Abbott’s ‘problem with women’ has been hypocritically magnified by the ALP and stubbornly denied despite obvious fact by the LNP. Thank goodness the Blogosphere has me to understand all this in perfect balance. Let me approach the issue by means of Hermeneutical Spiral…
Abbott Does Not Hate The Women In His Family
No-one except Christopher Pyne thinks that the ALP has made that particularly ludicrous accusation.
Abbott Is Not A Feminist.
Only Margie Abbott could get away with stating that sort of nonsense. Not even Mrs. Abbott herself takes her comments seriously.
Abbott Does Not Hate All Women
This is where Feminists including those in the ALP go wrong. By equating anti-Abortion with misogynist Feminists claim that Abbott is misogynist simply because he opposes RU486 and wants to limit access to Abortion. Feminists will typically reject the notion that it is possible to reject Abortion-On-Demand without being misogynist.
Since anti-Abortion=anti-Women in typical Feminist expression and Abbott is anti-Abortion it follows that he must be ill-disposed towards or be an oppressor of all women. In this Feminists commit a logical non-sequitor and undermine legitimite critique of the extent Abbott’s misogyny, not only opening the door to Pyne’s electorally palatable idiocy, but also alienating millions of non-Feminist women who can see the obvious, that Abbott does not hate all women.
Abbott Does Not Hate Capable Women
This is where Nicola Roxon and other senior ALP figures are wrong. Abbott does not hate Peta Credlin, Margaret Thatcher, Patricia Cross, Gina Rinehart, Janet Albrechtson, Marie Laurent Pasteur, Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings, or most any other capable women you can think of.
In Fact Abbott Hates Very Few Women
He only hates female political opponents.
And I think I know why.
Sub-consciously he thinks they’re lesbians.
This brilliant insight came to me during a second reading David Marr’s description of Abbott’s volatile career as a student politician in Quarterly Essay #47.
As we all know, Abbott is a conservative Catholic who, as a young man, absorbed the world view of Bob Santamaria who, in Marr’s words
‘deplored the Pill, homosexuality, rampant materialism, married women in the workforce, environmentalists, drugs, abortion…’ [QE47, p.11]
For Sanatamaria, those social changes represented intensely corrosive forces antithetical to the values of Western civilisation, decency and the proper functioning of nations. Abbott appropriated that self-same view in toto from Santamaria and has never altered that opinion. This is bedrock for Abbott.
For Abbott, Lesbians represent a conglomerate living Frankenstein of several of the worst aspects of modern society: female leadership which is leftist, atheist and sexually libertarian. Lesbians are the living embodiment of the forces which imperil Western civilisation. Their existence in the Parliament of Australia is an offence and a threat against decency and national stability. Lesbians do not belong in Parliament or political leadership. Indeed, they are not entitled to be there.
Abbott used the language of entitlement to express his rage at Julia Gillard attended the Royal Wedding of Harry Windsor and Kate Middleton in 2011:
“She may not believe in God, the monarchy or marriage, but there will be a royal wedding bounce [in the opinion polls QE 47, p. 85]”
For Abbott, Gillard was not entitled to be at the royal wedding because Gillard neither represents nor defends any of the institutions of Western civilisation embodied by a British royal wedding. And so as for leftist female political leaders. They are simply not entitled to be in the chamber of Parliament. They are a disgrace, a danger, an affront and a travesty.
Tony’s Political Heterosexuality
Abbott’s very first newsletter article for the National Civic Council aligned Democratic Club at Sydney Uni in 1976 contained an invective against the ‘Gay dance’ during Orientation Week and the ‘perversion’ it represented. Abbott defined his political persona as a heterosexual [QE p.10] in contradistinction to the homosexuality openly practiced or condoned by Leftists. He created a no doubt satirical ‘Heterosexual Solidarity Society’ within his Democratic Club. A campus friend noted that his political style was to tease and enrage the Left, particularly concentrating on lesbians.
‘He was extrememly right-wing at a time when everyone was extremely left-wing. He used to bait them, particularly lesbians. There were a lot of lesbians about then’ [QE p.19]
Note that in the quote above that Abbott enjoyed ‘baiting lesbians’ in political argy-bargy at Uni. He still does. That explains Abbott’s reprise of Jones’s reprehensible ‘died of shame’ comments. Andrew Elder at Politically Homeless called it ‘coat-trailing’ which is a euphemism for baiting while Annabel Crabb was undecided whether it was clueless or calculated.
