Sexism: I’ve had a gutful

by Fiona Armstrong

June 17, 2013

Growing up in rural Queensland during the 70′s, I have been exposed to more than my fair share of sexism.

This was the era of Joh Bjelke Peterson after all, and women were largely invisible in public and political life.

Insulting women on the basis of gender was a national sport, and attitudes to women in that state at that time was in part responsible for my decision not to return to live there following my first overseas trip at age 20.

Sexism was an ever present issue for the period of my professional life spent working as a registered nurse and – during that period of reflection that motherhood affords – one of the reasons I chose to change career.

I chose journalism – also a profession notorious for its sexist treatment of women, but while I was certainly witness to sexism, I was largely unaffected by it. And in the career I now have – in advocacy, research and communications in the health and environment not-for-profit sector – I’m pleased to say I have had the privilege of meeting and working with more men genuinely supportive of female leaders than in both my former careers combined.

But while I have witnessed plenty of sexism, it’s not something I have ever felt compelled to campaign on, or even respond to, preferring to simply avoid sexist environments and people.

That is, until Julia Gillard became Prime Minister.

The events of the last week have highlighted this in a way that has meant even the most reticent of observers now concede the treatment of our first female Prime Minister has been shockingly disrespectful, degrading, offensive and sexist.

But really, I wonder, what took you so long?

As documented in Anne Summers recent book, The Misogyny Factor, she has been exposed to deeply offensive and violent insults for the entire term of her Prime Ministership.

Like Alan Jones suggesting she should be stuffed in a chaff bag and dumped at sea. Or that her father “died in shame”. Tony Abbott saying she has a target on her forehead but won’t “lie down and die”. Ex Howard staffer Grahame Morris suggesting she should be “kicked to death”. A talkback caller asking if taxpayers paid for her tampons. Degrading and pornographic images and cartoons circulated online.

By the middle of last year my level of concern about the way the Prime Minister was being treated and the impact this would have on young women considering roles in leadership and public life led to a series of conversations with other women seeking their views on how they felt about it, and what might be done.

Over the period of a few months, a loose group formed, with women in media, diversity, health, and disability whose views I respected and who shared a deep concern that women in Australia all stood to lose if we failed to stand up against the tide of vitriol and hatred that was being expressed towards women leaders in Australia.

I’m personally motivated to respond because I have two daughters. Through them, and through participation in their amazing public girls school in Melbourne, I have witnessed a sample of this generation of extraordinary young women: whip-smart, street savvy, techno expert, environmentally-aware, socially connected, equity and diversity champions – all of whom have the potential to create a new wave of leadership in this country that could be so transformative it makes my eyes water to think about it.

But will they?

By late 2012, our group was so concerned that the environment for women in leadership in Australia was becoming so toxic that it would lead to brilliant women abandoning stellar careers and discourage young women from pursuing them, we elected to develop a campaign to highlight the risk to society from sexism and misogyny.

The campaign that came to be called Sexism: See It. Say it. Stop It. is born out of our determination to stop sexism and misogyny in this country and to contribute to creating a culture in which it is unacceptable to where it is socially and politically unacceptable to disrespect our women leaders.

We launched it on International Women’s Day where the overwhelming response was positive – from both men and women, many of whom expressed private distress at the way politics was being practiced and alarmed at the implications for women and girls if allowed to continue. Many signatories were from health leaders – both women and men – reflecting our shared networks perhaps, but serving to highlight the risk that sexism and misogyny pose to the health of the community. Many also expressed their gratitude that someone had taken the initiative to “do something”; others signed on as whole families – mothers, fathers and daughters.

Since then, it’s been a bit of a slow burn. On the Queen’s Birthday weekend, we launched a new project to encourage people to nominate women for our national awards. Knowing that on Australia Day many more men than women receive our nation’s highest honours, we sought to contribute to the efforts of others to encourage Australians to nominate women whose achievements they admire for an Order of Australia Award.

