Thursday, October 11, 2012

Misogyny with a side of hypocrisy

About a year ago, you would have never had heard the word 'misogyny' garner so many utterances in the Australian media.

Just like Ms. Gillard's mispronunciation of 'hyperbole' in an interview sometime ago ('hyper-bowl'), this current fetishistic interest in the grammatical gleamings of 'misogyny' is an interesting one.

The media from time to time likes to indulge in wordy soups.

A dominant theme in the political discussion this year has been the sexist attitudes towards Ms. Gillard from certain elements of the media, with the two obvious perpetrators being broadcaster Alan Jones and cartoonist Larry Pickering.

I probably don't need to define the word given its context. It's a nice little technical word for sexism, but it makes it sound more naughty, and it puts an intellectual spin on the discussion.

So, from here on out, I will no longer use it.

Monday this week with Parliament returning to sitting, a big blue over former Speaker Peter Slipper was brewing.

The Opposition tried to vote him out after sexist (misogynist?!) text messages to his former staffer-cum-accuser James Ashby about the female genitalia. 

The Liberals had reached the logical conclusion that Mr. Slipper's position as Speaker was no longer tenable, especially given the fact that he stilled enjoyed the pay and perks of the position, despite that he wasn't actually doing the job.

This provoked Ms. Gillard into launching an attack on Mr. Abbott, who had outlined why Mr. Slipper wasn't fit for the position. That speech from Ms. Gillard made international headlines, and reinvigorated somewhat the feminist movement in political circles, and in general.

As outlined in my previous post however, that same Monday a group representing single mothers was protesting on the lawns of Parliament about the government's proposed plan to cut single parenting payments and move them over to the Newstart, our unemployment payment.

A Labor backbencher that same morning had made her view known that, yes, it maybe isn't such a good idea, and maybe it was also time to bring to light to the fact that the Newstart payment would plunge single mothers further into poverty.

The argument could also be made that employers aren't exactly looking for people that haven't worked in 8 years (the payment is to be stopped once their youngest child turns 8), and that it might be increasingly difficult for them to find suitable work.

And maybe it's not such a bad idea, right; being that the days of the house wife are over, that the feminist sisters have liberated each other from the chains of housework, and that to be at home with child is now burdensome on society.

The fruits of thine womb are secondary considerations, and just should think themselves lucky they're even here at all and weren't flushed down a toilet.

So one may ask the question - is that why Ms Gillard's impassioned speech on sexism in politics (I'm sorry, misogyny) gained a million times more the attention than the single mother issue? 

Is it more of a sexy, headline-grabbing issue than single mothers?

All signs of course point to yes. And if feminists in the media were truly concerned with women and not their own agenda, they would have given the single parent issue at least some air and print time, or at least an inkling of acknowledgement.

But as always in Canberra, theatrics overtook the issue of policy in the form of Peter Slipper's comparison of vaginas to shelled mussels - and I'm not kidding - that's what the text messages were about, you cannot make this preposterous nonsense up.

We even had the live cross to Parliament at 9PM on ABC News 24, just to show us the predictability of it all.

Given that Julia Gillard's government policy is to get tough on single mothers (and don't we all love a good welfare-bashing now and then), there was really no room to question her on it after her bluster in Parliament. 

I don't even think one member of Labor had to face the media directly in the form of live questioning on the issue, because the Slipper affair completely creamed the agenda. There may have been some superficial soundbites about single parents being in employment being a good thing, but nothing of substance in the form of questions, or alternative police positions.

And given that the Liberals will most likely back it in the Senate, there's no public two-and-fro debate possible as there was on the boat people legislation, which of course ended in Labor forgetting their principles and siding with the Liberals and re-starting offshore processing.

The Greens may oppose it, but they too were carried away on the anti-sexism express.

And so the end of the week has come to pass, and we are all mourning the Bali Bombings, with Gillard and Abbott both flying out on jet planes.

The agenda will conveniently be reset for Monday.

The issue of governing the country and giving attention to the lesser beings of society will be all too much tedium for the media and its audience, and so we'll again have some theatrics to distract us.

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