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Tony Abbott: a confused, conservative sexist, but not a misogynist

When Prime Minister Julia Gillard gave her now famous speech attacking Tony Abbott, millions of women around the world cheered. Her denunciation echoed and fuelled their anger at being unfairly judged…

Strategists on both sides of politics want to influence women, with the Liberals repositioning leader Tony Abbott as socially moderate to fend off Labor attacks branding him a misogynist.

When Prime Minister Julia Gillard gave her now famous speech attacking Tony Abbott, millions of women around the world cheered.

Her denunciation echoed and fuelled their anger at being unfairly judged because they were women and missing out on what they believed was their dues.

Initially, Australian media and commentators and party strategists were caught short, falling back on masculinised biases that failed to recognise women’s genuine response to a carefully crafted, but heartfelt attack. However, once the strategists recognised their errors, both sides decided to elevate their version of the gender card to enhance their election chances.

Will this sudden interest in women by the political strategists either influence voters or the policy options on offer? If so, who will benefit?

The success of US President Barack Obama with women voters certainly struck a note with ALP apparatchiks; if it worked there, why not here? Pushing an anti-Abbott campaign based on his presumed misogyny and sexism was seen to be a winner and the PM’s gender as such was a clear advantage.

So there were well publicised meetings with “mummy bloggers” (in itself a sexist term) as well as a flurry of digging for generally low cost, already underway, gender issues, such as the first tranche of funding for equal pay case.

There was already a wide grassroots feminist debate on how to ensure that Abbott would not be our next prime minister because of his retrograde attitude and actions on a range of fertility control issues. Led by Leslie Cannold and fed by Susan Mitchell’s 2011 book Tony Abbott A Man’s Man, there was already a vocal network who - in political terms - were playing the man and not the balls.

Forgive the pun, but I am concerned the focus on Abbott’s character means that the many reasons I would not like to see him as our next PM, mostly relating to the party he leads and its extraordinarily neo-liberal, pro-business tendencies, will be overlooked.

As possible PM, Abbott is not feminism’s worst enemy. He is a somewhat inconsistent, confused conservative with the attached sexist views on gender roles, which he seems to be trying hard to minimise. He is not in my terms a misogynist.

I know there are arguments that misogyny and sexism have overlapping meanings but I’m sticking here to the useful distinction between a view of gender as the basis for entrenched discriminatory differences, and those who have a pathological deep dislike of womenkind and an antipathy to what they may stand for.

Abbott fits the first, but not the second category, and seems to have a wide range of female friends. How he copes with women in power is not clear as he is boss of his office and presumably has some say in his family, and has good female friends, but not bosses.

The Coalition was caught out by the macho images of the attacker they were promoting, as they thought they had a good pitch. So they had to move to a defensive mode. Julie Bishop took on the attack dog role in the AWU assault late last year, and Abbott’s spin-meisters made sure his office’s and household’s femininity and approval were evident.

He was pitched as a soft touch, as a good man and maybe even a little henpecked. He came out as being sympathetic to child care problems, and while I don’t see his free-market approach as the fix in that policy area, it will attract some female voters.

While these strategies would not convince solid pro-choice women, they may work on other women, particularly when Abbott’s chief of staff, Peta Credlin claims she can argue pro-choice issues with him. Credlin also says he supported her IVF.

Shadow foreign affairs spokeswoman and Abbott’s chief of staff Peta Credlin have been deployed to soften his image with women. AAP/LUkas Coch

There is the danger that Gillard’s own claims to be a good candidate for women may take a bit of more flak. Yes, she is our first female PM, which is nice in principle but in policy terms, she has real flaws in her feminist credentials.

At the time she was making her speech on Abbott’s sexism, the Senate passed legislation drastically reducing the income of nearly 100,000 sole parents. This came into force on January 1 2013. At the time, I commented that sexism related to policy making as well as political debates but had limited coverage. Now, thanks to Jenny Macklin’s gaffe about the adequacy of Newstart, that issue is very evident.

The voting surveys are interesting as a “gender gap” among voters exists but even so, in most polls, it is still a minority of women that prefer the ALP and Gillard.

The question of character is not likely to be a major factor as mutually-slung mud has diminished both leaders. Both are relatively unpopular and it seems voters will focus on competency issues and policies.

Therefore I am concerned that the current campaign may fail to connect with voters in any significant way but also weaken the possibilities of debating good social policies.

This is the area where real gender issues arise and neither party is focusing on addressing income inequality, and inadequate welfare and community services.

Join the conversation

93 Comments sorted by

Comments on this article are now closed.

  1. James Jenkin

    EFL Teacher Trainer

    Is it problematic to label someone 'a sexist' (as in the heading) rather than describing their behaviour or attitudes as sexist (as in the article)?

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to James Jenkin

      Maybe...then again, maybe it's just the brevity required of a good headline...I get the distinction you're trying to make, bu tI'm not sure it really matters much in the end.

