Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Iron Petticoats

This is an uninformed ramble but it's my blog so I'll ramble as I please.

Many women have 'women's intuition' and an empathetic stance that could bring a little sense to politics the world over. Not the women who feel they have to grow balls to compete with men but women in their own right.

Tonight the 'sorry statement' will be tabled in Parliament and a number of indigenous Australians have gathered outside both old Parliament House and the new seat of government to await the phrasing of this historic piece. Some are there to applaud the actions of the Rudd Government. Some to protest Government intervention in remote Northern Territorian communities rife with disease, violence and abusive behaviour. Either way, the sorry statement is a step forward in the right direction.

Whilst chatting with a friend the other day, we were discussing both the Arab Israeli conflict, terrorism and the like and I mentioned that I'd read Islamic mothers need to give their would be suicide bomber sons 'permission' to blow themselves up. I read it somewhere and don't know how true it is but it got me thinking about the role of women in world politics. What if those mothers could be convinced to save their sons? Who is talking to them, who knows where they are or what they are feeling? I know, that to lose a son is a terrible thing, no matter how mighty Allah might be. This should be a starting point for negotiation.

Now I'm not going to quote research or journalists or academics but I have a strong feeling that in the resolution of conflict, women are ignored and certainly their role in helping to prevent it is invisible. I'm not talking about ball breakers such as Maggie Thatcher or Condalisa Rice, Julia Gillard, these are women who have become genderless representations of the female form in order to compete in a man's political arena. They've had to behave like men to achieve their aims. I'm talking about normal, female, intuitive, everyday women.

Tonight, two erudite, well educated aboriginal women featured on the 7:30 Report. Jackie Huggins, academic and anthropologist and Marcia Langton reflected on the significance of the statement. They made overwhelming sense. There were no 'male' representatives discussing the virtues and failures of the Sorry Statement, just two female elders, the backbone of the family, speaking honestly and directly. It seems to me, and this is purely an uneducated guess, that the role of women in family, the workplace, society and politics etc. is largely ignored yet so many speak absolute sense. How do we activate more women? I don't know. It's like joining the services. We all appreciate what our armed services do but few want to participate. The conundrum is to attract these sensible, empathic, intelligent females into the public arena, diplomacy and politics without turning them into men!

All this when the Australian response to recent events in Dili, Timor is to send in more troops before they even understand what went on . . wouldn't have anything to do with preserving natural gas would it now?

We could do with less androgenous female leaders and a few who can retain their feminine values but capable of wearing iron petticoats.

Just a thought. And of course, gross generalisations apply.


nonny said...

Yeah some women have bigger balls than their male counterparts and feel it necessary for their survival to rule with an iron hand but on the whole if women ruled the world it would be a much better place. Men commit most crimes, woman are more empathetic and compassionate. In fairness If I seen a women in a senior position blithering and crying over the task in hand, I’d be like, “Oi get off the stage” I don’t mean it in a bad way, you know what I mean. When I am Queen there will be changes around here!

ian said...


I'm not sure whether it's so simple. Every woman gaining power has become like the men - look at the ghastly line up that Tony Blair had in Britain, including a female member of Opus Dei. I think it's more than a gender thing, I think it's in the nature of military and economic power that it brings out base instincts. Perhaps it's Darwinian theory working itself out.

Emperor Ropi said...

I am very good at changing the topic when we would talk about politics. I hate discussions about it.

Absolute Vanilla (& Atyllah) said...

Fascinating post, Baino and it bears further discussion.

I agree with you that women should have a greater say and be listened to more, but there's a shitload of societal conditioning that must first be undone and women themselves must learn that becoming ball busters isn't the answer. Somehow there are some very fine dividing lines. But perhaps the place from which women need to lead are the less obvious places and to that end I think there are women out there making remarkable inroads, you just don't find them in the obvious places - and yet their voices are heard by millions. Perhaps, eventually, they will convert enough other voices for there to be such a groundswell that things will change without us actually realising they have changed - and all because there are women quietly doing what needs to be done - and perhaps thats the thing - it's the quietly getting on with it that is often most effective.

Nick said...

I think the problem is that when there's only a minority of women in a male-dominated context, they have to ape men to survive. It's only when there are enough women and they reach a critical mass that they can start doing things their way and undermine the male status quo. In politics though, that's going to take a hell of a long time.

Baino said...

Nonny: I think women have to be tough if they are to survive in a male dominated world. Our female politicians are 'masculine' in attitude because it's the only way to get ahead. Just make sure your a benevolent monarch!

Ian: well I did warn that gross generalisations were in place here, of course it's simplistic but worth a try. I don't however think that for women the first solution to a conflict is to go to deploy troops, I think we're better at diplomacy.

Ropi: Haha . .well maybe that will change in the future.

AV: that is certainly the case, I think we can work in the background by being influential in the lives of our partners and children. But I wish there was more visible representation of women in society. Doing things quietly can be effective. I just think that in the case of Islam for instance we're missing the point. We are told that women are powerless and dominated, that the hijab is a mark of opression but it's not. Iranian women for example are highly educated and represented in politics, education and the medical system. I'll be happier when Women's soccer and cricket makes the news and not a tiny mention on the back page.

Nick; I agree, women are also very distracted by being domestic role models as the division of labour is still so unequal in the average family and simply don't have the luxury of time or choose power as a priority without sacrificing that side of their lives. Ah well, slowly slowly catch the monkey eh!

Anonymous said...

Get used to it, Ropi. Opinions are like arses, everyone has one. And politics is an itch they just have to scratch.

Comments like Nonny's do nothing and seek only to further the stereotype that exists. I, as a man, could easily counter by saying that if a woman was in charge of a nuclear-equipped nation, we'd have nuclear war every 28 days.


The reason womens' sports don't make the headlines is because they are less skillful than men in most cases, not always, and there are exceptions. In Ireland, one of our most feted boxers is Katie Taylor, the European lightweight champion.

Can women wield power as effectively as men? Who's to say they can't, but until a fundamental attitude that women cannot be politicians or judges or whatever changes, there's no point discussing it. Get out there and change it.

Anonymous said...

You're right Baino. There was a time our local government was doing its darndest to fill its seats with females. However, most didn't have the luxury of time without sacrificing family. They ARE what keeps a family together. There are many invisible representations in the background, but with public attention could they keep doing what they're doing? It does come down to minority/majority ruling results.

Thriftcriminal said...

Ha, I come from a family of women who couldn't get along to save their lives. My Grandfather and I were the only two males and we just kept our heads down while the wars raged and factions shifted.

Baino said...

Anonymous: Please leave a name for consistency's sake.

Ok men are big and strong and have better hand/eye coordination. It's not a skill issue. Apparently they're better at cognitive recognition as well but suck at intuitive stuff. I'm not saying we're better but that we would tackle things differently.

Thankfully it is changing. We have our first femail high court judge this year and a high representation of women in politics, still a long way to go but it's a start.

Thrifty: Yeh, but you're Irish! Best to duck and cover than face the banshee!

Matt said...

Still need more women in power ... step aside Rudd, you need to be replaced by a female ;)

Baino said...

Matt; My My we are in touch with our feminine side! Julia Gillard will make sure he's under control and don't forget his wife! Behind every great man etc. You're so sweet white and girly!