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John Passant

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January 2010



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



The selling of Mr Abbott

I don’t often buy the Australian Women’s Weekly. To tell you the truth, I have never bought it before. 

I’m the wrong demographic really.

But with Opposition leader Tony Abbott proclaiming in its pages today that virginity was a gift for women to give, I got to thinking about what its demographic is. Skimming it quickly gave me a few hints.

Among the ads for weight loss, skin care, clothes and accessories and holidays were articles about successful women, film stars and recipes. Oh, and a discussion about whether male sex addiction is just an excuse for bad behaviour.

Then there was Abbott’s interview. 

This is really about selling the Opposition leader to women. According to Helen McCabe, the editor -in-chief,  Abbott is a ‘typically knock about Aussie male’. Yeah, we are all Rhodes scholars with a blue from Oxford and a weighty book published.

In the interview McCabe admits, after he tells his daughter he loves her, that ‘a romantic Tony Abbott  was not what she was expecting’. Ah, coo, coo, a nice loving man, see?

It goes on like this for column after column. Words like charming, down-to-earth, truthful and with heart rending snippets about the son that wasn’t and his wife and daughters.  Schmaltz on a stick.

The intention is clear. Tony (that’s what the editor-in chief calls him) is an all round good guy who we can sell to those women who read the Weekly (and increase our circulation too).

Abbott himself identifies young professional women as having a problem with him because they are ‘women who, for perfectly good reasons, don’t want to be told by anyone else how they should lead their lives.’

Since women began pouring into the workforce from the 70s on as a consequence of the women’s liberation movement, I would suggest almost all women, not just young professionals, think that way. I’d also hazard a guess too that not too many professional women (at least before today) read the Weekly.

So this sales pitch is aimed at both an older more conservative generation of women and a newer generation who might be interested to learn that Tony – don’t you just love the diminutive, it’ s so non-threatening –  really really does support the idea that women can do anything (except be catholic priests).

But then he gives the game away.  On sex before marriage (who asks these questions?) he says that he would say to his daughters that it is the greatest gift that you can give someone and adds that you don’t give it lightly.

Translation: Dad does want to run his daughters’ lives, and the lives of other women.  And that’s pretty clear too from his views about abortion. He is, he insists, only about ‘fewer abortions’.

Behind this seemingly ‘nice’ approach lies an anti-abortion fanatic . Thus as Minister for Health Abbott refused to allow the abortifacient RU 486 to be used in Australia.  End result – more misery but fewer abortions.

If elected, he will use the office of Prime Minister any way he can use  to reduce abortions. He has form.

Not that Labor is above reproach. At one stage Rudd supported the RU 486 ban then changed his mind.

Anna Bligh, the pro-abortion Queensland premier, is politically fearful of stopping the prosecution of Tegan Leach for procuring an abortion and has refused to decriminalise the procedure.

Labor’s Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard has been extolling the virtues of locking up refugees and has threatened teachers – an occupation dominated by women – that she will rule nothing in or out to beat their democratic decision to ban league table testing.  ‘I will tell these women what is good for them’ seems to be Gillard’s motto.

Back to Abbott. Wanting fewer abortions (and banning RU 486 is one dictatorial way of achieving that) is actually about telling women they can’t and shouldn’t have abortions. It’s about telling women how to behave. Your bodies are not your own.

Abbott’s history, his background, his philosophy is about women as second class citizens.

When McCabe actually asks him a real life question about the gender pay gap, she reports that ‘Tony is unaware there is a problem.’ Precisely. He just doesn’t get it.

That’s why Abbott’s interview is with the Women’s Weekly and not some post-feminist in one of the dailies who is likely to rip into him.

It’s all so obvious. Here is a nice family man.

The nuclear family of course is at the centre of the socialisation and production of the next generation of workers and Abbot, and the Women’s Weekly, constantly extol its virtues.

Thus Abbott says in the interview that marriage is a  good thing (but not for gays and lesbians) and intact marriages more so. That explains why he opposes no fault divorce – stay with your man, woman, and that’s an order.

Without the unpaid work women do in raising kids capitalism would be stuffed. So Abbott’s conservative philosophical leanings match to some extent that pro-family capitalist message.

However the changes in the composition of the workforce over the last 40 years, with women now making up just over 45 percent of the paid labour force, have both undermined and reinforced the ideology of the family.

Undermined it because working gets you out of the home, widens your experiences and gives you some financial independence. Reinforced it because the family often becomes an escape from the deadening routine of work, and the exploitative nature of the process.

Nevertheless more people now live in non-traditional family arrangements than in them. 

This might mean that Abbott’s sex before marriage comments, as an example of telling women what to do, are likely to infuriate and disgust many more people than win him converts.

The Women’s Weekly has a different take.  Those who hate him do so intensely but they are no more nor less than the number of people who hate other politicians. Maybe.

And still there is more.  There is something deeply offensive to me about selling Abbott as a family package. He has commodified his own family for tawdry political ambitions.

Not only does Abbott want to tell women what to do, he wants to commodify everything, including relationships if necessary.

The interview in the Australian Women’s Weekly gives a pretty good pointer to what Abbott as Prime Minister would be like – socially reactionary and economically a let the market rip sort of guy.

Mr White Picket Fence is dead. Now we have Mr Chastity Belt.







Comment from Arjay
Time January 27, 2010 at 7:22 pm

We have to nail Tony Abbott down on his policies on internet censorship.Kevin Rudd is adopting the the first Western Govt censorship on the planet under the guise of saving us from paedophiles.

Trust no politician .This must be stopped dead in it’s tracks.

Comment from Rx
Time January 28, 2010 at 11:06 am

Women (and young workers) are among the biggest losers from the type of unbalanced work laws Abbott would impose if he got the opportunity.

The AWW is selling out their readership by pumping up this extremist.

Comment from marianK
Time January 28, 2010 at 2:40 pm

Good to read your comment that ‘without the unpaid work women do in raising kids capitalism would be stuffed.’

It’s more than just economics. The unpaid labour of women in the home is also a human rights issue. By any other definition, labour without pay is slave labour. Through overwhelming social pressure, women are still the ones compelled to ‘choose’ the homemaker role. Until we have a society that directly remunerates that role, women will remain the unacknowledged slave class.

Comment from Chav
Time January 29, 2010 at 2:28 pm

“Through overwhelming social pressure, women are still the ones compelled to ‘choose’ the homemaker role.”

Is it social pressure, or is it because the male partner is more likely to earn more that most couples adopt this inequitable arrangement?

Pingback from En Passant » The sayings of Mr Chastity Belt
Time January 31, 2010 at 9:39 pm

[…] Readers might also like to have a look at The selling of Mr Abbott. […]

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