Well I knew the day would come when I would need to call on that wonderful card that all women possess.The Gender Card. Mind you the instructions that came with mine say “only to be used in emergencies or you will be considered a shrill, a femi-nazi or worse a member of the handbag hit squad” Maybe that is why so few women never actually use theirs.
But an emergency has arisen and I am angry enough to chance the risks of saying a few things about the reality of women’s lives.
I want to talk about ” sex appeal” and grubby politics but first I need to talk about my day. I attended the Brisbane Supreme Court to support 2 women who were called as witnesses in a murder trial. The murder victim was a young mother who had endured horrendous domestic violence before her death. She was found stuffed in the boot of her burnt out car. I witnessed the terrible grief of family & friends who couldn’t save her & counsellors who tried their hardest to protect her. Her only crime..loving the wrong man. This sadly is the reality for many women. Domestic homicide is at the end of the continuum of the abuse & hatred of women.
So mentally & emotionally drained, I headed back down to the Gold Coast only to be confronted by boys from a local high school harassing a female student on the train. A few sharp comments from my self & they retreated snickering into another carriage. The young woman gave me a shy thank you with a shrug of her shoulders as if to say ” not the first time”. As the carriage regained a semblance of peace I returned to my iPad & Twitter to see this disgusting promo from The Project.
I had just heard first hand in the Supreme Court where “Stand By Your Man” gets you. Stuffed in the boot of a burnt out car. I don’t need to watch The Project to understand this reality. Abuse & degradation of women should not be seen to have “entertainment value”.
Are ‘good wives” those who endure, forgive and remain subservient to their despicable partners? Are “bad wives” those who say Enough and leave? What sort of message is this sending to the community?
Which brings me to what has really been gnawing away at me. The current total disrespect for women in political discourse. When Tony Abbott described Liberal candidate Fiona Scott as having “sex appeal” I couldn’t believe it. Who in this day and age speaks like that? Certainly not the men amongst my family & friends. The matter was made worse when Abbots daughter fronted the media to say he was having “a daggie dad moment” Really! Someone needs to tell her that her “daggie dad” is seeking the highest office in the land, not auditioning for Father of the Year. Since then Ms Scott has said that it was a “charming” compliment. No Ms Scott it wasn’t. For an aspiring politician, a compliment would have highlighted your qualities suited to that political role you are seeking not whether you are seen as sexually desirable to Tony Abbott. The comment breached all known definition of workplace sexual harassment. The comment caused a few titters in the media. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd rightly condemned the “sex appeal” comments while former Prime Minister John Howard advised that those who criticized the comments should “get a life”. Little was said to highlight that the end result of the sexual objectification of women is domestic violence & rape. Some women unfortunately don’t get to have a life, thousands others have their own stories and experiences of #everdaysexism. It is what we endure as women. My most recent experience was last night on twitter when I jumped to the defense of another woman who was being harassed. Ugly comments not worth repeating here.
Which brings us to to-days sexist servings by Kevin Baker Liberal candidate for Charlton whose web page contained hundred of jokes on incest, domestic violence, child abuse and racism. The page was referred to as “tit banter”. Kevin Baker has now resigned from the Liberal Party but not before Tony Abbott said “to his credit Baker shut down the site”. Is that supposed to earn him brownie points. Not in my world it doesn’t. And now we are all expected to move on!
Well not good enough! We need to know where our political candidates stand on child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault and racism. If we are ever to clean up the mess into which our public and political discourse had descended, it is up to us the voter, to ask the hard questions and ensure our vote will assist in resetting the moral compass to ensure women have safety within all aspects of their lives. Misogyny is alive and well and we can all take a stand in saying No More.
Pingback: Sex Appeal in Politics | Love versus Goliath : A Partner Visa Journey
Great work! 🙂
Go Betty! Well said.
Fired up & sharing the rage Bet…..with plenty of reason,too the rhetoric attacking women is vile & yes should be condemned not supported by the likes of TAbbott & Co..what a loser & aspires to be our PM !?Powerful,passionate post,keep it up Bet we need firebugs to keep the flames of anger burning for injustice/ abuse against women as displayed in the political arena of today!
Thanks Colleen. Together we can make a difference for a safer world for women
Plenty of men are victims of violence in our society. To grossly generalize as the writer does is frankly deeply offensive. Perceived abuse should never be met with abuse. To abuse another simply because one disagrees with their opinion is Stalinist like. I vote Labor and I was frankly bewildered by the self righteousness of the political correct jackboot brigade. A few of these people need to take a very good look at themselves in a mirror and lighten up.
Firstly I wasn’t aware I was “abusing” anyone. I was offering my opinion as a woman which surprisingly I am allowed to do. Calling out sexism & abuse. Yes men experience violence but predominately at the hands of other men. One in four Australian women will experience intimate partner violence across their life span. An appalling statistic. I am more than happy to “lighten” up when women are no longer being raped & murdered. Sexism is never OK.
