Flat White

I’m not going to play the victim

15 April 2021

4:00 AM

15 April 2021

4:00 AM

As a young girl in the eighties, I had the freedom to be who I wanted to be. I wasn’t taught to consider myself as a victim. Instead, my small school preached equality and self-confidence over anything else. I always knew that I’d be able to achieve whatever I put the work into. 

As a teenager obsessed with music, I devoured the latest releases by women like Neneh Cherry, PJ Harvey, Salt-n-Pepa, Missy Elliot, and Courtney Love. To me, they lived free of constraints – and they crashed through gender stereotypes to dress, sing, and act however the hell they wanted. Those women showed me that I had power. All the positivity and equality from childhood teachings expanded into a knowledge that as a woman I am held back only by myself, just as men are. It therefore pains me to see how modern feminism has twisted all this female power into a narrative of unending victimhood and harassment. 

When the Respect@Work report was released in January 2020 the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins, found that sexual harassment in Australian workplaces was “endemic”. One third of workers (39% women and 26% men) had experienced sexual harassment in the previous five years, with Deloitte estimating a $3.8 billion cost to the economy through lost productivity, staff turnover and associated impacts. The two most reported forms of sexual harassment were sexually suggestive comments or jokes, and intrusive questions about private life or appearance.  

From these findings, 55 recommendations were put forward to prevent sexual harassment and reform how workplaces deal with it. More than a year later every single recommendation has suddenly been accepted, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison proclaiming, “Respect@Work is a game-changer. It is changing the very narrative that will drive the appropriate actions needed right across governments and across society.” 

After a recent swath of sexual assault allegations dropped on federal politics, as well as a barrage of headlines outlining male sexual harassment and violence, major protests amped up around the country. Questions were raised as to why the response to this report was taking so long (at the time of its release only nine recommendations were adopted) now more legislations will be introduced to parliament, and money to fund the recommendations will be added to the already overblown budget. 

All this focus has led to a special new Women’s Cabinet Taskforce, a new Women’s Minister (jokingly dubbed the Prime Minister for Women), a Minister for Women’s Safety, a new female Attorney-General, and a whole lot of pomp about ending violence to women. This new cover of ‘gender-over-all’ has seen women reshuffled around cabinet and new positions and portfolios created to put a focus on women’s issues. Even with all the press conferences and photo opportunities there has been no increase in number of women in federal parliament – which remains at 23 per cent, so it seems no men are willing to give up their spot just yet, tsk tsk. 

In a piece for The Conversation, Barbara Spears from the University of South Australia details the amount of sexual bullying and harassment committed by girls to other girls. She states that, ”schools need to acknowledge sexual bullying exists within and across gender” – this was certainly my experience, yet we have heard shocking stories like the regional Victorian school forcing boys to apologise to the girls on behalf of all men. That example seems to follow the ‘Respectful Relationships’ education programme, which is installed in schools to teach consent, gender inequality and gender-based violence — in other words toxic masculinity. The Victorian Education Minister is urging all non-government schools to sign up to the programme, and his department has been working with activist Chanel Contos to push the key themes of toxic masculinity and slut-shaming. 

Teaching girls that men are toxic, is a sure-fire way to empower their own toxic behaviours, and I’m yet to see evidence that it does any good in raising young men.  

There have been excellent articles by women recently about how we are doing just fine, without all the guff of gender quotas and seemingly constant sexual harassment – yet there is so much focus on equal representation rather than true freedom of choice. We know that women’s participation in the workforce is the highest it’s ever been, girls are outperforming boys in school, and many traditionally male sciences now have a higher proportion of women enrolled. There are companies who have introduced paid menstrual and menopause leave, and schools providing free sanitary products.  

Language is being changed even in places like the Royal Australian Air Force, where personnel will now be referred to as ‘Aviators’ rather than airmen and airwomen. An iconic pair of sunglass style sure, but will it really be the deciding factor in getting more women to enlist?  

Women in Combat is a key driver of the Australian Defence Force, with millions being spent on the development of combat body armour and kit for women, as well as recruitment initiatives and targeted programs. The combined total of women’s participation within the ADF is 14.2% — which has Australia in the forefront when compared with NATO nations, and every accommodation is being made to encourage women, with 88% of ADF employment categories available. The recruitment push is so prevalent that the ADF had to deny only searching for women – and remember that campaign with Navy guys sporting pink nail polish for ‘gender equity’? Sigh… 

At a discussion on gender for the Menzies Research Centre, communications entrepreneur and political commentator Gemma Tognini stated, “Say quota, and I bristle. I find it offensive to my blood, sweat, and tears. I don’t want to be in any role, of any description as the consolation prize or the token uterus at the table.” When it comes to political gender quotas, a recent poll from the Australia Institute found that 53% of voters support them for Liberal Party preselection. The Labor Party adopted quotas in 1994, and now 47% of federal Labor MPs are women — and even formerly anti-quota Liberal National MP Karen Andrews has decided it’s time to consider it.  

While Australia is not quite as far down the woke pathway as Canada or the UK, self-identification of gender is so prevalent that some politicians can’t define what a woman is. Therefore, if gender quotas are required then really all it takes is for a man to identify as a woman, and hey presto, quota filled in a particularly stunning and brave way. 

We are bombarded with the messaging that girls and women need help to achieve a fulfilling career, and that sexual assault is rampant, yet we also see gender self-identification based on feelings, and female words being erased to be more inclusive. The Australian Academy of Science defines a woman as “anyone who identifies as one”, biology is now a TERF. Even the ‘March4Justice’ gatherings erased the word ‘Women’s’, and many feminists were abused and excluded by organisers for simply believing that a woman is an adult human female. Oh yes, the media hid that aspect of the marches in their rush to pin all the blame for society’s woes on Scott Morrison.  

With all the cognitive dissonance surrounding what a woman is, and Australia being ranked the safest country in the world for women, is there really a need to constantly push the narrative that women are weak victims requiring endless laws and taxpayer dollars poured into meaningless initiatives? Instead teach girls and women that life is good, better than it’s ever been, and that we should all just respect each other regardless of gender. Feminism used to be about liberation, but now it has a focus on conformity and victimhood. How can we be equal if women need such special treatment? 

I refuse to have my autonomy taken away further, and as another great female singer, Janis Joplin said, “who you are is what you settle for, you know?”

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