People & Ideas

May 23, 2012

The political leader who told women to ignore gender discrimination

Asked for advice by a woman who said she was experiencing discrimination in her position as a local councillor, SA opposition leader Isobel Redmond suggested she ignore it. Suzie Keen was outraged.

Just ignore it and it will go away. It’s the kind of advice a parent might give an angst-ridden teenager with a humiliatingly large spot on their face. It’s not how you would expect a modern political leader to answer a question about how to respond to gender discrimination in 2012.

Asked on Monday for advice by a woman who said she was experiencing discrimination from older males in her position as a local councillor, state opposition leader Isobel Redmond’s comments read like something out of a 1950s manual for good housewives. Redmond told the Committee for Economic Development of Australia women’s leadership lunch:

Free Trial

Proudly annoying those in power since 2000.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

4 thoughts on “The political leader who told women to ignore gender discrimination

  1. James K

    Well said Suzie.

    One of the great stumbling blocks to continued progress in women’s
    rights, can be complacent women who are happy with the position
    they are now in.

    It is not the biggest of all stumbling blocks (men still take that poll
    position) but it is a hurdle nonetheless.

    Good article highlighting it.

  2. AR

    JK – that would be pole position.
    To paraphrase Bevin, “not whilst some men ain’t dead”, it is unfortunately true that “some women are their sisters’ worst enemies”.
    hi Bettina A!

  3. bluepoppy

    Much of Bettina Arndt’s advice is intentionally misconstrued by people with their own agenda looking for a straw-woman or whipping post to give their cause impetus.

    As for the article, nobody should have to put up with ill treatment or discrimination but I think it is up to each individual to choose how to handle the situation with or without counselling as they decide.

    Too many times complainants end up being treated poorly. They become the enemy and the psychological effects can be overwhelming. In some cases the problem can be handled in-house but my experience in the public service is that the complainant poses a problem to the reputation of the department rather than the perpetrator and complaints are often handled with that mindset.

    It is just too simple to insist every woman has to do their bit for the cause or for the greater good when the individual impacts can be, in the worst cases, devastating.

  4. notmensa

    @bluepoppy – I completely agree.
    Having watched others actually make complaints of bullying and discrimination in the public service, I’ve seen how poorly the complainants are treated and how devastating it ends up being for the individual/s involved.

    Making a formal bullying / harrassment / discrimination complaint requires you to articulate quite clearly how you want the matter resolved – do you want the perpetrator disciplined, moved or removed? Do you want to be moved to a different position or report to a different manager?
    Whether any of these options are even realistic differs depending on the organisation, its culture, and the people involved. Cases I’ve seen have involved highly specialised positions in the only (small) team in the state offering the service, with managers who had been working together for 20 odd years. There is simply no way they would be moved or removed without very, very compelling evidence.

    For Isobel Redmond, there is only one state councillor position and one state opposition leader position. Moving to another position within the same organisation isn’t possible. In this case, she has chosen managing the circumstances as her way to fight for what she wants. Also, I have to wonder who Suzie thinks would be the subject of the complaint, and where it would even be lodged. You can’t just make some general, non-specific complaint about discrimination and expect some unnamed entity to investigate and act on it.

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details