Women in the Labor caucus have come under fire from the ‘sisterhood’ for siding with the men who brought down Julia Gillard. By comparison, the men who actually orchestrated the rise and fall of our first female Prime Minister, got off relatively easy.
Senator Penny Wong got the worst of it, with Coalition Senator Michaelia Cash, launching a scathing attack on the Finance Minister in the Senate this afternoon. Senator Cash captured the attention of the media when she accused Penny Wong of stabbing Julia Gillard in the back and betraying the sisterhood.
Feminist author Anne Summers, criticised women in the Labor caucus for failing to show “sisterly solidarity” during the leadership ballot.
The Fairfax columnist referred to the men who resigned from Cabinet as “honourable”. But I think these resignations said more about the depth of resentment towards Kevin Rudd, than any real loyalty to Julia Gillard.
Summers then went on to say: “Do these women seriously think that it was OK for our first woman prime minister to be hounded out of office by bullying, duplicity and an outrageous trashing of her reputation? Do they seriously think they are not also contaminated by the crude culture of misogyny that has now enveloped so much of the Labor Party?”
But hang on. Isn’t feminism about the right of every woman to choose her own destiny? Did the sisterhood really expect women in the Australian Labor Party to fall on their swords to save Julia Gillard, just because she’s a woman?
The women who voted for Kevin Rudd, weren’t voting for the destruction of Julia Gillard, they were voting for their own political survival. Like it or not, the electorate prefers Kevin Rudd to Julia Gillard and if you put yourself in their shoes, these women were voting to keep their seats in parliament. Just like the men, these women were voting to keep their jobs.
If this is all about sisterly solidarity and supporting other women. Why didn’t we hear from the sisterhood when Julia Gillard cut parenting payments for single mums? Wasn’t that a far worse betrayal of women? But then again, we all know that most feminist commentators only care about women at the top and couldn’t care less about women at the bottom of the heap.
Personally, I’m sick of the sisterhood and these public attacks on other women. Disagree with the sisterhood and you’re considered to be under some type of misogynist spell which prevents you from opening your eyes to the truth as they see it.
Well I’m a feminist. But for me, feminism isn’t about sisterly solidarity – women are far too eclectic a group for that. It’s about human rights, social justice and fairness. It’s about the right of every woman to make her own choices without fear of reprisals, such as those attacks we’ve witnessed on women in the Labor caucus.