Feminism Fodder

What’s the vote?

Our federal election was called almost a couple of weeks ago and is scheduled for the 21st of August. As expected, the battle has begun. We are swamped by ads about why not to vote for Labor or why not to vote for Liberal, what each party stands for, yada yada yada. [The ads don’t make me change my mind…I’d decided even before becoming a citizen who I would vote for!]

The two candidates running for the top job are Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott. Now, while I can choose to ignore all the ads on telly, there was one thing I couldn’t ignore. The news reports that seem to focus on Julia Gillard’s private life and her appearance.

Julia Gillard is unmarried and does not have children. Tony Abbott, who by the way has asked women and not men to keep their virginity until they are married, is married with three children. Apparently Julia Gillard has been asked a few times by the media whether her marital status will have an influence on the outcome of the election. Abbott too delivered a low blow during the debate on Sunday mentioning his wife and children during the opening line of his speech. You could see what he was implying with that statement. Also, for some reason, the media also keeps focusing on her appearance. Her clothes, her hair and even her earlobes during  the debate!

Here’s my gripe:

1. How is a politician’s marital status related to the way in which they can do their job? It’s similar to people telling me I cannot be a child psychologist because I don’t have kids of my own. Possibly even more far-fetched than that.

2. The emphasis on appearance…would the media be doing the same if it was a male politician? They don’t seem to be focusing all that much on Abbott’s change in hair colour since the election was called. It seems like just because she is a woman, there is a lot more pressure on her to look a certain way. Think about it people…we had John Howard as our PM! No one questioned his appearance…even though the comedians had a field day with his bushy eyebrows!

It’s a shame that women still get the whole ‘if you are not married by a certain age and don’t have kids it means…’ and they still get scrutinised for what they wear compared to their male counterparts in positions that do not call for it. It annoys me no end.  The media by focusing on these trivial issues manages to influence a minority of voters that are sucked in by this force. And they really need to be responsible and focus on the issues at hand. In other words, focus on what the Gillard can bring or what Abbott can bring. Screw the rest.

Until next time,


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  • sharbori
    28 July 2010 at 1:20 pm

    nice post –
    going by my experience of working with both men and women in indian organisations and communities as a psychotherapist as well as an organisation consultant, I find that many of the responses towards aspiring women are made from the following:
    – desperation to hold on to status quo
    – anxiety and threat of losing space
    – character assassination in which focus on appearances is a proven ammunition to lower the defenses/perceived power of the woman
    – women are first judged on their looks (especially in public life, yes, even today) and then on their capability and this is beautifully exploited by the media; remember princess diana? if you notice, the not so pretty camilla is nowhere there in terms of media space.

    so will we continue to do so? i would believe so as long as how we look as women are held as a premium over who we are.

  • Titaxy
    28 July 2010 at 3:01 pm

    That sucks. I don’t understand how her looks or marital status have to matter. And why oh why does media focus on all that while they can be of so much help to the public in other ways. Sigh.

  • Richa
    28 July 2010 at 6:57 pm

    Oh agreed so much! I don’t know why people like to fix on anyone’s personal life instead of their work? Unless someone is a criminal, I don’t think it should matter what anyone do in their personal life.

    For example, I usually quote Tiger Woods as one of the prominent Stanford Alums (among others) but after his scandal, a friend asked if Stanford is ready to disown him now? Honestly, he is still the best golfer of all time. It’s quiet an achievement. What do I care if he sleeps around? that’s his personal business. Professionally, he is unbeaten and that’s the accomplishment I have always quoted. Yes we are still proud of him being a Stanford alum. At least I am!

    I guess attack on personal life become even worse if you are a woman. I don’t honestly get why people care about celebrities personal life so much (unless, of course, they are involved in criminal activities as Salman Khan running over the homeless people or him (again) hunting the endangered animals). How does it matter what they do in their personal life? As long as it doesn’t affect their professional life…

  • theketchupgirl
    29 July 2010 at 2:21 am

    ugh. I know. Who ever spoke of a male politician’s appearance! This world is fraeking obsessed with appearances. Branding people / stereotyping- if women aren’t married by so and so age, then it must be because of xyz, so she is a xyz. If a woman is married but hasnt had kids , then she must either be having issues or must be the ambitious type who doesn’t care about having kids.
    BTW, how was the movie men who star at goats?

  • oldereyes
    29 July 2010 at 6:52 am

    I’ve been a lurker up til now, but I enjoy your blog. I left a little something for you on mine at http://oldereyes.wordpress.com/2010/07/28/im-versatile/. Stop by if you have a chance.

    Bud aka Older Eyes

  • LadyNoor
    30 July 2010 at 9:32 am

    Yeah, it amuses me how the shape of her earlobes has anything to do with ability to run a country. And it’s only because she’s a woman… Did anybody discuss Abbott physical appearance at all? Perhaps I missed it…

  • Psych Babbler
    1 August 2010 at 10:22 am

    Welcome Sharbori! It’s a sad state of affairs isn’t it when women in the public sphere are views first for their looks and only then what they are capable of. Diana and Camilla is a perfect example! And me thinks that if William’s girlfriend wasn’t so pretty, she probably wouldn’t be getting the media attention either…

  • Psych Babbler
    1 August 2010 at 10:23 am

    Exactly! In no way does her marital status or looks have an impact on the job she can do as a PM. It would be different if her job was a model…then looks would come into play. Sigh…

  • Psych Babbler
    1 August 2010 at 10:25 am

    I agree…the capability of a sports person is totally separate from how many affairs he or she has had. I think the same about John Terry (English footballer) I don’t condone having an affair…but I don’t see how it impacts on his football given that he is a good player! Same with Woods. As long as personal life doesn’t involve anything illegal, I agree that it shouldn’t have any say in their professional life…

  • Psych Babbler
    1 August 2010 at 10:28 am

    Exactly! I could go on and on about Tony Abbott’s appearance! 😛

    I loved the movie ‘Men who stare at goats’…it was hilarious! A bit out there for sure but kept me laughing…

  • Psych Babbler
    1 August 2010 at 10:28 am

    Thanks for de-lurking Bud… 🙂 And for the award…

  • Psych Babbler
    1 August 2010 at 10:30 am

    Nope…nothing about Abbott…although I’m sure they could do a lot. But they won’t. Because he is a man.