Teaching Law

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Contempt for Women in the Public Sphere: A New Low or an Old Trick?

Feelings are still running high about Shock Jock Alan Jones’comment on Friday that women (ie the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, Sydney Mayor Clover Moore, former Victorian Police Commissioner Christine Nixon) are ‘destroying the joint’.
Tory Maguire, writing in The Punch, suggests that feminists should save their energy for 'battles that might change something'.  I agree with her that it is unsurprising to hear Alan Jones make derogatory statements about women, and I agree that it becomes wearing to expend our energy on each insult leveled at women in the public sphere.  (And there have been a number of them this week.)
I do think however that concerns about women who do not have the power of the Prime Minister, Sydney Mayor or a state Police Commissioner; concerns about access to safe abortion and employment conditions, are all related to the increasingly public vilification of women - including women in power.
My question is why, in 2012, are women belittled in this way.  To ascertain this, let’s be clear: first, that it is women (not individuals) who are targeted; and that it is designed to belittle.