In a recent interview, Lisa Wilkinson asked Tony Abbott a brilliant question. She asked him to name his greatest contribution to women as the Minister for Women in 2014.
In another stunning example of ill informed commentary, our PM and Minister for Women has said:
“I certainly don’t believe in that kind of political correctness. Let boys be boys, let girls be girls – that’s always been my philosophy…Above all else, let parents do what they think is in the best interests of their children.”
This was in response to the No Gender December Campaign, which seeks to highlight the fact that the Toy industry, along with toy retailers, are continuing to promote gender stereotypes that research has shown to be harmful.
Yesterday morning, I read Mark Latham’s latest offering in the Australian Financial Review. Ever since he famously called then PM John Howard an arselicker back in 2002 I’ve taken an interest in what he’s saying or doing. Primarily because he loves a good swear and speaks his mind- regardless of whether or not he should. I do that too, on occasion. That seems to be where the similarities end, thankfully.
Anyway, I caught the headline floating around in my twittersphere:
And I couldn’t resist. I clicked the link and read on. Admittedly, my eyes rolled so far back in my head in places that I may have missed a line or two.
I don’t even know what’s worse- Latham’s attempt at mansplaining feminism or his somewhat hysterical attempt to diminish a person because she takes medication.
For starters, this is the article he refers to, have a read if you haven’t seen it. Basically, the female author talks frankly about her anti-depressant medication. Now, anti-depressant medication is not something you put yourself on. A doctor prescribes it. They do so after diagnosing you with depression, right? Depression being a psychiatric condition. Lisa Pryor, the writer, mentions how well this medication has worked for her and how in being honest and open about it is not an endorsement of medication but rather:
“It is about the power of showing vulnerability, diagnosable or simply human, and how it makes others feel safe to do the same. I’d like to hope this helps build the kinds of connections that protect against psychological trouble in the first place.”
I quoted her directly there because I thought she put it so well- she exposes her vulnerability and humanity and hopes that in doing so, it may help others. It must have taken a lot to start doing that face-to-face, let alone in a national publication. Only to have Latham respond with the likes of this gem:
“At a personal level, it’s also cowardly: popping pills as an easy way out, instead of facing up to the responsibilities of adulthood.”
He takes the liberty of stuffing words into her mouth to suit his agenda while he’s at it. Once a politician, eh? For example, he touches on her being a medical student while raising two children (My hat is off to you, Ms Pryor!) then ignores that and talks about her as if she is solely a stay at home mum who is complaining about her lot in life. He also asks:
“How will the children feel when they grow up and learn that they pushed their mother onto anti-depressants?”
Yet, no where does Ms Pryor state that her need for anti-depressant medication is the fault of her children. That’s a pretty big leap. A better question is now how will they feel when they grow up and see that ex-politician Mark Latham has blamed them for their mother’s depression?
Personally, I think that acknowledging that you are depressed is a big thing in itself. Whether the help you need is medication or therapy of some sort- seeking that help is a big deal. I have known more than one person to suffer depression. I have suffered it myself at times. It’s bloody terrible and it’s really hard, if not impossible, to pull yourself out of it alone.
Lisa Pryor recognised the problem, got help and is now talking about it. She’s breaking down the stigma, she’s being human and vulnerable. And she’s doing it so that other people can talk about it too and maybe avoid depression in the first place. For this, Mark Latham is calling her a coward. When he got testicular cancer back in the 90’s, should he have just, what, toughed it out? Refused treatment in a show of idiotic “bravery”??
I have no idea if Lisa Pryor is a feminist. It wasn’t mentioned once in her article. But Latham has certainly taken the opportunity to blast us lefty feminists anyway.
He leveled a few other attacks I’d like to answer here.
” Why do people like this have children in the first place?”
Well, Mark, perhaps because people with conditions like depression are able to manage those conditions through appropriate therapies and it does not exclude them from being wonderful parents. That might be one reason why.
“Whether it’s my daughter’s smile, my eldest son’s Aussie irreverence or the belly laughter of my youngest son – these are my anti-depressants, every hour, every day. What is Pryor going on about?”
