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Tag Archives: feminism

Hey! Fat White Women! Ya Clowns! Stop Marching!

Overtly racist, Anti-Muslim, Right Wing Nationalist-Populist Pauline Hanson yesterday announced in a coded message that she has redressed all the issues for women which underpin feminism. We no longer need feminism! Cancel the next Women’s March!

Five Million Women

The Women’s March on Washington was held on 21st January, 2017. This was an international event with over five million women and men marching world-wide. The Unity Principle of the movement is defined as:

We believe that Women’s Rights are Human Rights and Human Rights are Women’s Rights. We must create a society in which women – including Black women, Native women, poor women, immigrant women, disabled women, Muslim women, lesbian queer and trans women – are free and able to care for and nurture their families, however they are formed, in safe and healthy environments free from structural impediments.

Women, men and children marched to raise awareness to end violence against women. They marched for reproductive rights, LGBTQIA rights, workers rights, civil rights, disability rights, immigrant rights and environmental justice.

Australian women, men and children also marched in solidarity. This is what they marched in solidarity for:

womens-mission

I Stand for all Aussies – Except Fat White Clown Chicks

Pauline Hanson expressed outright anger yesterday at Australian women marching in solidarity with another five million women worldwide.

Now we all know Hanson insists she is not racist. Despite still saying racist things about them, she now loves Indigenous people, Asians and Muslims. She stands for all Australians.

That is, except fat, white women who chose to march in the biggest women’s march in our history, because human rights are women’s rights.

Hanson described these women as clowns, who needed some sun and exercise. I know many will think that this is just an unplanned rant by Hanson, because she is just an ignorant and angry woman. No, not at all. This is very planned and strategic.

This is simply a strategic tactic to appeal to her main demographic voter base – white men over 40 and to plant herself firmly into the spotlight by saying something divisive about feminism. Being a woman herself, this just legitimises her as a ‘strong woman’ in the eyes of her voter base – white men over 40. A woman standing up to fight against the ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ women who are attempting to share equal space with ‘good’ or ‘strong’ men and have men relinquish some of that power they hold dear, is most certainly a beauty to behold and to vote for.

hanson-women

You Can Tell a Dumb Clown by Its Frown

Dumb clowns are confused. These dumb clowns are stupid. Silly dumb clowns always frown. The saying that we say back to bullies, “it takes one to know one” is quite apt here. Hanson is openly stating that she thinks women are marching against democracy. She thinks they are marching against a process to elect a Government democratically.

Think before you speak might be another one that fits here.

Because dumb clowns are stupid, another one that does fit very well is “educate yourself”.

This is normally used towards people who make claims about feminism. However, they are super dumb, just shaking and crying all over their keyboards angrily hammering out myths and propaganda, rather than actual facts.

Hanson in this rant is the epitome of the clown, she accuses other women to be. A dumb clown at that.

These women were not marching to protest against democracy. Women were marching for an entire gamut of human rights and women’s rights. They were not marching to over-turn a democratic process of electing leaders. Or insisting on authoritarian rule. They were however, sending a message that women’s rights are human rights.

Bumping Up and Down in My Little Red Bandwagon

Bandwagon jumping is when someone pops into an online cause or trend for personal ego trips. Normally, reserved for social justice, these bandwagon jumpers are often louder and drown out the voices of the legitimate minority group that need to be heard. They do it for personal gain, for followers, for ego pumping.

Regardless, they see a trend and they jump right on that bandwagon. Just like Pauline did.

Trending online opposing the women’s march were two groups – Trump supporters and men who oppose the rights of women. Often referred to as MRA’s.

One of the main arguments used against the women’s march was the use of the “Divide and Conquer” strategy. In all fairness, this is Hanson’s primary tactic in obtaining voters for her own personal gain in her pursuit of power. This may explain why this bandwagon was so appealing.

This particular bandwagon had so many jumping on it to pit Muslim women against white women. They did it by trying to delegitimise the many struggles women face. This is done by championing the fact that Muslim women in Muslim Majority countries have it far worse.

That is, pitting the oppressed against the oppressed. Veterans and homeless before refugees! Sound familiar?

Having women question their compassion for all women, to incite them to turn on one another in competition between race, gender status, geography, is a tried and true tactic of those who seek to destroy the feminist movement.

Those in power or who seek to be in power, like Pauline Hanson, do this because facing the enormity of not only the legal discrimination women face, but discrimination by default and the ingrained sexism and misogyny women face daily, is simply too difficult.

For leaders to be sincere about women’s rights issues, would mean that they would need to invest or actually think about solutions. That is far too hard.

Instead, they do things like this to divide and conquer:

Muslims, Muslims everywhere!

Sorry, didn’t mean to scare the Hanson voters reading this with that headline. My point of that headline is that there are two takes on this: Hanson either purposely did this as a tactic, or she is purposely ignorant, which is not a fitting quality for any leader.

The leader and organiser of the Women’s March is a very famous Muslim-Palestinian – Linda Sarsour. Sarsour is a strong advocate that women of colour should lead the women’s movement.

