Miranda Devine has skewered the Australian government's slurs, lies, and distortions against Tony Abbott, leader of the opposition. She suggests that the behaviour of Julia Gillard confirms some of the worst stereotypes of women. The antics of Gillard and her colleagues have brought disgrace and shame upon the heads of Australian females.
WATCHING Julia Gillard desperately flail around last week in the last death throes of her government, you could wish her prime ministership had been different. But as a woman I’m embarrassed, insulted and angry that the stocks of women in power have been brought so low.So, Tony Abbott is a misogynist. What is the evidence? Manufactured, concocted slurs and spin are being put forward as "evidence".
Playing the gender card is the pathetic last refuge of incompetents and everyone in the real world knows it. It offends the Australian notion of the fair go. Australians who were delighted, regardless of politics and the way she got the job, that a strong, agreeable, seemingly capable woman was in The Lodge, have been sorely disappointed, to the point of cynicism and despair, by Gillard’s self-indulgent performance “calling out” Tony Abbott on misogyny.
This was the best her enormous stable of spin-doctors could do to justify the accusations of misogyny they have been throwing around; it boiled down to five charges:
THAT Abbott did make sexist remarks in 1998, during a roundtable discussion with then-NSW Treasurer Michael Costa about the under-representation of women in positions of power.
Costa: “I want my daughter to have as much opportunity as my son.”Abbott “completely” wants his three daughters to have equal opportunities to take powerful jobs, but he asks whether men might have an innate advantage. He wasn’t asserting it as fact, but as a discussion point, and it’s well worth pondering.
Abbott: “Yeah, I completely agree, but what if men are by physiology or temperament, more adapted to exercise authority or to issue command?”
For instance, voice is very important to demonstrate authority. A man with a booming baritone will command attention. Height is another issue. Men are usually taller than woman, and height generally correlates with high office. But we all know people who command authority, whether male or female, just by the power of their personality. What qualities do they have that help them transcend any physiological deficits, and how can we learn from them?
In any case, the dearth of women in high places is hardly because of sexism any more than it is because they lack talent. It is mainly because of individual women’s choices. Many have passed up opportunities offered to them, in some cases ahead of equally deserving male colleagues, because they preferred to nurture their families. That’s the real silent conversation.
Charge number two against Abbott:
THAT in 2004 he did say: “Abortion is the easy way out.”
The line comes from a nuanced speech which Abbott gave in 2004, in which he concluded: “Even those who think that abortion is a woman’s right should be troubled by the fact that 100,000 Australian women choose to destroy their unborn babies every year.”
Any reasonable person would conclude that he was no extremist, was respectful of different views, and compassionate about the plight of women with unwanted pregnancies.This is the line which so offends the Prime Minister, in context:
“To a pregnant 14-year-old struggling to grasp what’s happening, for example, a senior student with a whole life mapped out or a mother already failing to cope under difficult circumstances, abortion is the easy way out. It’s hardly surprising that people should choose the most convenient exit from awkward situations.”Abbott’s offence is that he holds different views on abortion to those of most women in the Labor party.
But is that a crime? Abbott’s colleague, Opposition Foreign Affairs minister Julie Bishop, declared last week that she, too, disagrees with Abbott on abortion, “but I respect his views. They happen to be different to those that I hold. That does not make him a sexist at all.” And she pointed out “when he was the Health minister, at no time did he seek to change the laws in relation to abortion in this country.”
So what Gillard objects to is that Abbott holds a different opinion to hers. That is a worrying trait in the most powerful person in the country.
Charge Three against Abbott:
THAT he did make a throwaway remark about “housewives” doing ironing. Big deal.
THAT he did say: “If the Prime Minister wants to, politically speaking, make an honest woman of herself”.
Whether he intended or not to use a turn of phrase associated with marriage, Abbott certainly has made the prime minister’s honesty a central criticism, and one which bites electorally because of her broken promise on the carbon tax.
THAT he did stand next to a sign that read: “Ditch the witch.”
Abbott didn’t know the sign was there when he addressed that carbon tax protest. He didn’t create the sign or organise for it to be there. For sure it was offensive. But it’s dishonest to pretend he was responsible. The elderly protesters that day behaved properly otherwise. They didn’t smash down the doors of parliament house like unionists had done, and they were offended at being branded a “convoy of incontinence” by Gillard ministers.
So there it is, Labor’s entire case of misogyny against Abbott. It’s a joke, and yet all week long, ministers hit the airwaves to claim Abbott hates women.