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Word Of The Day

So there was the ABC’s uber-interviewer, Tony Jones, on Lateline Thursday night, bumping on and on and on in the same stupid rut as all the rest of them, as he interviewed Treasurer Wayne Swan. Did he accept Julia Gillard’s assertion that Tony Abbott was “a misogynist, a woman-hater?” he asked.

Then, after getting an answer, he asked again: “The word means, literally, ‘The hatred or dislike of women and girls’. I mean, are we meant to take that word at its definition…?”

After another answer, Jones asked the same question again: “So do you stand by the use of this word misogynist, woman-hater, in relation to Tony Abbott or do you want to step back from that because ... ?”

It was the same tired, trite question as Emma Alberici asked Tanya Plibersek the previous night. That Leigh Sales asked Penny Wong.

Yes, over the past couple of days — ever since Julia Gillard flayed Abbott for his undeniable sexism — even the sober types at the ABC were singing from the same song sheet as the right wing claquers like Piers Akerman, Andrew Bolt and Paul Sheehan. Or, more correctly reciting from the same page of an abridged dictionary.

And all of them equally inane. For the English language is a far more nimble and subtle thing than much of Australia’s political commentary this week.

<p>Stefan Postles/Getty Images</p>

Stefan Postles/Getty Images

Don’t take my word for it; take the Oxford English dictionary, and New York Times writer on language, the late William Safire.

Safire, incidentally, was no leftie. He was, as well as being a peerless authority on the language, a right-wing columnist and former staffer for both Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew.

But just over four years ago, Safire flew to the defence of Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, when she complained of misogyny during her primary campaign against Barack Obama.

Here’s what Safire wrote:

“Senator Hillary Clinton used a word recently that has been changing its meaning. In charging that she has been treated more harshly in the media because of her gender than Senator Barack Obama has been treated because of his race, she said, ‘It does seem as though the press at least is not as bothered by the incredible vitriol that has been engendered by comments and reactions of people who are nothing but misogynists.’

Safire continued: “The word misogyny has since its earliest recording in 1656 meant “hate or contempt for women.” The etymology of misogyny is straightforward: In Greek, miso means “hatred,” and gune means “woman.” A misogynist is a woman-hater. I thought Clinton’s choice of the word was in error, and that the word she meant was sexist, meaning “one who discriminates based on sex” — that she had been treated unfairly because she was a woman. When I looked up the word she chose in the Oxford English Dictionary online, however, I noted that the meaning of misogynist had changed, slightly but significantly. In 1989, the definition was “hatred of women”; in the 2002 revision, the definition was broadened to “hatred or dislike of, or prejudice against women.”

Thus, sexist and misogynist are now in some respects synonymous. Because sexist has been so widely used, apparently misogynist — in the same sense of “prejudice” rather than “hatred” — now carries more force with those who are familiar with the word,” wrote Safire.

So, then, have we got that? Words change their meanings over time, through usage. These days, "misogynist” is sort of an amped-up version of “sexist”. I would argue that there is a slight difference in meaning, in that a sexist comment may refer to an individual, whereas a misogynist comment refers to the female sex more generally.

In any case, the examples of Abbott’s behaviour and comments cited by Gillard in that blistering speech show him to be both.

The most clearly misogynist of the Abbott quotes cited by Gillard was not his assertion that abortion is “the easy way out”. While that shows an anachronistic and insensitive view on the subject, it does not necessarily show prejudice against all women.

Nor does his deliberate association with people who hold Gillard to be “Bob Brown’s bitch” and who want to “ditch the witch” indicate misogyny. These are sexist terms, for sure, but they are directed at an individual.

As for his suggestion that the Gillard government should have died of shame – so clearly, despite his denials, a deliberate echo of Alan Jones’s appalling quip that Gillard’s father had died of shame – that just showed meanness of spirit and lack of judgment.

No, the real indicator of misogyny came in Abbott’s suggestion that women — all women — are unsuited to the public domain and that it was biologically predestined that men should run the show.

It’s just bloody unfortunate for his argument that the four standout performers in the current parliament are women – Gillard, Tanya Plibersek, Penny Wong and Nicola Roxon. We might add that one Liberal woman, Julie Bishop, is pretty darned effective too, and has done a manful job of defending her leader’s indefensible comments over recent days.

Let us recall the Abbott quotes that Gillard referred to in her speech.

He mused that if “men have more power generally than women, is that a bad thing?”

He went on to suggest that men might actually be “by physiology and temperament more adapted to exercise authority or to issue command.”

And he challenged the “assumption” that women’s under-representation in positions of public power was “a bad thing”.

Would you call that evidence of prejudice against women? If you would, then Abbott is, by the definition of the OED and William Safire, a misogynist.

Anyway, it would be very nice if my fellow media folks would get over this fatuous focus on the word, which was used entirely properly, and get to the real issues here, Abbott’s policies, world view, and above all his judgment, or lack of it.

63 comments on this story
by Lynda Hopgood

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I love it when guys "get" it. So few don't.

October 12, 2012 @ 12:43pm
by Alison

I think Abbott's comment on abortion is misogynistic because it makes a derogatory generalisation about all abortions and the women who endure them - and there but for the Grace of God, so to speak, go every one of us.
Whether or not I am ever pregnant, pro-lifers assert that they know better than me about what to do with my body, regardless of circumstance. They assert they know better than every woman in the country, that we shouldn't be trusted with the choice, that it couldn't ever be justified. Women who seek abortions are routinely painted as irresponsible, selfish, cowardly and reaping comeuppance. Then Abbott adds laziness and infers so much more. Surely such a patronising prejudice of a whole gender and their ability is misogynistic?

