Hey, Australia? We need to talk.
I thought we were better than this.
I was wrong, and apparently very, very naïve.
There’s been a lot of talk this week. A lot. There’s been nasty rhetoric and a great deal of discussion around “playing the gender card”.
The public (and private) discourse in this nation of ours has disintegrated to despicable lows. We have lost our manners, our respect for others, and we should all be ashamed.
Yes, Australia. I’m saying it.
The so-called Gender Card is played, because we have a gender problem.
In a week where our first female Prime Minister was denigrated via a menu (regardless of whether it was in public or not), and was subjected to a line of questioning that was beyond belief, the Shadow Treasurer tweeted that the PM was not deserving of respect.
Irrespective of your views on her politics, Prime Minister Gillard is the victim of bullying. There’s no two ways about it.
And this bullying is, without a shadow of a doubt, because she is female.
There’s a plain and simple way to test for gender-based discrimination. Would that comment/that action/that phrase etc. ever be directed to a male? If the answer is no, it’s sexism.
It doesn’t matter who you are, what position you hold, or whether or not you’re in the public eye. We all deserve respect. Men, women, children, however you identify. Respect for a person should be a given.
What we often overlook is how these public denigrations of women act as a normalising force. They give legitimacy to every sexist person to degrade, oppress and harm any female, in any way they choose.
This week alone we have seen a case where a man brutally raped and murdered a woman while he was out on parole for a number of other rapes. Assaults that were among a disgusting 16 total rape convictions over twenty years.
Sexual assaults are underreported violent crimes that disproportionately affect women. They are also crimes that have much lower rates of successful prosecution than other violent crimes.
Then there was yet another scandal involving the Australian Defence Force. More evidence of a systemic problem within the ADF, where women are the primary victims.
There’s no denying it, Australia.
We have a gender problem. And we should all be deeply ashamed.
We’ve lost our common decency; that part of us that reminds us that we all deserve safety, respect and equality, regardless of gender.
So, I’m issuing myself a personal challenge. I will speak out, whenever a gender-based slur is used. I will call out those who denigrate someone simply because she is a woman. Because it does have a flow-on effect.
And it stops with me. And it should stop with you.
It should stop with all of us.