Today is International Women’s Day – an annual occasion especially dedicated to recognising and uplifting women’s achievements and building further gender equality.
Three years ago, hot out of the Prime Ministerial gates and speaking about this very day, Morrison made sure to emphasise the Liberal party supported women but did not “want to see women rise only on the basis of others doing worse.”
He went on to emphasise the importance of the economy in women’s progress, saying “our economy has to be strong” for women to have choices. “Prosperity brings with it its opportunities, of course it does, for every person.” Just in case you thought prioritising business over people’s needs was a COVID-era development for the LNP.
Last year Morrison caught a lot of well-deserved backlash for his response to Brittany Higgins’ sexual assault allegations. Addressing the revelations, Morrison shared, “Jenny and I spoke last night, and she said to me, ‘You have to think about this as a father first. What would you want to happen if it were our girls?’ – Jenny has a way of clarifying things, always has.”
It is discouraging to hear our Prime Minister has to be taught by his wife to understand and empathise with rape victims!
Morrison’s Higgins remarks were one of three nominations he picked up for the annual Ernie Awards – a series of awards given to the year’s most sexist remarks. He won The Trump this year, for repeat offenders.
Cast your mind back to last year’s Women’s March4Justice, a landmark protest against domestic and sexual abuse suffered by women. Morrison was too busy to attend the event.
Speaking about the march in Question Time, Morrison was quick to remind these women how lucky they were to be able to advocate for their rights, when “not far from here, such marches, even now, are being met with bullets, but not here in this country”. The bar really could not be any lower.
His final Ernie nomination came from 2021’s Australian of the Year ceremony. When Grace Tame gave her award speech, recounting her harrowing experiences with child sexual abuse, Morrison decided to it was an appropriate time to quip to her, “well, gee, I bet it felt good to get that out.”
Of course, the Prime Minister’s sexist record is potentially emblematic of the dangerous boys’ club culture that plagues the Liberals – consider the various investigations of how Christian Porter and Alan Tudge have treated women in their lives.
Even during Tony Abbott’s time as head of the coalition, when an LNP fundraiser included a dish on their menu described as “Julia Gillard Kentucky Fried Quail – small breasts, huge thighs and a big red box.” That was in the 21st century. And while sexism among the coalition may have become less visible, I doubt it has disappeared.
These moments are swept under the rug by the government again and again as one-off mistakes, but they are not. They’re part of a toxic undercurrent and male power posturing that must not be forgotten. What’s been deemed as Australia’s ‘MeToo’ movement has plagued the parliament for two years now – it’s vital we do it justice.
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