That also attracted interest and support – but nothing like the wave of traffic we experienced on our Twitter stream, Facebook page and website over the last week when the combination of a sexist soccer coach, an appalling menu, and offensive and intrusive questioning of the Prime Minister by a radio shock jock caused many people to say “enough!”

To me it’s very interesting that it took an insult towards a man close to her, before any serious repercussions occurred. No-one else has been counseled, stood down, or sacked – despite years of vicious, offensive violent insults.

After all, it’s clear to observers internationally that that the Prime Minister has been subjected to a continual campaign of sexism throughout her term: The Irish Times reported this week that the Australian Prime Minister is “attacked relentlessly in contemptible, offensive terms“, saying it revealed the extent to which sexism is tolerated in Australia.

The Times suggested it would be unthinkable for an Irish male politician to stand in front of signs referring to a female rival as a “bitch” or repeatedly accuse her of being a liar because the reality of a minority government forced her to abandon an earlier claim.

Would any male politicians in other countries, I wonder, endorse the political candidacy of a colleague whose fundraising dinner menu described the incumbent Prime Minister as a piece of meat, and referred to her genitalia as a “big red box”?

As Greg Baum noted in the Fairfax media this week, “right now, Australia is seen around the world as a land of sexist, racist, bullying troglodytes”.

The relentless pursuit of Julia Gillard as our first female Prime Minister in sexist and misogynist terms has opened an ugly wound in Australian public and political life. At a period in our history where women are better educated, more independent and more capable of contributing to public and corporate life than ever before, it has been chilling to witness how the spectre of a woman in the country’s top job has unleashed a kind of medieval hatred.

Before the events of the last week, I was concerned and saddened about the treatment of the Prime Minister and its implications for women. Now I know I and many other women and men are also appalled and disgusted by the way our Prime Minister is treated.  It is sexism, plain and simple, and quite frankly, I’ve had a gutful of it.

I encourage all Australians to recognise that this behaviour and the endorsement of it by others – tacit or otherwise – leads to an erosion of respect for the office. Why else would we see school children feeling sufficiently empowered to throw a sandwich at the prime minister, for goodness sake?

This disrespectful and offensive behaviour undermines respect for women in general and can contribute to violence against women. It requires all of us – men included – to stand up and call out this behaviour as well as women. Because when you ignore it, belittle it, trivialize it, and patronize those who object, you denigrate and insult all women.

You don’t have to like her, or vote for her, but please, let’s STOP the rudeness, the denigration, the continual stream of hideously offensive, sexist and inappropriate remarks and accusations. Let’s return, as one man once remarked, to a ‘kinder, gentler polity’, where the issues that face our nation have centre stage, not the woman in charge.

Join Sexism: See It. Say It. Stop It. in standing up for the respectful and equal treatment of women in leadership. We’ll all benefit if you do.

Fiona Armstrong is a not a member of any political party. She has not previously voted for a Gillard government, nor does she intend to in the future.

 


 

Read More:

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Comments


  1. Great article and to the point. It seems many are willing to sacrifice the meaning of the public office just to express their lowest instincts.

  2. Shirley Green says:

    Thank you Fiona. I enjoyed reading this well written and compassionate article. I have despaired for our Prime Minister’s mental health and well being with all the revolting taunts, rubbish, lies, malicious attacks and MSM bias. Abbott and his band are ugly to watch and listen to on Question Time and in interviews. Their ugly, unkind, uncivil behavior and their lies, mean I would never vote for them, EVER. The women LNP members are as repugnant as the men in their behavior. I have stopped buying newspapers and stopped watching current affairs programmes because of the bias and for what they leave out, which is plenty. Thank goodness social media has opened up a world where decent people can communicate. I really enjoy some of the wonderful writing on extremely good and informative SM.