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    2. Joe Gartner

      Eating Cake

      In reply to James Jenkin

      @ Felix: th distinction is quite important. Labelling someone as 'sexist' is like labelling someone as a 'mummy', I suppose. You cannot rail against the generalisations implied in one label without rejection the inferences of all labels... Unless one keeps a sense of proportion and context, that is. But that's not what this is about, is it? Making distinctions between mild and glib comments and actual hatred has never been a skill particularly adherent to the sanctimonious commentariat.

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    3. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to James Jenkin

      Joe, I wasn't aware that I'd 'railed against' generalisations at any point - but, please, if you can actually find the quote as evidence of your claim then please provide it - otherwise, please admit that you have simply put words into my mouth.

      If you notice, including the posting that got removed, I have done nothing but object to what I thought were pointless and ill-thought-out postings. Where you drew the idea that I railed against generalisations or labels, I'm guerssing, comes from the same place that allows you to feel comfortable using dog-whistles like 'sanctimonious commentariat'.

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  2. Michael Shand

    Software Tester

    What a load of fluff, to claim that reducing the income of sole parents is sexist must also mean that any policy that impacts either males or females in a negative manner is sexist

    Not giving a tax cut to billionaires is sexist, billionaires are almost exclusively male (Jst like sole parents are almost exlusively female) and to attack their income is a sign that feminism is attacking men......its dribble, it cannot be believed by a thinking person

    Also your claim that Tony Abott isnt a misogynist but instead just confused and sexist...well okay then, let me get my pen and vote for the guy, I didnt realise he wasnt a misogynist, if he is onyl sexist and confused - well thats the kind of leadership we need in this country.... - your entire article is vacuous

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    1. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Michael Shand

      @Felix MacNeill - My comment was an online comment from some random on the internet, if you think its reasonable to hold the same standard to a published Article as to youtube style comments section then I dont know what to tell you mate

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    2. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Michael Shand

      So, Michael, you are saying that the medium determines the quality requirements? Fair enough if you're talking careful editing, punctuation, spelling, etc. - one accepts that a response like this is informal and should be more reasonably judged by the standards you would accept from oral communication, rather than written. But, last time I checked, I don't think you have 'permission' to talk crap merely because you're talking, rather than writing.

      Given that we're on the subject of Tony Abbott, your comment is eerily reminiscent of Abbott's own observation that things he says are not necessarily reliable compared with carefully scripted remarks. I seem to recall that, quite reasonably, this was not well accepted an dpretty much o nthe basis of the same argument I've used above.

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    3. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Michael Shand

      @Felix MacNeill
      ."But, last time I checked, I don't think you have 'permission' to talk crap merely because you're talking" - Actually you dont need permission to talk crap, permission from whom exactly? your talking nonsense - but have you asked permission?

      "Abbott's own observation that things he says are not necessarily reliable compared" - I stand by my comment, your question about "Well Reasoned Evidence" makes no sense

      What I said in my comment was that claiming that policy such as…

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    4. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Michael, I guess my putting that word 'permisson' in inverted commas might have alerted you to something?

      Frankly, I still maintain that, if you're going to use terms like 'load of fluff' and 'your entire article is vacuous' might be better accepted if you provided some substantial counter evidence

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    5. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Michael Shand

      @Felix MacNeill

      "might be better accepted if you provided some substantial counter evidence" - That makes no sense, what evidence would you expect in this context?

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    6. Carol-Anne Croker

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Sorry to disagree Michael but I find Eva's article anything but vacuous. If one eliminates the party political discouse and positions re media spin on both sides, we get to an important argument at equality..
      The cutting of sole parent pension rates when a child turns eight de values parenting, that of sole fathers and sole mothers. we are forcing sipole parens to work in highly casualised, insecure unskilled employment simply to 'instil a work ethic in the next generation'? really?
      This is based…

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    7. account deleted

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Carol-Anne Croker

      "The cutting of sole parent pension rates when a child turns eight de values parenting"

      How? It simply recognises that a school age child needs less attention from the parents. There are lots of things that change their state over time, with no value-judgements. Failing to recognise those stat-changes is simply silly.

      I have two young men who rent rooms from me. Both are on unemployment benefits, both seem to have little prospect of working more than sporadically, since they spend their time…

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  3. Joe Gartner

    Eating Cake

    Happy with the article except with the contention that 'mummy bloggers' is sexist. How should this cohort of society be described? Non-gendered humans that happen to have borne children and are participating in web-based media?
    What is the unwritten assumption behind the word 'mummy'? To me it means a mother who is writing a blog, presumably because fathers who write blogs are called 'daddy bloggers' homosexuals who write blogs are called 'queer bloggers' and feminists who write blogs are called cat's bum, sanctimonious descriptor haters.

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    1. In reply to Joe Gartner

      Comment removed by moderator.

