Delusional: Having false or unrealistic beliefs or opinions
I have to wonder if the public announcement by Prime Minister Tony Abbott that he is a “feminist” was a ploy to win over women or a ‘stuff you’ moment to the many women who have challenged & criticized him. That such a statement was made at an International Women’s Day Event was breathtaking in its arrogance.
Either way, it demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of both the purpose & history of International Women’s Day as well as a lack of understanding of the basic principles of feminism.
While espousing his new-found feminism, Abbott declared that Australian women have “smashed the glass ceiling”. Further stating that “Anyone who is in Australian has won the lottery of life and if you look at our country and the deal that it gives to women; it is obviously pretty good”
What a ridiculous statement. Abbott refers to a handful of women who have had various measures of success in attaining prominent public roles. The success of a few women does not mean that gender equality has been achieved for all women. Abbott also fails to acknowledge his own role in the public abuse & humiliation of Australia’s first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. When one woman is abused and degraded, all women become vulnerable targets.
When he chose to associate himself with Ditch The Witch mantra and stood under those offensive signs on at least two occasions he well and truly earned himself the title of Australia’s Prime Misogynist.
As for smashing the glass ceiling, there are tens of thousands of Australian women who can’t even see the glass ceiling let alone smash it.
So much work still needs to be done in this country to further advance the social, political and economic status of women. So many women are still being left behind including Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Women, Migrant Women, Women with Disabilities, Homeless Women and Women as Single Parents. So much work still needs to be done to address violence against women in both public and private spaces.
Lifting women out of poverty still presents many challenges.
Many things here that Tony Abbott could have spoken to.
International Women’s Day presents an opportune time to reflect on the many achievements of women in advancing equality, justice, and the political & social advancement of women. It is also a time to reflect on where women still remain disadvantaged and shackled by violence, poverty, sexual harassment and injustice. The first International Day was held in 1911 and formally recognized by the United Nations in 1975. The theme for 2014 is “Inspiring Change”
The political, social and economic advancement of women has been at the core of the women’s movement for over a hundred years. This work has many faces and dynamics. The work of feminists may differ in causes, goals and cultural context but the essences is always the further advancement of women.
One of the recurring themes of the women’s movement has been Putting Gender on the Agenda
Within the first six months in office, PM Abbott has been busy taking Gender off the Agenda, when we consider that:
1) Only one women was appointed to Cabinet. At the time Tony Abbott said that “ he was disappointed that more women weren’t appointed to Cabinet but there are some very good and talented women knocking on the door”. At the same time he thought it appropriate to appoint himself Minister for Women
2) A pay rise for 30,000 child care workers was axed. The predominately female workforce had lobbied for increases which ranged from $3 per hour for childcare workers to $6 per hour for early childhood teachers.
3) A promised pay rise to 350,000 workers in the aged care sector was also axed Again an industry which employs a large number of women in part-time positions.
4) Changes have been made to the workforce gender reporting requirement to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency. Move from workplace with more than 100 employees to corporations with more than 1000 employees
5) Nothing has been done to address the 17.6% wage gap between male and female workers
6) Nothing has been done to address the enormous gender gap within superannuation which sees women retiring with 33% of the amount payable to men.
7) Nothing has done to address the enormous social, political and economic disadvantage of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander women as well as Migrant Women.
8) Nothing has been done to alleviate the suffering and degradation of women in detention centers both on shore as well as Christmas, Nauru and Manus Islands
These are by no means an exhaustive list of the gender inequities with Australian society. Violence against women in all its manifestations continues to be a largely untold story. The fact that “one punch can kill” is the reality for women in the home not on the streets is seldom mentioned in the current discourse on violence. We would rather speak to young women about their drinking habits than speak to young men about respect & sexual consent. Women are dying from domestic violence in what should be preventable deaths.
Of course there are male politicians and male community leaders who are working to address these and many other issues. And yes many men have been walking alongside women for decades in their struggle to gain justice and safety.
However when a man very publicly proclaims himself to be a feminist, then my expectation is that he has earned the right to do this. He has stood beside women, stood up for women, taken up their cause and defended their rights and provide a space for their voices to be heard &
Tony Abbott has not earned that badge. By appointing himself Minister for Women and announcing himself as a “feminist”, Abbott has taken ‘charge’ of women’s issues shutting down and shutting out women’s voices. Patronising in the extreme.
Maybe he should consider some of the many readings of John Stuart Mill 1806 to 1873 including the Subjection of Women. Mill was a political leader who earned the right to call himself a feminist.
I have always been proud to call myself a feminist. I honor the women who went before me & the struggles they had to achieve so much for women. How easy it is to take for granted many of these hard fought gains & benefits. I applaud the work of today’s feminists who still continue to work to make society a fairer, safer & more just society for all. IWD provides an ideal time to reflect on what we are doing to make our corner of the world safer and fairer.
Have a wonderful International Women’s Day