  3. the term gender war or playng gender card are in them selves I think a sexist remark, we should respect human kind and all things in general , we love our wives, daughters daughter’s in law,sister and they in return love to us. no wars just family respect, the media love word games don’t they


    • Yes. It is indeed sexist that feminists have started a gender war, and are playing the gender card constantly.

      Feminists have split the community with their creed of hatred – and it will be difficult to repair the damage they’ve done, if that’s even possible.


      • Oh, I see. You are a troll. Either that or you have just slithered out from under some rock to share your poison.

  4. Lez Derrin says:

    Great piece, Fiona. The time is overdue for all fair-minded Aussies to stand up and put an end to this sexist warfare.
    However, As a gay man, I disagree with your statement that questioning a man’s sexuality is “. . . an insult towards a man. . .”.
    The question posed by Satler and repeated by Ackerman is wrong on so many other levels, I believe it was principly intended to cause embarassment and call into question our Prime Minister’s personal relationship, it goes to the core of her personal choices and in many ways poses other questions that no one has the right to ask of another.


    • Hi Lez,

      I’m interested to know who that questioning is interpreted by gay men (or women for that matter). To me it also suggested it was tapping into a kind of homophobia and i cant help wondering if one of the reasons that so many people found it really outrageous is because there is still an undercurrent of homophobia such that the question is insulting. I know a lot of people disagree as you do – and truly – I hope you’re right! But it was a kind of concern gnawing away at time which is why i included the line – to see how others responded. So your feedback is helpful – thanks!

      Fiona


  5. Thank you. Well said.


  6. sexism is the basis of much that is wrong in this nation of ours. It is much more than name calling.


  7. Well, we are a Nation of Sexist morons. Our Politicians are “our” Representations to the world of who we are! Now doesn’t that make you just cringe ever so much.
    We have a choice the stop the cultural cringe creep this election.
    Democracy! Do you want sexism with that?
    uh? No thanks, I’ll just have the Democracy without the ‘Blue Tie” or “Red Shirt” Sexism please.


  8. I’ve had a gutful of sexist feminists who hate and vilify men – then blame imaginary “misogyny” whenever they mess up.

    Time for women to grow up and put away the gender card. Nobody’s biuying it, because it has been overused as an excuse for incompetence.


    • How can you generalise like that? If your a female and have never been on the other side of a sexist comment or a sexist joke then good luck to you. If in fact your male then be as fed up as you like, its not happening to you!…Attitudes like yours don’t help…Just because you haven’t experienced it or don’t believe it doesn’t mean its not happening! Nothing imaginary about ‘Misogony’… Its real, it’s out there and it exists! Your comment about incompetence shows that you probably need to take your own advice and Grow up!


      • If you’re female, you don’t experience how sexist our society is against men. Nor do you feel misandry in action.

        You do, however, have the privilege of blaming all your shortcomings and mistakes on men.


        • As an ex-Aussie now living in New Zealand, I’m appalled at the way Gillard has been treated, and also fear for how this will affect the next generation of young women seeking high powered careers, not just in politics but other arenas.

          I’m under no illusions – this is a full blown hate / smear campaign, based in outdated sexist ideals that would have women back disenfranchised, uneducated and in positions of servitude only.

          Abbott and his cronies are a disgrace to the Liberal party, and I’m ashamed – as is Malcolm Fraser and many old, respectable Liberals – of the way he is representing a party with a long and proud history. Now I’ve moved countries, I of course won’t be voting, but I’m glad I no longer live in Australia, because I honestly don’t think I could bring myself to vote Liberal again :(


          • John Howard copped a lot worse for a lot longer. And he never whined about how people were picking on him because of his gender.

            Gillard is responsible for making women look weak.

        • I've had a gutful too says:

          Misandry irritates. Misogyny kills.

    • GeorgeMitchell says:

      Htt, your comment is as feeble as your thinking. How often have you had to put up with sexist feminists who hate and vilify men? I’d suspect rarely, if at all. How does the fact the some women have decided to stand up for themselves and, in the cases before the public at the moment, call it for what it is, equate to vilifying men? All they are doing is pointing out what is happening, what is on the record, and what enough idiots said last week and demanding that it stop.