    2. Joe Gartner

      Eating Cake

      In reply to Joe Gartner

      Perhaps, Felix, you could illuminate me upon why an offhand comment such as 'mummy blogger' is such a crime against women?
      I could hardly be described as a misogynist, or even indifferent to women, yet I am guilty of describing the claremont, WA 4wd mother's convoy at 4 pm as the 'bob haircut cyclist murderers', 'yoga cappuccino set' and other epithets. In much the same way as I might describe the beers willing footy goers as yobbos or academics (despite being one) as 'pointy headed navel gazers'.
      Probably stems from having:
      1. A sense of humour
      2. A sense of proportion

      If I was offended by every descriptor attached to me over the years I guess I would become a sociologist and do my PhD in 'the felt experiences of an oft maligned heteronormative whit male in an overtly hostile heterogenous social milieu and the overly flippant social media commentary thus engendered'

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    3. Joe Gartner

      Eating Cake

      In reply to Joe Gartner

      Wow... Felix's comment was removed! And as ad hom attacks went it was like being assaulted by a nerf bat.
      I take back my 'cat's bum' comment now, that was a bit harsh.. Let's replace I with 'po- faced'.

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    4. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Joe Gartner

      Joe, I said nothing about anything you're accusing me of, I merely observed that your observation was pointless and rather childish.

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    5. Marilyn Shepherd

      pensioner

      In reply to Joe Gartner

      Many were not mummies at all, they were simply adult women with points of view who did not ask any pertinent questions about anything but themselves.

      Tedious little girls whining about child care as if it is a born right to have kids and then give them to someone else all day while you wander off and do your own thing.

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    6. Carol-Anne Croker

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Joe Gartner

      Surely a scholar is doing precisely that? whiity and humous labels which happen to generalise about social cohorts actually form a serious area for sociological research. It is only by deconstructung the associations that we discover 'lived experiences and are able to represent our current culture and perhaps understand political voting patterns, economic models etc.

      If nothing else the women's movement allowed such valuable social commentary and analysis, however in online commentary and logging we often sacrifice nuance for brevity at the risk of being. Viewed as lacking balance or intellect :-(

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    7. Carol-Anne Croker

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Marilyn Shepherd

      I am concerned that you state the the negative response to this policy comes from 'tedious little girls whining about child care. I think this is off the mark. The rise in average age for pregnancy gives lie to that statements statistically. And as a women nearly 60 I never thought it a devibe right to have a chil but a privilege. Like many working mothers I hated 'handing my son off to other people all day.
      I grieved. I missed his first steps. I felt I was missing such an important time of both…

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  4. account deleted

    logged in via email @gmail.com

    There is no "sudden interest in women by the political strategists" as the founder of the Women's Electoral Lobby way back in the 70s well knows. In fact, the fact that women are readily manipulated to vote en bloc has been a factor in every election since Whitlam's. The power of women's magazines and the current power of the mummy bloggers is based entirely on that tendency of women to collectivise.

    Otherwise, not a bad article. I'm coming to quite like the reinvented Eva Cox. Hard as it may have been to imagine in earlier times, she is becoming a voice of reason in an increasingly shrill feminist landscape. If only some of our female Parliamentarians could say the same (particularly Gillard, Roxon, et al)

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    1. Carol-Anne Croker

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Shand

      I pray that you are correct...we need a louder not shrill feminist landscape for increased social equality!

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  5. account deleted

    logged in via email @gmail.com

    I don't do the bidding of trolls, Michael. If you want examples, I suggest you read the papers.

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    1. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to account deleted

      So no examples of why you think we live in a "Shrill Femmenist Landscape"

      Not even one example, its strange, its almost like it doesnt exist

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    2. account deleted

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to account deleted

      Passive-aggression does not an argument make, Michael. If you disagree with my view, put your own and give counter-examples. I'm well satisfied that my views are properly founded and your trolling is not.

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    3. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to account deleted

      @Craig Minus

      Im sorry craig, Im not argueing with you, its just you said that we live in a "Shrill Femmenist landscape" which is very interesting, just wondering why you think this?

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    4. account deleted

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Michael, my name is Minns, not minus. My phrase was "shrill feminist landscape".

      You're no more than a rather rude troll with poor spelling skills and little capacity for rational discussion and as such not worth bothering with.Goodbye.

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    5. Adrian Tosello

      Student

      In reply to account deleted

      Michael Shand seems to be the one attempting to have a rational discussion here, Craig. It's rational to come to a conclusion based on evidence. What are some examples that you see as typifying the "shrill feminist landscape"? No ad hominem plz bro

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    6. account deleted

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Adrian Tosello

      I'm afraid Michael is a serial troll, "bro". I have come to my conclusions based on evidence and I see no reason to pander to his (or your) proddings.

      Thanks.

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    7. Adrian Tosello

      Student

      In reply to account deleted

      Yeah you don't have to pander to anyone or supply evidence for anything.. unless you want people to take your post seriously. lul.

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    8. account deleted

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Adrian Tosello

      Actually, "bro", I have no interest in whether trolls "take [my] post seriously". "lul"

      Have a lovely day under your bridge.

