We need a feminist
Australia now has a female Minister for Women. The only trouble is, she isn’t a feminist.
Now I know many people attach all sorts of connotations to the term feminist, many critical, but all it means is an advocate for women’s rights, something we desperately need more of.
Unfortunately, our new Minister for Women thinks “that movement was a set of ideologies from many, many decades ago now”, a view she shares with Miranda Devine who used her own delightful turn of phrase, saying “feminism is now well past its use-by date. It has just become an excuse for unhinged individuals with Daddy issues to indulge a mean streak.”
I guess the bar wasn’t set too high when our previous Minister for Women spent International Women’s Day at a local fire station receiving an award for his volunteer service.
Then again, both Ms Cash and her predecessor come from the party that chose to hold its International Women’s Day lunch at the men only Tattersall’s Club so nothing should surprise. In fact Tony Abbott said the women should consider it a victory that they were allowed to attend, a mark of how progressive the Liberal Party were at breaking down the bastions of male dominance…for one day, invitation from a male member required.
There are countless examples of why feminists must continue the good fight. Here are a just a few that were brought up at the recent Ernie Awards.
Take the Matildas.
The discrepancy between the Matildas and Socceroos was laid bare when it was revealed Australia’s national female footballers would be paid less in match fees if they made the final of the World Cup in Canada than the Socceroos get for a single group-stage game. As it turned out, they reached the quarter finals, better than the men have ever done.
National women’s soccer, cricket, and basketball teams are flown economy as a matter of course, while the male teams travel in business.
When Nick Kyrigos got a bit flustered in a tennis match, he went for the age old “I f*cked your old lady” sledge. Ok, that isn’t quite what he said – his pitiful outburst was even more cowardly.
Too often, when men fail, they need someone else to blame and so it was when our cricket team was annihilated in their recent bid for the Ashes. According to Ian Healey, it’s because having their wives and girlfriends on tour was a distraction. Funny how all the rest of us are able to go to work each day, focus on the task at hand, and then return home to our families in the evening.
With 63 women dead from domestic violence incidents this year, Australian of the Year Rosie Batty has had some success in bringing long overdue attention to this scourge. Her courage has been amazing yet she must endure people like Mark Latham whose many attacks include tweeting “@RosieBatty1 Australian of the Year dividing the nation on the basis of gender. You owe my wife daughter and mother a massive apology.” Seriously?
When much-loved and best-selling Australian author Colleen McCullough died earlier this year, the Australian newspaper published an obituary which began: ”Plain of feature and certainly overweight…” Will the peacock mentality never end? When will women be judged by their achievements and contribution to society?
If Malcolm Turnbull wants people around the world to say gee they really respect women in Australia, I would suggest our Minister for Women better realise that we need some advocacy to change the endemic disrespect and discrimination that is alive and kicking more than a century after the battle was begun.
We need a feminist.