Last night outside the civic wound that is Melbourne’s Convention and Exhibition Centre, five thousand persons in near-freezing conditions found their heat inside a long, long queue. That I felt none of this arterial warmth may make me a “misogynist”. We’d learn later that misogyny is just about everywhere, and the basis for every critique of Hillary Rodham Clinton ever. My stone-cold observation: warmth for women of the white knowledge class is the product of friction between (a) privilege and (b) the privileged belief that all women are unified by a totalising experience of “misogyny”.

Oh. Before we get to that, permit me to briefly explain the usage of  “misogyny”, which you may foolishly believe describes the deep hatred for all women occasionally present in individual men.  The term “misogyny” was used so often last night by Clinton, and by Julia Gillard, with whom Madam Secretary undertook an interview (one sold as a chance for its audience to “eavesdrop” on the chit-chat two powerful gals would have in the Ladies’ at Davos but performed with all the spontaneity you’d expect from politicians) I lost count.

I can tell you, though, that “misogyny” does retain its reference to the bad deeds of individual men. It’s just informed these days by the Clintonian belief that there are so very many men with such profound hatred for women, which is clear, because there are those who do not appreciate her virtue, implicitly understood as feminine. “Misogyny” has replaced the concept “sexism”, which once referred to a tendency socially and not individually enacted. Sexism is conceptually useless to Gillard and Clinton. And, you know, why shouldn’t it be, because millions and billions of misogynists, especially Russian ones, were given the ultimate misogyny litmus test and still, they failed to elect Clinton. Or keep Gillard in office, These women, in case you missed it, are the truest victims of misogyny, and misogyny’s future conquerors because, blah blah, more women in power means more women in power. Isn’t that a great thought, more women in power? When Annabel Crabb, host for the event, Gillard or Clinton posed this question — “aren’t those who suffer misogyny, which is all women, intrinsically qualified for power?”– most everyone agreed.

Back to the queue.

“We are privileged to be here,” said a smartly turned-out woman to her smartly turned-out woman friend. “We are,” said the friend, who then observed that the ratio of women to men here for Hillary Rodham Clinton was in inverse proportion to that at the same venue for urine connoisseur, Bear Grylls, whom she’d seen speak at the same auditorium largely because her husband had promised a nice dinner after.

Bear, incidentally, turned out not to be that bad. “You know, you have to admire the military,” she said. I did not say “but not in Libya, or Honduras, nations in which the military was, respectively, deployed with bloody ends and then not deployed with bloody ends under Clinton’s watch”. I did make a crack that the Secretary would earn almost as much tonight as she would for her appearance at Goldman Sachs—you know, the really good one where she said there were two stories she would tell as a politician: one for the finance sector and one for the people. They let me go ahead in the queue, then. Which was nice.

This is it. Privilege and misogyny, defined by its absence in this overwhelmingly female queue. The movement of one against the other is what the audience—not just overwhelmingly female, but overwhelmingly white; I counted more persons of colour in low-prestige security roles than in the queue itself—were warmed by outside. This is what led them to immerse in an auditorium heat I’d place, say, at a steady 50°C. Clinton is, in person, a warm bath.

Clinton did hot up when speaking of foreign policy, a topic in which she is expertly deluded. Her liberal interventionism and unassailable belief that the only good state actor is a US ally and the only good hegemon is the US got her going. She said that Russia was a true danger to democracy, and that Russians had, in fact, produced racial divisions in the US—which brought me to think of the musician Kanye West and his recent charge that slavery was merely an “excuse”. The Russians create division, and you’d better watch out, because the Chinese will do that, here.

The declaration of current views of that US liberal international relations school temporarily dormant in DC but kept alive elsewhere was something I found interesting—jingoism recast as “humanitarian” never fails to intrigue me. The women, who felt privileged to be here—and all here were, I’d imagine, fairly “privileged” to shell out a minimum of two hundred bucks for a shitty seat—were not much interested. They started coughing as Clinton started recounting China’s expansion of the past two decades. They were only here for the You Go Girl slogans, the business hints and the hope that proximity to Hillary would advance their proximity to leadership.

The event was religious. Honestly, this entire thing was rooted in faith, not in the virtuous, feminine truth Clinton may do a creditable job of performing to persons who couldn’t give a shit about politics, global finance or brutal US interventions in the nations from which some of the men protecting our female security had likely fled. She is, as Gillard has, sadly, become, an evangeliser; one whose devil is “misogyny” and whose angels are all virtuous women leaders, aspiring or otherwise.

We were not privileged to be present for this scented bath of toxic feminism. We were present because we are privileged.

Stay tuned for our upcoming series on the art of the political interview, beginning next week!

Peter Fray

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