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Patriarchy under siege: the rise and rise of gender

It was a bad week for the patriarchy, but then again there have been a few of them lately. While it wasn’t a female president being re-elected (some of us still think President Hillary Clinton would have done a better job over the last four years), gender was front and centre in Barack Obama’s re-election and the defeat — defeat after defeat — of conservatives in the Senate and on social issues referenda across the US.

Something’s happened this year on gender in English-speaking countries at least, not just on women but for men, and particularly a certain kind of man — powerful, wealthy, white males used to a social and economic structure that handed them authority almost as of divine right. And it’s bound up with the interconnectedness afforded by the internet and social media, which links people who share languages regardless of national boundaries.

That’s the process by which the video of Julia Gillard savaging Tony Abbott over misogyny leaps from Facebook account to Facebook account, from tweet to tweet, and breaks out of social media onto web-based news sites then into the foreign mainstream media in the space of a few hours. In which vile comments by Republican males about r-pe are rapidly reported by local media, circulate across the globe within hours by social media and require formal rebukes from the party standard bearer. In which a UK newspaper picks up Tracey Spicer’s wonderful assault on media misogyny in Australia. Meantime a once unchallenged media outlet here pleads it is the victim of bullying and even terrorism after a social media-led campaign against Alan Jones’s advertisers.

As Donald Trump’s post-election tweets this week showed, there are few things funnier than a privileged old white bloke losing his sh-t when he realises he won’t get his way.

At some point we’ll start talking (again) about “the feminisation of the internet”, how a space that was once, and of course still to a great extent is, characterised as a male space, one dominated by males and not merely any old males but males of a particularly s-xist frame of mind, the younger, geekier version of old white men, is being transformed.

Social media — especially Facebook, which women seem to use significantly more than men — is a key engine of that transformation of the internet into a space where women’s voices aren’t merely being heard but are a force to be reckoned with, and where the casual misogyny that characterised so much of the internet in days past is increasingly being targeted, albeit not without reaction. Moreover, in countries like Australia it is now being reinforced by the feminisation of politics, which creates a feedback loop on gender issues that we can see playing out right now.

Whether the re-assertion of gender as a key political issue translates into renewed hope for Julia Gillard going into an election year depends on quite a few things. The Labor Party has plenty of s-xism to go round in its own ranks. And few Australian conservatives are prepared to sign up to any war on women in the way that, apparently, many GOP candidates are. Still, Labor has made Tony Abbott’s alleged s-xism a real issue, doing back to him exactly what he has been so good at doing to Labor — recasting an issue on his terms. Many in Labor would like to see gay marriage — an unexpected winner for Barack Obama — embraced as a similar tactic to further define Tony Abbott as a man of the past. Gillard herself, not to mention a number of homophobes in Labor ranks, is the obstacle there.

Still (alert: segue coming up) this week we also saw that the patriarchy can have principles. The Australian, a newspaper so close to its old white male readership that reading it is like a prostate exam, yesterday railed against the practice of governments leaking to the media. “Sections of the media have been eager to run the government’s political lines and leave the serious policy analysis to others,” its editorial writer lamented about the government’s leaking of a Treasury costing of some Coalition policies. “This sorry episode deserves an independent inquiry.”

Now, I know this will shock some readers, but let me be the first to congratulate The Australian on its principled stand. Its commitment to rigour and consistency will assuredly mean that it will never again run a story based on something selectively leaked to one of its journalists by someone in the government. No more “on-the-drip” sources, no more unsourced pre-budget stories about what budget night will bring, no more friendly drops from ministers, no more stories about the contents of a speech to be delivered the following day, no more briefings done by public servants that are handed on to a compliant Oz journalist to give a shared enemy a kicking (I know first-hand of that).

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56 Responses

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  1. Oh come on! Reading The Australian is nowhere near as much fun, (or as necessary, or useful) as prostate exam!

    by Holden Back on Nov 9, 2012 at 12:59 pm

  2. I tink the whole gender issue is being a little overblown, yes obama won what 55% of the womens vote but he also won the Latino vote, the youth vote and the black vote and given the white vote is decreasing rapidly in America (both genders)as a percentage of the population the black & latino votes might have more importance.