The other fact that Hanson seems to apply her ignorance to, is that the March was an inter-sectional march. That means that women were marching for all women, regardless of where they come from or if they do or do not fit into a minority sub-group of women. They were marching for Human Rights for all. As women’s rights are human rights.

The HUGE fact that Hanson ignored was that thousands of Muslim Women marched. Yes, even in Saudi Arabia.

womens-march-saudi

No Need to March – I’ve Got This!

Perhaps I am being far too pessimistic. Maybe Hanson thinks that women do not need to march because she has all the answers. Has she redressed all the issues women face? In all fairness, she does claim to have the answers to everything.

The problem is, Pauline Hanson never tells us what those answers are. She just mirrors a problem and agrees with it. She says she will do something about it. That she is standing up for it.

This is the era of ‘Fake News’. We are also asking ‘should the media hold politicians to account or should the politicians hold the media to account’? Therefore, it is the responsibility of the media to put some decency back into their profession and ask Hanson the tough questions.

Ask her questions about her reasons why a women’s march in Australia is a waste of time.

The media can start with similar to these:

Does she think it is appropriate for her followers to burn mosques, interrupt sermons and scare women?

How much does she think her rhetoric impacts on white-on-Muslim women violence in the streets?

If she can tell us her solution for violence against women, longer questioning and scrutiny of sexual assault victims in court and wage inequality, that may be an interesting start.

The media questioned Gladys Berejiklian yesterday about why she was childless. This infers she is not a ‘whole woman’ and is an attack on all women.

They might want to question Hanson if her hyper-masculine, anti-women attitude is a front to protect herself from this type of attack the media inflict on women in politics.

Or is Hanson actually just an anti-woman woman, who gets her jollies from fat shaming other women?

 36 total views,  2 views today

The Verdict

Last night I had the misfortune to catch an episode of The Verdict on Channel 9 and I was appalled, not only by Karl Stefanovic’s poor hosting skills which see panelists all speaking over the top of each other while Mark Latham shouts his barroom opinions incessantly, but by the absolute rubbish they confidently espouse.

Michelle Payne’s comments about chauvinism after winning the Melbourne Cup led to a discussion about the gender disparity in sport which sees women paid far less than men, not having access to commonly held workplace entitlements, and women’s sport receiving very little coverage in the media.

Some boofy footballer said there’s nothing chauvinistic about it, he just doesn’t like watching netball or basketball. Because that’s all women play, right?

Mark Latham said the fact of the matter is that, if the men’s cricket team played the women’s team they would flog them. Men are stronger, get over it.

A journalist said sport’s a business and because more people want to watch the men, that’s what will be telecast. Which completely ignores the lack of marketing for female sports and the value of their achievements. Sport has just become something for TV execs to fight over.

Amanda Vanstone suggested it was just genetics. She feels sport is a display of strength and men aren’t interested in watching strong women. They choose their partners by who they want to have sex with and who they want to mother their children. Women, on the other hand, want a strong man to protect them. Simple.

I should have turned off then and there but an interview with Albo was coming up so I thought I would hang in – a bad choice.

The discussion turned to Victorian schools who will soon have access to a new feminism curriculum called “Fightback”, created by Fitzroy High School’s Feminist Collective, a group started by teacher Briony O’Keeffe and some of her students in 2013.

The Feminist Collective started as lunchtime sessions on feminism, and turned into an elective offered twice a week. The classes became a safe place for young feminists to vent.

The students were angry that good friends were falling victim to eating disorders; that white middle class men dominated their reading lists; that objectifying images of girls they knew were circulating on Facebook; and that they were being branded “feminazis” on social media.

The response to this was facile and predictable – there is no place in our schools for that sort of stuff; they should all be doing more maths and science; it’s up to the families.

Had they done any research, they would have found that a recent National Community Attitudes towards Violence Against Women Survey showed younger men, particularly those aged between 16-25, are more likely to hold attitudes that support violence.

The course, which has been aligned with the Victorian curriculum, and is aimed at male and female secondary students, includes about 30 lessons on systemic sexism, the objectification of women, and the link between gender inequality and violence against women.

Students taking the course are asked to reflect on their experience of objectification, compare images of famous men and women in the media, deconstruct sexist cartoons, and debunk “hairy armpit” myths about feminists.

They explore the term “patriarchy”, and examine statistics on the gender wage gap, violence against women, and female representation in sport.

If I was teaching it, I would include a discussion on how men are treated in child custody cases as well because that is one area where males are often subject to gender-based discrimination.

The woman who devised the course said the boys in the class initially found the experience confronting.

“It’s like when you understand that you’re privileged because you’re a white person – you didn’t choose it, there’s nothing you can do about it, but you have [privilege] nonetheless – and it’s a confronting thing to know how [you] are supposed to feel about it.”

I found this a very pertinent analogy which could lead to discussions about Indigenous disadvantage, the pros and cons of positive discrimination, same sex marriage, and how feminism is not just about women but about equality.

