18 June 2013. Sexism is in a war for legitimacy. Sexism and women’s rights are certainly frequent topics, but in Australia’s general media they are still too often being treated as a peripheral not fundamental issues. And it doesn’t matter how many women bleat about it, unless evolved men speak up in leadership, legitimising sexism as a crucial real world issue, we will not progress. (Did you cringe when I used the word ‘bleat’? Yet that is how easily women’s voices are dismissed.)
If Abbott becomes our new prime minister the recent advancements we have made discussing feminist issues could easily fall away as they get repackaged as “noise” around Julia Gillard’s leadership. We need to build on this momentum not let it fade away.
When Julia Gillard’s perfectly sensible speech about issues facing women – to a women’s group – gets pilloried, we are in real trouble. Gillard’s now called ‘blue tie’ speech was accused of playing the gender card, of playing politics. Discussing women’s issues is political now? Just because the Liberals won’t talk about sexism except to decry it’s use as a political tool? Why is Gillard’s speech (please read if you haven’t) seen as trying to recall the electoral success of the misogyny speech? Is our first female PM not allowed to talk about women’s issues again? In the beginning of Gillard’s term as Prime Minister she was admonished for not speaking up enough for women’s issues. Now that she gave such a speech, to enthusiastic applause, broader feminist support wavers because of the election. Because politics.
When Anne Summers seems to be the only public feminist supporting this ‘blue tie’ speech, when programs from ‘Sunrise’ to ‘Q and A’ keep bringing out unevolved men (the few women aren’t given enough room to speak) to comment on sexism, the warning bells should be ringing loud. Sexism is NOT a political plaything and it is wrong to make it one. It is an entrenched societal, political and economic issue that needs deliberate and considered debate by knowledgeable men and women to progress. When feminists agree to comment within the framework that says “discussing sexism is playing politics, Julia is playing the gender card” we have done feminism a disservice. Thank you Clementine Ford for calling it out today.
The way the world works now, far too many men will only be lead by other men. Therefore evolved male leadership is what is needed to progress the conversation around sexism as real, relevant, serious, and critically important. Barack Obama’s support for same sex marriage legitimised support for it, and is turning that country around. Lieutenant General David Morris is clear about his support for women and is turning the Army around. Men need to decry sexism. Men need to publicly insist on the full inclusion of female voices, with the goal of normalising female leadership. Men need to accept and applaud the fact that conversations including women will probably change things. As long as evolved mens’ voices aren’t heard – those men who do exist but aren’t being given a voice – sexism will continue to be seen as a peripheral issue, or worse, a political ‘gender card’ to be avoided playing in future.
Liz Broderick has started a program called Champions of Change, of 22 senior men who “commit to actively advancing gender equality across our business and to act as public advocates”. Sunrise? Q and A? I’m sure some of those men will be available to speak. Invite them. Today we have also seen great rants from John Birmingham and Sam de Brito, yesterday Ben Pobjie contributed. Thank you. We need more such leadership. A lot more.