      And whose incompetence are you referring to? Give examples, and preferably not those that come from the journalists whose only interest seems to be in getting Mr Abbott elected. Give real examples of incompetence and tell us whose incompetence you’re referring to.

      No one blames misogyny whenever they mess up, they blame it for the culture that has allowed people to describe our PM in the most base terms and to lie about her record. I’d say it is people like you who seek to excuse their own views by falsely blaming the people they don’t like.

    • Nigel Judd says:

      Holy crap, tiges… I’d hate to know that any women that I know personally would have to spend time anywhere someone with an attitude like that!

      I’m presuming you’re a male… as am I… My name’s Nigel Judd, nickname is “NooSH !”. Please let me know if we’re acquainted (“htt” doesn’t tell anyone much, Mr Anonymous!) and I’ll ensure we don’t ever have to cross paths again.


      • Great stuff George and Nigel, but he can’t hear you from under the troll bridge he built with EvilPundit-as they share their hilarious angry cat pic-coincidence? Doubt it.


  9. Shared on Facebook with a request that the sharing be continued. Oddly this was the topic of the first post I made yesterday in my new blog. I’ll add a follow up with the url to the story!!


  10. Fiona, am interested at the bottom of your article why you had to go as far as saying that “you have never voted for Julia Gillard and don’t intent to in the future’…I understand you making it clear that you are not affiliated with the ALP but going that little bit further seems to make it a bit personal. Just seems to feed into the personal hatred side of the issue…


    • Hi Kerry, I just felt was important to say that this piece and the campaign is not an effort to shore any any votes for a Gillard government – it is about women and not politics and i don’t wish to be accused of endeavouring to drum up votes for the ALP. I don’t think it feeds in personal hatred – my intention was the opposite i.e. to say you don’t have vote for her to consider that the treatment of her is reprehensible.

  11. Rodney Edwin Lever says:

    Surely sexism today belongs only in the schoolyard. I have a two-year granddaughter who, at a birthday party the other, actually punched a four-year old boy twice her size. I’m proud of her!

    • Alexander Robertson says:

      AWSOME! You should be so proud!

      We should be encouraging violence against the opposite gender!


    • Careful, you’ll be accused of promoting Bullying and be seen as pandering favoritism on the basis of paternity and sexism. But then, most of us see all this accusatory finger pointing ridiculous, when it is simply a case of don’t tolerate those people who are despicable unto their fellow human beings. It can’t be that hard can it?
      Oh !It can, I guess, as the PM asked the Press not to write crap, it can’t be too hard, and it was, because they continue to write crap.
      Seems no matter what, the Media has presented life to be forever Catch22.
      Stop the world! 99% of the people want to get off this cheap roller coaster they’ve constructed.


    • You’re actually proud that your granddaughter punched another child?

      I think you should re-evaluate your position.


  12. You know that reverse sexism exists and some women I have worked with think nothing of using reverse sexism against you. I’ve worked in positions with managers, general managers and ceo’s who were female. Nothing wrong in that fact, I have great admiration for strong independent women, I was nurtured by them thankfully, I also have strong independent women as sisters and nieces.
    I had to leave certain places in my career, because of “manfactured” situations against me, by women, Even my sisters and neices can’t stand the way some women behave, using racist, sexist, divisive issues in the world, against THEM as females. All because that individual is insecure in their personality and career.
    So it’s not just a one way issue, everyone, inequality and sexism does run between the genders in both directions, surely we should be focused on equality.


    • At this time in our society, there is far more discrimination against men than discrimination against women.

      Eventually, there will be a counterbalance to this.


    • Insensitivity and stupidity is not limited to any gender. However, the systematic, public, and frequently institutionalised denigration of women by those in positions of power and influence is unacceptable.


