Friday, 16 November 2012


Recently, our Prime Minister, in defending the male Speaker of
the House of Representatives for saying things about women that, after some thought, I've decided are actually too emetic to include in this post, (but which can be read by the curious here), decided she'd chuck a little tantrum about the misogyny she has to endure.

Having achieved the office of Prime Minister, she works alongside a female Governor-General, a female Finance Minister, a female Attorney-General and a female Health Minister, (there may be more females in the ministry, [in fact, there are at least two more I can think of], but who needs to count - the issue is not an issue), in the government of a country that never had a suffragette movement because it didn't need to, as suffrage was extended to women without a second thought, right from the year dot. Thus, particularly in the context of the debate - defending a man for making revolting remarks about women - for me her speech rang mighty hollow.

Which is not to say that all is sweetness and light between the sexes in Australia. Men are still men, women are still women, and, fond as each is of the other on occasion, wastelands of misunderstanding between the two regularly open up. Perhaps because of this women sometimes complain about men - and, indeed, one popular women's magazine runs a column about the silly things blokes do called 'Mere Male'. Some supposedly intelligent - even intellectual - women even seem to think the way they - women - choose to dress is actually a symptom of oppression (and my response to this tosh is to point to the current Finance Minister, Penny Wong, who manages to look impeccably presentable without needing to totter about in tight skirts and high heels).

By the same token, men sometimes speak disparagingly about women. I witnessed an instance of this happening while I was queuing in the Yass Post Office the other day. Two blokes greeted each other and this is what they said:

Bloke 1 (wearing stubbies, ancient Baxters, a checked flannel shirt half tucked in, half not, battered Akubra): G'dday mate.
Bloke 2 (jeans, boots, checked shirt): G'dday, how're you going?
Bloke 1: Good, good, you?
Bloke 2: Oh pretty good, thanks. How's the cook?
Bloke 1: Oh, still whingeing.
Bloke 2: Well she must be okay if she's still whingeing.
Bloke 1: Yeah, reckon.
Mutual laughter.

Assuming 'the cook' is actually the wife of Bloke 1, I suppose I should have been outraged and offended. I'm sorry to say though that I found the conversation rather funny.

Meanwhile, in China, with a government dedicated to the advancement of egalitarian socialism, I regret to observe that achieving the all important 50/50 by 2020 target may be quite difficult. They must be very worried:


  1. But I thought the new Chinese boss is Xi who must be obeyed?

  2. You are so right, of course, about the conversation between the blokes. As an old bushie I can attest to the frequency of such exchanges with only slight variations. It can and should be decoded as a more-or-less affectionate comment on the love of his life. Were the wife in question to overhear the exchange [which would be part of the fun all round] she would scowl on cue, maybe call him a mongrel ["both of yez in fact!"] and it could be presumed with some conviction that this would be as good as it gets in that household.

    Synonyms for wife:
    [Formal] The missus
    [Normal] The old battler
    [Sometimes] Mum

    If there were a genuine marital problem, the subject would be changed pronto by the questionee to the vagaries of the weather or how he should deal with a case of mastitis in the best milker in the herd, and the questioner would take the cue to keep his trap shut.

    Beyond that point, prying into such intimacy was strictly taboo. The mysteries of women, wives in particular, are crosses each man in a flannel shirt and boots has to bear alone.

    There's misogyny and there's bush lore. As long as he's not gambling all their dough or coming home drunk and beating her up, this is love.