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    9. Carol-Anne Croker

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to account deleted

      Craig I do not understand why you decided to turn the discussion negative by usingbthe term trolling. This site does have commentators who share openly their agenda, usually well reasoned and thought about. We are ready for discussion

      P
      Please doas this helps clarifyPlease do not attack us and democratise the issue. as for the 'poor spelling' reference. I too make these errors. it is often more due to my own lack of touch-typing ability and late life adaptation to tablets and touch keys, coupled with glasses.

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    10. account deleted

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Carol-Anne Croker

      hi Carol-Anne, Michael is a serial troll, i'm afraid. He didn't ask a question that was designed to elicit information, he was trying to cause me to dance to his bidding. I have often expressed a similar view and given references previously, as he well knows. He has previously been abusive over my expression of those views, so he is obviously not remotely interested in my references.

      On the subject of spelling, I have no problem whatever with people spelling poorly, but Michael's misspelling…

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    11. Carol-Anne Croker

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to account deleted

      Perhaps the air breathed into the fires of online discussion is due to a lack of nuance. Many voices in the public sphere are indeed 'shrill' but over the years this term had been specifically linked to women's voices raising objections and challenging the status quo. Some of the most shrill voices do not come from people I would correctly identify as feminist, neither men nor women.

      It saddens me that any debate so easily shrinks to abusive and personal attack even under a guise of civility…

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    12. account deleted

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Carol-Anne Croker

      I agree completely with your point about nuance. It is that nuance that I appreciated in Cox's article and which has been missing from the offerings of professional feministas like our PM. I hope that this new approach is influential on those unreconstructed gender warriors who want to fuel genderised conflict.

      The something wrong in Denmark is in my view down to the ill-informed efforts of self-servers to construct a new social reality in which they come out on top. You'll note the rhetoric and action is all about getting more women into positions of leadership, while welfare is being reinvented as something that middle-class women need. Yes, there are other factors, but in my view the would-be gynarchs (damn, I thought that was a new coinage until I looked it up) and their sycophants are most at fault, since they are deliberately rather than incidentally trying to drive gender disharmony, to the detriment of all as Barbara Pocock's AWALI work clearly shows.

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  6. Tony Simons

    Director at Bedlam Bay Pty Ltd

    Excellent article. Abbott’s chief of staff, Peta Credlin is a great manipulator and she assumes we are all cretins. Both Abbott and Gillard and the two Bishop women and Mirabella are Thatcherites with a neoliberal and very hardline agenda.

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  7. Michael Leonard Furtado

    Doctor at University of Queensland

    Well argued and yet again a timely reminder, esteemed Eva, of the value of policy literacy, as opposed to spin, in educating the electorate en route to their exercising their crucial right to vote! The systemic policy issues we will decide upon later this year are too crucial and complex to risk being misinterpreted, reduced, potentially sidelined, and indeed deliberately occluded through a superficial, distracting and misdirected focus on the individual personality traits and foibles of the two principal contestants, rather than their party platforms.

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  8. Chris Saunders

    retired

    You say “unfairly judged because they are women”. You do mean judged on things other than those pertinent to the job, don’t you?
    Were these mummy blogger meetings initiated after the misogynist speech, my memory says no on that.
    Playing the man and not the balls? The man’s record speaks for itself. The man is the position, just like Tom Cruise and John Wayne, he plays himself.
    Because he appears to have a wide range of women friends is no evidence that the man is not misogynist, that he uses…

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  9. Meg Thornton

    Dilletante

    I'm seeing this everywhere - all these Reasons Why Tony Abbott Should Be King.

    Perhaps I should explain. One of the things which has been really puzzling me about the Liberal party's media strategy, both for the 2010 election, and for the upcoming one, is that we aren't seeing them put forward "reasons to vote for the Liberal Party". Instead, we're seeing loads of reasons why we should vote for Tony Abbott.

    Forgive me for pointing out the obvious, but I, and the vast majority of the Australian…

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Meg Thornton

      Couldn't agree more, Meg.

      I think it's a far wider perception in the Australian electorate - in part caused by exponentially increasing coverage of American politics - that we live in a presidential system. You saw early indications at the time of the republic referendum when people fet deeply offended that their democratic rights would be diminished if they were'nt able to directly elect the 'president' - even when it was explained that the 'president' would really just be a figurehead to replace…

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  10. Adrian Tosello

    Student

    Interesting to see how this article has been interpreted by MSM:

    "Feminist rejects Abbott ‘misogynist' tag

    A PROMINENT feminist has knocked the idea that Tony Abbott is a misogynist and says some of Prime Minister Julia Gillard's policies are sexist."

    http://t.co/szC8CGrq

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Adrian Tosello

      Yup, but about the least surprising thing I've heard all day.

      The saddest thing is that it makes it almost impossible to deliver a nuanced argument, as Eva Cox attempted, without being misquoted in the either/or modern media.

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    2. Carol-Anne Croker

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Adrian Tosello

      A problem with the decimation of news/editorial staff, especially sub-editors and the push towards tabloid headlines by all media outlets...as a marketing strategy. We no longer have enough serious analytical debate in the opinion pages and columnists go for easy headlines, unfortunately.