With our growing focus on the importance of literacy and STEMM subjects, it is worth remembering that young people spend far more of their waking hours at school than they do with their parents. There are also discussions that young people may be hesitant to have with their families. Teachers have a great responsibility to not only teach their subject matter, but to help young people become productive, well-rounded, emotionally secure adults who can contribute to a cohesive society. Life isn’t all about maths.

 

Note: Regular panel member psychologist Sandy Rea and guest Indira Naidoo both tried to inject some sanity into the discussion. Sadly they were shouted down and interrupted every time they tried to speak.

 

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Some thoughts on the gender pay gap

Shannon Fentiman, QLD Minister for Communities, Women and Youth, Minister for Child Safety and Minister for Multicultural Affairs has announced today that she supports ‘positive discrimination’ to close the gender pay gap. Ms. Fentiman said this is ‘definitely something we should have a conversation about. This has struck up a fair bit of conversation across social media. There are a lot of people who are genuinely concerned that this will cause undue discrimination for men; and that there is not really a gender pay gap to consider. Life does seem pretty fair at times, right?

I have detailed at the end of this blog post some information regarding discrimination against women in the workforce. The information below was previously sent in a letter to the Prime Minister and Minister for Women, in 2013, but it appears he has made no progress on this matter and to my knowledge has not even attempted to start a conversation about this type of disparity women face.

I know there are a lot of jokes out there on social media about Abbott being the Minister for Women. It would be great if we can just stop laughing about it now; because it isn’t funny when he is stifling progress.

I have a few concerns with how we approach this issue of gender disparity in pay and the workplace:

The first issue is that it was very evident when I completed this research for the initial blog post; that Indigenous women experience more disparity than non-Indigenous women. I feel that this needs to have a specific focus from the Government.

The second issue is the high unemployment rate for Youth. Particularly in regional Queensland areas. For example, there are very limited administration opportunities in regional communities. The public sector, since the cuts from the Newman Government has seen a sharp decline in any recruitment for administration in the public sector in regional communities; particularly entry level administration. Small business has struggled since the GFC, with some improvements being noted in recent times; but small business needs a hand up to give young people employment opportunities as well. Not enabling our youth to access employment now, will increase the existing disparity for women; but also increase generational disparity for both genders in years to come.

The third issue I have is how we approach positive discrimination so that it does not enable disadvantage for men. When we view inequality, we need to view every step of the process and not just the end process of the ‘job interview’ or selection process. We need to view every step towards securing employment, rather than believing everyone is equal at every point of the process. For some who experience other social marginalization, the disparity inequity widens. This is where I feel the argument of “the best person for the job” does fall down.

In communities where there is little administration recruitment occurring and a lot of mining or laboring recruitment, it does create disparity for what women can apply for from the outset. Many women are not suited to the types of laboring or trades jobs advertised in regional QLD communities, but some women most certainly are suited. Where women are the primary care givers, it creates further hindrances to securing employment in a traditional male field. I acknowledge that there are many traditional male jobs and industries not suited to all men, and I also acknowledge that disparity exists for some men to enter into traditional female fields of employment. I also acknowledge that social disadvantages affect both genders.

Therefore, a holistic approach needs to be used to ensure that ‘equal footing’ at the point of application is achieved. This includes identifying hindrances to women and men in individual communities and tailoring Govt assistance to business, encouraging investment or examining the capital city focus of the Public Sector. In addition, the community sector lost a lot of funding in regional communities and this also needs to be looked at, to bring funding back to small local organisations, rather than granting of tender funding to larger national organisations, where most of the senior management, human resource management, accounting, administration or clerical work is done in their head office. Education and training opportunities from high school, vocational and university level also need to be scrutinized as contributors to hindrance.

The fourth issue I have is the differences between metropolitan, regional and rural communities. The Government needs to focus on individual communities, rather than Queensland as a whole to address the issues individual areas face. This goes back to my point that there are simply not the same administration and management opportunities for women in regional areas in the Public Sector as there are for women living in a capital city. No woman who wants to progress in the QLD Public Sector should have to consider moving to Brisbane to do so. This is inequity in itself.

The fifth issue I have is that we need urgent Industrial Relations reform to review the award wages attached to jobs identified as traditional women’s jobs; whilst not impacting adversely on these industries. However, this will be a challenge with a Federal Liberal Government at the helm and the length of time that these wages and industries have been seen as lesser value. This will require not only an Industrial relations change, but a cultural/societal change. This will not be an easy fix nor a quick fix.

I look forward to suggestions from readers on how we can address this issue in a positive and progressive manner.

