government, Australian Aborigines, Commonwealth Government, Discrimination, Discrimination/Racism, Government, Indigenous People, Racism, Sexism

by: Watershedd
Leave feedback | 1 Comment »

Before launching into this post, Blak and Black wishes to congratulate its good friend Mr. Julian Moti QC on his admission to the Fiji bar and imminent return to the legal profession, where he had previously been a longterm champion of indigenous rights.

Now, to the post …

I’m going to raise ire and I’ll bet more than a few negative comments with this post. Because I’m tired of the gender wars, tired of all the presumptions about women’s bodies and that men are potential sexual predators. I’m tired of the lies and the manipulation. As far as I’m concerned, women’s rights are no more important than those of men. A woman’s breast, butt, thighs are not a measure of her self worth or intellect as a person. And a man should be able to take his child or grandchild to the beach, or wait for him/her outside a public toilet without being presumed a predator. The African man waiting outside a public toilet for his daughter who was subjected to police questioning because of one “well-meaning” citizen suffers particularly badly in such circumstances – there’s nothing worse than a black predator!

Menu created for LNP Mall Brough's fundraiser dinner in the Brisbane seat of Fisher.

Menu created for LNP Mall Brough’s fundraiser dinner in the Brisbane seat of Fisher.

Both sides of mainstream politics are leaving me under-whelmed in the lead up to the Federal election. We have a Liberal Party who create a menu with sexually demeaning descriptions of the nation’s first female Prime Minister. Name calling and derisive comparisons are part of the argy-bargy of political life, as evidenced by the similarly derisive comparisons of Tony Abbott’s ears and privates clothed in nothing more “budgie-smugglers” by numerous political cartoonists. The problem here is when the derision is driven by the politicians themselves, when professional courtesy between colleagues, whether you like them or not, goes out the window. In any other workplace such bullying and harassment would be grounds for dismissal. Really Tony, how do you expect voters to respect a party that engages in the sort of sexist display usually reserved for the likes of the tabloid press?

"Menu" written on an inner Sydney street restaurant door last week.

“Menu” written on an inner Sydney street restaurant door last week.

Then we have a fear mongering Julia Gillard, who argues not long before being ousted from the office of Prime Minister that women’s rights regarding termination of pregnancy will be dragged back into the dark ages if Abbott wins office. What few of the media have pointed out is that abortion laws (that is, criminalization) are the purvey of the States, not the Commonwealth. However, one commentator providing a quite measured consideration of Gillard’s inflammatory comment noted that funding through Medicare and drug regulation in Australia are under Commonwealth control and it is there that the issue of termination of pregnancy may find traction with conservative parliament. My issue with most of the political landscape at present is the pure fear mongering and reactionary attacks that all sides are engaging in. This is not government representation of a people, but individual agendas driven by personal ambition and/or belief.

It was the efforts of many people of both genders that has enabled the various state laws to accommodate termination of pregnancy. Having seen more than one unborn child with severe congenital deformities, I can say that such a choice has more emotionally and spiritually charged angles than the pits of Dante’s circles, but I am in agreement with Abbot AND Gillard’s opinions, bothon the record, that termination should be “safe, legal and rare.”

Cries of #misogyny have been the hallmark of Australia’s first female Prime Minister. It’s a bandwagon that has merit, but I’m afraid one with which I have become disillusioned. I have been watching and interacting with others in the community discussing the provision of medical services. One person made the blunt comment that until a man and woman could walk side by side down the street topless without a furore erupting, the approach to women-specific examinations would continue to push our world toward marginalizing men from many of the essential treatments and examinations women require. Another man, in an entirely separate discussion asked why he was expected to have a rectal examination for his prostate by either a male or female proceduralist without a chaperone to supervise the whole thing.

I’ve spent some time trying to balance the competing social and cultural concerns of medical examinations and treatment for men and women and all I can say is that there is no easy answer. Our society has become so paranoid about sexual misconduct, men as predators and women as vigilant feminists, not to mention children as victims that we cannot trust our neighbour, doctor, nurse, swimming instructor, teacher …

Definitions are important. #Racism = #Discrimination, but the same is not true in reverse. #Racism focuses the expression of stereotype to a race, colour, creed or ethnicity. Further, it specifically excludes all other forms of #discrimination, such as against those with a disability.

Similarly, #Misogyny = #Sexism, but not vice versa. #Misogyny is a hatred of women. It specifically excludes men and children. It does not consider the many ways in which men are discriminated against. Women only gyms, but not men only. I know more than one guy who is embarrassed in the weights area as he’s trying to get his body in shape – it’s not just women who are self-conscious. Conversely, #sexism is a manner of thought or expression that stereotypes one or other gender and it is not exclusive of men.

The hypocrisy of the whole discussion makes me even more annoyed when I work in an institution in which there are so many females at my level that creating a gender balanced interview panel is nigh on impossible, unless I want to ask our new CEO to assist. Notably, the outgoing CEO was a female. What we all need to realize is that we generally cannot do everything – raise a family, build a successful career, keep the house in order, stay on top of the washing, have a fabulous social life. At some point, the various aspects intersect – work overtakes social life, family sometimes takes second place and cleaning falls behind. Life in the career fast lane isn’t all its cracked up to be at times.

And all the while, cries of sexism blur the facts and true needs of the individuals. I really do not care less if the doctor who examines my breasts or does my pap smear is a male, provided that he is courteous and professional. There are perverts and idiots everywhere, but we cannot afford to marginalize each other purely on the basis of gender.

For a woman screaming #misogyny so much, Julia Gillard and her ACT counterpart Katy Gallagher have been noticeably quiet about the indecent assault covered up by a bunch of male Australian Federal Police officers in the nation’s capital. That assault, made upon a woman in a very senior banking position should have been investigated. Why was it not? The only reasonable conclusion that seems possible is that the victim identifies as an indigenous Australian. And when both Julia and Katy have been very directly and publicly made aware of the ongoing injustice in denying this one person her right to protection and investigation, they are as complicit in the #racism and #sexism that tears apart indigenous women in this country as any Liberal politician. So, our anti-misogynistic former PM fighting for women to stand up for their rights, fighting to protect the rights of other women, has utterly ignored the rights of this country’s most senior female indigenous banking executive. Quite frankly Julia, as a champion of women, you let down Ms. King and consequently all indigenous women in this country. You had the chance to correct an injustice and you turned away, just as your counterpart, Katy Gallagher, continues to do in the Australian Capital Territory, just as did Kevin Rudd, just as did Jon Stanhope.

I know exactly how I will be voting at the upcoming Federal election and it won’t be for either of the major parties, unless there’s a change of leadership again to someone who actually has conviction and is willing to do the honourable thing, even if it means being impaled on a sword.

One Comment

  1. Ray says:

    Great article. I’m from WA so some of the Canberra centric aspects I am otherwise unaware. I agree both side have much to be ashamed of. However sexist Tony Abbott may be he does not seem to be a misogynist so far as I can tell. I wish people would use words correctly. The screaming from all sides does not lead to any useful conclusion. Thanks again

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