  13. Agreed. Perhaps it’s time to review our adversarial system of politics too. It seems ridiculous that half of our elected representatives are there just to oppose and that the two groups have no respect for each other. Why can’t all our MP’s work together? Let’s stop sexism and institute a political system that encourages MP’s to work together. Now wouldn’t that make Australia a better place to live? For everyone, not just half the population.

  14. Mike Wilkinson says:

    You can pick sexist males by what they find amusing. Case in point, there is a cartoon that does the rounds on a regular basis, many men have a copy tucked away in their wallets and pull it out for the amusement of their mates at the bar or club. It supposedly depicts “The Perfect Woman”… and what is she? The cartoon is of a woman 3 feet tall with large breasts and a flat topped head… why is she perfect? Because she can give oral sex without kneeling, and her flat top head is a convenient place to put the ashtray or beer glass while she does. It always made me feel embarrassed that a man would find that funny but I never spoke up. No more! Anyone who sticks that paper in my hand (or another equally offensive “joke”) is gonna watch me rip it up! Silence gives consent! No more silence!


  15. Techinbris – Anthony Newlley and Leslie Briscuss, wrote a musical called “Stop the world I want to get off” in the late sixties/early seventies. Seems we haven’t learned much.


  16. As far as equality is applied, I’ve seen disparity in same sex couples too!.

  17. Trevor Minlaton says:

    Can you please define what “sexism” is in your argument. There is absolutely no doubt that there has been a huge amount of disrespectful vitriol hurled at the PM. However, disrespect and vitriol are not new in Australian politics and, making some allowance for the toxic ability of social media to magnify and disseminate vitriol and hate, I remain unconvinced that its worse for Julia Gillard than it has been for past PMs.

    That aside, vitriol and disrespect do not become sexist merely because they are directed against a woman by a man. In my view, for vitriol to become sexist it must be directed at a person because of their gender. The purpose of vitriol is to hurt and diminish the target – it will therefore be expressed to achieve that end. Many insults are gendered (eg she has enormous thighs or he is dickless). But unless they are directed at the person solely because of their gender, they can’t reasonably be called sexist.

    In my opinion, the current government is a terrible one. From the day it commenced it embarked on a program to trash the Opposition and it has reaped a terrible reward I doing so. In my view the PM has demonstrated a lamentable lack of leadership and integrity and embarrassingly poor judgement. (I thought much the same of Kevin Rudd as it happens). If anyone has a reason to believe that I say these things about Julia Gillard because she is a woman, then they may legitimately brand me a sexist. Until then, they can disagree with me and argue with me but they may not play the gender card on me.

    None of this is to deny that there are lots of sexists out there. I’m guessing around half of them are men.


    • It’s good to see a sensible comment on this nonsensical article.


    • Trevor, I think your definition is accurate to a point – an insult directed at someone solely because of their gender is sexist. It is also sexist to make that insult about their gender, thereby denigrating everyone who is of the same gender.

      Both your examples may or may not be sexist depending on the context. For example to criticise a female politician for her appearance is sexist because her appearance has no bearing on her political skills.

      The sheer volume of criticism of the PM is also considered by some, including myself, to be based in underlying sexist beliefs, such as the idea that women can’t be leaders. In my opinion, the evidence simply does not support such a level of criticism or viciousness and indicates something deeper.

      These are my opinions of course, and I’m sure many could explain this better than me.


    • Poor Trevor, and EvilPundit. You obviously would never understand sexism or feminism in a million years no matter what amount of careful, thoughtful explanation or hand-holding was given. Aside, you should be careful as you seem to show symptoms of long-term singing from the LNP song-sheet, which will cause blindness.


  18. Agree.
    The questioning about Matherson’s sexuality and ergo Ms Gillard’s sex life was intended to remind Ms Gillard that she is female and therefore the only thing of interest is what she does in the bedroom.

