Why I see joining the Liberal party as a feminist act – GUEST POST

This guest post by Diane Murphy is posted to show what alternative views there are out there. Thank You Diane
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Australian democracy is the chickens voting which fox will guard the hen-house.

The Left wing are arguing over who will be the boss chicken, while the Liberal party are deploying foxes to the hen houses. I’d rather be a fox than chicken.

That sounds rather cynical and mercenary. It probably is. However, if we are going to have an austerity government under Abbott, I won’t go quietly. I will do whatever it takes to protect my family. If the Left would rather fight about the colour of the ties, they aren’t fighting for our future or our communities. The best protection won’t come from a Labor party at war with itself, and it won’t come from a Greens party who refuse do anything unless it is perfect for everyone, meaning nothing ever gets done.

People may read that and accuse me of collaboration, or disunity, or abandoning the Left or being a traitor. The reality is I’m Scared! I’m scared of an austerity that bites hard, long cold hungry winters, austerity suicides that are happening in parts of Europe, and the echos of fascism creeping into policy, shutting down access to information, limiting free speech, restrictions on free travel, privatising profits and socialising losses of taxpayer assets. If it comes down to a choice between feeding my family and upholding some mythical left-wing ideals where everyone looks after each other – I choose my family.

I watched the former Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, who I campaigned for, cross the floor with a look of what might have been smug pride as she voted NO on the issue of marriage equality.

I knew at that moment, this Prime Minister did not represent me, and would rather capitulate to unions to maintain power than fight for the rights of all Australians. It is the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employee’s Union (SDA), who stage witch-hunt to ferret out any possible gay or marriage equality supporting shop stewards, Joe Bullock who got the top spot on the WA senate ticket for the ALP ahead of Louise Pratt. Bullock, a man who is anti-choice and anti-marriage equality, got the Number 1 position over a sitting senator, where was the “Captains pick” or intervention for Pratt that Penny Wong received when she was relegated to Number 2.

Someone who votes to deny a huge section of our society access to rights that ex-Prime Minister takes for granted as having access to, is not what feminism means to me.

At least Kevin Rudd is man enough to know that his marriage is not threatened by ending the exclusion of certain adults from marriage.

I watched a party I campaigned for condemn single parents, the vast majority women, to a life of poverty, and when you are that far down as single parents raising a family on New Start most of them are probably never going to rise to upper middle class. Also, taking time out to raise a family will affect their superannuation when they reach retirement age, all those productive years where the fathers of those children are adding to their super, and the primary care parent sees their economic situation go backwards.

Makes all the rhetoric coming from Labor MPs about looking after “working families” a sick joke. Working families – except for retired older Australians, single parent families, unemployed trying hard to retrain, or even a happily involved gay couple who are prevented from making official their family with a marriage certificate.

I have watched a government I’ve voted for passed hundreds of bills in three years of minority government condemn boat refugees to hell on earth behind the razor wire, as a compassionate refugee policy was one that the ALP just couldn’t find the numbers (or willingness) to pass. The lesser of two evils is still evil.

Tony Abbott’s mantra of “turn back the boats” is no more compassionate than anything enacted under this current Labor government, but if he takes the keys to the Lodge in September, he knows he won’t be turning any boats around. Tony Abbott knows that is just a slogan, and it works, because the Labor government has failed to give voters any reason to not be afraid of boat people. People are worried about their jobs, and get condemned as racist, rather than exploring the reason why people are worried.

The last week in Federal Parliament saw valedictory speeches from Judi Moylan and Mal Washer, the conscience of the Liberal party not recontesting their seats, leaving the attack dogs and misogynists and Tea Party to fill the void.

The last week of Federal Parliament also saw the first female Prime Minister dumped and replaced by the man who had been white-anting her for three long years. This has already been covered by many fine political commentators, Give PM Julia Gillard credit where credit is due, is just one well-worth clicking example, this issue doesn’t need rehashing here.

This would be the least likely time that an educated, left-leaning feminist would be filling in forms to join the Liberal Party.

The last week also saw something inspirational in the Senate. During a debate on a “back door” plan to get marriage equality into Australia, the Queensland senator Sue Boyce crossed the floor. Part of her speech in the led up to that moment, she said:

I am pleased that I have the option within the Liberal Party to exercise a free vote, an option that, I would point out, is not available to those in the Labor Party or the Greens unless a conscience vote is agreed to by the party. Within the Liberal Party, one always has the option of exercising a free vote. If we are to vote on this legislation, I will be voting for this bill, because I think it advances the cause of same-sex marriage in Australia.
Thursday, 20 June 2013

This past couple of weeks not only saw the dumping of the Prime Minister, but the events that led up to that, the accusations of starting a gender war for daring to mention abortion, the Convoy Of Cleavage and Menugate. In a discussion with my sister Jo, I said that other countries are having mass demonstrations for food, jobs, public transport, public parks and hospitals, Brazil, Greece, Turkey, Bangladesh, and we are a nation that talks about ties and cleavage (meaning we are so prosperous, our people aren’t taking to the streets to protest for food, health, jobs). Jo said she would write about it. I warned her, if she wrote even slightly negatively about Convoy Of Cleavage she would accused of fascism by feminists claiming she is victimising them (by being mobbed and trolled and abused by people calling themselves feminist), she will be accused of lacking humour (by people who over react whenever Tony Abbott says his gaffes are just jokes that got lost in translation), she will be accused of disunity (achieved by rounding up their clique and trolling her blog). Guess what? Exactly that happened. Dissenting voices and differences of opinion are drowned out by sheer numbers of trolls one can round-up.

