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Rudd, Gillard, Abbott, Women, Sex, Why?

By Jennifer Wilson

So, if I came away with anything after last night’s final episode of ABC TV’s The Killing Fields, oops, sorry, The Killing Season, it was a sense of profound shock and awe at the ALP’s astounding ability to squander political capital to the degree that in six short years they went from owning the room to a derelict mob of squabbling, self-important cane toads with over-active thyroids and a death wish, oozing poison from every pore, who had become and remain of little use to anyone, especially themselves. Don’t let your dog lick them. It will cark.

Apart from anything else, what kind of lunatics install Australia’s first female Prime Minister after she’s executed a midnight assassination of her ludicrously popular male predecessor? Women cannot do that, for christ’s sake. Men can coup. Women can only be behind the man who coups. What is wrong with everybody?

In the penultimate episode Rudd, quite understandably in my view, took serious umbrage at Gillard’s babbling efforts to psychoanalyse him. Last night Gillard made the breathtaking claim that she believed knifing Kevin at midnight would provide him with the opportunity for a good rest he badly needed. This put me in mind of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s claims that sacking workers offers them the chance of a new beginning. I find it interesting that two leaders from opposing ends of the political spectrum share such similar moral opinions on the misfortunes of others.

I have no idea who was lying and who told the truth in that three-part account of the ALP’s downfall, nor do I care. Mostly I just wanted to bang their stupid heads together. It takes a particular kind of perverse talent to have a country at your feet and still manage to turn it into a cock-up.

Speaking of Abbott, I once attempted to imagine him as a sexual being. My mind exploded. Everything went black. I regained consciousness in the compost heap, with the dog licking rotting mango flesh from my eyebrows.

I pushed myself to this brink because I had just read the following comment by the Minister for Women:

I think there does need to be give and take on both sides, and this idea that sex is kind of a woman’s right to absolutely withhold, just as the idea that sex is a man’s right to demand I think they are both they both need to be moderated, so to speak.

Reading this statement I wonder first what kind of impoverished universe Tony Abbott inhabits if in it, sex comes down to a gendered right to “withhold” and gendered a right to demand, both of which, according to him, require moderation.

The word “withhold” implies an act of calculated deprivation as in withholding payment, withholding supplies, withholding access to bank accounts, withholding information. In order to use this word at all, Abbott must be starting from the assumption that men are always entitled to sex, like a worker is always entitled to payment, and if a woman doesn’t want sex for whatever reason, it’s a hostile act of denial on her part.

In other words, women are not permitted to not want sex, in Abbott’s world, without being perceived as denying a man what is his due. In more other words, in Abbott’s world women have no autonomy, and no agency over our own sexual desires, because our sexual decisions are perceived as being entirely to do with whether we withhold or gratify male desire.

It’s in the use of the word “withhold” that Abbot reveals his attitude to women and sex. The idea that sex is a man’s right to demand part of the statement is irrelevant, really, because in the use of the word “withhold” Abbott has assumed a man’s right to demand.

This is our Minister, ladies. He doesn’t think we just don’t feel like it, are tired, have cramps, don’t find the male partner especially exciting. No. Women withhold.

Finally, if you want to see how little things have changed for women in some parts of the legal system, read this enlightening piece in Overland titled the Ethics of Defence, by barrister Catriona MacLennan. It takes a great deal of courage to even use the words ethics and morals these days without being laughed off the planet, unless you’re the government talking about ABC TV’s Qanda.

This article was first published on Jennifer’s blog No Place For Sheep.



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  1. DanDark

    Thanks for this update on the long running drama of the in politics of the Labor party Jennifer
    I havnt watched TV since the start of March mainly for my own sanity, one night I just decided not to turn it on
    and havnt since that day, the kids have tvs, but I think television is one of the biggest brainwashers ever invented.

  2. stephentardrew

    I have put in for a time machine to send him back to the fifth century BC.

  3. Kaye Lee

    Tony Abbott wrote

    “At university the need to defend Catholicism in a hostile environment had led me to an extremely naturalistic defence of traditional beliefs and disciplines. Abortion was wrong, because it violated instinctive respect for life; contraception, because it was usually part of a “me now” mentality. ”

    As most of you know, I was at university with Abbott. He hated feminists with a passion. (still does which no doubt contributes to women who want to get anywhere in his Liberal Party feeling it necessary to publicly state that feminism, the advocacy of women’s rights, is a bad thing and to firmly state that they are NOT feminists – way to go tweedledum and tweedledummer, the Versace twins from the west).

    He also considered Bob Santamaria “a philosophical star by which you could always steer” and “the greatest living Australian”. Abbott has said that what impressed him about Santamaria was “the courage that kept him going as an advocate for unfashionable truths”.

    I would encourage you to watch the very short film clip in the following link to see what we had to endure from Abbott and his mates in the 70s. The truly sad part is nothing has changed except the veneer. Could I also point out that Steve Ciobo was another weasly Liberal man who voted against the introduction of RU486 until the women in his own party, who had far more ticker than the malleable eye candy that currently make up the token females on the government benches, rolled both him and Abbott.


  4. diannaart

    If my ex-husband was still in Australia – he would love Abbott… just sayin’

  5. Harquebus

    The women surrounding Tony Abbott only appear strong because, he is such a weak and pathetic individual.

    I liked Bob Santamaria. He usually gave me my last laugh of the day.

  6. Carol Taylor

    Jennifer and Kaye Lee, it’s a warped and twisted view of life isn’t it..and especially of women. When I was studying law and on the subject of discrimination my lecturer said something that I’ve never forgotten. I think that it’s worth mentioning as a way of understanding just how awful Abbott and cohorts truly are.

    This lecturer stated, if you are ever unsure about whether or not something is disciminatory or offensive then use the same words for a different category of people. So let’s try this with the quote that Jennifer has used.

    “I think there does need to be give and take on both sides, and this idea that sex is kind of a woman’s [insert: Aboriginal’s, disabled person’s or child’s] right to absolutely withhold, just as the idea that sex is a man’s right to demand I think they are both they both need to be moderated, so to speak.”

  7. corvus boreus

    Jennifer Wilson,
    There is also the legal aspect to the Abbott quote on demanding/with-holding sex.

    Under current law everyone (female or male) has the right to with-hold sex if they do not want to participate.
    Under current law nobody (male or female) has the right to demand sex of someone who does not wish to participate.

    The only ‘moderation’ that could occur on this current legal state would be a loosening of current sex crime laws.
    Couched within Abbott’s sexist vernacular is an even more despicable message.

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