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  11. Philip Dowling

    IT teacher

    It concerns me that so many journalists and commentators reduce politics to leadership analysis, ignoring the reality that winning electorates is the real issue.
    Kristina Kenneally was more popular than Barry O'Farrell at the time of the last NSW state election.
    The ALP's "trump card" against John Howard was Kevin Rudd who is now ...
    This obsession with personality leads to the media grab - perfected by Bob Carr, the photo opportunity, the brief media release.
    These all cloud policy and governance issues.
    I find it disappointing that the next election seems to be shaping up as a gender contest, where the main reason to vote for a party is that the leader happens to be a woman.
    Will this be the first election won or lost by a battle of photos in Women's Weekly, New Idea, Marie Claire ?

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    1. account deleted

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Philip Dowling

      "Will this be the first election won or lost by a battle of photos in Women's Weekly, New Idea, Marie Claire ?"

      No, that's been going on for years.

      I too find it absurd that the ALP is trying to run this election as a gender war. What's more, their vision of gender is limited largely to the middle-class. Women from low SES communities are treated as second-class citizens, which is a complete perversion of the ALP's founding principles. Moreover, men from those communities are treated even worse, effectively used only as bad examples by the Gillard push.

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  12. Marilyn Shepherd

    pensioner

    Isn't it sexist to climb over the backs of 4 fairly decent male leaders after supporting those same male leaders just so she can get a better job?

    Gillard does not seem to care particularly about any group except those right wing nut bags who got her the job she covetted.

    As a 60 year old woman I found that speech the most pathetic whinge I have read in years, didn't listen because nothing she says has any interest for me.

    There was nothing there about the rights of all the women she was in the process of persecuting, nothing about the rights of women except hers.

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  13. Andrea Shoebridge

    logged in via Facebook

    I agree that Abbott is not misogynist in the sense that he is firmly embedded in a society that is rabidly misogynistic and is only an unreflective product of that. It is the lack of reflection or original thought that is most disturbing about the thought of Abbott as PM, a man grimly gripping reactionary ideologies of the past when we need flexible, informed debate to keep finding our way through global and local complexity.

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    1. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Andrea Shoebridge

      Given that 51% of the society is women, I always find it puzzling that such unanswered claims pass for intelligent comment. We have women's refuges, women's health groups, women's legal groups, but no corresponding male groups. Female health problems receive much more publicity than specifically male ones.
      I presume Andrea's comments were well-informed. Perhaps she can illustrate her points with quotes from Tony Abbott's books.

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    2. Carol-Anne Croker

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Philip Dowling

      Phillip I notice that you often post prevocative comments along the lines of me man and victim too! There are certain men's groups in the Community balong the lines of women's activist collectives however they are far outnumbered by the officially sanctioned upper eschelon Men's Clubs, Private Clubs, Professional Associations who purport to offer women entry yet they still keep the structures and discourse disuasive. Please spend more time looking at the research on patriarchal social structures…

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    3. account deleted

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Carol-Anne Croker

      "Might I ask does male health like death by gun violence (predominantly a male phenomenon) not get public discussion and research? Howabout prostate cancer research and advocacy? What about the very vocal group that suggest the Family Court is biased against fathers? Less publicity, I beg to differ."

      You've been looking hard if you've seen much on any of those topics in the MSM, but nearly every day sees some feminist advocate having a whinge, usually about nothing at all, such as the spurious…

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  14. Sue Ieraci

    Public hospital clinician

    Slightly aside to the topic, but anyone notice the photo above showing two women, and titled "Shadow foreign affairs spokeswoman and Abbott’s chief of staff Peta Credlin have been deployed to soften his image with women"?

    Take a look at those outfits - two power jackets with enormous padded shoulders, one wild-animal print, one sombre.

    This is softening his image? (just saying)

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    1. Carol-Anne Croker

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      I call this the Thatcher Effect. Women in power never taken seriously by general public, commentariat or their colleagues without adhering to masculist norms of dressing. Just ask the much maligned 'lipstick feminists' of the eighties and nineties how far they achieved progress in this area of appropriate professional sartorial signification?

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    1. Carol-Anne Croker

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Spiro Vlachos

      Let's not even follow the logical media ownership issues inherent in the headlines at various 'mainstream' media. That is why this site is so important for discussion, debate and reasoned reflection.

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  15. Dale Bloom

    Analyst

    “were playing the man and not the balls.

    Forgive the pun,”

    Feminist’s seem to have a fascination for men and their “balls”.

    I think it a part of penis envy.

    If someone hasn’t been called a misogynist by a feminist, then they really haven’t lived.

    But the big question regards our feminist Prime Minister, (apart from whether she will actually marry the current boyfriend she lives with in a taxpayer funded house), is why didn’t she hand the Leader of the Opposition over to the police, or some bipartisan committee to investigate his so-called misogyny.