While feminists were attacking anyone who stepped out of line regarding the Convoy of Cleavage, the men of the Labor party were drawing up their plans to knife the first female Prime Minister. Tell me who was distracted by pointless stunts, it wasn’t Tony Abbott, a common criticism directed to the Leader of the Coalition. And yet to disagree with these left-wing feminist was met with hysterical wailing that they were being victimised.

There is nothing empowering about the constant cries of “I’m a victim”. To spend your life claiming to be a victim of everyone who disagrees with you is infantising. It removes your power to act on your own, you are a victim of someone else’s actions. Right-wing women don’t do that, they know they have power, independent of how others behave, and they use it.

There is nothing empowering about the herd mentality of the Left that crushes or crusades against someone who disagrees with you, but good on you for taking the time out of fighting the Right-wing neo-conservatives pushing for austerity to troll little blogs, Liberation Achieved!

The group think of the Left, where you are as entitled to your opinion as the next person, as long as it is the same as the next person. Just do not goosestep out of line or the leader of the herd will claim you are victimising her, you are attacking her rights to her opinion.

What makes a bigger statement about freedom and empowerment – Sue Boyce crossing the floor or trolling the blog of someone who you disagree with and then bragging about it to your clique as “Just commented, and that really WAS a criminal waste of my precious time. Off to bake for the kids.”

One is childish, one is empowering.

I think Boyce wins.

The Left is currently in the grip of a mania for unity, the destabilising by Rudd, encouraged / caused by the media has demonstrated the old saying “disunity is death”, especially in the face of a united Right, who know that they can put aside their differences and unite behind a leader, at least until the election is over.

The group-think, herd mentality of the Left, which needs consensus to prove it is united, results in the Left seeking and destroying any dissenting opinion which deviates from either the most charismatic, or who ever has the numbers, or the lowest common denominator, not the fairest or the best, as Mike Carlton (hero or villain of the Left, depending on the content of his latest column) says: Amazed at the number of people who think I should not have an opinion unless it agrees with theirs.

The path a left-wing feminist walks is even more precarious than a left-wing non-feminist. She must conform to feminism and conform to the Left wing, and if the ongoing saga of Rudd V Gillard has shown us, sometimes those two things are not compatible, especially with the gay-hating, abortion-opposing blokey culture of the union movement.

However, the Left does not own feminism. A women at any place in the political spectrum can identify as feminist. Although I suspect when women of the Right call themselves “feminist” is it usually to define themselves against something the Left has done. If the Left calls out some behaviour, for example sexist menus, women of the Right will challenge that with “I’m a feminist, and I don’t feel like a victim of menus”. If a female supported Kevin Rudd in the caucus ballot that toppled PM Gillard, female Liberal senators will get hysterical that they “betrayed the sisterhood”, women aren’t supposed to do anything on their own, apparently, unless all women are brought down to the same level or they are betraying (this idea infects feminist critics on the Left and the Right).

Women of the Right are less likely to identify with feminism for several reasons:

a) they see any success of theirs is not due to collective consciousness, whether feminism or unionist, but down to their own hard work, talent and making their own luck (taking advantage of / exploiting a situation),

b) they don’t see themselves the same as other women, they are exceptional, the Right doesn’t need quotas, all the Right-wing women in Parliament are there because they are not like other women, they are exceptionally talented, they are special, they are elite,

c) they don’t seen any special bonds of sisterhood with other women (why should they, they are better than mere other women), they don’t see the glass ceiling as needing to be cracked, they have found a trap door and locking it behind them once they have climbed the ladder, (it is why women of the Right will use other terms instead of feminist while preaching the same principles eg, Sarah Palin’s “Mama Grizzly’s”),

d) they talk about feminism as a way of silencing the opposition, if they claim to speak from a feminist position, it muddies the water and weakens the Left’s position of working to raise the standard of living and ensure the Rights of all women, not just a select few,
it is also a way of making the interests of the select few seem like it benefits the interests of the many (Nannys for CEOs, allows women of calibre to breed, how can that not be feminist? all you minimum wage, working class women complaining about your tax dollars going to women on incomes over $75,000 – you mean, you hate feminism?),

e), the Right sees the way to achieve success is to keep everyone else down, only one person can stand on the top of the mountain, it will be them, and standing on the bones of their rivals, they can climb even higher, it is about success of the individual, and there can only be one winner,
the Left tend to see success as a plateau, and while someone else is downtrodden and enduring poverty we are not a successful society, and you achieve success by raising the plateau, not by pushing someone else down.

