This week’s appalling act of misogyny. Wasn’t. This.
The most appalling act of misogyny took place this week.
It wasn’t in Australia. It most definitely wasn’t against Prime Minister Julia Gillard at Parliament House in Canberra.
No, it was in Pakistan, where a Taliban militant walked onto a school bus and shot 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai in the head because of her outspoken support for the education of girls. With this young girl’s fight for life as a backdrop, I’ve watched the putrid goings on in Canberra this week and felt truly disgusted.
How stupid do these politicians think we are? Do they honestly believe we don’t recognise hypocrisy when we hear it, or know when all principle has been lost in the pursuit of power?
Three quick examples:
1. Julia Gillard and her incandescent rant against opposition leader Tony Abbott’s sexism and misogyny – all while she was clinging desperately to disgraced slime-ball Peter Slipper, refusing to cut him loose even when those degrading text messages proved him unworthy of the Speaker’s chair.
2. Tony Abbott maintaining the government should “die of shame” for refusing to denounce Mr Slipper (apparently oblivious to the Alan Jones link) and then within hours declaring that he’d accept the vote of a man “not fit and proper” to remain as Speaker.
3. Mr Slipper himself, tearfully announcing that he had too much respect for parliament to remain in high office, when he’s spent years disrespecting the Australian taxpayer to gorge at the entitlements trough. (Doesn’t it make you feel proud to pay taxes, knowing this man will continue to receive around $112,000 annually upon retirement?)
On Friday, The Australian’s Dennis Shanahan wrote that prime-ministerial advisers were “cock-a-hoop” about Ms Gillard’s anti-sexism rant going viral, with respected international mastheads including The New Yorker painting our PM as a hero for women.
Well, it’s a pity New Yorkers don’t vote for Ms Gillard. Because I reckon there’s one thing Australian women hate more than blatant sexism, and that’s being played for fools.
And Ms Gillard is underestimating half of her electorate if she thinks we’re about to enlist behind her in a gender war against Mr Abbott, or sympathise every time she shouts “sexism” because the opposition leaders dares look at his watch while she’s speaking.
I’m not saying sexism doesn’t exist – in parliament or outside it.
Even when Mr Abbott’s wife Margie came out to defend her husband against sexism slurs (gee whizz, he prefers Downtown Abbey to televised football!) she played the sexism card by uttering the word “ordinary” well over a dozen times.
“Ordinary” compared to what? A childless, unmarried, female Prime Minister, perhaps?
The crucial point that seems to be missed by both Mrs Abbott and Ms Gillard, though, is not that Dear Tony dislikes women. It’s that women don’t like Dear Tony.
He’s too aggressive. He lacks vision. And how can you believe a politician who couches his policies as “aspirations” in case he needs to change his mind?
Ms Gillard is doing the sisterhood no favours by dumbing down these legitimate concerns into a gender war.
Nor is she helping her own cause by painting herself as a victim every time she cops a bit of criticism or banter across the parliamentary chamber. The woman has risen to the role of Prime Minister, for crying out loud. Get over it.
If Ms Gillard really wants to take up the fight for Australian women (and men, actually, Prime Minister) she’ll stop obsessing over Mr Abbott and focus instead on the business of prosecuting good policies to boost the economy and keep people employed.
And if Ms Gillard really wants to take up the fight for feminism, she’ll set herself up to be remembered as a Prime Minister of exemplary political judgment and principle.
Sadly, my fellow sheilas, we didn’t see much of either this week.
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