I had a very interesting conversation with a Sydney Morning Herald writer called Clementine Ford on September 16th. Scroll back through my tweets, an interesting read.
Personally, I am exhausted by people using the gender card as an attack point; this isn’t Yu Gi Oh.
I am baffled.
Yes, Tony Abbott has made some sexist comments previously, I am not excusing it; but Prime Minster Abbott’s policies [not that he’s enacted many, he hasn’t been PM a month!] rarely seem to get attacked without a personal attack on him. Unlike Kevin Rudd, when Abbott speaks, he talks about ‘party values’, he never makes himself the focus in any other capacity than as leader of the LPA, he doesn’t try too hard to be “fair shake of the sauce bottle”. He is fairly authentic; and some people like that, some people don’t. Fair enough!
Politics and personality have become dangerously intertwined.
But What About Gender, PIK?
I am a female in my early 20s and crossed the threshold into ‘Workforce’ after completing my studies in July. No fireworks and ticker-tape parades, you just get on with it. Which I’m happy to do. I don’t want to get caught up in gender ‘wars’ I just want to work, save money, adventure, meet people, have fun, rinse and repeat. I was told by Ms Ford that I didn’t have much to look forward to, that I would [implied] work my butt off only to see men promoted around me.
It varies by industry, and I politely disagreed with Ms. Ford.
I just want to get a job, kick butt at it, learn new things, meet new people.
I want to love my job and do exciting things, and that is what I’ll do!
Women in Politics..
Politics is not a cesspool of women.
Ms Ford did very aptly observed in our conversation, the LPA don’t pre-select enough women.
I see from an industry perspective – some women choose to enter hospitality, some choose private sector, some choose a trade, some choose politics. It unsettles me a little to hear people say women ‘should’ do things or be in more places etc. Am I not understanding something? As far as I’m concerned, women enter politics because they want to, not because they ‘should’.
We can do anything we want with self-belief and patience. Everyone’s experiences are different.
I’m Gen Y, I see people as people, I call a spade a spade and cat memes funny. Strange world, innit?
I saw a very interesting letter to the editor on Wednesday the 18th of September in the West Australian – “Labor’s women ‘failed in their jobs'”. It talked about women – Nicola Roxon, Penny Wong and Tanya Plibersek. The author attacks the portfolios they were in charge of, calling Roxon the worst Attorney General/Health MInister the country has known, the same is said of Penny Wong as Finance Minister. Subjective of course, but I enjoyed reading it because the author attacked the policies, not their gender.
Rwanda recently held elections, and 64% of the seats in their Lower House were won by women. I had this pointed out to me, and my first thought was – are women in 3rd and 2nd world countries seen differently to women in first world countries? Are first world women viewed as competitors? Are second and third world women viewed as more earthy, more nurturing – therefore better representatives?
But then the real reason struck me.
The 1994 Genocide. A lot of men were killed [a larger amount than women and children perhaps], and the population is probably still recovering. Note the majority or the population is under 20 years old? It’s been 19 years since the Genocide:
Source: CIA World Factbook: Rwanda
So sexism isn’t always the reason for gender imbalances in politics. Just adding some 3D perspective.
What do I think?
I believe women should be in an institution like Cabinet based on merit. I am unfazed by the composition of Tony Abbott’s Cabinet. He is surrounded by experienced Ministers, I am happy with that. If you’re hiring someone for a job, you want them to have the right experience – and working as part of the highest office in our great land, should heed no exception. Sport coaches rarely make changes to a winning side, particular experience of things could enhance your likelihood of success in future. It’s logic to me, not gender.
Tony Abbott didn’t have a plethora of women to choose from. You can’t be a politician without playing ‘the game’. Julie Bishop is in that Cabinet because she’s good at it, she probably enjoys it. People enjoy all kinds of strange jobs! She earned her stripes and deserves to be in that Cabinet; pretty proud that she’s my local member!
Perhaps political parties need to pre-select more women, means they might have to change their strategy a little bit to become more appealing. But then again, how far do political parties need to pander? At the cost of a solid mandate? Just a thought. The ALP will be reforming in the next few years, and the Liberals will have an experience of their own – learning what it’s like to be on the ‘other side of the Chamber’. Also, take a look at State Parliament, City Councils and Local Government before you cry sexism. It’s just one level of Government out of three, after all. It might not accurately represent Australia’s demographic, but a Federal Cabinet should be picked on merit, based on knowledge and experience in their relevant portfolio. Julie was Shadow Foreign Minister for what, 5/6 years before becoming Minister Bishop.
Australia took nearly 3 weeks for form a Government in 2010, people seem to forget. In 2013, we had a smooth, democratic, uninterrupted election, and we have a Prime Minister and Cabinet. Nobody died. Just like me in my own career pursuits, they’ve just got to ‘get on with it’ now. I intern, they run a country. We’ve all got something that we have to do!
As for Ms Ford, our experiences are very different at this stage, but the conversation was very stimulating. Women should do what they want to, what they get joy from – whether that’s raising kids, fighting the point in Parliament or fighting on the front line. No change is instantaneous. I accept Sexism exists, but it’s a motivator for me.
I came here to chew gum and kick ass, and I just spat out my gum.
Watch out world!
All comments welcome.
Hope you enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed writing!