In Feminism

“Misogyny” is defined as a “hatred of women”. Although Julia Gillard accuses Tony Abbott of misogyny, it is a false accusation as he obviously loves his mother, wife, daughters and sister and is loved by them. Furthermore he has a female Chief of Staff who has been described as one of the most influential women in Australia, he also has a female Deputy Leader of the Opposition with whom he works effectively and who has defended him against the Gillard gibes, so clearly he does not have a problem with “powerful women”.

It is interesting that when other Labor Ministers, female and male, were categorically asked by media interviewers: “Is Tony Abbott guilty of misogyny, are you saying he hates women?”, their replies fudged around the edges and the gist was “well he does have a problem with women”, followed by references to Alan Jones indefensible comments about Gillard’s father, and finally “let’s move on, we can’t have a kangaroo court on the Peter Slipper issue”. None appeared willing to say on TV “Tony Abbott hates women” because such a statement would be patently false.

Diatribes about misogyny from the feminist founder of Emily’s List, Julia Gillard, may be predictable, what is disappointing is that Peter van Onselen, professor of journalism and politics, has bought into the Gillard narrative, if not of misogyny at least of sexism. In his column There is sexism and then there are robust barbs (The Weekend Australian, 13-14/10/12) van Onselen seems to imply that the main problem with Gillard’s speech attacking Abbott was that it was made in the context of Peter Slipper’s atrocious texts about women, and that it was followed by a Labor function at which a joke was made about Abbott and his female Chief of Staff.

Van Onselen writes that his objections to “sexism” is motivated by concern for his three and five year old daughters and that he hopes these issues will be sorted out before they “grow up and have to endure such behaviour themselves”. So my On Line Opinion piece this time is dedicated to van Onselen’s daughters, and I hope they will be fortunate enough in an increasingly brutal world to not have to endure anything worse than the alleged “sexism” of the Australian federal parliament.

Van Onselen writes that he does not accept that Tony Abbot and/or his office were not aware that at a rally he was addressing there would be placards describing Gillard as a “bitch” and a “witch”. This is tantamount to accusing Abbott not only of sexism but of stupidity. Why would Abbott knowingly speak with placards in the background that would be damaging to his cause? Abbott’s ambition is to become Prime Minister, he is smart enough to have ended the career of one ALP Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, and is in the process of dismantling the Gillard government; he is not stupid enough to deliberately risk the loss of voter support by appearing to endorse vulgar placards.

The next accusation against Abbott is that in a round-table discussion he speculated “What if men are by physiology or temperament more suited [than women] to exercise authority or issue commands”. There is biological and empirical evidence that men because of their higher levels of testosterone will fight harder to achieve positions of power. In all societies throughout history, men have dominated leadership roles. Peter van Onselen should attempt to explain this phenomenon and why women have apparently allowed men to “discriminate” against them throughout recorded history. I am astounded that a professor of politics seems unaware of professor Steven Goldberg’s analysis in “The Inevitability of Patriarchy” which provides an explanation. Biology is not destiny, but it is statistical probability.

Then there is van Onselen’s objection to Abbott describing Gillard as “a piece of work” (a comment Abbott withdrew at Speaker Anna Burke’s request). “A piece of work” is a quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet and is actually said in admiration of human reason and faculties.

Denis Shanahan in “PM’s Gender War ends in a spectacular self-wedge” (The Australian, 12/10/12) mentions Anthony Albanese being all fired up because of Abbott’s “sexism” in assuming women do the ironing. Well the majority probably do—has Albanese conducted a survey to find out which sex does the most ironing? In any event, Albanese’s assumption that there is something demeaning about ironing is insulting to all those who iron, domestically or commercially, and as that uber-feminist Germaine Greer has pointed out, Gillard is in need of someone (Tim, here’s a ready-made role for you) to iron her jackets.

Then there is Abbott’s comment that women who have abortions are choosing the easy way out. He was stating the obvious—are Gillard and her handbag brigade implying that women choosing abortion are selecting the more difficult option? That it is easier in terms of time and effort to give birth and raise a child than to have an abortion? Logic does not appear to be a strong point with feminists—but I do recall reading somewhere that they define logic as a “male construct” and that feminists work by “intuition”.

The real tragedy is that by accusing Abbott’s of “misogyny” and “sexism”, Gillard and her cohorts trivialize the barbaric treatment of women and girls by the Taliban and the sex-selective abortion of female fetuses in China and India. Those are real examples of misogyny.

I hope that Peter van Onselen’s daughters grow up to be realists, not feminists, and that they will read not only Steven Goldberg but also writers such as Phyllis Schlafly (“The Power of the Positive Woman”), George Gilder (“Sexual Suicide”) and Lionel Tiger (“Women in the Kibbutz”).

 First published on Online Opinion—

 Babette Francis is co-ordinator of the Melbourne-based Endeavour Forum and the Australian representative of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer –

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