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Trump isn’t ironic about women, and neither is Turnbull

The announcement by US President Donald Trump that the month of April is national sexual assault awareness and prevention month was greeted with hollow mirth by many, and described by some as “ironic.”

There’s nothing ironic about this announcement. It is a calculated display of contempt for women, particularly women who endure sexual assault. It’s the most powerful man in the western world demonstrating to the women of his country that he can toy with them, as and when he chooses, in case they haven’t already worked that out.

Contempt isn’t irony. It’s far more dangerous, and we’re seriously underestimating the danger if we misread it.

Trump’s announcement is similar to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s campaign aimed at encouraging men to “respect” women as a means of preventing sexual and other violences perpetrated upon us. However, Turnbull simultaneously ripped federal funding from community legal centres, and frontline services such as refuges and crisis counselling.

The “irony” of Turnbull’s scathing indictment of men who abuse women, and his own abuse of us by withdrawing resources we need when we are attacked, apparently escaped the PM. Except that it wasn’t irony: it was reckless disregard, born from contempt, for the safety of women and children under threat.

Turnbull acts from the same deep-seated contempt for women as does Trump: he is better at disguising it, or rather, Trump doesn’t care about disguising his contempt, while Turnbull needs to maintain at least the appearance of interest and concern to preserve both his self-image, and votes.

Yesterday I read this account of how Sheriff David Clarke of Milwaukee forced a prisoner to give birth while her hands were shackled. When during her labour she needed to go to the toilet, her ankles were also shackled. She was not permitted to move into positions that eased her pain or aided the delivery of her child. Her baby died at birth. It is customary in Clarke’s jail, for pregnant women to be shackled.

Last week I read many accounts of former politician Mark Latham’s attacks on women, enabled by much Australian media, up until he called a young man who spoke about feminism “gay.” For gay, in this instance read feminised, and therefore a suitable target for Latham’s misogyny.

It is no coincidence that misogyny and homophobia go hand in hand. For Latham, obviously a proponent of hydraulic male sexuality, the most toe-curling aspect of love between men is the assumption he makes that somebody has to be “the woman.”

There’s barely a day without attempted or successful attacks on women’s reproductive rights somewhere in the world. In Queensland and NSW abortion is still a crime for both women and doctors. Male politicians, such as former Prime Minister Tony Abbott and right wing senator Cory Bernardi, continue to imply that women who seek abortions are morally corrupt. Bernardi describes abortion as “an abhorrent form of birth control”

Just yesterday in Iowa, legislation that could force women to continue a pregnancy to term after the foetus has died, was passed.

Women’s access to contraception is continually under attack. 

There is no irony to be found in any of this.  There is unrelenting hatred and fear of women, expressed in… let me count the ways.

That our governments, state and federal will not, and it is will not, it isn’t cannot, provide adequate frontline services for women and children fleeing violence tells us everything we need to know about the contempt in which women are held in this country.

The contempt for us is so great that state and federal governments enable violence against us by refusing practical options that will give us an escape route, while at the same time launching ludicrous campaigns to “raise awareness” of that violence. This is not irony. This is full-fledged misogyny, and it is murderous.

So next time you think feminism is about female CEOs, or the choice to enlarge your breasts, or more women in parliament, remember that your governments hate you so much they will not provide a refuge for you and your children, they will not provide accessible legal assistance for you, they will not ensure you have housing if your home is too dangerous.

More female CEOs has not changed this. More women in parliament has not changed this. It’s difficult to see how becoming part of the system can ever change the system. Feminism’s ambition used to be to destroy an abusive system, not to be subsumed by it.

Where it actually matters and where it actually counts, governments have turned their backs on women, while engaging in expensive and useless campaigns to convince us otherwise.

Hatred of us is normalised. And now it’s so normal we’re calling it “irony.”

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

 


12 comments

  1. Kaye Lee

    When the deputy leader of the Liberal Party posed for a photo shoot in Harper’s Bazaar in 2014, she said women should “stop whingeing and just get on with it.”

    “Please do not let it get to you and do not become a victim, because it’s only a downward spiral once you’ve cast yourself as a victim.”

    And then there is our Minister for Women who screeched “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. 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.”

    You’ve got it all wrong Jennifer. It’s the women’s fault for casting themselves as victims when all they need to do is go into politics.

  2. Terry2

    Serial offender and FOX presenter in The USA, Bill O’Reilly has paid or had his employer pay some US$13 million on his behalf for sexual harassment cases over an extended period. In each case the women were initially smeared, called names, had their personal lives investigated by private detectives and those who persisted were obliged to sign confidentiality agreements before any settlement and, there was no apology – you may remember his boss Roger Ailes was sacked by FOX for persistent sexual harassment over an extended period of time, he got a golden handshake of $40 million from his boss, Rupert Murdoch.

