Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Kevin Rudd Asked Driver for Sex...Oh...Wait...+ How Affirming is the Action?

That should read "Kelly Hoare Asked Driver for Sex". But you may not necessarily make that distinction were you to have briefly seen the blaring headline on Sunday's Terror.

See, apparently Kelly Hoare is a 'Rudd MP', not merely a 'Labor MP' - or, forbid, just 'Federal MP'. Despite the fact that prior to this story being released, Hoare had just been shafted for Greg Combet, so she wasn't even an MP anymore, let alone a 'Rudd MP'.

Still, guilt by association and all that - even when there's no actual association. Something tells me Kev's meeting with Uncle Rupert didn't go quite as well as his smirk implied.

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Anyway, this segues nicely into a debate currently under way about women in politics and affirmative action - an 'insulting relic', according to TUAI Janet.

Firstly, with regard to Hoare: If she is guilty of what she's been accused - asking a driver to 'come inside and fuck me' - then she's not fit to be a MP, and the Labor Party did the right thing shafting her, even if it was just so they could install Melbourne-based Combet in a safe NSW seat. Can you imagine the furore - quite rightly, too - if the gender roles had been reversed here, and it was for example Wayne Swan or Tony Abbott making the same request of a female driver? So I don't have much sympathy for Hoare, victim or otherwise of the Labor machine.

Now, with regard to Labor's affirmative action program: It's fair to say I have mixed feelings about this. I don't think we can be so naive as to think that gender equality has been completely achieved and made affirmative action programs in politics redundant just yet - and I probably won't really believe it until such time as we have a female Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister (go Jules) and/or female premiers who haven't been propped there merely as scapegoats for the administrative debacles of their predecessors.

So I'm not opposed to the concept per se - but I question how it is applied within Labor. Think of some of the recent candidate announcements for the 2007 election. Who have been given either a safe or winnable seat to contest? Greg Combet (Charlton), George Newhouse(Wentworth), Bill Shorten (Maribyrnong), Jason Clare (Blaxland), Gary Gray (Brand) and Michael Kelly (Eden-Monaro), for starters.

But who've been given difficult or virtually impossible seats to contest? Mia Handshin (Sturt), Nicole Cornes (Boothby) and Belinda Neal (Robertson).

Do you see a pattern?

If Labor's AA program is merely a tokenistic pretence of support, which doesn't actually translate to installing quality female candidates into winnable Labor seats, then it's pretty useless. Similarly, Labor is only shooting itself in the foot if its AA program leads to a lightweight like Nicole Cornes getting a gig, while a quality candidate like Warren Mundine misses out to a fairly ineffectual hack like Julia Irwin.

But I don't think the faults of AA as applied by Labor are of themselves cause to dismantle the program altogether. The fact is women bear extra pressures in what is still a male-dominated, chauvinistic (in Labor and Liberal at least) industry. Penny Wong's take on criticisms of Cornes sums these pressures up quite well. While Labor loyalties prevent Wong from identifying the more legitimate critcisms of Cornes' apparent ignorance of policy and issues, she makes the valid point that

the pressure (on women) is on to be all things to all people. Given that this is an impossible task, women are then often criticised for not measuring up.

They’re either too pretty, too young, too fat or too unmarried. You have to ask whether male candidates get the same sort of treatment.


Furthermore, as Wong argues, sometimes the greatest critics of women are, sadly, other women. They're in an almost impossible situation, not just with men but with the sisterhood too.

And double standards are rife. It was offensive to read the Murdoch rags repeatedly refer to 'Julia' in their headlines when Gillard was under scrutiny for her 'jihad on business' comments. Would the same papers ever refer to 'John', 'Tony' or 'Kevin' so patronisingly? Don't think so.

So for the moment, I think the extra support is still needed, and I agree with affirmative action 'in theory'. But 'in theory', Communism works. 'In theory.' In practice, it doesn't seem to be working quite so well for Labor.

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11 Comments:

At 8/5/07 2:45 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good post, Sam,

Personally I don't believe in affirmative action, at least in politics. I kinda feel the percentage of women who want to be pollies is probably lower than their male counterpart.

If I am wrong, which is more often these days, then why can't women stack a branch(es) just as easily as Malcolm Turnbull, an ethnic group or some other pressure group?

PS Your new penguin profile pic (the one from SSO) makes you look wise but unfortunately also kinda ancient.)

 
At 8/5/07 2:56 pm, Blogger Sam said...

Heheh - well some kind soul at SX drew him for me, anon, and he is the closest I have to a unique QueerPenguin icon, so I thought I should go with him.

I think up close he's kinda cute too, in a gruff sorta way.

And yes, I don't think even now politics is viewed as a female-friendly career choice. Or even just decent person-friendly.

 
At 8/5/07 3:46 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And, of course, that should have been SX
in my post not the opposition!

 
At 8/5/07 3:48 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"he's kinda cute too"

Just like you, I bet! You huggable penguin, you!

(Whoops, this is a serious blog.)

 
At 8/5/07 5:03 pm, Blogger nash said...

How about if Tony Abbott had asked a male driver the same thing? Oh hang on, that's just my (secret) fantasy

btw, VOTE 1 for your new penguin pic

 
At 8/5/07 5:08 pm, Blogger Sam said...

Nash: That's...erm...kinda disturbing.

Cheers for the vote though :-)

 
At 8/5/07 10:23 pm, Blogger nash said...

I know it's disturbing (that's why it's a secret)

 
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At 9/5/07 2:44 pm, Blogger Sam said...

'In theory.'

Hee!

 
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