******

For those who doubt that women experience discrimination within the workplace a pay; please view the information below:

 

Discrimination against women arising from casualisation in the workforce and high numbers working in insecure employment and
Discrimination against women through the continuation of lower wages in ‘traditional women’s industries’, and the general availability of fewer opportunities of penalties and overtime. Please note that in 2011, the gender pay gap was 17.2% for full-time workers and
Discrimination against women in the workforce, or who are job seeking who either cannot access or cannot afford childcare
    • More women than men in Australia continue to work in jobs that provide less security and stability
    • Some of the lowest paid industries in Australia such as Accommodation and Food Services, Arts and Recreation Services and Retail trade tend to employ the highest proportion of female employees without paid leave entitlements (61 per cent, 48 per cent and 34 per cent respectively
    • 30 per cent of female employees who are lone parents with dependent children, are casual employees without paid leave entitlements
    • In 2012, the total cash weekly earnings by gender were $1189.00 (Men) $852.00 (Women) (Source Australian Bureau of Statistics)
Discrimination against women in achieving leadership and management roles and
Discrimination by default, due to under-representation in management and board positions in Australia
    • In virtually all sectors of the paid workforce, women are underrepresented in leadership roles.
    • Women account for over half of academic staff, however only 27% of women are Senior Lecturer or above.
    • 64% of law graduates are women, however only 22% of women hold senior positions in law firms. Only 16% of women are on the bench in the Federal Court of Australia.
    • Women chair only two per cent of ASX200 companies (four boards), hold only 8.3% of Board Directorships, hold only four CEO positions and make up only 10.7% of executive management positions
    • In 2008, women held 5.9% of line executive management positions in ASX 200 companies; a decrease from 7.5% in 2006. Line executive management experience is considered essential for progressing to top corporate positions.
    • Women make up a third of members on Australian Government Boards and Committees.
    • Despite comprising more than half of all Commonwealth public servants, women make up only 37% of the Senior Executive Service. (Source Australian Human Rights Commission)
Discrimination by default suffered by women who, as primary parental care givers, end up with reduced superannuation earnings in retirement and
Discrimination by default suffered by women, will receive less superannuation over time, through the continuation of lower wages in ‘traditional women’s industries’
    • Only 60% of Indigenous women have superannuation coverage compared to 80% of women in the general population.
    • Many women work more than one casual job across different employers and do not receive super from any individual employer, due to earning less than $450 per month.
    • The mean super balance of men earning under $5400 per year is just almost double the amount for women in the same group. (Source ASFA)
    • Women have significantly less money saved for their retirement – half of all women aged 45 to 59 have $8,000 or less in their superannuation funds, compared to $31,000 for men.
    • Currently, the average superannuation payout for women is a third of the payout for men – $37,000 compared with $110, 000.
    • In Australia, women working full-time today earn 16 per cent less than men.
    • Women also receive less super across the board, due to the gender pay gap of 17.2% (Source Australian Human Rights Commission)
The under-representation of women in parliament, amounting, in the absence of any system to redress the imbalance, to discrimination

It is concerning that not only are women under-represented in Australian politics, but Australia is ranked number 43/142 countries for women in national parliaments.

The Australian Government Office for Women, which is part of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet; aims to ensure a whole-of-government approach to providing better economic and social outcomes for women. However, the analysis by Waring et. al. of the Inter-Parliamentary Union of women in politics; would indicate the Australian Government Office for Women is not well placed to achieve these aims, due to under-representation of women in Parliament, and an absence of a system to redress the imbalance.

I have outlined the reasons below:

    • If women are not present at policy and decision-making levels, there is a democratic deficit. Decisions taken without women’s perspective lack credibility in a democratic context
    • The participation of women leads to a new perspective and a diversity of contributions to policy-making and to priorities of development, and it gives the female population a role in deciding the future of their country and the rights and opportunities for their gender.
    • A democracy which excludes women, or in which women are represented only marginally, is not a real democracy. Women’s participation in policymaking is a question of justice and equality
    • Women’s greater participation would impact upon the traditional values held by men. Sharing of power and responsibilities would become reality. Political meetings and programmes would be scheduled to take into account domestic responsibilities of both men and women.

In the current Government we are now faced with very little representation of women in Government. Margaret Fitzherbert’s lecture (APH, 2012) outlines many reasons why the Liberal party lags behind in representation. The main reasons are:

    • No persistent pressure to pre-select women
    • Liberal party culture – a culture which largely tolerates branch members asking women candidates for preselection questions about their parental and marital status.

Margaret Fitzherbert sums up with, “It’s time for the Liberals to take a lesson from the past – acknowledge the problem, and stop relying on a blind faith in ‘merit’ to somehow provide a sudden increase in numbers of female MPs.”

I would like to end this post to give thanks to the Queensland Labor Party for making history for succeeding in appointing more female Ministers than men in a Queensland Government and the first female, indigenous woman MP and Minister in a QLD Government.

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Julie Bishop and the privilege of not self-identifying as a feminist

Originally published on http://polyfeministix.wordpress.com/

Is standing up and proclaiming to be a non-feminist a sign of personal success, or is it an insular subconscious privileged rejection or blindness to the existing failures in our system that still affect women in Australia today? How does the absence of self-identifying as a feminist affect policy issues at Government level?

Julie Bishop, MP & Foreign Minister, only woman on the front bench in the Australian Liberal (conservative, neo-liberal, right-wing) Government stood in front of the National Press Club on Wednesday and declared that she was not a feminist. She doesn’t reject the term, but she feels no need to self-describe herself that way. Her main argument was that she doesn’t define her success or failures through a prism of gender. Bishop also does not acknowledge the glass ceiling and says for her, she ‘will work hard and set her mind to it and if it comes off that is great.‘ If it doesn’t, she will try to understand if she was ‘competent enough or whether she worked hard enough or if the breaks went her way.’ She doesn’t look at this as gender specific.