    Also in Australia yas Gillards speech struck a chord but all it did was crystalise perceptions in voters minds (of both Abbott and her, positive and negative) the bigger reason for the ALP’s comeback is that crystalisation occurred at a time when Abbott’s porkies about the carbon tax are being realised and people are starting to question whether he has anything other than attack, whether there is a policy in there somewhere that is positive.

    by Jimmy on Nov 9, 2012 at 1:24 pm

  3. women have it easy compared with gay males. Fact.

    by justin cotton on Nov 9, 2012 at 1:26 pm

  4. Justin Cotton - “women have it easy compared with gay males. Fact.” Any other massive generalisation you would like to make? Asians are bad drivers, perhaps?

    by Jimmy on Nov 9, 2012 at 1:32 pm

  5. Agree that Gillard’s attacks on Abbott’s supposed mysogyny are a mistake, because most intelligent voters know it reeks of double standards. What if he was to call her a ‘misandrist’, you’d never hear the end of it.

    I’m no fan of Abbott and wouldn’t vote Lib under any circumstances. But the reason for any lack of support he has is that people know he is a one trick poney, conservative fuddy duddy, and has no positive policies of his own.

    by justin cotton on Nov 9, 2012 at 1:34 pm

  6. It’s just my view Jimmy, call it opinion. I think there’s good grounds for saying so. I’m tired of feminists going on about how important they are and how evil men are. It’s very divisive.

    by justin cotton on Nov 9, 2012 at 1:36 pm

  7. Justin Cotton - “Agree that Gillard’s attacks on Abbott’s supposed mysogyny are a mistake” Who are you agreeing with? I never said it was a mistake, just that it wasn’t a massive vote changer, just sharpened peoples focus.

    by Jimmy on Nov 9, 2012 at 1:37 pm

  8. Justin Cotton - “It’s just my view Jimmy, call it opinion.” You are entitled to your opinion, just don’t try to call it fact.

    by Jimmy on Nov 9, 2012 at 1:38 pm

  9. I don’t recall women being denied the right to marry who they love (unless they are gay), or being beaten up, verbally villified, tarred in the media by the likes of Margaret Court or Corey Bernardi, just because they are women. Pretty solid general evidence there. I’m not discussing how individuals experience life, I’m talking about the treatment of groups here generally.

    by justin cotton on Nov 9, 2012 at 1:40 pm

  10. Regarding the other topic, whether I was agreeing with you or not about Gillard’s attack on Abbott?

    What a nit picker. Well I say it was mistake, because I haven’t met one male who agrees with it, even though they might detest Abbott. And there’s probably a fair few women turned off by it as well.

    by justin cotton on Nov 9, 2012 at 1:45 pm

  11. Justin - “I don’t recall women being denied the right to marry who they love (unless they are gay)” So it isn’t gay men that are worse off than women but gay people men & women?

    Have Gay men ever been denied the right to vote?

    Has a gay man ever been denied a job or promotion becuase of the fear the will get pregnant?

    ” I’m not discussing how individuals experience life, I’m talking about the treatment of groups here generally.” I find it’s best o not to do that too much, try to compare who’s been vilified or mistreated worse.

    by Jimmy on Nov 9, 2012 at 1:51 pm

  12. I’m talking about right now, you fool. Sounds like you could have a homophobia problem yourself.

    by justin cotton on Nov 9, 2012 at 1:52 pm

  13. Voting has nothing to do with, since no-one has had the right to vote taken away from them. Right now.

    I’m talking about right now not the historic situations. What happened to gay men in the past, executed or worse?

    Let’s go down that track shall we?

    by justin cotton on Nov 9, 2012 at 1:54 pm

  14. Regarding the other topic, whether I was agreeing with you or not about Gillard’s attack on Abbott? What a nit picker.”

    No it’s not nit picking at all, I didn’t say and don’t think it was a mistake, for you to say you agree with me that it was a mistake is completely misrepresenting what I said. Would you say I was nit picking if I agreed that women had it worse than gay men.

