MY friend’s partner, who admittedly never ranked high on my list of Favourite People in the World, recently delivered her a typically male low blow.
They were having an argument and they were both stubbornly sticking to their guns.
Until eventually, he delivered the old chestnut that stopped the argument in its tracks: “Is it that time of the month or something?”
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She was livid. I was livid for her.
Using “time of the month” to delegitimise a woman’s argument is patronising, unfair and downright sexist.
In fact, any throwaway comment used to downplay a woman’s argument is patronising, unfair and sexist. Women are more than capable of having a passionate discussion that is both rational and thoughtful and just because a woman is fired up, it does not mean she is hysterical.
So I was surprised to hear Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg’s throwaway comment last week that he expected “a lot of over-the-top shrill language” in recent Parliamentary sittings.
I can’t help but think that if our Premier was named Anthony Palaszczuk, it’s unlikely that he would be accused of being “shrill”.
It may come as a shock, but it’s not 1950 anymore.
Despite the fact that there is still a sizeable pay gap between the sexes, and that the perception of men and women in the workplace can still be drastically different, it is getting better, and our government should be the leading example.
Politicians make a show of insulting or belittling their opposition, but discrimination should have no place in politics – and that includes little comments like “shrill”, which are loaded with sexist undertones.
I hope that Springborg’s little vacation into 1950s vernacular was a one-off, and I’m going to stop short of directly comparing him to my friend’s now ex-boyfriend, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed.
Maybe I’m asking too much of our pollies when I expect them not to shoot below the belt.
Attack your opponent’s policies, or their viewpoints. Hell, attack their careers and inexperience if you have to. But don’t use words and tactics that have been used to belittle women’s arguments for decades.
Because the “women are emotional and therefore less competent” argument is less valid than ever – but it’s just as offensive today as it was half a century ago.
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