Julie Bishop also spoke of feminism in the past tense, the role that it (feminist movement) has played,’the barriers they faced and the challenges they had to overcome. This further re-enforces her position that feminism is no longer a necessity in today’s society. That we somehow have all ‘made it’

If we contextualize Julie Bishop’s stance of non-identification as a feminist, we need to understand her position in society. Julie Bishop is a white woman, raised in South Australia, went on to study law, practiced law, became a partner in a law firm at 26, married a property developer and has had relationships with a senator and former Lord Mayor (source: JulieBishop.com.au).

Is it justified to say that she holds this view, because she is a woman submersed in an environment of privilege?

Julie Bishop doesn’t believe it is a big deal. However, as a woman in Australia, I feel it is a big deal for any politician not to identify as feminist. They are the policy makers. It is their ideas, beliefs and experiences that lead them to policy decisions. Even people who are from positions of privilege attempt to engage with women from all walks of life, so they develop an understanding of barriers, discrimination, injustice and inequities women face and take a feminist position and advocate for equality for women. If someone doesn’t truly value equality for all women and identify as a feminist – someone who advocates for equality for women, then where does this leave us in terms of policy development, towards a more equitable future?

One of the main themes I heard in Julie Bishop’s narrative that I found concerning, was that feminism is irrelevant as because it is ‘all about her’ She never spoke of other women, only her own personal situation. Feminism is about inclusivity of all women.

If Julie Bishop could de-contextualize herself from her personal situation, upbringing, background and privilege; I wonder if she was another women in another situation, would she self-identify as a feminist?

Would Julie Bishop as an Indigenous woman, when faced with cuts to Indigenous Legal Aid Services, contemplate a future of staying in a violent situation, because maybe she didn’t work hard enough?

Would Julie Bishop as a teenager, faced with pregnancy discrimination and terminated from her traineeship, self attribute blame that maybe she wasn’t competent enough?

Would Julie Bishop as a woman returning from maternity leave, and missing out on training and development opportunities still not acknowledge the glass ceiling?

Would Julie Bishop as a woman and a victim of rape in our justice system, experiencing accusatory questioning and double the length of questioning than for other assaults, or as an Indigenous woman experience significantly worse questioning, with racist imputations being made in court – would she still not look at this through the ‘prism of gender?’

Would Julie Bishop as a woman working in two casual jobs, in a lower paid traditional woman’s field of work and experiencing non-secure work and a gender pay gap of 17% still truly believe that the feminist movement should still be spoken of in the past tense?

Would Julie Bishop as a woman seeking Asylum and fleeing from sex slavery, rape, sexual abuse and attack, fear of honour killings, female genital mutilation, domestic abuse, emotional abuse, one-child policies, discrimination due to sexual orientation or feminist political activism, children being under threat, general religious restrictions on women, sexual harassment, denial of education, forced marriages, slavery, trafficking, and imprisonment – and then sent back to that situation, due to poor policy on the processing of women and the legitimate attempts to understand their history and claim for asylum, still shrug and reflect on “if the breaks went her way?”

Would Julie Bishop as a retired woman discovering that she has substantially less superannuation than her male counterparts due to breaks in work, lower paid work and casualisation of work; or as an indigenous woman realise that as one of 40% of Indigenous women, who actually has no superannuation at all – still not feel the need to self-identify as a feminist and advocate to right this wrong?

Does Julie Bishop, as Julie Bishop reflect that 64% of law graduates are women, however only 22% of women hold senior positions in law firms. Only 16% of women are on the bench in the Federal Court of Australia. Does she truly believe that all of these women simply just did not work hard enough?

Does Julie Bishop, as Julie Bishop try to understand if there are inequities within the Australian Liberal Party for pre-selection of candidates, such as questions about parental and marital status? Or does she truly believe that she is the only woman of calibre and of suitable merit in the Liberal Party, capable of a position on the front bench?

Does Julie Bishop also stand with the Prime Minister and Minister for Women, hand on her heart and truly believe that “Women do not suffer legal discrimination in Australia?”

I see Julie Bishop’s announcement that she does not self-identify as a feminist a huge gap in policy decision making in Australia. Increasing the representation of women in Parliament should lead to a new perspective and a diversity of contributions to policy-making and to priorities of development, and it gives the female population a role in deciding the future of their country and the rights and opportunities for their gender. However, if one is not in touch with the inequities present in contemporary society for all Australian women, policy development towards equity will be very slow and still permeated with male voices and perspective.

Many people have touted Labor of late as ‘Liberal-Lite’ however, this is an example of a very stark contrast between the Liberal National Party and the Australian Labor Party. The Australian Labor Party has a policy platform on equality for women in Australia. They understand that equality for women is not only good for the economy, but essential for the progress of our country. Recently in my hometown, Bill Shorten gave a very powerful speech on the necessity of equality for women. Tim Watts, Member for Gellibrand as a male politician, advocates very strongly on domestic violence issues, as does Claire Moore. These are only two notable MP’s amongst many. Similarly, the Greens also have a strong platform for women, with Senator Waters a very proactive advocate for women.

