Gender Equality

And Tony Abbott’s new Cabinet, which apparently has less women in it than Zoo Weekly’s staff meeting (and a million other variations on that general theme).

With the official swearing in of Tony Abbott as Prime Minister – debate has since swirled about the fact that Julie Bishop is the only female to be appointed as a Minister. Julie may be a formidable politician with a death stare that could stop Voldemort in his tracks, but even she should probably not be so noticeable in the standard post-swearing in photo op.

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I have watched the discussion with the curiosity of a person who has never experienced gender-based discrimination first hand (due to the amazing work of my bra-burning 1960s forebears – this is by no means an anti-feminist rant). I’ve never felt limited in any aspect of my life by the fact that I am a female. I have grown up surrounded by exceptional women who have made it abundantly clear that the most effective way of preventing this type of discrimination is to leave no one in any doubt that you are the best person for the role / job / whatever.

For these reasons, my first reaction to the suggestion of affirmative action is always to feel decidedly uncomfortable. I can’t help but feel that discrimination against an individual, in any direction and for whatever reason, is wrong.

A very interesting piece on the topic by Waleed Aly made me think more about this (and also had the side effect of concerning me that I appear to agree with Bronwyn Bishop):

http://www.theage.com.au/comment/learning-the-limits-of-small-lliberalism-20130919-2u2ec.html

Well played, Waleed. Well played.

But back to the topic at hand. Abbott’s decision to appoint himself as the Minister for Women is a tactically smart one – he is assuming responsibility for the decision to only include one woman in his Cabinet by taking on the responsibility for all women in Australia. He will certainly cop criticism for doing so, but probably only from the people who would have dished it out anyway.

The alternative, which would have been to hand the portfolio to Bishop, represented a token gesture so monumentally naff that it bears no further discussion. I can only hope that she would have responded to such a suggestion with this:

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