    • Trevor Minlaton says:

      You know this how? Perhaps while you’re at it you can explain the purpose of those who questioned SA Premier Mike Rann’s relationship with a female parliamentary staffer (‘the Chantelois affair’)? Is it men who buy all the magazines that trade on gossip, rumour and innuendo? Is it men who criticised Julia Gillard’s hairstyle and dress-sense? Are all of those women so downtrodden and suppressed that they seek to bring Julia Gillard down to their level, rather than aspire to reach hers?

      Sattler’s questioning was way beyond the pale. He bleats that others have made worse comments and survived to tell the tale – and so they probably have but maybe Mr Sattler just picked a really bad moment in time. I have not a jot of sympathy for him. Nonetheless, why are you so desperate to interpret his question as some kind of stalking horse for a male conspiracy trying to take Gillard down because she’s a woman who had the temerity to rise above her station in life?

      The simplest explanation is that Sattler is a dickhead who speaks for but a tiny proportion of men. Perhaps in the same way that radical feminists speak for very few women?


  19. It’s human nature to dislike a person whose views you don’t agree with; makes it easier to disagree if you think they’re bad. But somehow when it’s a man we’re more likely temper our comments – probably afraid of getting hit. So much easier to pick on someone who doesn’t resort to violence or who is seen as weaker: women, disabled, minorities. Humans are not, essentially, nice people, and it’s more obvious in those without shame (Alan Jones) or those who haven’t been brought up to hide that


  20. Good article, although you lost me on the sandwich incident. Does that mean that the flinging of a shoe at John Howard or a cream pie at Rupert Murdoch equates to misandry? I suspect not, but instead they are all examples of dumb, violent stupidity.


    • The adults who threw the shoe and the pie were making a political statement, however inappropriately. I agree, it would be silly to characterise the children’s acts as sexism. But it is disturbing to see children learning to behave with contempt and disrespect before they really even know what those ideas mean.


  21. The problem with the present furore over sexism in Australia is not that it is inaccurate. It may inadvertently fall into the same error that it opposes, of slating every male in Australia on the basis of the bad attitudes and behaviour of a proportion of them (no guesses here as to how large that proportion is in reality – I dont know any more than anyone else does), but even that error does not invalidate the complaint.

    The problem with this present furore is that it is deliberately timed to generate sympathy votes for Ms Gillard, and it seems like it is, to some extent, working.

    The attitudes and behaviour of Australian males has hardly been a state secret until now. It is not like Edward Snowden just last week leaked secret wiretaps of Australian males revealing a heretofore hidden sexism. No, Australian sexism has been typically strongest and most vocal in Australia most public forums – parliament, the media, organised sports, education, etc.

    I am gratified that the author of this article makes it plain she has not fallen into that particular trap, but nonetheless the timing of the article itself leaves one wondering.

    I readily concede this is a no-win situation for the author. If she speaks then she has fallen for JG’s political cynicism. If she doesnt speak, she falls into the equally cynical ‘silence is assent’ category.

    I conclude it is better that she has spoken than not, and I remain warily sceptical of the political uses of fomented outrage.

  22. sick of white trash bogans says:

    Enough already. Enough with this smokescreen gender war that doesn’t exist. At least, it didn’t exist last week, and hopefully it won’t exist next week. That is not to say sexism doesn’t exist – of course it does. But it has been blown WAY out of proportion. Because it is politically expedient. Thankfully, it has been pushed too far now and the majority of Austrlian voters – men and women alike – are seeing straight through it.

    It is a long blog post, so I must take issue with it piece by piece:

    “Growing up in rural Queensland during the 70′s, I have been exposed to more than my fair share of sexism.”

    No doubt. But is is 2013, most Aussies live in cosmopolitan cities, and sexism is a shadow of its former self. My female friends are all professionals; none of them feel their sex has hindered their progress, apart from those who decided to take extended leave from the workforce to have kids. That’s their choice, and they accept that there will be (minor) consequences.

