The RU486 bill triumphed in the Senate yesterday, and made the lead story on the ABC’s 7.30 Report last night. Here’s how Michael Brissenden
put it: “most of the women said they’ll support the bill, most of the
men said they’d oppose it. Democracy at work along a gender divide.
There were exceptions, but on the whole that’s how it stacked up.”

Really? Certainly the unanimity among female senators was striking: 24
out of 27 in favour. The three dissenters (two Labor, one Liberal)
could reasonably be called “exceptions.” But among male senators the
vote was fairly even, 21 for and 25 against. (See list here.) That’s hardly a big gender divide.

The political divide was equally important. Labor senators split 21 to
7 in favour of the bill, whereas the Coalition voted 20 to 16 against,
with three (all male) not voting. If the bill had been handled the way
most legislation is, it would have gone down: the anti-choice forces
had a majority in the Coalition party room, and the Coalition has a
majority in the Senate.

But Brissenden didn’t tell us any of that, because it didn’t fit the
“gender war” scenario. He went on: “Overwhelmingly women see this as a
women’s health issue. The men who voted against it however are more
swayed by the wider ethical and moral parameters in which debates like
this always take place.”

In other words, “men are from Mars, women are from Venus.” Men vote
according to big important moral principles, while women just do what
their bodies tell them. Is it really the national broadcaster’s job to
peddle such misogynist nonsense?

Peter Fray

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