Lisa Pryor didn’t say her children don’t bring happiness. Not once. Depression isn’t as simple as being a bit sad. If your children’s smiles bring you happiness, that is wonderful. If you don’t require further treatment than that, you probably don’t suffer from depression (I’m guessing, I’m no doctor). Latham may as well get upset when someone else needs a cold and flu tablet because his nose isn’t running- that’s how much sense his outrage makes.
This was my favourite assertion:
So, Merriam Webster’s defines a neurosis as something based on emotional conflict in which an impulse that has been blocked seeks expression in a disguised response or symptom.
So, the belief that women should have the same rights that men already have is essentially a mental illness. You don’t REALLY want that equality! Not REALLY! You think you want it but really you want something else because you have a disorder.
Confusing. Because mental health conditions require treatment, right? But, according to Latham, seeking treatment for a mental health condition is cowardly.
What a quandary.
Latham also takes the time to compare his stay at home dad lifestyle to Ms Pryor’s:
“I’m sure I’m just as busy as her: looking after a huge native garden at home, cooking gourmet meals for my family, pursuing a few business interests, writing books and The Australian Financial Review columns and, most crucially, preserving time for my children’s homework, conversation and love. When I explain this reality to my male friends, they are incredibly envious. Each of them wants to swap places.”
All that gardening and stuff is JUST LIKE full time medical school. He may as well be given an honorary medical degree for all those gourmet meals. In all seriousness though, he neglects to mention that he is able to live this lifestyle with the aid of a parliamentary pension (Some $200K per year) income while still earning additional income from his writing commitments etc- something most of us child-hating, lefty feminists just don’t have the luxury of doing.
Latham then compares all women to those in Western Sydney and finds the rest lacking, because Western Sydney women don’t seem to suffer from Feminism. They don’t want to work and find joy in child rearing. Not like the rest of us child-hating lefties who only want to work and dislike all children but most especially our own, am I right?
Oh please. Feminists are everywhere, yes, even in Western Sydney, and many of us are doing our best to raise the next generation of feminists because frankly, the Mark Lathams of the world make achieving equality in my lifetime seem very unlikely. For the record:
Look at me there, hating all my kids with my shriveled, feminist, pinko heart *rolling eyes as I type*
What did you think when you read his article?
Julie Bishop was raised on a South Australian cherry farm. She grew up and studied hard, eventually graduating with a Law degree.
She worked her way up through the ranks of a couple of law firms (notably Clayton Utz where she attained managing partnership) before entering federal politics.
She is currently the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party. The first female to ever hold that title and only the third to ever hold the title of Deputy Leader of the Opposition. She is also the current Minister for Forgein Affairs. She is the only female member of Cabinet. Her list of achievements and political portfolios held is far too long to list here.
So it was disappointing as hell to read that feminism was not “part of her lexicon”, as well as a few other choice comments.
Jane Caro tweeted about how claiming not to be a feminist while reaping the rewards of feminism was pretty crappy (I may be paraphrasing a little) and she is absolutely bloody right.
The thing is, “feminism” ISN’T a dirty word. Feminism really is what got Julie Bishop where she is today. Obviously she also worked hard to achieve her goals, but without feminism, that wouldn’t have been enough.
Take her legal qualifications- in the early 1900’s it took years of campaigning by feminists to have law degrees earned by women recognised and for them to be allowed to practice. While such things as the Gender Pay Gap exist, while women are still subject to alarming rates of intimate partner violence and the subsequent injury, disability, homelessness, trauma and even death that come from it and while women experience barriers to equality in social and economic settings, we still need feminism.
It must be so easy to sit at the top of your game and disregard it- but I think that’s a slap in the face to every sacrifice made, every struggle and every battle won that allowed you to get where you are.
The Minister Assisting the Minister for Women, Michaelia Cash, was quoted back in March as saying:
“I believe in gender equality and if you want to label me as a feminist go ahead and do it. But certainly, labelling myself as a feminist, if that is a prerequisite now for being a Minister for Women, that’s ridiculous.”
But it’s not ridiculous. If you believe in gender equality, then you must acknowledge that we don’t have it.
If you acknowledge that, you’ll see that they way to make the genders equal is to give women the same rights, benefits and opportunities that men already enjoy.
It may not be written into the job description for being a Minister for Women, but it bloody well should be.
Otherwise, we’d have a Minister for Women ignoring the inequalities and disadvantages faced by women. And what would the point of that be? …Oh…wait…