It was calculated. In deliberately insulting Gillard in such base terms, Abbott was back at Uni. baiting lesbians again
‘Tiny Tony’, as a wit has caricaturized the University-age, politically still developing Tony Abbott, felt that women were unsuited for leadership and specifically that God had not designed women for leadesrship.
I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons
Then, as now, Abbott was highly competitive, driven to succeed, physically vigorous and aggressive.
To be beaten by a male peer in a fair contest would be acceptable, sporting and honourable to a man attracted to chivalrous ideals such as Tony.
To be beaten by a male Leftist would be highly frustrating, even angering.
To be beaten by a woman for a leadership position, however, would be embarassing.
But to be beaten by a lesbian woman was to be subject to humiliation by infidels; a blasphemous inversion of God’s proper order precipitated by perverts who were unworthy for the prize, morally inferior and barbaric in that it represented, in Santamarian Tony’s worldview, a step towards the destruction of the social order.
I am not implying anything Barabara Ramjan’s sexuality here. I do say that for student politician Tony to be defeated by Leftists was an affront to his pride, his religion and his ontology about how society should work, one which his physical vigour and aggression could not always contain. And to be defeated by female Leftists who condone lesbianism, who would even establish a Women’s Room frequented by (in Tiny Tony’s words):
Grim-faced, overall-clad, hard, strident [women], often lustfully embracing in a counterfeit of love…
No wonder he kicked in the door of the SRC office,accidently smashing it, when defeated for the student position on the University Senate.
No wonder he punched the wall on each side of Barabara Ramjan’s head when defeated by her for the SRC Presidency.
So my thesis is that Tony’s ‘problem with women’ is really only a problem with Leftist female political opponents, in particular those women who beat or best him. In these encounters Tony’s latent misogyny rouses with his rage and humiliation, his sub-conscious takes over, he is mentally transported back to the SRC surrounded by strident, overall-clad lesbian perverts and his fountaining agression spills over into bullying.
We All Change (Somewhat)
Abbott does not believe exactly the same things he did at University. Notably, he is happy to advocate a very large Paid Parental Leave scheme, the primary beneficiaries of which will be working women. But many of his beliefs remain essentially the same as Tiny Tony. In particular, his views on the suitability of women for political leadership have not changed at all. Neither have his attitudes towards abortion.
Abbott’s political views as a student were not adopted overnight or after attending some rally with a mate. They had been baked in since infancy and were and are anchored in Catholic theology which is a body of principle that changes little except at crisis ponts seperated by centuries (e.g Vatican II). This is why the views of Tiny Tony are highly relevant to the man he is today, in my view more relevant than for most Australian politicians, and, to the point, more relevant to whatever youthful flirtation Gillard had with revolutionary Socialism and/or radical Feminism.
Abbott’s views on women, abortion, marriage and gender relations are heavily influenced, though not entirely constrained by, Catholic principles.
How could they not be?
Adult Tony aged 41 and a member of the Howard government told the Good Weekend Magine of the Sydney Morning Herald:
What if men are by philosophy or temperament more adapted to exercise authority or to issue command ?
This doesn’t mean Abbott hates women, but if does mean that Abbott thinks women are not designed for leadership. Women leaders are therefore (generally speaking) suspect, not quite the real thing, acting outside their God-ordained realm and hence cannot perform as well as men in this area. Lefist women particularly so.
In that same Good Weekend interview his interviewer stated that men hold the lion’s share of power. Tony affirmed this was a good thing. (see video here and be patient ita about 6 mins in)
Again, while this doesn’t mean Abbott hates women, it’s plain he doesn’t regard women as designed or suited for leadership. This necessarily must colour his perception of female MPs and Cabinet Ministers as leaders in the Australian parliament.
This is the real Tony. As Abbott said of Mark Latham
…he is already 42 and leopards do not change their spots
Is Abbott A Misogynst ?
Interestingly, Nicola Roxon does not say that Abbott is a misogynyst. She just says he has a ‘problem with capable women’. The distinction Roxon makes is worthwhile in that it acknowledges that Abbott does not actually hate women which is the literal meaning of misogyny. I agree with Roxon that Abbott is not a woman-hater. But now Roxon and I are forced to define what ‘problem with capable women’ actually means.
Abbott’s defenders have been quite effective in blunting the force of the criticism of Abbott on the basis that misogyny means ‘hatred of women’ but Abbott plainly does not hate women. In this Abbott’s defenders ignore the fact that no-one has claimed that Abbott hates all women, so they are really attacking a strawman. Nevertheless, Abbott has been labelled a misogynist and that is plainly not accurate. I would nuance that accisation.