    And while you may not have net any men that supported it, there are plenty who did and I am one.

    by Jimmy on Nov 9, 2012 at 1:54 pm

  15. Also a gay man has been denied a job or promotion just for being gay. Or lost a job because of it, as I did in 2001 or so.

    by justin cotton on Nov 9, 2012 at 1:56 pm

  16. I find it’s best o not to do that too much, try to compare who’s been vilified or mistreated worse.”

    Oh really, then what is it that the man hating feminists do every day of the week?

    by justin cotton on Nov 9, 2012 at 1:58 pm

  17. I have no problem with gay people just don’t like people trying to say all gay men have it worse than all women, why do we need to measure these things and compete for who has it worse.
    There is plenty of discrimination because of s-xuality (for both men & women) and there is discrimination because of gender. If you wanted to be pedantic you could say gay women have it worst because they are both gay and a woman.

    As far as discrimination in the workplace goes at least a gay man has the choice of exposing if he is gay or not (not that he shouldn’t be able to without fear) a woman does not.

    by Jimmy on Nov 9, 2012 at 1:59 pm

  18. Oh really, then what is it that the man hating feminists do every day of the week?” Didn’t say I supported that did I. Two wrongs don’t make a right you know.

    by Jimmy on Nov 9, 2012 at 2:00 pm

  19. Oh that’s ok, you can just lie about who you are and everything will be ok.

    You just don’t get it.

    by justin cotton on Nov 9, 2012 at 2:00 pm

  20. Also a gay man has been denied a job or promotion just for being gay. Or lost a job because of it, as I did in 2001 or so.” So it wasn’t because of the possibility you would become pregnant?

    by Jimmy on Nov 9, 2012 at 2:01 pm

  21. Oh that’s ok, you can just lie about who you are and everything will be ok” Why is it that as soon as I disagree with you that all gay men are treated worse than anyone (note I am not saying they don’t get mistreated just not accepting yout gross generalisation as FACT as you originally asserted) I must be a hom ophobe?

    Maybe it wasn’t because you were gay that you were sacked but because you treated those who disagreed with you as homophobes?

    by Jimmy on Nov 9, 2012 at 2:05 pm

  22. So it wasn’t because of the possibility you would become pregnant?

    This is not about pregnancy. It’s about when women as a group have it so much harder compared with gay men. I just don’t believe that for a second. And I’m tired of the way feminists carry on. That is all i’m saying.
    Bascially I also think you have no comprehension of what it is like to be a gay man, and your posts exhibit latent homophobia.

    by justin cotton on Nov 9, 2012 at 2:05 pm

  23. Jimmy, the employer who sacked me voted Christian Heritage. Don’t comment on matters you know nothing about.

    by justin cotton on Nov 9, 2012 at 2:07 pm

  24. Oh that’s ok, you can just l ie about who you are and everything will be ok.You just don’t get it.” REad what I said “(not that he shouldn’t be able to without fear)” didn’t ssy it made it OK, just that it was an option and one that many men take up, it isn’t lying about who you are it just isn’t bringing your private life to the workplace, many people gay and straight do it every day.

    by Jimmy on Nov 9, 2012 at 2:08 pm

  25. Oh that’s ok, you can just l ie about who you are and everything will be ok.You just don’t get it.” REad what I said “(not that he shouldn’t be able to without fear)” didn’t ssy it made it OK, just that it was an option and one that many men take up, it isn’t l ying about who you are it just isn’t bringing your private life to the workplace, many people gay and straight do it every day.

    by Jimmy on Nov 9, 2012 at 2:08 pm

  26. The reason I say latent homophobia, is that you have said a gay man can just hide his sexuality, as though that is what is should happen. Why would that even be a consideration, unless there is an animus against the sexual orientation to begin with?

    by justin cotton on Nov 9, 2012 at 2:10 pm

  27. So if I talk about my partner at my place of work, that is unncessarily bringing my private life into my work place? That seems to be the inference. Why should I have to do that, when females talk about babies, marriages, private lives at work all the time?

