To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Prime Minister Scott Morrison well and truly botched his International Women’s Day speech. How did he do that, you ask? He made it about men, and how women shouldn’t succeed “at the expense of others”.
At an International Women’s Day address in Perth, Morrison referenced Minister for Women Kelly O’Dwyer’s past comments that she didn’t like the idea that “girls doing well must mean that boys do badly”.
Morrison expanded on that line of thought, and explained to the Chamber of Minerals and Energy that the Liberals are “not about setting Australians against each other, trying to push some down to lift others up.”
He went on to add:
“We want to see women rise. But we don’t want to see women rise only on the basis of others doing worse.”
It’s clear from these statements that both Minister O’Dwyer and Prime Minister don’t actually understand feminism, which isn’t surprising, but it is particularly frustrating on a day focused on women that began as a revolution but has since been watered down beyond recognition.
Generally speaking, feminists are not seeking to succeed at the expense of men. Many feminists have husbands, boyfriends, fathers, brothers, sons and friends that they love and support! The idea of feminists seeking to topple the patriarchy and create a matriarchy is a straw-man designed to make it easier to write off all feminists as extremist misandrists.
Men who feel attacked and marginalised by feminism may see women succeeding and feel threatened by that; they might see a woman get a job they applied for and deem it unfair and all feminism’s fault. But this is just the playing field becoming slightly more even – men have been succeeding at the expense of women for centuries, so when a tiny bit of their power is chipped away, some men feel like they’re losing some imaginary battle.
Other things that men blame feminism for are actually the result of sexism, like the way mothers are favoured in custody arrangements. That’s because the belief that women are natural caregivers who stay at home and raise the kids is ingrained in our society. How often do you hear couples talk about the dad ‘babysitting’ his own kids? Not only does feminism seek to uplift women, but it also seeks to undo gender imbalances that exist at the expense of men.
I honestly can’t believe that it’s 2019 and I’m having to explain this because the leader of a country said something incredibly stupid about feminism on International Women’s Day, but Australian politics is nothing if not farcical.
Men, stop stressing: women are not trying to get revenge on you. We just want to be treated equally. That’s it!
Happy International Women’s Day, y’all. I need a drink.