These are strange days when a woman cannot stand up for women’s rights.
It is wrong.
The bra-burners of the seventies would be cranky.
On July 17 this year, a Member of Federal Parliament, Tasmanian Senator Claire Chandler, dared express a view in a Tasmanian newspaper about women, toilets and sport.
In that article, Big names spark turning point against free speech attacks, published in the Hobart Mercury, Chandler wrote: “You don’t have to be a bigot to recognise the differences between the male and female sexes and understand why women’s sports, single sex change rooms and toilets are important”.
The story led to an email exchange on the issue with a constituent who ultimately lodged a complaint with Equal Opportunity Tasmania. The complainant argued that Senator Chandler was using her profile and position to effectively pursue the exclusion of transgender people in the community and encouraging others to perpetuate that view.
That complaint was withdrawn at the start of October.
Chandler’s views are neither outrageous, nor discriminatory, nor intended to be.
They are in fact simple, safe, sensible positions on real life.
Women — females, young girls — want the safety of their own space and privacy for such matters. These places are often used for changing clothes or changing nappies. They can be vulnerable spaces.
The transgender access argument emerges in tandem with the brilliant surge in women playing traditionally male sports. With that has come the dismal realisation that the amenities – the changerooms and toilets — do not reflect the need.
We must continue efforts to find the right transgender solutions – on many fronts. However, arguing for the rights of either men or women should not be viewed as an affront to the transgender cause.
The Equal Rights and Opportunity Commission is aptly named. Yet the often-sharp voice of the Woke seems bizarrely more inclined to the counter cause: the Unequal Rights and Opportunity Commission.
Government job advertisements are a virtual desert for men and women who don’t fit a set raft of identity criteria.
In February, the Victorian Government introduced the Gender Equality Act into legislation requiring the public sector, universities and local councils to improve workplace gender equality.
Yet again – it is the words and not the reality — that seem to matter. The Premier’s hypocrisy in this area has been clearly demonstrated by his arrogant attitude towards three strong women in his daily Covid press conferences. Peta Credlin, Gabriella Power and Rachel Baxendale are well-positioned to question his spin over substance but received dismissive, rude responses that he doesn’t appear to dish out to male journalists.
Why is it okay to fund Men’s Sheds – but not argue the case for women’s only toilets?
Men’s Sheds is an outstanding organisation for the very fact that it understands the needs of men: that being together with other men is needed, wanted — and for some – critical.
The same goes for women.
Chandler is right to argue the case; not to offend transgender rights, but to stand up for women’s rights.
The transgender problem in sport is just beginning, with Sport Australia outlining guidelines that “participation in sport should be based on a person’s affirmed gender identity and not the sex they were assigned at birth.”
Even Australia’s foremost non-statutory scientific body, the Australian Academy of Science, has adopted a definition of women which includes “anyone who identifies as a woman”.
The hornet’s nest has been kicked. Pandora’s box has been flung open. Our social norms are spinning on a dime precariously balanced on a precipice.
Ultimately virtue signalling, though well-intended, achieves nothing for anyone.
In July, I wrote to the Federal Minister for Women, Marise Payne, urging a strong response to the Australian Academy of Science’s new definition of women. I made clear my concerns about “the grave affront to Australian women and to the credibility of Australian science”.
In this instance, politics and science should not mix. Objectivity is vital. I suggested that “dangerous politicking” also “erodes the value of language”.
Chandler’s simple argument over the need for female toilets for females is a bold illumination of the need for us to wake up before the Woke wear us down.
Standing up for all our rights is important.
Speaking our minds – with respect — is a central tenant of a nation that treasures freedom of speech and robust debate, whatever the subject matter.
Beverley McArthur is a Liberal Legislative Councillor for the Western Victoria Region.
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