Stephanie Peatling has written an article appropriately titled: PM’s timely swipe at sexist treatment.
The article by Ms. Peatling summarises some of the ways in which our Prime Minister is treated differently; because she is a woman. This attitude I believe, originates with Tony Abbott’s original statement that Julia Gillard, Prime Minister would deliberately use her gender as a woman to some sort of advantage. The opposite has been so.
Did Tony expect Ms. Gillard to lift up her petticoats and squeal when challenged?
As events came about, it ended up being Tony himself with the petticoats and squealing.
It is not necessarily overt references to the inferiority of Ms. Gillard’s gender, but rather it is subtle put-downs. Sarcasm, which is a put down is often used as a tool in order further lower the status of any female (or indeed any person), who might dare to complain.
Stephanie Peatling calls attention to this in her article:
I’m pretty sure enduring cartoons making fun of the size of your bottom, remarks about your marital status and smutty innuendoes about ”getting into bed” with people constitute sexual harassment in the workplace.
Unless your workplace is politics.
At one stage I lost count of the number of times which Tony Abbott addressed Ms. Gillard, and managed to insert the phrase, “getting into bed with”. There is also our Café Whisper’s “favourite”, that Tony Abbott appears to choke on the words Prime Minister Gillard, or even Ms. Gillard – to Mr. Abbott, she is The She.
I fully appreciate that this might be difficult for a person of the non-female gender to completely understand. For a majority of women it has been a life long event, from the time one was told that girls aren’t welcome.
Although many women have been accused of being “precious” about girlie calendars and risqué jokes, women know for a certainty that these calendars and jokes would not be presented in the same put-down manner to one’s sister or daughters.
Then there is the backlash, would it be worth the effort to complain when the attitude is likely to be that the female is accused of being: 1. too precious, 2. cannot take a joke, 3. trying to cause trouble and 4. is likely to be ostracised and/or subjected to even worse treatment.
It’s all about undermining the person, and the attempt to take away their credibility.
For this reason alone, this tactic is being used by Abbott’s Liberals.
In attempting to discern whether the treatment of Ms. Gillard is sexist in its intent, I pose a question: Can a politician, either male or female use sexist comments against another man? The clear answer is No, he or she cannot. Could for example, Julie Bishop call X politician a gay, cross-dressing tart? J. Bishop may indeed like to, but of course such sexist comments are taboo; unless that is, your intended victim is a woman.
Stephanie Peatling concludes her article with:
Is this the start of Ms Gillard calling out sexist behaviour? I doubt it. She can’t, and won’t, play the victim. But it was good to see her do it just for once.
Sexism has been a powerful political tactic, it’s intent being to undermine. Let’s hope for future female politicians that their policies will come under more scrutiny than their hair, dress sense and the size of their derrière. Nor that male politicians will think it all fair game to use a woman’s gender as method of attack.
I would now ask Tony Abbott to explain his original statement that there is a political advantage in being a woman.