Sexism in Politics in Australia – Zoe Mikulandra, Australia

In Australia, despite the fact that we have already had one female Prime Minister, sexism in politics is still present and just a representation of sexism within Australia as a country itself.

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Julia Gillard, 27th Prime Minister of Australia ( 2010 – 2013 )

Julia Gillard, Australia’s first female Prime Minister, was constantly attacked for what she wore, her hair, personal life and much more. However, our current Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, is never told that his pants are too tight, hair is too short or voice is too low. This is a prime example of how men are treated differently from women. Women are expected to be perfect housewives with a family and if they get high up on the career ladder, they are bossy and selfish while men are determined and successful.

Senator Fierravanti-Wells said women were still “fighting for the crumbs off the table of the men … who still tend to dominate the ­decision-making process’’. This is wrong as, in Australia, our population is almost 50:50, men to women. The decision making process should be equal. If more Australians felt comfortable with women in positions of power, there would be more women in leadership positions. This shows the sexism that is evident in Australian culture. Currently, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and recently appointed Sussan Ley, Health Minister, are the only two women in the 19-­member cabinet. This shows the sexist nature of the Australia’s Prime Minister and Minister for Women, Tony Abbott.

What message is Australia sending children when our public figures, politicians and journalists cross the line in making judgments about a woman’s sexuality and her choice of whether or not to marry? What kind of a country is Australia if such offensiveness is considered a joke?

In the 1970s, across the world, including Australia, there was a major feminist movement. Women and men of all ages joined forces to combat the sexism in the country and less than 50 years later, this movement has gone backwards. 49% of women and girls are not choosing a career path because they perceive there to be sexist bias or sexist discrimination in that area. This only highlights the nature of Australians and the way that sexsim has evolved into our culture.

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I believe that in a modern developed country such as Australia, divisions like this should not be so prominent and women, like men, should not be targeted for their chosen career path. Stigma and other negativity attached to women in politics need to be abolished and this starts with the media and their attitude towards women. If they stopped reporting on women and their clothes and instead, reported on women the way men are reported on – how they do their job and the way their decisions affect the country – then maybe we could abolish the sexist prejudices in politics.

Australian women have had enough of the scrutiny about their gender, their fertility and their marital status. The Australian band The Herd summed it up best when they sang: “Wake up — this country needs a shake up.”

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