A rising tide lifts all boats, a phrase popularised by Bill Clinton to increase the standard of living for all, has been adopted recently by parts of the Right to mean the success of the few will eventually rise the tide for those living in poverty. It is a deliberate misinterpreting of ‘tickle down’ economics. We are all the boats, but in Tony Abbott world, Gina Rinehart is the tide who will lift us all out of poverty with $2 a day wages.

As the feminist Naomi Wolf has pointed out, the Right are just as feminist, if not more, than the Left:

Because feminism in the 1960’s and 1970’s was articulated via the institutions of the left – in Britain, it was often allied with the labor movement, and in America, it was reborn in conjunction with the emergence of the New Left – there is an assumption that feminism itself must be leftist. In fact, feminism is philosophically as much in harmony with conservative, and especially libertarian, values – and in some ways even more so.

The core of feminism is individual choice and freedom, and it is these strains that are being sounded now more by the Tea Party movement than by the left. But, apart from these sound bites, there is a powerful constituency of right-wing women in Britain and Western Europe, as well as in America, who do not see their values reflected in collectivist social-policy prescriptions or gender quotas. They prefer what they see as the rugged individualism of free-market forces, a level capitalist playing field, and a weak state that does not impinge on their personal choices.

Many of these women are socially conservative, strongly supportive of the armed forces, and religious – and yet they crave equality as strongly as any leftist vegetarian in Birkenstocks. It is blindness to this perfectly legitimate approach to feminism that keeps tripping up commentators who wish to dismiss women like Margaret Thatcher, or Muslim women, or now right-wing US women leaders, as somehow not being the “real thing.”

Read more here

Maybe the Right don’t clamour for labels such as feminist or sisterhood, but they don’t feel the need to try to squash everyone in the same box and label it feminist either, they just get on with exercising their own personal power over their lives. While the Right is dominating the media, business, industry, the narrative and the context, building a war chest to fight the election, the Left is corralling people who don’t share the sense of humour in a little box, labelled traitor.

The same tactics misogynists used to bring down PM Gillard are now being used by Left-wing feminists to criticise anyone who supports Prime Minister Rudd. It is apparently disunited to not support the Prime Minister. If that is what left-wing feminism is, I want no part of it, do I have to unquestioningly support everything women do in order to protect myself from being trolled, bullied, abused, accused by those calling themselves feminist? It would seem so. Do I have to promote your cause, while you ignore mine or the Prime Minister I support, in order to not be accused of being divisive? Apparently. This is not feminism. This is fascism.

I don’t want to spend my life like these women crying “I’m a victim of your fascism” if someone disagrees with me, I don’t want to roll over and play dead to keep up the pretense that we are a united community, we are not, I’m a left leaning feminist who would rather advance in her career and look after her family and serve her community (geographic not ideological) than to submit to people who abuse others in the name of feminism. I don’t want to spend my time trolling and abusing in the name of freedom. I just want to get on with living my life in the way I want, as long as it harms no one else – and isn’t that what feminism is about?

The Liberal party is the party of the individual, they don’t force others to conform or attack them because they think differently, they are a celebration of entrepreneurs and success, they don’t play the victim, they just get on with getting things done.

“The West Wing: The Portland Trip
Congressman Skinner: You know I never understood why you gun control people don’t all join the NRA. They’ve got two million members. You bring three million to the next meeting, call a vote. All those in favor of tossing guns… bam! Move on.
Josh Lyman: It’s a heck of a strategy, Matt. I’ll bring that up at a meeting.

I don’t believe I would be holding the Liberal party accountable, nor do I think I would be making myself any less of a target come the Austerity Revolution.

if we are on the Titanic, I chose to be selfish in first class, and look after my family, than fight it out in steerage once all the lifeboats are gone, and the call goes up “every man for himself”. Currently the Left are arguing about the colour of ties, the gender of the Prime Minister, who held the knife, and what colour the exit signs are, and were the life-jackets ethically made by non-sweatshop labour, meanwhile, the country is drowning.

That is how I see the next three years under an Abbott austerity-government. Brutal and harsh. My best chance is to join the Liberal party.

Maybe our democracy is the chickens voting for which fox guards the hen-house, however, the song Cows With Guns by Dana Lyons, ending with the cows being rescued by Chickens In Choppers.

Diane Murphy, independent blogger

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One Comment to “Why I see joining the Liberal party as a feminist act – GUEST POST”

  1. I think your first mistake was to confuse the ALP for a left party. Its a centrist neoliberal party drifting ever more right.

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