    Again, you just don’t get it.

    by justin cotton on Nov 9, 2012 at 2:11 pm

  28. And also, many men do actively lie about their sexuality.
    But that’s all an ok option in Jimmy’s world, and perfectly acceptable, apparently, that they should have to do that.

    by justin cotton on Nov 9, 2012 at 2:13 pm

  29. Justin - This is about pregnancy because it is one way that women get discriminated against. But again why is it a competition why is it of any interest who is treated worse - as I have said both groups are discriminated against and to make generalistions isn’t helpful to anyone. On an individual basis some women have it extremely tough while others never experience discrimination, same with gay men.

    And if anyone who doesn’t think that gay men have it the worst is homophobic then maybe you need to take the chip off your shoulder.

    And did you take your former employer to court? The fact he voted Christian Heritage (whatever that is) would of made it a slam dunk wouldn’t it?

    by Jimmy on Nov 9, 2012 at 2:14 pm

  30. Now, I know this will shock some readers, but let me be the first to congratulate The Australian on its principled stand.

    Damn you Bernard. I’ve learnt, through painful and expensive “keyboard moments” in the past, to put down my coffee before opening Firstdog’s efforts.
    But your effort today just snuck up on me and….Swoosh! There goes another keyboard.

    by paddy on Nov 9, 2012 at 2:15 pm

  31. I was going to take him to court, but i didn’t want the aggravation. He found out I was going to court about my partner at the time and I being beaten up at a bar.

    People can have their opinions, but my view is that as a group gay men are more heavily discriminated against, as a group. I’ll leave it at that as I have to go back to work.

    It’s a pity you couldn’t have shown more empathy.

    by justin cotton on Nov 9, 2012 at 2:18 pm

  32. Justin - AThe fact a gay man can hide his homosexuality if he so chooses unlike a woman is a fact, I have said I don’t agree he should have to but it doesn’t change the fact it is an option a woman doesn’t have.
    I also don’t agree with the statement “So if I talk about my partner at my place of work, that is unncessarily bringing my private life into my work place? ” but I have worked and played sport and generally associated with many people who outside of those environs I knew nothing about despite getting on well with them in those environs, they could of been gay or straight had kids or not and I wouldn’t have known, some people like there privacy some like to share, that is a personal choice.

    And if a man or woman wants to l i e about his sexuality that’s up to him and if that what they want to do I am K with that, it they want to be honest then I am OK about that to.

    by Jimmy on Nov 9, 2012 at 2:19 pm

  33. Justin - “It’s a pity you couldn’t have shown more empathy.” So showing empathy (which I have clearly done) I have to show the correct amount of empathy, I have to agree with your opinion?

    by Jimmy on Nov 9, 2012 at 2:22 pm

  34. Again, you don’t get it. How many times have I had to say this.

    What I am saying is that it is wrong that people should have to hid their sexuality. That is the point, the sexuality. Why does it need to be hidden?

    A woman doesn’t need to hide anything, except perhaps in Muslim countries. That is the point (god dammit)

    by justin cotton on Nov 9, 2012 at 2:22 pm

  35. stin - For f..k sake read what I have said before you say I don’t get it . I have repeatedl y said I didn’t say it made it OK, just that it was an option and one that many men take up

    For example if you and a young woman were applying for a job the employer see a woman walk in and immediatel y real ises she is a woman and that there is a strong possibil ity that she will get pregnant and he will have to go through the whole hiring and training process again pretty soon but he doesn’t know you are gay unless you tell him.

    I am onl y pointing to the real ities of the situation, not making any value judgements of my own.

    by Jimmy on Nov 9, 2012 at 2:31 pm

  36. Justin - For f..k sake read what I have said before you say I don’t get it . I have repeatedly said I didn’t say it made it OK, just that it was an option and one that many men take up

    For example if you and a young woman were appl ying for a job the employer see a woman walk in and immediately realises she is a woman and that there is a strong possibility that she will get pregnant and he will have to go through the whole hiring and training process again pretty soon but he doesn’t know you are gay unless you tell him.

