Julia Gillard may be reaching the bottom of her deck of misogyny cards.
In an editorial entitled “Misogyny attack misses mark”, The Australian pointed out the dismal failure of Julia Gillard’s famous tirade on misogyny in the Australian Parliament last year (The Australian, 2013). The petulant outburst from Gillard seemed to happen because she was insulted that the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, should out-feminist her. Abbott was accusing the then Speaker of the House of misogyny, and she wasn’t going to let him be women’s champion. The resultant tantrum went viral on You Tube (NewsOnABC, 2012).
Gillard 1, Abbott 0 was the score line from Katherine Hepworth (Hepworth, 2012). The headline was “Gillard’s misogyny speech looks even better than it reads.” Apparently she enjoyed the speech because “Gillard waved both hands, pointed, and even moved her feet.”
She loves the sight of multi-tasking in the Parliament: It looks like victory.
And Abbott? Is he a misogynist? Hepworth has him all worked out: “Abbott’s facial expression and posture amounted to an open admission of guilt.”
Who needs the facts when you’ve got posture on your side? Could you imagine the court time we could save by getting Hepworth down to the magistrates court? She could just hang around the foyer “Hunched? Guilty; Shifty eyes? Guilty; Waving hands and pointing? Not Guilty.” The magistrates would never again miss an afternoon round of golf.
This, with varying degrees of sycophantic idiocy, is a fair representation of most of the mainstream media coverage of “The Misogyny Speech”. The Australian ABC News was thrilled that the speech had “gone global” (ABC News, 2012). “Ladylike,” said The New Yorker, concluding that Obama could take some lessons from Gillard (Lester, 2012). The Spectator thought Abbott had been “carved to pieces (Massie, 2012).”
However, the Australian female voting public was not won over. “Galaxy poll shows female voters choose Tony Abbott,” was the recent headline in the Telegraph, explaining that only 1 in 4 women believe that Abbott is a misogynist (Maiden, 2013). Despite concerns about his views on abortion and his perceived negativity, female voters are preferring Abbott to Gillard personally; and the Liberal/National Coalition to Labor overall (Galaxy Research, 2013).
So much so that Janet Albrechtsen of the Australian felt she should start writing the Labor government’s obituary this week (Albrechtsen, 2013). In her “Biggest Losers” listing Albrechtsen names “the misogyny maidens”, namely Tanya Plibersek, Nicola Roxon, Penny Wong, Jenny Macklin and Gillard as one collective of losers. Albrechtsen states, “Nothing is more certain to offend Australians than the finger-wagging culture of these trendy inner-city MPs,” and blames them for “bringing Labor to its electoral knees.”
Albrechtsen pulls no punches for the feminists, “The damage they have done to the Labor brand will likely last much longer than their own short time in government.”
The damage to the Labor brand is probably best understood in the context of the recent announcement by Jenny Macklin to move single-parents from the Single Parent Pension to the Newstart Allowance.
For those not familiar with this newspeak, in practice it means that single-mothers whose youngest is older than seven will lose some government benefits and will have to find a job (Akerman & Milanda, 2013).
Yes, the flagship of feminism, those doing “the toughest job in the world” (Winfrey, 2010), are having their entitlements cut and being told to get a real job.
Why? Macklin, sounding like someone from the conservative side of politics, claimed it was to encourage the mums to “show their children a strong work ethic” (Akerman & Milanda, 2013).
The real reason for this cut to government spending, of course, was the policy failures were driving the federal budget further into deficit and the Gillard government was turning desperately to cut spending wherever it could.
In a bizarre effort of rationalisation and justification, Macklin, who apparently has an income of $6321 a week, was claiming she could live on the Newstart allowance of $246 a week (Harrison, 2013). After the next election she just might have to try.
What does this mean for the MHRM?
Let me get this out of the way, just to be clear. I am not suggesting for one second that the election of Tony Abbott or a Liberal/National coalition government will bring any meaningful change. Team Red is misandric. Team Blue is misandric. This is because Big Government is run by Big Bureacracy, which thrives on this bigotry. Abbott will not clean up the Family Courts and the National Plan will go on unabated.
Now, let’s get back to what it means for the MHRM.
Gillard’s government has more problems than those that can be attributed directly to feminist influenced policies. But, the lack of intellectual rigour that so often dogs post-modernists has meant that policies that appealed to the Gillard government on ideological grounds, and this includes those championed by the “misogyny maidens”, fell apart when it came to their implementation. In other words, reality decided it was FTSU time.
More importantly, when the polls reflected their performance, they sought to hide behind the victim card. Since February last year, the cry has been that the criticisms of Gillard are sexist and she should be left alone to lead the country (Wright, 2012).
Since that time until (this really needs some DAHN, DAHN, DAAAAHHHHN music) “The Misogyny Speech”, we should have been so proud that we had our first woman Prime Minister that it really shouldn’t matter how bad a job she, or her government, was doing.
