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Serious Sunday Social Comment: Misogyny in Politics & Government

politics serious sunday social comment women Mar 28, 2021
Megan Bayliss in the Speakers Chair, Parliament House, Melbourne.

Really? WE are electing misogynistic representatives into politics. What is wrong with US?!

Many quarters are pointing the finger at the bad behaviour of some male politicians (sitting and opposition) toward women. Rightly so - they are solely to blame for their behaviour.

But, are we then looking deeper into why WE voted for them?

What are we not asking/seeing/doing during campaigning that blinds us to the subtleties of misogynistic, phallocentric and narcissistic presentations.

My analysis is that:

  1.  WE are not interested enough in how politics works,
  2. Misogynistic, phallocentric and narcissistic presentations (from now on just referred to as misogyny) are so common that WE think that is what men (and some women too) are like, and 
  3. WE have no idea of what feminism and associated rights are.

WE all have the right to feel safe and respected all of the time. Yet, the stats of sexual assaults in our developed and sophisticated society, coupled with MASSIVE underreporting, tell us that women are unsafe. Plus, women in Parliament House are putting up with misogynistic behaviours that create unsafe political environments, that create trauma responses and that stop people from learning/teaching because they are flat our surviving.

For feminists, the personal IS political. Feminism is about the experiences of women: ALL women; non partisan, non colour, non creed, non age, non binary, non education, non ability.

It looks like Parliament Houses (state and Federal) need to embed a culture of empowerment and Trauma Informed Care to form a foundation to Parliamentary privilege.

Perhaps we could learn from Indigenous cultures that often require new workers on their countries to undergo Cultural Awareness training.

If ALL elected officials (male and female) from Local to Federal undertook mandatory training in Sexual harassment prevention training and Appropriate workplace behaviour perhaps we can PREVENT some really bloody stupid behaviour. 

There appears to be a boundary problem between alleged perpetrators and where they choose to take advantage of their penis, their hands, their eyes, their words, their whistles, etc. While the legislation mandates responsibility only in some areas (like workplaces) there is a community expectation of the safety of women from offending men and their power tactics of sexual control.

Community expectations can be analogised to the “reasonable person” standard that pervades all areas of the law.

Community Expectations are Here to Stay.

So, being a reasonable person, I suggest we add boundary training, emotional intelligence training and good old personal development training to the mandatory list.

Of course nobody is going to learn if they don't want to learn....but, if they don't want to be open to learning then I don't want them representing me in any way.

Therefore, the mandatory courses could come BEFORE they nominate to hold any office at any level of government.

Finally, feminists don't hate men: WE agitate for a change to the structures that validate and reward misogynistic and phallocentric systems. Feminists put forward how those structures translate into the experiences of women: ALL women, even those who over identify with the aggressors and protect them because their world view is different.

There are many good and decent men who are pro feminist or whom just believe in equality. To those men, it is time for you to raise your voices - this is not a woman's problem - this is a social and political issue.

There is something very powerful about men saying to offending men that their behaviour breaches community expectations and is plain wrong! Thanks for not using your gender as a weapon; now it's time to add your voice to the debate so the ground swell of reasonable people ensures that community expectations are embedded across all levels of government.

No more misogyny in politics or government: sitting or opposition, local, state or federal. 

That's my serious Sunday social comment - what's yours?

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