What we hear on the Liberal’s side of the fence in terms of equality for women is silence and symbolic gestures from the only woman on the front bench, that ‘feminism is in the past’ and “is not a useful term today.’

As former Prime Minister Mr. Keating famously said about Tony Abbott (and I’ll extend to the team he leads) – “God Help Us, God Help Us!”

Note:

A) The sources for the claims for legal discrimination and discrimination by default in this post, can be found here

B) This post is not intended to take away from or de-legitimize any of Julie Bishop’s personal achievements or successes,
but to decontextualise her position, as a women in a position of privilege, to attempt to challenge her position on feminism and what it means for our country.

 34 total views,  4 views today

I believe in men

“In terms of feminism, I’ve never been someone who really associates with that movement. That movement was a set of ideologies from many, many decades ago now.” – Senator Michaelia Cash, Minister assisting the Prime Minister for Women, March 2014

Senator Cash was born in 1970, the year I started high school. Even though feminism, or women’s liberation, was a burgeoning movement, all girls were still obliged to do sewing and cooking and all boys had to do industrial arts.

A few years on and Gough Whitlam came to speak at my school. The world was changing for people my age in so many ways. Anyone could now aspire to go to university. But there were many places that we could not go and there were many men and women, including Tony Abbott’s mentor Bob Santamaria, who saw no reason to change the status quo.

Pubs had Ladies’ Parlours where a few adventurous women wearing hats and gloves sipped politely on a small shandy while their husbands held court in that male bastion, the public bar, where women were most definitely not allowed. As women began questioning their right to be considered a member of the ‘public’, we were told that they swore too much in there and we wouldn’t want to be there. I remember telling a publican that I would forgive them their lack of vocabulary. He didn’t let me in.

And then there was the snooker room. If you went to the club together, it wouldn’t be long until the men disappeared downstairs to that other female-free zone, the snooker room. Having played a lot of pub pool whilst at University, I rather fancied myself at the game, so one day my girlfriends and I decided to join the boys in the snooker room at the club. We set up the table but before we could break, the club manager was straight over saying we had to leave. When I asked why he said it was the rules. I said “Yes, I know. I want to know why it is the rules.” His response was that we would hold up play so I promptly challenged him to a game.

By this stage every guy in the room was listening and they all started urging him to take up the challenge and I must say, with a smile and good grace, he accepted. He wasn’t quite as jovial after I beat him though he did shout me a drink. The rules changed a month later at that club. It took much longer elsewhere.

Fast forward to a few years after marriage, both of us working full-time, no kids, no debt, deposit saved for a house. Off we go to the bank manager for a loan to buy my parents’ house for a very good price. We were rejected because I was “married and of child-bearing age so your wage cannot be considered”. This was the mid 80s.

We have much for which to thank the feminists of the past but for Michaelia Cash to say “that was an ideology from many, many decades ago” is unbelievable. This is the woman who is supposed to be representing women’s rights at a decision-making level and she seems to find the word feminist to be some sort of derogatory label for ungrateful women who just can’t move on.

As Jamila Rizvi reminds us

“Women still earn around 80 cents for every dollar that men earn over a lifetime. And this isn’t just about who has the bits that make the babies. Australian women earn less from the very first year after they graduate from university and TAFE.

Women still carry the burden of around two thirds of unpaid work and caring duties.

Women are almost 51 per cent of the population and yet we hold less than 30 per cent of elected positions in the federal Parliament. We hold 8 per cent of board directorships and 10 per cent of executive management positions.

Nearly one in five of us will experience sexual assault, one in three will experience some kind of family or domestic violence in our lifetimes.

We earn less, we are heard less and we are hurt more.

And all of this pales in comparison, to the women around the world who still do not share the basic rights, safety, freedoms and equalities that here in Australia we all take for granted.”

A feminist advocates or supports the rights and equality of women. Isn’t that what our Minister assisting the Prime Minister for Woman should be doing?

Feminism is aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, cultural, and social rights for women. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment.

Feminists have campaigned for women’s rights such as women’s suffrage, equal pay for women, reproductive rights for women (including access to contraceptives and abortion), and the right to enter into contracts and own property. Activists have worked to protect women and girls from domestic violence, sexual harassment, and sexual assault. They have also advocated for workplace rights, including maternity leave, and against forms of discrimination against women.

Feminism is mainly focused on women’s issues, but men have also reaped many rewards from the feminist movement.

It gave our economy a huge and long-lasting boost as women entered the workforce. It has led to better relationships and more satisfying sex for all concerned. It heightened awareness of gender discrimination helping men who were also victims. Contraception gave men and women more sexual freedom and abortion also gave them an option other than an unsatisfying marriage. It caused the definition of rape to be changed to include men. It gave men more time off to be with their kids. It demanded that the media change its representation of men from the stereotypical macho muscle man and encouraged men to rethink outdated masculinity standards and gender roles. More men entered fields like nursing and teaching.

