Australian politics got very personal this year. The injustices women have been battling for decades have been exposed at the heart of government: sexual assault, sexual harassment and workplace inequality. Women were treated as political inconveniences, minimised and denied.
In response, we rallied and marched, created petitions and demanded change. We don’t stand before our political leaders as blank slates, listening to their deflections and denials with equanimity. We come as women and girls who have already been harmed by the systems they govern. We have already been harassed walking on public streets and online, possibly at work. So many of us have experienced sexual and domestic violence.
It started young, and it doesn’t stop. It touches every aspect of our lives. It is personal.
The systems that are supposed to redress this are chronically underfunded and sidelined. Young men who speak up are silenced and women are ignored or used as political pawns. When women make it to leadership positions, harassment increases. Sometimes — we suspect — they have been driven out of their roles for daring to stand up to the male coteries that close ranks before them.
In the last wave of feminist activism in the 1970s, women argued that the “personal is political”. They wanted issues in their “personal” lives (child care, unpaid work and relationship violence) to be taken seriously as traditional “political” issues. While much has changed, those battles are still being fought.
It’s clear now that the political arena — where we look for solutions — is just one more part of the problem.
Today, Crikey tackled these issues head on. You can find all our coverage right here.
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault or violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au.