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How sexism works . . .

August 21, 2010

It has been an immense frustration for me to hear the certainty with which Tony is labeled a sexist, misogynist troglodyte when it could not be further from the truth, yet La Guillotine has been left completely untouched in this regard – a hideous example of reverse sexism. And it’s not just the press pack running the double-standard, Labor has been aggressive in verballing Tony throughout the campaign, while the Coalition has refused to play that game. I’m as keen as the next woman to have greater female representation at the top but not like this – there is no reason for a lady not to act like a gentleman.

Miranda Devine picked up on this too:

It didn’t matter how expertly Gillard laughed her tinkling laugh, or batted back questions on the 7.30 Report and Q&A, she couldn’t shake the bad smell.

It certainly wasn’t the opposition’s doing. While Abbott targeted the Labor government’s failings with laser accuracy, he treated Gillard with kid gloves.

As the faceless men had calculated, he had to campaign with one hand tied behind his back. Pitting a tough guy, already pinned with a supposed lack of appeal to women, against a silky female against whom he could not use his pugilistic gifts must have seemed a stroke of genius at the time. As Barnaby Joyce put it in June: “Nobody wants to see you beat up on a chick – it’s a bad look.”

Throughout the campaign, Gillard was protected by a feminist praetorian guard of eagle-eyed offence-takers jumping on the vaguest hint of sexism. Thus, Abbott’s innocuous “no means no” was reinterpreted as a brute attacking rape victims.

The Coalition never exploited the target-rich “living in sin at The Lodge” issue when her de facto relationship with Tim Mathieson briefly became a topic of community debate.

In fact, four of Abbott’s best political assets, his photogenic wife and daughters, were fairly low-profile this campaign, compared to wives and children of previous elections. No Women’s Weekly covers for them. The feminine angle was monopolised by the Prime Minister.

Such delicate treatment cannot be said to have been afforded Abbott, who was pilloried throughout the campaign as a sexist, old-fashioned, untrustworthy, extremist, Catholic jock, in snide asides, low blows and a barrage of distasteful attack ads. In one, a cartoon showed a scrawny Abbott prancing about in a pair of red budgie-smugglers and a sumo-style Joe Hockey with pendulous man-boobs.

Abbott sailed through the bile, remaining good-natured and unrattled.

Perhaps he adopted Margaret Thatcher’s attitude.

“I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left,” Britain’s only female prime minister once said.

Thatcher, of course, was subjected to the most vile personal attacks, just as was, more recently, the US Republican Sarah Palin and her daughters. Even Barack Obama disparaged Palin obliquely with a remark about putting “lipstick on a pig” during the 2008 US presidential campaign.

No man making such a comment about a female politician from the left would have escaped unscathed.

And Gillard would never have had such an easy time as a Liberal, because it is open season on conservative female politicians.

The left has no scruples because its women consider conservative women to be traitors, who must be punished with special savagery. In their world, conservative feminists are simply not permitted to exist.

History will decide whether the Coalition went too easy on its opponent.

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