    Perhaps the feminist Prime Minister just wanted to carry out some feminist type character assassination on Tony Abbot, but didn’t actually want his alleged misogyny investigated, to find out whether it was true or not.

    What an inspiration is our Prime Minister, but only for a feminist.

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  16. Anthony Nolan

    logged in via email @hotmail.com

    Oh thank God for Eva. I was considering not voting for him because he was a sexist and a misogynist but now I know he insn't the latter then I'll reconsider.

    Not.

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  17. Ron Chinchen
    Ron Chinchen is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Retired (ex Probation and Parole Officer)

    My concern about Abbott is that I suspect he feels morally bound in a number of issues, rather than recognising that there are no hard and fast rules to anything and that its important to adapt to the mood of the people at large, while still being sensitive to minority views.

    I dont think he's a misogynist as such. More like he's bound to an olde world morality that is now 50 years out of date. He means well and is probably at heart a person who wants to do what is right. But he's not adaptable and I suspect when the crunch comes he will act based on his moral beliefs rather than what the public want of him.

    This is why I think in the Liberal Party Turnball is a far better option because he's not seemingly myopic, and is flexible enough to read what the public are asking for, not what he thinks is right. The difficulty with someone who thinks they are in the right, is that they fail to see the reality of situations and that generally there is no ultimate right..

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  18. Peter Redshaw

    Retired

    Eva, the trouble for Tony Abbott is that his attacks on Julia Gillard have been very personal and vitriolic as has been the attacks on Gillard by those he associates with as well as many of his supporters. That is the problem. The robustness and aggressive nature of these attacks and the language used all lend themselves to this image of being a misogynist. In having a female opponent neither Tony Abbott nor his supporters have been able to moderate the aggressive nature of their political attacks…

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    1. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Peter Redshaw

      @Peter Redshaw

      Yours is an analysis I don't share. The real problem is that Gillard and her associates in Emily's List have deliberately set out to make the debate about gender rather than policies. Tony Abbott has an ability to put his foot in his mouth, but personally I don't accept the "sexist" label attached by Eva. It is just too glib.

      In fact her article reeks of damning by false praise. Our debate would be enlightened if debate moved to policies rather than personalities. Abbott's negative comments have in fact been directed at policies. A convenient truth ignored by his detractors. McTiernan's stink is all over the personal attacks on Abbott. The shame is that it is being delivered by a group of female politicians who really need to look at themselves.

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    2. Peter Redshaw

      Retired

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Peter, it is your right to disagree with my analysis of Eva's article, as it is your right to support Tony Abbott, but it also my right to disagree with what you have said. You see the thing is that our public persona tends to be viewed by what we say and who we associated and what they say. Now I do not know Tony Abbott personally and I have never met him. So I do not know for certain if he is sexist or fits into the old or new meaning of being a misogynist.

      Because I do not know Abbott personally…

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    3. Carol-Anne Croker

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      How many women in the Emily's list group do you know personally Peter S? Is any form of Affirmative Action anathema to you? What if it was racial based? Is that okay? Does the mere existence of Emily's list mean women progress up the ladder who are not meritorious? Or is it that the way merit has been defined (and systemically sexually loaded) for decades might just be the reason so many people jump to these conclusions. Might I suggest reading the very early (and continued) research by Professor Barbara Pocock and her colleagues at Uni of SA?

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    4. account deleted

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Carol-Anne Croker

      Carole-Anne, Emily's List is a sexist organisation designed to exclude men from Parliament. A similar group that had as its express aim the exclusion of women would be declared illegal under discrimination legislation. Yes, its existence does mean that non=meritorious candidates progess, since their selection criteria do not include measures of merit other than gender and support for their agenda. A woman could be as dumb as a post and provided she was sufficiently fulsome in her support for that…

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    5. Carol-Anne Croker

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to account deleted

      Ah Craig after discussion we are finding common ground. Whilst I refuse to gerneralise about all women in the Emily's list collective, many are indeed middle class educated (even privileged) women. However this does not mean they share the same political agendas as the ALP do have many differing shades of political perspectives. Many of these women especially the youngest cohort I have found to be concerned with equity od opportunity and equity of access. If you perceive some sitting members from…

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    6. Judith Olney

      Ms

      In reply to Carol-Anne Croker

      Very well said Carol-Anne, and I agree totally. A very insightful post indeed, and one of the reasons I enjoy the conversations, on The Conversation, so much. Thank you.

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    7. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      My I did stir the possum didn't I.

      Carol-Anne

      I do happen to know some of the member's of Emily's List. But that is immaterial. You have totally missed the point.

      Peter Renshaw,

      Thanks for the dissertation of your views. But if you examine the record Abbott has never attacked Gillard personally - his criticisms have always been directed at her policies and her actions. Contrast that with her and her associates very personal attacks on Abbott.

      The problem with the gender politics that is being engaged by Gillard, Roxon etc etc is that it is fundamentally baseless. I suggest you examine the record in context - not the grabs that this very desperate group of incompetents is so busily espousing. They are an embarrassment to all women.