    I am only pointing to the realities of the situation, not making any value judgements of my own.

    by Jimmy on Nov 9, 2012 at 2:31 pm

  37. Ok fair enough. I’m all for gender equality in the workplace, as it happens. Just to be clear. And yes it is true that only women can have babies. Some may prefer that as a priority to working, another value judgment.

    I’m happy you agree that gay men should not have to hide their sexuality.

    After all that’s just kowtowing to neanderthal prejudices. My view, and it is just my view having spent some time in the closet, is that it is not healthy. Particularly if you are out to no-one.

    by justin cotton on Nov 9, 2012 at 2:37 pm

  38. Sorry, “segue” or not, I’m not sure what the leak to the Oz has to do with the topic under discussion.
    You blokes should calm down. Then you might be able to listen up and catch on to the fact that equality is good for everyone.
    Men have terrible stresses to deal with from traditional gender expectations. And military service - what could be a bigger encroachment on one’s life?
    Cool it guys. It’s gping to be OK.

    by Salamander on Nov 9, 2012 at 3:02 pm

  39. Amazing, isn’t it, that some gay BLOKE has hijacked the blog. What a ridiculous competition! Get over it justin cotton. You have legitimate grievances over anti-gay discrimination I have little doubt, but it is wildly inappropriate to use them as an excuse to attack another discriminated group. Good onya Jimmy. Sometimes one can’t ignore a pest.

    by Salamander on Nov 9, 2012 at 3:14 pm

  40. A bit of tit to tat with the Australian Bernard, is it a result of your mention in cut and paste a couple of weeks ago ?? Re Your intepretation of those meaningless essential polls

    by taylormade on Nov 9, 2012 at 3:28 pm

  41. The Australian, a newspaper so close to its old white male readership that reading it is like a prostate exam…’

    Congratulations, Bernard, it’s not often we enjoy such a big laugh outside of First Dog’s or Rundle’s contributions.

    As for the comments from the loquacious Justin Cotton, I am assuming he’s a relatively young man with decades more life experience due.

    by zut alors on Nov 9, 2012 at 3:51 pm

  42. Justin, Jimmy- get a room!

    by Holden Back on Nov 9, 2012 at 4:10 pm

  43. Holden - Sorry but I wasn’t going to allow my comments to be misrepresented nor accept being labelled a homophobe.

    by Jimmy on Nov 9, 2012 at 4:16 pm

  44. But there is no point going on about perceptions of sexism from only one gender while ignoring the racism and bigotry of both genders in parliament.

    by shepherdmarilyn on Nov 9, 2012 at 4:36 pm

  45. Bernard, I’m a fan. And I fully acknowledge that you’re getting there. When the chips are down, it’s not about personalities like Tony Abbott or Mitt Romney, both of whom are not aware of their own disrespect for women and the way they both inadvertently diminish the position of women in either the real relational function, social fabric or body politic. It’s about the fundamental presumption of those males in patriarchal power who simply don’t get that males are not born with more, and women with less - no matter what the subject. Gillard’s speech was utterly impressive in its own right, and it doesn’t matter whether her political policies are ideologically consistent with ‘feminism’, because she is her own person, a woman with a personal story. I believe that an increasing number of aware men and women are coming to terms with the subtle and blatant institutional exercises and social presumptions characteristic of patriarchal thinking and practices, and are realising that society and culture are enriched by women’s thinking, participation and wisdom. While Abbott is not one of these aware men, and neither is Romney, men such as Turnbull, Combet, and many others have recognised the human reality of gender.

    by hannah rachel bell on Nov 9, 2012 at 6:27 pm

  46. I hope all you guys arguing about Julia Gillard’s misogyny speech have actually watched and listened to the whole 15 minutes of it. When people say it’s all about double standards (relating to the Peter Slipper matter) they are pretty much revealing that they haven’t actually seen the whole thing. Anyone who hasn’t seen the whole thing should just Google it up (go to ‘Gillard misogyny’ and pick say the ABC version) and realise that our PM just put women back on the political map.

    by Hugh (Charlie) McColl on Nov 9, 2012 at 9:54 pm

  47. Not only can women hide their gender, they can change it. The High Court found last year in the case of two Western Australian “men”, a couple who were born women, that they did indeed appear to be men to people who observed them fully dressed, and that they were therefore entitled to choose to be legally recognised as men without the need for them to undergo phalloplasty.

