"Women don't play the gender card - they have it played against them."


Peta Credlin.




This week Tony Abbott defended his chief of staff, Peta Credlin, against attack from those within his own party. He said, things would be different if her name was spelled P-E-T-E-R instead of P-E-T-A.

Essentially, he was saying that criticisms of Peta Credlin are sexist. He’s not wrong. People in his party have a history of making sexist slurs against her. On The Project in June, Barnaby Joyce said of Credlin’s no nonsense attitude, “I’m on good information from her husband that she is a woman.”

Others have preferred to leak to the media about their concerns over the secret and unwarranted influence she apparently exerts over the government.

The Prime Minister was right to call this behaviour for what it is. It is sexist.

Yes, I’m aware of the irony. If Tony Abbott was going to take the time to point out sexism in his own party or politics more generally, he would need to cancel all of his commitments for the next few months.

Yes, I’m also aware of the hypocrisy. The PM has made more than his share of sexist remarks. And he actively denied that any criticisms of former PM Julia Gillard had nothing to do with her gender – only her competency.

I’m putting aside that the same repost could be made about the criticisms of Peta Credlin, because there’s something more interesting here.

That something is The Gender Card.

When any one in politics, public life or private conversation points out that they are being treated differently, they’re accused of playing a Card.

“It isn’t women who use The Gender Card.”

If someone points out that they are being treated differently due to their skin colour, it’s The Race Card. When someone points out sexism, it’s The Gender Card.


Heaven forbid that someone points out that they are being discriminated against because they are a woman of colour with a disability. She’d need a bigger purse for all of her Cards.

But it seems pretty clear to me that, when it comes to equality, it isn’t women who use The Gender Card.

The Gender Card is the card being played against women.

Women aren’t holding any cards – that’s the problem. It is the sexists who have all the cards.

It’s the sexists who are who are using their gender as an advantage. They’re the ones using their gender to dominate, belittle and shame women. Sexists are using their gender to make sure that they hold on to their power and that women don’t come and steal it.

When people are being sexist, THEY are playing The Gender Card.

They are throwing it down on the table and saying: I’m the dominant gender and this is how it’s going to be.

When people call out sexism they are not making the situation suddenly sexist. A sexist outcome does not magically appear when you speak its name. The situation was already made that way by the sexists who are holding all the cards.

So this week, Tony Abbott didn’t play The Gender Card. The Gender Card was already in play and it was being used against his Chief of Staff. Tony Abbott merely pointed out that the cards were stacked against her.

As they are stacked against every woman until we achieve fifty percent of the power. Half of all the cards. Then we’ll be playing a fair game.