    … the treatment of our first female Prime Minister has been shockingly disrespectful, degrading, offensive…

    Yep, Australia has always been tough on our pollies. And when one is as incompetent, divisive, and downright damaging as Dullard, then she will (and has) cop it. Big time. We are proud of holding our elected officials to account – she won’t get an apology, and nor should she expect one. Have the attacks been personal? Sure. Have they been sexist? For the most part, no.

    She has been exposed to deeply offensive and violent insults for the entire term of her Prime Ministership.

    Yep.

    Like Alan Jones suggesting she should be stuffed in a chaff bag and dumped at sea.

    Rude and harsh? Of course. But Jones is a f##kwit. Everybody knoes that. Sexist? Not in the slightest.

    Or that her father “died in shame”.

    See above. How is this statement even SLIGHTLY sexist?

    Tony Abbott saying she has a target on her forehead but won’t “lie down and die”.

    This sums the current Labor situation up nicely. But please, what is sexist about this statement?

    Ex Howard staffer Grahame Morris suggesting she should be “kicked to death”.

    Are you suffesting that it is impossible to kick a man to death? This is getting weird.

    A talkback caller asking if taxpayers paid for her tampons.

    Stupid question – of course we pay for her tampons. It’s a talkback caller – average IQ of 75. If a talkback question asked if we paid for a male PM’s viagra, would that be sexist? Of course not.

    Degrading and pornographic images and cartoons circulated online.

    Pics / links or it never happened.

    …an appalling menu…

    This was tacky, tasteless, and sexist. For sure. It was also just a bad joke.

    … and offensive and intrusive questioning of the Prime Minister by a radio shock jock…

    YET AGAIN, dumb and annoying, but far from sexist!

    The Irish Times reported this week that the Australian Prime Minister is “attacked relentlessly in contemptible, offensive terms“, saying it revealed the extent to which sexism is tolerated in Australia.

    And we should ALL care what the Irish Times says about us.

    … repeatedly accuse her of being a liar…

    She IS a liar. It’s on the record and undeniable.

    As Greg Baum noted in the Fairfax media this week, “right now, Australia is seen around the world as a land of sexist, racist, bullying troglodytes”.

    That’s Greg’s opinion. I know plenty of foreigners who love Australia and Australians.

    The relentless pursuit of Julia Gillard as our first female Prime Minister in sexist and misogynist terms…

    The above points show this is, for the most part, basless rhetoric. She has pursued relentlessly because she is the worst PM in Australia’s history. She has debased herself, and women in general, by stooping so low as to try and smear any and all detractors with charges of sexism. The rest of Australia had already had enough, but these broad brush stroke accusations have now really gone too far. Men everywhere are saying enough is enough, we love and respect women. We loathe and despise this useless, bottom feeding politicican. There is a difference.

    … it has been chilling to witness how the spectre of a woman in the country’s top job has unleashed a kind of medieval hatred.

    It has been a relief to see that the Australian populace can still recognise a dud pollie. And, more importantly, still cares enough about governance to say and do something about it.

    Why else would we see school children feeling sufficiently empowered to throw a sandwich at the prime minister, for goodness sake?

    You’d have to ask the kids, but I daresay they threw the sandwiches because they recognise how useless she is, they are angry at what she is doing to our country, and sanger-slinging is the only way they can be heard. Good on them for showing some initiative..

    Let’s return, as one man once remarked, to a ‘kinder, gentler polity’, where the issues that face our nation have centre stage, not the woman in charge.

    I’m going to buy you a dictionary. Please refer to the entry for ‘irony’.

    In summary, you may have stated that you don’t vote for Dillard, but by furthering and promoting this puerile beat-up, you sure soundf a lot like her press office.

    • Genevieve O'Reilly says:

      Heard of spell check

      • Nigel Judd says:

        Aren’t you a clever troll… :P

        But seriously, how on Earth is that statement meant to forward or empower this conversation? It totally disregards everything that your opposition holds as truth and gives them permission to totally diminish or ignore any further life changing information you (or anyone else on your side of the argument) may have the desire to share with them in the future.

