No Blue Ties Here
Since Julia Gillard made her speech about the blue ties taking over, I have been seeing them everywhere – whenever I switch on the tv, there they are, filling my screen – telling me lies and screwing not only women, but the poor, disabled and disadvantaged.
Of course, the blue ties are part of the uniform of the dark coloured suits. I have had nightmares about the white men in dark suits that run our world.
It’s a scary world! (Thank goodness Quentin Bryce wore such a lovely bright pink – she does stand out, doesn’t she?).
I grew up in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s. I grew up with feminism. I grew up believing in the future for women – that we had managed to raise awareness about women’s oppression and patriarchy and that whilst there were many changes to be made, we were on a forward moving path.
I think it was Anne Summers who said in her ‘Misogyny’ book that when feminists were able to effect changes in the laws and challenge sexist practices we did not believe that we could lose these changes. And yet that is what we are facing today.
John Howard in 2006 said he thought that we had moved into a post-feminist era.
So really we didn’t need feminism anymore? – take a look at the photo above before you make any rash judgements about this.
And perhaps this could have been believed when Julia Gillard became our first female prime minister – perhaps things were looking up for women.
Then came the shock of the vitriol, the sexism, the misogyny that was directed at our first female prime minister.
I have been a feminist activist for a long time – I have advocated on behalf of women who have been victimised by domestic violence, sexual assault and childhood sexual abuse. I have worked towards creating legislative change to help provide protection and remove structural barriers to women achieving safety from violence. So I’m not unfamiliar with the level of both physical and emotional violence that can be directed towards women – the level of hatred against women that exists in our society.
But I was shocked. Shocked and appalled about the public nature of such misogyny – that men in the media and politicians felt that it was ok to express such vitriol and hatred at a woman in a power position. I thought we had moved past that.
Regardless of what we think of Julia Gillard and her leadership of the Labor Party and the country; regardless of whether we think her policies were supportive of women – what was done to her as a woman resonated for women throughout the country.
And when finally…finally…Julia Gillard said enough…and made her misogyny speech it reverberated for women throughout the world. Finally a woman was standing up against sexism and misogyny that women face every day.
This is from something I wrote after Julia Gillard was deposed and the context in which her misogyny speech was made and why it resonated for so many women.
Each of us:
• Fear rape and sexual assault which impacts on our behavior every day
• At least 1 in 3 women experience domestic violence in their relationships
• We experience sexual harassment at work, at home and in the street
• Violence against women is the biggest health problem for women in Australia
• Our legal system – family law, criminal law etc. all fail to protect women from violence and abuse. It discounts and denies violence against women – it calls women liars.
• Women and poverty – single mothers are the most impoverished group in Australia
• Families, which are described as the “core of our society”, are not a safe place for women. When commentators and politicians talk of the importance of families they inevitably fail to identify the oppression that many women experience in families
On a regular basis, another male sporting hero is found to have raped, sexually assaulted or violated women.
But women are beginning to speak out, to challenge the blue ties and the dark suits. We may not have a voice in cabinet; we may be dismissed by the mainstream media but we still have a voice.
And Mairi’s Voice is one more.