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    8. Carol-Anne Croker

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Totally missed which of your points specifically? That you wish to name and shame ALP women for not complying with policy? Not challenging their leader? Taking advantage of Affirmative Action initiatives? Deemed as non-meritorious under your unidentified criteria?

      This discussion is multi-faceted and at least I thought it was a discussion about discourses of misogyny and sexism, not left/right polemics or adding to the wedge politics positioning in our current electoral system.

      I did try to respond directly to your comments but can only see that every time a gender issues is raised here the entrenched gender wars gets played out, and often without nuance or subtlety.

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  19. Judith Olney

    Ms

    Politics over the last couple of years has shown me that politicians have lost touch with the people they are supposed to represent. Government is about who can support the rich, and beat the poor the most. Both major parties have taken on this challenge with gusto. Both play to those that hold the view that the poor, (whatever circumstances have led to them being poor), are scum, and need to be punished.

    All the rhetoric, and mudslinging is about obscuring the real purpose of today's political…

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    1. Ron Chinchen
      Ron Chinchen is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired (ex Probation and Parole Officer)

      In reply to Judith Olney

      Regrettably Judith, you make a lot of sense.

      I think of my now deceased mother, who became so frightened about what was happening in the community, she feared going out at night and held firm every paranoid exaggerated assertion made by the shock jocks, especially Alan Jones etc.

      Yet most of what she feared was pure illusion perpetrated by politicians and shock jocks jostling for their next ratings or election win.

      We may have probably one of the best political systems in the World, but it needs a serious overhaul.

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    2. Judith Olney

      Ms

      In reply to Ron Chinchen

      Politicians want to invent enemies for the masses, preferably pitting people against each other, men vs women, rich vs poor, working vs unemployed, religious vs non-religious, that would fare so much better if they ignored the dog whistles and calls to battle.

      The ruling class, be they politicians, aristocrats by virtue of birth or marriage, or the mega wealthy through access to privilege that most others simply don't have access to, have always hated those less fortunate, its just that now they…

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    3. Carol-Anne Croker

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Judith Olney

      I still query whether this article is about our existing political leaders and electoral system or a broader analysis of linguistic tropes in public discourse. This is what upsets many women. We are not stupid enough to fall for the mudslinging and labelling used in wedge politics. We are offended at the belief we may just be so ignorant or ill-educated by our lived experiences to not be valued by society as a diverse group of individuals with talents and abililties necessary for the functioning of a healthy society. We are not all 'witches', 'activists', 'trouble makers' ... you know those formerly disparaged as feminists. I proudly am a feminist but what I seek is equality and respect, from both men and women commenting on these issues.

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    4. Judith Olney

      Ms

      In reply to Carol-Anne Croker

      Carol Anne, you may not be stupid enough to fall for the mudslinging and labelling, but there are plenty that are, either through deliberate ignorance, ideological bias, a lack of education, or simply a lack of critical thinking. This goes for both men and women.

      This article is addressing politics today, and its my belief that, although there is still a prevalence of sexism and misogyny in our society, this particular issue is not being addressed in any meaningful way by our current crop of…

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    5. account deleted

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Judith Olney

      Judith, very well expressed. The feminist model as practised by the Gillards and Roxons of the world is about nothing more than creating a new class warfare. The self-serving male lawyers who infest the modern ALP are happy to let them do so, since it means they can safely ignore the people in the non-favoured class.

      Women are very prone to collectivise, especially in the face of perceived treat. The clever and pernicious thing about feminism is that it abuses that collective drive to manipulate…

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    6. Judith Olney

      Ms

      In reply to account deleted

      Craig, I don't believe this tactic is anything to do with feminism or some sort of feminist model. It is a tactic used to divide people, that's all. It could just as well be called a masculinist model, as feminist.

      I also do not agree with your view that the aim is to make "Mum" a second class citizen, the tactic is to divide society so as to control the wealth and power, and concentrate it in the hands of those already holding it. It is a tactic used against people that are poor and powerless…

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    7. Carol-Anne Croker

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Judith Olney

      Yet we can't give up...what about future generations and indeed our security and dignity as we age?

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    8. Judith Olney

      Ms

      In reply to Carol-Anne Croker

      I agree Carol-Anne, we cannot give up, please ignore my statement about giving up, it is a case of becoming so exasperated sometimes with the level of non-debate that exists in politics today.

      The level of petty point scoring, back biting and mudslinging, in place of any reasoned, intelligent debate, is very frustrating, it is tempting to disconnect and disengage. However, I think our future is too important to really give in to this temptation.

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    9. Carol-Anne Croker

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Judith Olney

      Oh course it will get worse. Anyone living at the end of suburbsn train lines and the outer regions of our rural cities know that class warefare exists and an alienated angry underclass is developing in front of our eyes.

      It is not simply media focus or shock jocks. I will not ride the Frankston train from Melbourne after dark simply from experience, not media sensationalism. It is sad that I only feel safe when pso staff are in my carriage. I cannot afford the car maintenance and uel tyo even…

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    10. Judith Olney

      Ms

      In reply to Carol-Anne Croker

      I share your frustration at being socially and politically excluded, Carol-Anne. I live in a small remote town 800kms from the state capital, so events, free or otherwise are out of reach for me.

