Thursday, August 15, 2013

Sexual Politics

The most damaging thing about Tony Abbott's comments describing his colleague (candidate for Lindsay, Fiona Scott) is a good choice for the job because she is young, feisty and has sex appeal, is not that it's so very misogynistic (though, just to be clear... I do think it is appalling) but more importantly that it's a reductive way to regard all women.

Generally speaking, it may be flattering to be referred to as having sex appeal but it is completely inappropriate for someone to do so when describing someone's professional capacity.  The value on women is already too often measured in our sex appeal.  Not only is it shallow to describe someone's best qualities as being part of their looks but also we must note that sex appeal has a shelf life.  Therefore when that runs out (and it inevitably will) then what of her qualifications to fulfill her role then?  If there are no qualifications so important as her ability to turn men on when that runs out we must assume that she will no longer be useful.   More alarmingly, what if you are a woman without any sex appeal?  God forbid I suppose you'd have to rely on your sheer tenacity, drive, smarts, experience, clear thinking, idealism and compassion to make it as a politician... not that any of this matters if you are a woman in our future PM's eyes.  Apparently, judging by the "oh he was just being nice, lighten up" supporters of T.Abbott nothing of substance about women matters in a LOT of people's eyes.

I understand that's not what Mr. Abbott said but it's not what he said that motivates me to write this it's what lives between the lines of what he said.  Ultimately, when you reduce a woman's qualities to sex then that is what you are expecting from her.  What of her abilities as a political candidate?  Surely, it's taken a lot of other qualities for her to get to where she is yet the sum of her achievements through his eyes is so inconsequential that he cannot even think of what they are!

As for Mark Latham.  What an arsehole.

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