This tactic has clearly failed. Equality means that when you get the top job, not only do you get the top job salary and the top job perks; you also get the top job criticism when you screw it up.
In some ways “The Misogyny Speech” was like jumping the shark (google it if you don’t know what I mean). There was nowhere to go after it. After the speech, when Abbott was not lynched for his “misogynist” demeanour, the only way was down.
But more than this, when things got even uglier, the feminists were only too eager to turn on their own in order to save their cushy jobs. Their cause celebre, the single-mother’s welfare, got the chop while the bureaucrats are still raking it in.
So, the MHRM can now point to real examples of feminism in action. Not only is the rationale screwy, but when put into practice it fails as predicted. And, their hand-wringing compassion is as sincere as Gillard’s promise that there would be no carbon tax.
But there is even more to take heart from. Gillard and her “misogyny maidens” have done more than previous feminists in taking their agenda to the public. Previously, feminists have been working in the back rooms of power. They’ve won over the policy makers behind closed doors with the threat of bringing “the women’s vote” against those who dared to cross them.
Now, in Australia at least, that threat will seem somewhat empty. The truth is that women are a world away from lock-step agreement with everything that comes out of their mouths.
Even more significant, I believe, is the fact that the voting public did not buy “The Misogyny Speech”. We often tend to see our case as practically impossible due to the inherent nature of human beings.
Yes, there are automatic reactions to defend women even when they are wrong. Yes, there are instinctive reactions to female tears which see women receive lower sentences, more government subsidies, and the like.
But, when examined under the spotlight, most people recognise that those instincts can be manipulated for evil purposes. Instincts are just initial reactions, and not carefully considered opinions.
This means that as the MHRM puts its message out, the cries of misogyny will be seen for what it is: a self-serving covering up for their lies.
Our message can be judged on its merits, if we can make it loud enough to be heard over their wailing.
ABC News. (2012, October 11). Gillard’s misogyny speech goes global. Retrieved March 1, 2013, from ABC News: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-10-10/international-reaction-to-gillard-speech/4305294
Akerman, P., & Milanda, R. (2013, January 1). Find a job, Jenny Macklin tells single parents whose benefits are being slashed . Retrieved February 28, 2013, from The Australian: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/cuts-to-single-parent-benefits-begin-to-bite/story-fn59niix-1226546037334
Albrechtsen, J. (2013, February 27). Labor’s biggest losers should take a bow. Retrieved February 27, 2013, from The Australian: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/columnists/labors-biggest-losers-should-take-a-bow/story-e6frg7bo-1226586352801
Davies, L. (2012, October 17). Julia Gillard speech prompts dictionary to change ‘misogyny’ definition. Retrieved February 28, 2013, from The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/oct/17/julia-gillard-australia-misogyny-dictionary
Galaxy Research. (2013, February 13-15). WOMEN SUPPORTING LIBERALS, DESPITE CONCERNS ABOUT TONY ABBOTT. Retrieved February 27, 2013, from Galaxy Research: http://www.galaxyresearch.com.au/13-15-february-2013/
Harrison, D. (2013, January 2). I could live on Newstart: Macklin. Retrieved February 28, 2013, from The Sydney Morning Herald: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/political-news/i-could-live-on-newstart-macklin-20130101-2c485.html
Hepworth, K. (2012, October 14). Gillard’s misogyny speech looks even better than it reads. Retrieved February 27, 2013, from The Conversation: http://theconversation.edu.au/gillards-misogyny-speech-looks-even-better-than-it-reads-10111
Lester, A. (2012, October 9). Ladylike: Julia Gillard’s Miisogyny Speech. Retrieved March 1, 2013, from The New Yorker: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2012/10/julia-gillards-misogyny-speech.html
Maiden, S. (2013, February 17). Galaxy poll shows female voters choose Tony Abbott . Retrieved February 27, 2013, from The Telegraph: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/national/galaxy-poll-shows-female-voters-choose-tony-abbott/story-fndo28a5-1226579510972
Massie, A. (2012, October 9). Retrieved March 1, 2013, from The Spectator: http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/alex-massie/2012/10/julia-gillard-more-than-just-a-mans-bitch/
NewsOnABC (2012, October 8), Retrieved March 1, 2013, from YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihd7ofrwQX0
The Australian. (2013, February 18). Misogyny Attack Misses Mark. Retrieved February 27, 2013, from The Australian: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/editorials/misogyny-attack-misses-mark/story-e6frg71x-1226579814910
Winfrey, O. (2010, May 1). Thought for Today – Motherhood. Retrieved February 28, 2013, from Oprah: http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Thought-for-Today-Motherhood/31
Wright, J. (2012, February 6). Media attacks on PM ‘sexist’, says Greens leader. Retrieved February 28, 2013, from The Sydney Morninig Herald: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/political-news/media-attacks-on-pm-sexist-says-greens-leader-20120206-1r0oh.html