Personally, I would say that Abbott suffers from ‘contempt of female leadership’. Is that misogyny? About.com gives a useful definition, distinguishing between the literal meaning of misogyny and the meaning as applied in Feminist theory.
Definition: Misogyny means the hatred of women. The word comes from the Greek misein, to hate and gyne, woman. Misogyny is often used to describe contempt for women as a whole, rather than hatred of specific women.
In feminist theory, misogyny often describes an attitude that is perceived to be negative and demeaning toward women as a group. While it is rare to find someone who actually despises all women just because they are female, feminists more commonly observe prejudice against women or an assumption that women are less deserving than men. …
In other words, Feminist theory has conflated the term misogyny with sexism. In her now famous speech in Parliament, Gillard, drawing from her exposure to Feminism, utilised that conflation. Barrie Cassidy was the first commentator I heard properly distinguishing between the concepts of misogyny and sexism in regards to Abbott and I think he is on the money.
sex·ism (skszm) n.
1. Discrimination based on gender, especially discrimination against women.
2. Attitudes, conditions, or behaviors that promote stereotyping of social roles based on gender.
Abbott suffers from the prejudice that women are less deserving than men of being leaders and exercising power.
He’s sexist more than misogynist.
But I do think there is a stratum of misogynism in his makeup.
I’ll give examples below.
Manifestations Of Abbott’s Sexism and Misogyny
I think that Abbott has a case to answer in relation to both misogyny and sexism. The proof for me is that I think he treats his female political opponents with less respect than he does his male political opponents (sexism) and that he sometimes shows loathing towards those same female political opponents (misogyny).
I think that Abbott’s misogyny is grossly overstated by most of his accusers. Specifically I reject the view that his opposition to abortion makes him a misogynist. But nevertheless I believe Abbott’s misogyny is there.
1. Abbott Thinks Women Are Less Suited For Leadership Than Are Men
This is a product of Abbott’s particular Catholic viewpoint, one shared with other conservative Christians. In Abbott this helps explain the particular antipathy he sometimes exhibits against female political opponents.
2. Abbott’s Reaction To Anna Burke
In Aug 2012 Abbott was evicted from parliament by Acting Speaker Anna Burke for refusing to withdraw unparliamentary remarks. The look of menace and loathing that Abbott steadied on Ms. Burke was not normal.
In my view Abbott found it unbearable and humiliating to be forced to submit to the authority of the female speaker and his visage and attitude made that plain.
One need only compare the actions of his colleague Christopher Pyne, Manager Of Opposition Business In The House Of Representatives. Evicted from the House on a regular basis, Pyne wanders off completely unconcerned looking for all the world as if he’s heading out for a Latte in the Member’s Lounge. When Abbott left, his humiliation and anger was so palpable you could spread it on toast.
In ejecting Abbott, Burke referred to how Abbott continually ignored her directions as Speaker, in particular to desist from referring to MPs as liars.
3. Abbott Cannot Relate Normally To Nicola Roxon
Roxon has related how during her time as Shadow Minister for Health, Abbott could not be civil to her at non-Parliamentary functions to which both she and Abbott, then Minister For Health, were invited. Abbott insisted on sitting with his back to her despite the fact that Roxon and Abbott were joint speakers and joint guests of honour.
In my view Abbott’s behaviour towards Roxon is not normal and I believe it relates to the occassion when he felt Roxon got the better of him in 2007 when Abbott was late for a scheduled Election debate with her at the National Press Club. In his absence Roxon impersonated Abbott amusing the audience. Then, when Abbott arrived, Roxon rebuked him for being late, and Abbott responded by swearing at her. The incident reflected badly on Abbott and he has never lived it down.
In my view Abbott has never been able to recover from this humiliation at the hands of a woman, so revealing his misogyny.
4. When It Comes From Julia, No Doesn’t Mean No
In August 2010 Abbott made a truly shocking remark about Gillard possibly backflipping over the number of debates she would have with Abbott during the election campaign.
Now, are you suggesting to me that when it comes from Julia, no doesn’t mean no?
It is impossible to believe that Abbott is oblivious to the rape overtones of his comment. They are straight-forwardly misogynist. He should be utterly ashamed of them.
5. Make An Honest Woman Of Herself
In Feb 2011 Abbott said that Gillard needed to ‘make an honest woman of herself’ and call an election on the Carbon Tax.
