Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

Hit Squad!

Lately, I have begun to feel a vague sense of living in the 1940s.

There are a few reasons for it, and a few blog posts worth, so today, I'll focus on the current debate of equality for women. It is in part motivated by this article from the Age, where Nicolle Flint decided that anecdotal evidence was enough to claim that there's no problem with women, especially in the arts: "There is a growing body of evidence, anecdotal though some of it may be, from the literary sphere and closely related theatrical sphere that suggests women bear a large degree of responsibility for their alleged, and statistically questionable, under-representation in both fields."

I mean, hang your head in shame, right? Anecdotally, I heard that Nicolle Flint was actually a man, and paid by a Coalition supporting editor in the Age to write this article under a pseudonym. It would explain his repeated use of 'Handbag Hit Squad' to refer to female Labor politicians, after all, and besides, the good thing about anecdotal evidence is you don't need to prove it. It's probably a slippery slope to go down in public discussion, after all, I've heard anecdotal evidence the world is flat, Jesus was white, and Barak Obama and Donald Trump were both born in Kenya. You'd think that if you were a PhD student you'd know better than to go on that, but then anyone can get a doctorate these days, really. After all, I have one--once that happened all the respect and dignity about being able to call yourself doctor went out the window. Probably why more and more of my friends keep getting it.

But Flint's article is part of a larger problem that exists in Australia, especially in the media, and that is the denial of the female voice.

Perhaps strangely, until a few months ago, I wouldn't have said that Australia had a huge issue with female equality. If pressed, I would have said it wasn't perfect, but we've made good good headway, and that it still required work, for the battle for equality is a constant one. I probably would have pointed to race and sexuality and said to you that these were the current important battlefields of equality, and they could only hope to look like the gender battle in a decade. But after the last few months, with more and more articles like Flint's emerging, I have come to despair, truly, and come to consider that I have been wrong, that the battle for equality in gender is in dire need, that it requires constant supervision, that as an important social and cultural issue, the last six months have set back women's rights for at least a decade.

And how do I rationalise this, you ask?

Well, mostly, it's because I have heard, time and time again, in interviews, in articles, on TV, on the radio, on the net and in person, women say, "The treatment of Julia Gillard is sexist, and it mirrors my own lived experience of the world."

And time and time again, I have seen people in positions of authority--most of them men, but a few 'women' like Flint--say, "No, you're wrong. It doesn't. Be quiet."

It's as if the very act of denying the lived experience of thousands of women does not strike one moment of concern in people, that the constant and endless parade of people who easily and without pause tell women they are wrong isn't of any concern, doesn't support the argument of sexism and doesn't underscore the very real problem that this whole situation with Gillard has highlighted.

Someone, no doubt, is probably thinking, "Well, isn't that just anecdotal evidence as well?" to which I kindly and properly say, "No." The evidence is out there, easily obtainable to anyone who wishes to do it. It's in the blog posts, in the interviews, in the articles and sorry excuses for TV journalism that are currently doing the rounds in Australia. It's in the viral nature of Julia Gillard's statement. It's in the very fact that I took time to write this post to tell you that the lived experience of millions of women in this country, much less the world, should be listened to. After all, it is their life, their statements of being treated without equality.

And, like all questions of equality, it impacts on us all.

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