      However, we have a strong local community, and we take our politics seriously. Our state MP for this area is excellent, and is one of the few politicians I've ever met that thinks and acts for the constituents of his electorate, rather than simply following the party line. The difference I think, is due to the fact that he has lived and worked in the community he serves, for most of his life, and understands the issues that effect the lives of people on a daily basis.

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    11. Carol-Anne Croker

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Judith Olney

      I know two very good men who represent our local area and electorates (State and Federal) yet both have chosen to align themselves with the Conservative Government despite many policies being against the interests of their constituents. They do not even have the ethics or strength to battle for the right to technical education in Victoria against their own Party lines. The Federal representative has to toe the Party line even on environmental issues he knows will impact our seaside community and…

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    12. Judith Olney

      Ms

      In reply to Carol-Anne Croker

      Totally agree Carol-Anne, our federal representative, (and I use that term very loosely), has basically been elected gone to Canberra and hasn't been heard from since, either inside or outside the parliament. He no more represents his constituents then my old dog, and I suspect my dog would at least be more vocal. This elected member just votes along party lines, (conservative), even when the policies are in direct opposition to the needs of his electorate. I think politicians only pretend to care…

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  20. Nev Norton

    Farmer

    I thought the "Misogony Speech", was a brilliant tactical ploy by the ALP, how better to deflect criticism and engender sympathy against criticism that comes from a male towards female members of the cabinet, than by being able to hide behind a gender tag, and simply cry misogony, in order to silence male members of the opposition, yet allow those same female members to indulge in whatever behaviours they like with impunity.
    Given the robustness and passion involved in political discourse, unjust remarks are going to be made on both sides of the house, and I'm equally sure female members are well capable of dishing out as good as they get, otherwise they wouldn't be there. What this speech has delivered is substantially a means of censure. In politics that can never be a good thing.

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    1. Carol-Anne Croker

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Nev Norton

      Might I correct the perception that misogyny is a tactical ploy. Whilst agreeing in this instance it was a misuse of the terminology, let me assure you the pathological hatred of women does exist within our societies and hides beneath the guise of a civilised community. However the defining principles of our social structures are indeed systemically masculist no matter how you look at it. This in turn gives the 'non public' discourse a de facto validity.

      I for one am sick and tired of offensive…

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    2. Nev Norton

      Farmer

      In reply to Carol-Anne Croker

      Hi Carol, I disagree (in part), to the point of my argument that the speech served a political purpose in parliament, to in effect censure debate, above what is required by the standing orders and enforced by Anna Bligh as the speaker of the lower house and John Hogg as President of the upper house. As we all know politics can get quite heated and passionate, and it's passionate people we want in there, our system of government is adversarial, yes unfortunately things are said in the heat of the battle that could have been better left unsaid.

      I'm well aware of the existence of misogony and general hatred in sections of the wider community, Some are as a result of poor upringing as far as respect and tolerance goes other are more multiculturally infused. As far as abuse and certain types of offensive behaviour in public goes I agree with you 100%, offense and abuse of the types you mention are unacceptable. In any case your argument goes beyond the scope that my argument related to.

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    3. Judith Olney

      Ms

      In reply to Nev Norton

      Hi Nev, the speaker of the lower house, or house of representatives is Anna Burke, not Anna Bligh, I suspect this is just a typo on your part, and it would be great to have an edit function in the comments section on here :)

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    4. Nev Norton

      Farmer

      In reply to Judith Olney

      Hi Judith, Yes of course it is, how I came to write Anna Bligh I don't know, I didn't even pick it when I proof read, good old brain synapses I guess.
      Thanks for correcting me, I appreciate it.

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    5. Carol-Anne Croker

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Wilson

      Another commentator who plays the 'person not the ball' and the habit of purposely mispelling a person's name is disengenuous.
      It has happened elsewhere in this forum to a commentator of the opposite opinion to mine.

      I note as fact that in both instances the name mis-spellers were men. Should I analyse the posts by listed occupations and make similar personal assumptions about these men's souls, state of emotional balance, happiness of fulfilment? Or should I examine what is being said, as examples of perhaps valid experiences which just may allow for analysis of systemic social inequity?

      Foolish me, why think that the personal can be political and has a place within reasoned academic public debate. I am suitably chastised by yourself and Craig. Not!

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  21. Michael Leonard Furtado

    Doctor at University of Queensland

    I'm fascinated that Eva's perspicacious remarks about misogyny have led to this three-way discussion about what's wrong with Australian politics. Unless I'm mistaken there's a nostalgic plea in here somewhere for a return to a form of class politics, which went out the door once Germaine harangued our sisters and future partners about what the hell they were doing nurturing us males at the I968 barricades instead of tasting their menstrual blood. (I kid you not; I was there at the Oxford Union when…

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