It appears that believing in women’s rights and equality is no longer a prerequisite for being the Minister for Women.
Or should I say, for being the Minister who assists the Prime Minister on women’s issues, because who needs a Minister for Women when we’ve got Tony, eh?
In fact, the woman who holds that very title has used the week of International Women’s Day to declare herself undecided on the whole ‘feminism’ thing.
Minister Michaelia Cash was asked by a journalist at the National Press Club yesterday whether or not she considered herself a feminist. To which the Minister deliberately dodged giving an affirmative answer. She said:
“I consider myself a very lucky person whose parents told their four children to achieve, you work hard… All I know is that I believe in women … but I also believe in men.”
Right. Thanks for making yourself so abundantly clear Minister.
But the Minister didn’t stop there. In an interview with Fairfax published today, the Minister was once again asked about feminism and whether she was reluctant to associate herself with the term. She said:
In terms of feminism, I’ve never been someone who really associates with that movement.
Even though Prime Minister Tony Abbott claimed to be a feminist this week, it seems that the woman assisting him on developing policies and strategies to advance the status of women in our community, ain’t so eager. Her ministerial colleague and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party Julie Bishop doesn’t shy away from the label; nor does Deputy Labor Leader Tanya Plibersek or Greens Leader Christine Milne. But Minister Cash rejects the term despite the fact that her many and considerable achievements in public life would never have been possible had it not been for the feminist movement.
Sadly more and more, women are dividing over whether or not they choose to wear the feminist name tag. As if it were somehow a controversial thing to advocate for equality between the sexes. Surveys consistently reveal that as few as 30 per cent of women in Australia, Canada, the US and the UK consider themselves ‘feminists’. And the number of self-identifying feminists only decreases when you survey younger women.
Caitlin Moran in How to be a Woman asks the respondents to these surveys:
“What part of ‘liberation for women’ is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? ‘Vogue’ by Madonna? Jeans? Did all that good shit GET ON YOUR NERVES? Or were you just DRUNK AT THE TIME OF THE SURVEY?”
Somewhere along the way being a feminist has become associated with hating on men, rather than being equal with them. In her remarks yesterday, Minister Cash seemed anxious to clarify her positive statements about women and women’s achievements with an ‘I also believe in men’.
In doing so, the Minister gives in somewhat to the incorrect and plainly offensive stereotype that feminists are misandrists. Comments like this one are largely being used as insulation or protection from criticism, because after all, success doesn’t come to the woman who says ‘look at me, look at me, I’m a man-hater’.