Gillard construes this statement as sexist and I think she is correct.
The phrase ‘make an honest woman of her’ refers to an action taken by man to wed his partner with whom he is currently cohabitating. While the phrase was used by Abbott primarily to target Gillard’s de-facto (unmarried) status it also carries connotations of sexual immorality, surely not unintended by Abbott.
There is no way Abbott would have deployed this line of attack against a man. This is a gender-based attack and hence sexist, though not in my opinion misogynist.
6. She, Her
Various ALP Parliamentarians such as Anthony Albanese and Andrew Leigh have said that Abbott declines to honour the conventions of parliamentary language in relation to the Prime Minister, repeatedly referring to Gillard as ‘she’ and ‘her’, rather than by her title ‘Prime Minister’. Social commentator Anne Summers notes that Christoper Pyne also extends this discourtesy to the Prime Minister.
The Australian parliament is a formal debating chamber with rules and conventions governing behaviour and conduct. Selective refusal to honour those rules towards a woman on a gender basis is to withdraw respect because of gender which constitutes sexism.
7. She’s A Loyal Girl
Abbott stunned the nation’s media during the media conference to announce his elevation to Leader Of The Opposition, giving Julie Bishop a cuddle and calling her ‘a loyal girl’. even Andrew Bolt found Abbott’s comments startling.
Referring to the intelligent, capable Deputy and accomplished lawyer Ms. Bishop in the clearly condescending manner which he did shows that Abbott does not have an opinion of women equal to that he has of men.
Abbott simply cannot conceal his true feelings towards the inferiority of women in leadership. As Christine Milne says, Abbott’s opinions of the inferiority of women are so ingrained he simply doesn’t realise his own sexism.
In a further slight on Bishop, Abbott stated that his female chief of staff Peta Credlin was
in some ways de-facto Deputy Leader of the Opposition
Even while praising one capable woman, Abbott could not help diminishing another, his instinctive and unconscious sexism again bubbling to the surface. His comments leave little doubt that Bishop does not have her position on the basis of merit alone, but at least partially as a token women in an ersatz leadership role.
8. Punching The Wall On Each Side Of Barabara Ramjan’s Head
This encounter from Abbott’s student politician days is quite shocking although partially ameliorated by the fact it occurred 35 years ago. I believe that the basic hatred towards female political opponents remains, however.
Abbott’s actions have been confirmed by a respected barrister.
Abbott’s denials of this incident have been shifty, first saying he couldn’t recall and then saying the reason he couldn’t recall it was because it never happened and then claiming that it was invented by a supposed ALP ‘dirt unit’.
In my view the hysterical defence of Abbott by his good friend, journalist Greg Sheridan of The Australian, was so weird and overblown that it gives additional credibility to the event.
The audio interview he gave to Marius Benson on ABC Radio on September 10 is particularly strange including a passage where Sheridan absurdly claims Benson is trying to censor him. During the interview Benson’s tone conveys offence at Sheridan’s remarks but at the conclusion Benson’s demenour is that of commuter who has just had a random encounter with a deranged but harmless street crazy.
In print, Sheridan does muster a credible counter-claim in which a highly connected student politician at the time, Jeremy Jones (running for the ALP), never heard of the incident and didn’t believe it happened.
For me, however, the sum of the evidence suggests the incident did indeed happen, with Abbott’s shifty denials, in my mind, telling. As ALP backbencher Deb O’Neill puts it:
What sort of man can or cannot remember punching a wall beside the head of a woman. I cannot imagine for a moment that any person would be able to forget that they undertook such an act…
As an adult, Abbott punched out Joe Hockey, his Rugby team-mate, now his Shadow Treasurer, because Abbott thought Hockey needed sorting out.
Why then is it so incredible to believe the relatively immature Tiny Tony would not intimidate his despised and morally corrupt political opponent and nemesis Barbara Ramjan in his height of humiliation ?
9. Ditch The Witch
In my view, Abbott saw those infamous signs at the Carbon Tax rallies as mere political invective. His approval of them lay in his hope that anti-Carbon Tax sentiment could precipitate an early election. I am not convinced their misogynistic content even registered with him, so I rate his conduct here as neither sexist nor misogynist, merely stupid.
Similarly, Abbott appears on the Alan Jones radio program in which misogyny is a regular and welcome feature. Abbott is deaf to the misogyny of Jones’ listeners, construing it merely as political invective, which on one level it is. Unfortunately that invective is enervated by dollops of gender-based contempt.