Feminist is not a gender-specific term. It applies to men and women who recognise the equality of the sexes, the right to equal opportunity and pay, and the shared responsibility for unpaid work. So it’s rather off-putting when our federal minister responsible for women says it is “ridiculous” that identifying as a feminist should be a prerequisite for her job.

When asked by a journalist at the National Press Club during the lead-up to International Women’s Day in March, whether or not she considered herself a feminist, Senator Cash replied:

“I consider myself a very lucky person whose parents told their four children to achieve, you work hard… All I know is that I believe in women … but I also believe in men.”

Right. Let’s not alienate the men, as advocating for women’s rights is bound to do. Know your place and don’t cross the line or you will be labelled a misandrist. Just ask Julia Gillard.

And as for working hard, Michaelia decided to work hard at entering politics from a young age. She is the daughter of Western Australian state MP George Cash and, by age 18, was an executive member of the Curtin University Young Liberals from 1988 to 1990 where she studied public relations, politics and journalism, and then the Western Australian Young Liberal Movement, where she held numerous positions including state vice-president. She is a member of the state council and was the president of the Moore Division. She also served on the party’s state executive.

Ms Cash also expressed her admiration for Julie Bishop, describing her as “stylish” and admitting she has “a bit of a passion” for the Foreign Affairs Minister. It is obvious she is trying to emulate Julie’s style if not quite with the same aplomb.

On rare occasions, politicians make inspired speeches that strike a chord. On even rarer occasions, these words reverberate around the world. Julia Gillard’s misogyny speech was one such moment. Not only did millions around the world sing its praises, some very talented young Australians turned it into song, literally.

And then there was Michaelia Cash’s vitriolic rant in the Senate directed at Penny Wong after Rudd replaced Gillard as the leader. Listen to the way she spits out the words “her own sisterhood” and “Emily’s List” (a political network in Australia that supports progressive women candidates to be elected to political office). Listen to the sneer with which she emphasises the word MISS Gillard – the barren adulteress.

During a Women’s Day event, Tony Abbott referred to himself as a “feminist”. In comparison to Michaelia, Tony’s looking almost good.

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Abbott is the Most Moderate Prime Minister In the History of Australia.

 

At first it was easy. Bernardi, Joyce and Pyne have always been a satirist’s dream. You just have to repeat what they’re saying and most people laugh and tell you that you have a marvelous control of irony. And since his election, Abbott has made himself look even more ridiculous than that trio – which, I think you’ll agree – is an impressive achievement.

Going from “elect us for a strong economy” to “what do job losses have to do with us” in the space of a few months ranks with George W. telling us that the French didn’t have a word for “entrepreneur”. But then, we had Scott Morrison’s “Well, what do you expect when people leave the safety of the compound?” changing to “Sorry he didn’t leave the compound, but we’ll have a full inquiry into this and no, I’m not answering questions, I never answer questions because that just helps people smugglers. And look, Steven offended the General so let’s talk about that, because a man’s death pales into insignificance when compared to a general being offended by accusations that he’s helping us cover things up.”

But I must confess, lately I’ve lost my spark. Every time, I start to write something that I hope will rival Swift’s “A Moderate Proposal”# and Abbott comes out with something even more “moderate”.

Today, I started to read something and I thought, “Yeah, that’s the sort of satire I wish I could write”, but then I realised that it quoting an actual news item, and that Abbott really did say: “When I look out tonight at an audience of people who work with timber, who work in forests, I don’t see people who are environmental vandals; I see people who are the ultimate conservationists” just a few minutes after saying, “Why should we lock up as some sort of World Heritage sanctuary country that has been logged, degraded or planted for timber?”

But I suppose that we don’t want forests locked up? It sounds like the thing you do to unionists and protesters. “Free the forests” has a catchy ring to it. Rather like “liberating” workers from their boring factory jobs. And in some cases they’ll be liberated from their mortgages too. I can see a similar campaign for people in nursing homes.

But still at least we know that he’s a “feminist” because of his daughters. He said so on International Women’s Day when he announced that all the glass ceilings had been broken. Governor-General, Prime Minister and now we had his chief of staff running the entire country. So, there’s no problem any more. Feminists have won, so why are they still complaining.

Yes, Tony’s daughters turned him into a feminist like my son turned me into an incredibly fit man. He’d prefer that I was, so that means I am, right?

#A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People From Being a Burthen to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick,[1] commonly referred to as A Modest Proposal, is a Juvenalian satirical essay written and published anonymously by Jonathan Swift in 1729. Swift suggests that the impoverished Irish might ease their economic troubles by selling their children as food for rich gentlemen and ladies.[2] This satirical hyperbole mocks heartless attitudes towards the poor, as well as Irish policy in general.

In English writing, the phrase “a modest proposal” is now conventionally an allusion to this style of straight-faced satire.

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It’s a man’s world

My grandmother began teaching a few years after Federation. When she married my grandfather in 1917, she was forced to resign because the Commonwealth Public Service Act stated that a female officer had to resign on marriage.

Moving on a couple of decades, the Federal Cabinet decided in 1940, as a war measure for the duration of the war, that a female Commonwealth Public Service officer would be allowed to continue her employment in a temporary capacity.