Well done Betty. I love your work. You wrote that with passion and belief without descending into a rant and I agree with you whole heartedly. Thanks. 🙂
Thanks Stuart appreciate your comments. Great when men and women can stand together on this. A community safe for women is safer for everyone
A great response Bettie! A man running for the highest office in Australia should be aware that sexism has no place in our modern society and be working to ensure its eradication. Not Abbott! He continues to relentlessly demean women by his remarks and his patronising and thoroughly irritating parading of the women in his life to prove what a SNAG he is. All he does is continually demonstrate how little he understands the meaning of respect, and acceptance of women’s rights to be treated equally. He certainly does not deserve the honour of being our Prime Minister!
Thank you for your fabulous response. We can be a united voice against sexism & abuse
Thanks for sharing this Betty, I know yesterday was draining for you, so doing this would have been hard. Glad you did though, hopefully my open up some eyes as to where a bad attitude towards women can ultimately end up 😦
Yes, I understand it can also happen to men, AND it shouldn’t! But, fact is the numbers don’t even come close and from my experience the reasonings behind the ‘abuse’ are normally very different.
Men do not normally suffer this abuse because they are perceived to be a ‘lesser’ valued human due to the sheer fact they are female 😦
Obviously have quoted you & added to the blog lady, thanks again 🙂
Great feedback. Thanks Noely. I was drained but firmly believe the abuse of 1 women affects all women and we are all diminished by it. Safety issues for women are quiet different. I am part of a group trying to get pink taxis on the Gold Coast as the result of women been sexually assaulted by male taxi drivers…another story for another day….another part of women’s reality
Thrilled to read this.
To understate, I have a little experience in the area of abuse – repeatedly & in completely different situations – and, looking back, know that I am lucky to even be alive (no, I really mean that).
Yet I never once linked anything I experienced to sexism.
It seems extraordinarily naive now, but I always thought everything that happened was my fault: my stupidity, weakness,badness, bad luck, bad management, bad ME.
After all, equality had been won, women could be and do everything and anything, and men totally got that and knew it to be true…didn’t they? And those who abused were either bad exceptions, or they had momentarily lost control, or they were just kidding, somehow…weren’t they?
Every time I read an article about violence to women, the comment streams are invariably dominated by men making comments in the vein of Ian Cugley, ignorant,insulting, uncaring, defensive, that cut me and depress me and make me wonder if progress will ever be made.
Few women comment and I wonder why. Are they, like me, shocked that so many men can brush aside the indefensible behaviour, the overwhelming statistics – not to mention all the ‘collateral damage’ to relationships, children & the whole society – with such dismissiveness &, sometimes, pure aggression?
Are some, like me, too afraid of being attacked all over again by nasty, blaming responses to daring to speak up?
Silent No More. I like that idea, but I am sure you must know how hard it is to speak up when the pain it brings is so unbearable, and you just want to keep running, when you can’t see the keyboard for tears and can’t understand why nothing you have done has ever helped to make you feel better, stronger, better able to protect yourself.
You are so right to link the extremes of sexism to the everyday ‘casual’ sexism, because one speaks to and of the other. Having lived so long in ignorance and denial, I have some understanding of the comforting conspiracy of avoidance of recognition of what so many prefer to see as the happy banter between the sexes, and we can’t afford to lose our sense of humour or become paranoid. However, the cost of denial is expensive, and those paying the price at the brutal end of the scale absolutely deserve that we be Silent No More.
Sally thank you of your incredibly inspiring response. Spoken from experience, spoken from the heart. We can never allow our experiences and stories to be discounted. They are real and it is because of this that we understand that what effects one woman effects all women. Every time we read accounts of rape, violence and murder, it resonates with our own vulnerability as women. Together we can raise our collective voices and say Enough. Take care my sister.
Thank you very much Betty for writing this story at the end of a day that must have drained a lot of energy out of you. I’m a man and I totally agree with you: its not good enough. I’m deeply disturbed that someone like Tony Abbott (who punched the wall on either side of a woman’s face, who stood up in front of a banner saying “ditch the bitch”….the list goes on and on) might become Prime Minister of Australia. I’m really worried about what will happen to the psyche of this country at the hands of a political party with such an unevolved individual as Tony Abbott as leader (not to mention all his unevolved mates!).
Thanks Adrian. Its not only women who were affronted by Abbott’s misogyny but decent men everywhere. He has been allowed to get away with it by a compliant and complacent media. He should be publicly called out on his actions but isn’t. His treatment of former Prime Minister Gillard was appalling. I also worry what will become of this “nation under Abbott”. Our moral compass is slowing loosing its way!