    O’Reilly has tried to spin the payments, blaming the women and seeking to protect his reputation and his family from ‘gold-diggers’ : https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/01/business/media/bill-oreilly-sexual-harassment-fox-news.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=photo-spot-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

    We have got to do so much better by these women and not allow these men to have so much ongoing power over their female employees : O’Relly hasn’t been sacked, by the way.

  3. diannaart

    Is it unconscious misogyny or misanthropy of those who have never had to deal, directly, with violence, low income, lack of support in their lives? We see this attitude among wealthy women as well as men. However, more men are responsible for such double standards simply because more men still hold generational power.

    Do we simply stop aspiring to be a part of the system? System is a male construct, can we develop another framework? Not right now.

    We are attempting to change a behaviour that has been virtually inherent for millennia, in just over a century! Maybe we should be pleased at the progress we have made but never, ever give up. Global culture has become the domain of the conservative, the paternal, the autocrat – this has not always been the case and given the extreme hypocrisy of the current crop of patriarchal leaders such as Trump, Turnbull, Theresa May determined to prove how tough she can “Brexit” and, yes, Justin Trudeau is not the progressive he has claimed to be. All very disturbing. BUT all subject to change – they control much but not everything.

    I have taken an ironic perspective to the future; “if Trump can be President then anything is possible”, “anything” can mean for the better. Somehow, thinking of infinite possibilities gives me hope, hope that given enough rope these privileged parasites will hang themselves.

  4. Max Gross

    Welcome to 21 century Australia! Exciting! Innovative! Agile! And going backwards at a rate of knots…

  5. Ros

    Wow, nailed it Jennifer. Bar a few exceptions, MSM is wall to wall misogynists so expect no sense from that lot at all – they’re in a battle with politicians to see who can get to the bottom of the barrel of trust first. What a contest. Thanks again, keep the insights coming, this is great.

  6. Kaye Lee

    Max,

    That is the most frustrating part. So many hard fought improvements are being unwound in countless different areas. I felt more optimistic and empowered in the 70s than I do now.

  7. Deanna Jones

    Fantastic work, Jennifer. The announcement was definitely a big eff you to women. Just like it was when Abbott made himself our minister and then announced with a big smirk, that an international women’s day event was to be held in a male only venue. Their refusal to fund crisis accommodation services is effectively state violence against women, because it is enabling male perpetrators, sending a message that they can abuse us if they wish, no problem. Male violence and the constant threat of it together with the state enablers, is how men collude to keep us all down. As long as some men are abusive to us, all men need not be, and they all collectively benefit from this system.

  8. Kronomex

    The Donald himself is an assault on women by just being The Donald.

  9. wam

    if i may be so bold as to suggest your words are skirting the base line of disrespect for any woman who strays from the image in the man’s mind as described by god.
    It is beyond my understanding how women can respect either the god of the jews, who became the god of the christians who became the god of the muslims or their respective institutions much less worship a so obviously male god. Yet there are countless women who have unquestioned loyalty to the belief of men.

  10. quiltingforkids

    It is hard to comment on articles such as this one, since I sit in the Land of the formerly UNITED States of America, where misogyny reigns supreme, especially within our White House, perhaps the whitest white house in America. We no longer do “irony” in the US, since the formerly bizarre and other-worldly is now commonplace behavior among our senior “leadership”. We here all find ourselves remarking, “please tell me that we are now living in an alternate planet somewhere far, far, from earth, and that we are here because we are being punished”.

  11. Jerry

    I heard the saddest little man being interviewed overnight and it wasn’t Donald Trump it was Mark William Latham.The man who nearly won the 2004 Election now praises John Howard, Nuclear Energy and Donald Trump and applauded him that he had married a beauty queen nudge nudge wink wink. He was talking to 2GBs Luke Grant overnight.The man has sold his soul to the Conservative rich ockers boys club.Instead of analysing the chip on his shoulder he now has become a misogynist extreme right wing fundamentalist.The man’s a puppet.Get some help Mark.

  12. Kyran

    “The “irony” of Turnbull’s scathing indictment of men who abuse women, and his own abuse of us by withdrawing resources we need when we are attacked, apparently escaped the PM.”

    We are now one year out from the DV report in Victoria. There have been a few reports on how much has been achieved, and how much more needs to be achieved. Notwithstanding disputes between the Melbourne council and the Victorian government as to how to ‘treat’ the homeless, there appears to be no dispute that many of the homeless are those fleeing DV. The talcum government is somewhere between ‘mute’, as in ‘silent’, and ‘impotent’, as in ‘couldn’t give a phuck’.

    The odd thing, though. The Victorian government (‘Victorian’ being an entirely different irony) have repeatedly stated that the talcum government’s short changing of support services cannot be an excuse for them not to deliver. Some of the links are fairly scathing in their contempt of talcum, few of them are complimentary to Andrew’s, none of them suggest a watershed has been achieved.

    “Where it actually matters and where it actually counts, governments have turned their backs on women, while engaging in expensive and useless campaigns to convince us otherwise.”

    Some governments. Probably most. But not all.
    Thank you Ms Wilson and commenters. Take care

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