Thursday, 1 August 2013

Feminism, politics and the world we want

Classified as: reflective journal - updates, discourse, feminist theory

Have been messing round with the design of this blog to make the links more visible. I want to add a few more links soon, so I hope this works.

Also have nearly finished sending out all transcripts, but found a few needed double-checking, so it's going a bit slower than I thought (doesn't everything?).

In the meantime, I want to return to a few thoughts from earlier posts about the way we understand the world, Australian politics and what happened to Julia Gillard.

I've been reading various blogs and articles with a pro social justice and environment stance (eg Larvatus Prodeo, John Quiggin, Left Flank). I've noticed a lot of male writers commenting on what happened to Julia Gillard, with a common theme: yes there was misogyny, yes that's bad, but that's not the real reason for what happened to her.

Then they go on with their various explanations: her personality as a leader, the nature of the ALP, the changing nature of politics, etc.

Various women, including myself, have protested about this, saying you can't have it both ways - as Julia Gillard herself said, sexism doesn't explain everything, but it does explain some of what happened. You can't say it happens but it doesn't have any impact - that doesn't make sense. (Doesn't seem to stop them saying it though!)

Not to make this post too long, I'll quickly sketch my argument and try to tie the themes I mentioned together. We've had hundreds (or thousands) of years of patriarchy in "western" culture. It's only recently been largely dismantled legally, and culturally it's still powerful.

In these circumstances, women get into power by working with existing (generally male dominated) systems. Just because Julia Gillard worked within the structures of the ALP or the current political system doesn't mean that feminist analysis of what happened to her is irrelevant.

In the long term I believe that as more women enter politics, the 'caring' areas of life, that have been seen as less important than competition in patriarchal systems, will come to be valued more - at least I hope so. That's not a view about the essential nature of men and women, it's a view about the way social systems have worked and could work - though possibly still hard for many people to understand or take seriously.

I can't make the whole argument here, but my key point is feminism has a lot to offer in the quest for social justice and a sustainable environment. Your comments are welcome ...

1 comment:

Brian said...

Valerie, sorry to haunt you here. Hope the blog goes well.

I'm not sure about your opening claim. You say that people are saying sexism is not the real reason. I think many people are saying it's not the main reason.

I'm not sure anyone is saying that sexism didn't have any impact.

I'm not sure Gillard was saying that it was the main reason. I can't get that out of what she said.

For myself, I'd say it was a significant reason amongst several,. but weighting it would be a guess.