After the events of last week, I’m appalled at the standard Australia seems to be willing to accept in regards to its own behaviour and the behaviour of our leaders. Accuse me of playing the gender card all you like, but I will not walk past it any more. You might consider joining me.
What all this tells me is that a large proportion of the people in positions of power across Australia – politicians and media pundits included – just don't consider the beating down of women to be of any consequence. Half the time they won't even acknowledge it, let alone take a stand against it, preferring instead to gaslight women and pretend it's all in their head. Are these the kinds of people we want making decisions for us? The ones who think mockery about women's genitals is bad when it targets no one in particular, but OK when it targets the Prime Minister?
The battle for liberation is apparently the last refuge for women unable to participate in an economy that places their sexual availability at a premium. Having someone want to fu*k you is evidently more of an aspiration than wanting them to see you as an equal human being in your own right, with opinions and thoughts worthy of consideration and an autonomy that is yours and yours alone.
If we’ve learnt anything from the tornado of retrosexism that gathers force whenever women in positions of power dare to speak openly about the inequality that even they face, it’s that women are expected to smile sweetly even as the most powerful one among us is being aggressively mocked and undermined. Protesting the rampant and ongoing degradation of women is obviously just a manipulative tactical distraction from the “real issues” affecting voting Australians.
Recently, I wrote that feminism was 'finding a way of being a girl that doesn't hurt' a way for girls and women to re-negotiate our understanding of the world so that we can become a full and equal part of it rather than just a means of decorating it; to move towards a place where the mere act of being a girl isn't used against us as both a threat and an obligation. Through feminism, I have found a peace of sorts from the sense that my femaleness required a constant apology so that I might be given permission to pass through these narrow corridors.
It would be rare to find a woman who hadn’t endured some kind of ridicule for stepping out of line. When the market dictates that a woman’s value is primarily attached to her looks and deferential behaviour, it’s the threat of sexually degrading insults that help to keep her in check.
Lieutenant-General David Morrison, Chief of Army, delivered a press conference last week in response to another revelation of sexism within the ADF. Unlike the Coalition, Morrison is prepared to accept the ADF has an ongoing problem with misogyny and violence against women. He sees it and he wants to remove it, because he holds the army to a higher standard than that. He holds men to a higher standard than that; he recognises that an imbalance in power exists that negatively affects women, and he is using his own position to change that because he understands the importance of women’s equal participation in public life. As he so eloquently stated, “The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.
In our current society, it is considered a weakness to be female and a treason to protest this. Highlighting inequality results in aggressive insults and threats, all of which are propped up by the repeated narrative now that women are ?playing the gender card’. And this is the final insult. That of all the unfair things associated with women – the violence and insults, the financial oppression, the very undermining of our worth as human beings – it is the acknowledgement of these inequalities that gives us some kind of unfair advantage over the men who benefit from them.
It hasn’t been a great week for women in Australia. Heck, it hasn’t been a great year for women around the world in general. But for women in Australia, this past week has provided an especially bad insight into just how unwelcome women are in public life as anything other than deferential, attractive playthings who accept their objectification as a natural, healthy part of a robust society that apparently doesn’t take itself too seriously.