        Ever heard someone speak with an accent that’s different to yours? Whenever you see a typo, just pretend it’s someone speaking with an accent.

        • Genevieve O'Reilly says:

          Oh dear! Here I thought I was treating it with the contempt it deserved. But I am prepared to take your advice Nigel in my usual good humoured manner.

  23. Brenton Rittberger says:

    John Howard used up his brownie points post gun reform when he sent us to an unjust war. Against the wishes of most Australians.There are is still spilt wheat on the ground to clean up.

  24. Genevieve O'Reilly says:

    Came to this conversation late but intrigued by some of the comments which smack of immaturity and inexperience. Having lived through the real gender wars of the 70s and 80s (and yes I always thought it was about equality) it disturbs me to find myself having to respond to issues I thought settled. The discourse in this country around our first female PM has been astonishing for its lack of intelligence. Like you Fiona, I’ve had a gutful of ploughing the same field. I suspect JG’s success was frightening in the manner it shifted and disturbed the dynamic.
    Genevieve O’Reilly

    • Trevor Minlaton says:

      I lived through the Gender wars too (as a male), although we have to recognise that the gender wars marked the first acquisition and exercise of real political power by women, rather than the beginning of change.

      My concern always has been the focus on redress in the name of women’s equality rather than gender equality per se. I’ll give you four examples of what I mean:

      1/ Gender pay. Much is made of the statistical disparity between male and female wages (currently about 17% I believe). This is widely interpreted to mean that women get paid 17% less than men for doing the same job. In reality it means that the average women has a job that pays 17% less than the average man. Not the same thing at all. So if we imagine that in the name of equality, the same effort was put into getting men in to female-dominated industries as was devoted to getting women into high-status, male-dominated roles, things would be very different today and a lot more equal for everyone.

      2/ Schools. 25+ years ago (in SA), it was decided that the reason girls under-performed in school results compared to boys was nothing to do with the girls but was the result of systemic gender bias in the system. Change ensued. Now that boys are under-performing girls, the same people (figuratively) are wringing their hands wondering what’s wrong with the boys? Clearly when your starting point is that girls are disadvantaged, there is no endpoint to your activities. If your focus is instead on equality it is easy to see when the pendulum has swung too far (or indeed, possible to avoid swinging it too far in the first place).

      3/ Women on Boards. It has been decided that Women should occupy 50% of Board positions in the name of “gender diversity”. It is proposed to set a minimum quota of 40% females. Firstly, if there is going to be any quota, it should be gender neutral – ie gender balance should be within 40-60% range. 100% women can’t possibly be ok if 100% men is not.

      Secondly, Board members predominantly come from the ranks of senior managers and executives where female representation is around 30%. This is its own area of concern but women are therefore only under-represented on Boards to the extent that female representation is below 30%. Now, maybe someone has done some research to show some sort of gender-equalising trickle-down effect by stacking things at the top, but they’re being pretty quiet about it. The reality is that this is an initiative for improving opportunities for ambitious women. Certainly there is an old-boys network at play but agitators in this area seem incapable of, or disinterested in, recognising that’s its just as hard for new boys as it is for new girls.

      Quite apart from that, it is certainly clear that a Board needs diversity. However, gender diversity is no more important than skills, experience and age diversity. If you have a board full of male accountants and lawyers and you replace half of them with female accountants and lawyers, I suggest the Board has gained very little from its diversity.

      4/ The need for more female role models. This hoary chestnut drives a lot of campaigns for greater female participation. The trouble is that it requires young women to see the world through gendered lenses, and supports the idea that its OK for men to do likewise. Should a young male political aspirant not see Julia Gillard as a role model? Should a budding female scientist not see Ian Frazer as a role model?


      • Trevor you have written with much greater clarity about the subject I was touching on in one of my posts.It really is time to get over this gender issue.What we should be discussing is merit,ability and equality.

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