Abbott is tone-deaf to misogyny with serious consequences for domestic and social violence against women. If he can’t learn he should not be Prime Minister.
Bully With Imperfect Anger Control
Intensifying Abbott’s sexism and selective misogyny is his tendency to bully and his imperfect ability to control aggressive intimitadory anger. Abbott does not resile from directing both of these traits at women.
Now, Abbott will also attempt to bully and intimidate men as Joe Hockey, Clive Palmer and Mark Reilly have discovered, but Abbott’s inability to prevent himself from bullying and intimidating women, just as Abbott has criticised in Mark Latham, reveal a character flaw which is unpalatable in any man and unforgivable in an aspirant to the Prime Minister’s office.
You can watch a video of Abbott bullying Four Corners reporter Sarah Ferguson in her report of the Minority government negotiations, ‘The Deal’.
The bullying occurs during the quoted exchange below. Abbott initially adopts a highly aggressive posture, hands on hips, chest out, head back, eyes narrowed and them looms toward Ferguson to silence her impertinent questioning, three times raising his voice as he repeats ‘that’s an offensive question’
SARAH FERGUSON: The question is though, did you have something to hide and is that why you didn’t show these costings to the independents in the first place?
TONY ABBOTT: To be honest a bit of an offensive question Sarah. It’s…
SARAH FERGUSON: I’m only going on what they said.
TONY ABBOTT: It is a very offensive question.
SARAH FERGUSON: I’m just picking up on what Mr Katter said.
TONY ABBOTT: Well it’s an it’s an offensive question from you, ah, because the fact of the matter is all of our, all of our assumptions, all of our assumptions, I think, I think will stand up to scrutiny and I am very happy to defend them. Now I accept that Treasury wants to argue with some of them ah, but they are all eminently defensible.
To be fair to Abbott, the situation occurred at extremely stressful moment for him. Treasury had just destroyed his fraudulent budget costings and Abbott had just gone to Tony Windsor’s office to try and smooth things over. In all likelihood Windsor had just that minute told Abbott that his chances of becoming PM were smashed to pieces. To have to deal with a reporter and film crew at that moment would have been difficult.
But that does not excuse bullying a woman.
Hey. He wants to be PM. The job has pressure, right ?
Abbott will bully women if he thinks its worth it.
Abbott is not a misogynist in that he hates all women.
He is however a sexist in that he holds the particular prejudice against women that they are unsuited for political leadership. He normally only expresses this sexism towards leftist women as leftists hold views which in his view are inicimal to society’s proper order, but he sometimes expresses that sexism towards his own colleagues.
Abbott also in my view carries a stratum of misogyny is his general psychology. This expresses itself solely towards women who best or defeat him, so you only see it directed towards his female political opponents. In these cases his misogynistic humiliation overflows in contempt, loathing and, in his youth, to physical violence toward Barbara Ramjan.
An additional criteria for the expression of Abbott’s misogyny is that he is out of control of the situation i.e. that he has been defeated in a power encounter by a woman.
That misogyny also overflows in certain comments towards female opponents one of which was redolent of connotations of rape and another of sexual immorality.
His trait of bullying is not in itself misogynistic as he bullies men also, but it is alarming that he allows himself to bully women as the occasion permits. And it is terrifying that Abbott can turn up week in week out on Alan Jones’ radio program in which misogynistic invective is a welcome and regular feature.
Refusal to call out misogyny perpetuates and validates a culture of disrespect and contempt towards women which feeds into domestic and social violence. Since Abbott refuses to resile from misogyny and his male chauvinism is instinctive and innate he is, in my opinion, unsuited for consideration for the Prime Minister’s office.
On Peter Slipper’s distasteful text messages which Abbott used to accuse Gillard of protecting a misogynist and so precipitated Gillard’s electrifying speech, I mostly concur with Judith Brett in her recent article ‘They Had It Coming’ in The Monthly.
In disagreement with Brett, I do not agree that Slipper’s messages were misogynistic. I consider them merely a distasteful joke made in a private context. Like Brett I consider the private nature and overall context of Slipper’s messages make them wholly unlike Abbott’s public comments and actions made over 35 years. Plainly Abbott was insincerely and opportunistically using Slipper’s remarks to pressure Gillard to dump Slipper and so narrow the numbers on the floor of the house. It was a cheap shot. Consequently Gillard’s response, imbued with sincerity and truth well skewered Abbott.