For the next few Fridays I am going to try and review a book that discusses feminism or discuss some of the issues facing women.
A lot of what Anne Goldworthy writes in her essay in The Quarterly is nothing new but it showed how much progress there still has to be made. When she says that ‘what men should do and what women should be remains a persistent bias of our culture even as it bears no resemblance to the actual divisions of labour’.
Her article documents the gender issues surrounding the prime ministership of Julia Gillard and describes the state of play of the role of women in public life. It seems outrageous that what women do and look like is still important in 2014.
This essay covers everything from how language is used to degrade women as well as the concept of the gender card. Not only does she look at female politicians but also at women scholars, miners and novelists.
There is also an interesting discussion on the female body as a unit of shame and hate as well as its role in popular culture.
Goldsworthy states that ‘the shame of the original sin was the shame of a woman. The psychology of shame is feminine: blushing, withdrawal. It prompts us to make ourselves smaller, through dieting or modesty of bearing. Shame underlines our compliance, our fixed grin, our need to please.’ From the moment we’re born we seemed to be conditioned to behave in a subservient way and is amazing to see how ingrained it is.
Much of the essay looks at Gillard’s famous misogyny speech, where she points out that what caught people’s attention around the world was that it was more than Julia vs. Tony or Labor vs. Liberal but women vs. misogyny.
Her article made me sad, it made me angry that despite the progress that women have made that Australia’s first prime minister would be such a target of vitriolic abuse from shock jocks and “commentators” and have to deliver such a speech in order to be taken seriously.