    Now, consider the ramifications of that ruling for the lefty mantra on homoѕexuality - it’s not a choice! If one of these “men” had been found to not look sufficiently like a man, this couple would have changed from two women - a homoѕexual couple - to a man and a woman - a heteroѕexual couple. What does all this mean? If a female member of a homoѕexual couple looks enough like a man, or vice-versa, homoѕexuality is indeed a choice. One party to the relationship can choose to change their gender.

    You lefties wanted loony judicial activism, now you have it. Enjoy!

    by Patriot on Nov 9, 2012 at 9:57 pm

  48. Interesting thought - women who undergo gender reassignment as misogynists. Can there be any more emphatic statement of disdain for women than to be born one and then choose to become a man instead?

    Homoѕexuals, tranѕexuals and misogynists - my God, I love it when trendy pet groups of the loony left collide like this.

    by Patriot on Nov 9, 2012 at 10:13 pm

  49. Thanks Bernard - gold! :)

    Here’s another example of a bad week for “the patriarchy”. This is a response by Roger Franklin, online editor at Quadrant, to a letter regarding Steven Kates’s curiously unhinged post on the US election outcome on that site. Dr Kates claims that the election was decided by “damaged women” (amongst others - read here http://www.quadrant.org.au/blogs/qed/2012/11/the-47-majority). Roger Franklin invited the letter writer - whose last name is actually Dullard by the way - to circulate his response which she has done, so here it is. I don’t know what was in Ms Dullard’s original letter so there is a caveat there, however the editor of a publication that claims to be the “leading general intellectual journal of ideas” in Oz should have higher standards of correspondence, surely?

    Dear Ms. Dullard,

    thank you for your thoughts. As a former property owner in New Jersey, one of those “American Republican States”, I can assure there are many pleasant spots, that civilisation flourishes and discourse is free and free-flowing. Indeed, given the number of Democratic mayors locked up by GOP Gov Christie for graft and other corruptions, I only wish we had a little more of the same spirit here.

    If you feel up to refuting Steve Kates’ assertion that embittered women represent a recognisable demographic and believe you can do so while eschewing boilerplate and the cliches that sustain so many Womyns Studies departments, I would be interested in seeing it and, perhaps, publishing it at Quadrant Online.

    How’s that for making Quadrant “more relevant to a broader audience”?

    kind regards,
    roger franklin

    PS: Please feel free to pass a link to Steve’s column to your friends. And if you happen to be associated with one of our tertiary institutions’ departments of gynosophic learning, be assured that I meant no specific offence.”

    Apparently Roger Franklin means no “specific” offence, perhaps he means to be more offensive generally?

    Also, in response to Steven Kates losing his sh*t (“damaged women”??) - I invite Dr Kates to leave the intellectual cryogenic chamber he accidentally fell into a few decades ago. Also, to do some research!

    Dr Kates’ statement: “The likelihood that the Republicans would even attempt to do anything about “reproductive rights” cannot be seriously entertained.”

    The facts: “In a weekend interview, presidential candidate Mitt Romney reiterated his pro-life position favoring the reversal of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision … Romney has repeatedly called for overturning Roe — doing so in January and again in April — and he repeated his desire to see it overturned in an interview on “Meet the Press” Sunday. …As to abortion itself, Romney replied to a question from host David Gregory with: “…I have chosen pro-life and I will attempt as president to encourage pro-life policies,” Romney stated.”

    by Neuromantic on Nov 10, 2012 at 8:49 am

  50. Patriot - please keep up the constant namecalling, it nicely demonstrates just why your lot are history.

    by Liamj on Nov 10, 2012 at 9:18 pm

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