With the War over, Cabinet reaffirmed, in 1946, the Regulation that female officers be required to resign on marriage with the exception of widows, divorcees and married women separated from their husband and not receiving financial support.

Cabinet specifically instructed the Department of Education that it must endeavour to reduce to the minimum the number of married female teachers in temporary employment.

For the following 20 years, the employment of married female teachers conformed to this policy. Married female temporary teachers were dismissed at the end of the year and, dependent upon the exigencies of the Department of Education, varying numbers were re-employed the following year. My mother, who began teaching during the 1940s and married in 1953, faced this uncertainty every year and did not receive entitlements like holiday pay and sick leave.

The video in the following link explains the dilemma facing women in the 60s.

http://www.abc.net.au/tv/makingaustralia/educationextras/episode-three/clip-one.htm

In November 1966 Australia became the last democratic country to lift the legislated “marriage bar”, which had prevented married women from holding permanent positions in the public service for over 60 years.

From 13 February 1969, the permanent head of a State Department could recommend the permanent employment of married female public servants after a consideration of the requirements of the Service and the suitability of the officer. Female teachers were given the opportunity to apply for permanent or temporary status. Permanent status was dependent on the applicant’s efficiency related to experience.

As a result of the criteria applied, however, many of the women who applied for permanent status were refused. In 1970 about 30 per cent of those who applied were unable to gain permanent status. It was not until 1973 that a change in policy made it easier for women to receive permanent status.

In 1976 I enrolled at Sydney University, armed with my teaching scholarship, and blissfully unaware that being female was any barrier. Tony Abbott was very active in student politics and our paths crossed at times. I considered him an ignorant bully boy but he was not alone.

The video in this next link shows the attitudes at the time of Tony’s mentor B A Santamaria and other young men who could well have been Tony’s peers.

Santamaria explains his idea about the roles of people in a family. For him, there are ideally set out roles for the husband and wife. The husband ensures income to the family by participating in a public world, while the wife maintains the domestic or ‘private’ economy. These are the rules of the family system, or at least Santamaria’s idea of it.

http://www.abc.net.au/tv/makingaustralia/educationextras/episode-one/clip-four.htm

In 1977, the Report of the Royal Commission on Human Relationships was presented to the Commonwealth Parliament. The Report stated that women were discriminated against in employment and their work undervalued or underpaid. It also pointed out that work was predicated on men’s life patterns, on freedom from child bearing, and on ability to work; and that when women’s work patterns were broken because of child rearing, penalties were imposed on them.

Faced with an over-supply of teachers in 1978, State Cabinet decided to implement an order of priority in the employment of teachers. Consequently, married women with husbands who worked were placed third on the list of those applying for teaching positions.

In 1981, Cabinet decided that married female teachers would no longer be placed into a separate category for employment. Henceforth, a higher priority was given to a first income-earner, irrespective of sex.

In 1982, the Commonwealth Government announced that it would legislate to prevent discrimination against women. This was a consequence of its action in 1980 when it signed a United Nations declaration condemning such discrimination.

During the time of the Fraser government, Dr Gabriel Moens was appointed by the Human Rights Commission to prepare a report assessing the merits and demerits of affirmative action. He concluded that:

“ . . . the government’s acceptance of affirmative action proposals, initiated mainly by feminist groups, is part of a trend in which the ideal of equality of opportunity has been replaced by an ideal of equality of result. The Human Rights Commission, which is supposed to fight discrimination, seems to consider the anti-discrimination principle a thing of the past – it now appears to favour a distribution of benefits on the basis of sex, ethnicity and colour. This is a very disturbing development in our society.”

The report was dismissed by the Hawke government.

Both Tony Abbott and Dr Moens were great fans of Santamaria. In a speech in 1998 Tony Abbott described him as “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”.

In 2009 Dr Moens gave a speech on the occasion of the inauguration of the B.A. Santamaria Library at Murdoch University in Perth. It was titled “MEN AND IDEAS: Bob Santamaria’s role in Australia’s culture wars.” In his speech Dr Moens said

“Encouragement for the vocation of homemaker is described as a particularly odious form of sexism. Instead, feminism, preferential treatment, alternative lifestyles, infidelity and politically correct speech, just to name a few, are variously described as desirable or even liberating orthodoxies. These new orthodoxies, which are often aggressively promoted by well-funded lobby groups, create a climate of intolerance and instil a sense of genuine fear into a great number of decent people.”

Remember, he said this less than 5 years ago.

And here we are today, with people like Fred Nile and Corey Bernardi in positions of power making decisions about how our country should be run, ably assisted by the likes of George Pell. Not content with that, they also want to run our lives, be our moral compass and our spiritual guides. We have a plethora of men dictating to women what their role should be. Sadly, there aren’t any of us who merit a position in these powerful circles, so we have a misogynist as the Minister for Women, a man who infamously said

“I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons.”

So ladies and gentlemen, gird your loins and pick up your placards – this fight still has a way to go!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-QdjnA2vtI&feature=kp

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