Australia’s first female Prime Minister Julia Gillard a victim of vicious misogyny. This is highlighted by an article in “The Punch” where “tarnishing the country’s first female Prime Minister has gone beyond sexism to a visceral hatred, fueled by a passion far richer than the carbon debate”. Wikipedia quotes sociologist Allan Johnson’s definition of misogyny as “a cultural attitude of hatred for females because they are female”. Johnson argues misogyny has a central role in sexist prejudice and ideology. As such, it is an important basis for the oppression of females in male-dominated societies and manifests in many ways, “from jokes to pornography to violence”. CLICK for the speech by Julia Gillard to Parliament. And in 2018, Julie Bishop, previous Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister, criticized parliamentary colleagues for bullying and “appalling behaviour that would not be tolerated in law or business”.
Kerry Lovering, of WEL Victoria, emailed Radio National re their talk on sexism to say “WEL Victoria is very pleased that our first female Prime Minister Julia Gillard has condemned the sexist and misogynist remarks directed not only at her but every woman who exerts some power. Domestic violence and rape are the results of what begins as rudeness, indicating a contempt for women, particularly for those in power, followed by verbal abuse which is followed by physical abuse to women and men, leading to domestic violence, rape and suicides”.
The Rule of Male Law. The significant changes to years of male dominated law have only come about when women spoke out. WEL has always had a huge job to do. The law is a changing entity as women gained the right to own property, were able to divorce and gain the vote and stand for parliament. The law requiring neck-to-knee bathing suits went about 100 years ago! And then, more recently, the Marriage Bar was removed in the Public Service, Equal Pay begins and then the Sex Discrimination Act in 1984. But although there are laws about criminal behaviour the problem lies in prosecuting the perpetrator and getting justice for the victim. The rule of law is too uncertain to secure justice for many victims. And even more difficult is pursuing justice for a person who has been subjected to sexual assault. Children and teenagers are particularly at risk of not being believed. And crimes that occurred years ago are even harder. Rape and murder do not usually have witnesses. Grace Tame, The Australian of the Year 2021, has shown amazing courage and persistence for justice for women. We must speak out so that the rule of law ensures justice for all. Kerry Lovering, WEL Victoria member, March, 2021.
Women’s Electoral Lobby congratulates former Minister for Defence Stephen Smith for commissioning the enquiry into the Australian Defence Force’s sexist culture after the Skype incident at the Duntroon Academy. WEL member Kathy McDermott said “WEL is aware of the difficulties in working for cultural and organisational change and the sexist culture underpinning the social norms of many organisations in Australia. We hope many of them will read these reports and apply the changes to their establishments.”
Sexual Harassment. This affects women’s confidence and job satisfaction. The 2008 Survey by the Australian Human Rights Commission found that 22 percent of women had experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. A further 22 percent reported unwelcome touching, hugging, cornering or kissing, inappropriate physical contact, actual or attempted rape or assault, sexually suggestive comments or jokes as well as intrusive questions about their private life or physical appearance that offended them. The adverse publicity from “Four Corners” (ABC, 9/11/2020) around some Federal MPs and their harassment of female staff shows that this occurs even in the highest offices.
And more: at London’s Dorchester hotel a black-tie charity men-only dinner was attended by British business, politics and finance leaders of 2018 where the entertainment included 130 hostesses (some of them students earning extra cash) who were told to wear skimpy black outfits and underwear, and were later groped, sexually harassed and propositioned.
The Australian Human Rights Commission has released the results of their National Survey on Sexual Harassment. The former Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick, said that the report shows that women are victimized for reporting sexual harassment in the workplace. She claims that it is all about exerting power over others. This has given rise to the “#Me Too” worldwide movement .. and now “#Me Too PHD” in academia and “#Me Too MP” for the latest insult to Sarah Hanson-Young. In academia there are high rates of sexual assault in universities, so Labor Deputy Leader Tania Plibersek has announced a 3-year taskforce to combat this. In 2018, she told the National Press Club that there should be teaching in primary schools about relationships.
Sexualisation of Children. WEL supports an enquiry into child sexualization as seen in the child beauty pageants being promoted in Australia, and the development of a code of conduct for these (and other) children’s performance events.