October 12, 2012 @ 12:46pm
by Alison

Oh, and I fully agree: this repetitive questioning is so tedious. What on earth makes them think there's anyone out there who wants to watch that?

October 12, 2012 @ 12:51pm
by Derek

Boring :/

October 12, 2012 @ 1:17pm
by Peter Franklin

Nice critique. I watch ABC news but give the rest the flick, they think they are good journalists but just try for a simple sensation attempt. Also get mighty irritated by the way ABC cut and string together repeated phrases from within a speakers statement.

Glad to have the more reasoned work of Global Mail.

October 12, 2012 @ 1:20pm
by Alasdair

Good critique - when I arrived in Australia I was told there was a vast difference between ABC (and SBS) and the other media but over the last five years I am finding it increasingly difficult to see the difference as being any more than a case nicer elocution and longer words being used to ask the same trite and fatuous questions. SBS seems to be holding to a higher standard but they have less media/ political commentary shows so perhaps the comparison is biased.

October 12, 2012 @ 2:03pm
by Robin

Excellent article, Mike and thanks for the quote by William Safire. Yes, the meaning of the word is changing to include prejudice so on that count alone, Abbott is guilty. And as for the execrable Tony Jones, he is the reason why I don't watch QA or Lateline, even though I have been a political tragic all my life.

October 12, 2012 @ 2:36pm
by Christopher Dunne

And could I also claim that a private 'salty' comment via SMS from Mr Slipper to Mr Ashby was ribald badinage and not sexism, as it did not claim that women are unfit for high office or should do the ironing? The press, as a pack, took the Opposition's opportunism hook line and sinker, and poised to lunge at Slipper, all howled "sexism/misogyny" in unison, without ever explaining that what PM Gillard retaliated against was "being lectured about sexism" from Mr Abbott. She knew Slipper's comments were unsavoury, but letting Abbott's hypocrisy stand was not something she could let pass.

A private smutty comment is, according to Abbott, a hanging offence, but siding publicly with the vilest sexism ("burn the witch" and "Bob Brown's bitch") is somehow exempt from criticism?

The media failed on a lot more than the definition of a word.

October 12, 2012 @ 2:38pm
by Glenn

An article that offers some nuance and insight into the mainstream media's near homogenous perspective and approach to the question of Abbott's misogyny. Even the ABC seems to be marching in lockstep with the Liberal party and the Murdochracy on Gillard's recent, excellent, speech to Abbott, parliament and the public, on Abbott and her detractors sexism and double standards. She did not defend Slipper (who owes his long career to the LNP), she defended every woman in Australia against the Abbott types; the sexist Abbott voters, and the walking apologies better called female misogynists.

October 12, 2012 @ 2:39pm
by Julie

Wong is not in the House, but in the Senate.

Did you check what Safire had to say about the meaning of 'manful'? For the sake of your credibility, perhaps another word to describe Bishop would have beenpreferable.

I am glad I read this. Adds to mt thinking. Thankyou.

October 12, 2012 @ 2:43pm
by Jack

It's a sad thing that the substantial points made by Gillard have been completely swamped by this nitpicking, dictionary definition reportage. Thanks for pointing out the broader view.

October 12, 2012 @ 2:53pm
by Mar

Very Good Mike, finally a reporter with a bit of nous, just not an agenda

October 12, 2012 @ 3:11pm
by Niall

Another example of people clinging to a fixed meaning of a word, when the meaning has (fluidly and contextually) moved forward, to make an argument that can't otherwise be made (like "marriage" - oh how I wish the PM would step up to the plate on that one). Before the meaning of marriage was fixed in the legislation by the Conservatives Justice McHugh remarked, in 1999, "[I]n 1901, ‘marriage’ was seen as meaning a voluntary union for life between one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. If that level of abstraction were now accepted, it would deny the Parliament of the Commonwealth the power to legislate for same sex marriages, although arguably ‘marriage’ now means, or in the near future may mean, a voluntary union for life between two people to the exclusion of all others." Opponents of marriage equality assert "marriage has always been..." against the fact that all meaning is ultimately relative with nothing given or ordained.

October 12, 2012 @ 3:32pm
by Alex

I would call Tony's attitude misogyny simply because he treats women with such contempt that he can't understand why Leigh Sales would use such big words when he rewarded her with an interview. He can't understand why people would take Julia Gillard seriously.

Julia was using misogynist entirely correctly, even using its old meaning of hatred or contempt for women. Contempt can be expressed in many more ways than being aggressive towards someone. Contempt can be shown by refusing to talk to people, not taking them seriously, and dismissing any complaints they have as whinging.

As for the marriage argument: it is clear that Julia has as much to day about gay marriage as she does straight marriage: nothing at all. She is not married to her partner.

October 12, 2012 @ 3:59pm
by Jean

Mike, what a wonderful Word of the Day. I look forward to many more.

October 12, 2012 @ 4:07pm
by Sue

Fantastic; thanks for some perspective on this. Readers might also be interested in Laura Tingle's piece in the AFR today. Also puts perspective on how the ALP decided to handle the Slipper situation.

October 12, 2012 @ 4:25pm
by Marilyn

Yes but it's all a bit juvenile isn't it? Men and women have hated each other since they were spawned from wherever.

Do we have to have this silly debate when those powerful women are punishing weaker women by cutting their income by large sums in the name of the budget and are jailing and torturing victims of the taliban with threats to flog them off to other countries or force them to go home and die.

It's childish nonsense.

AS for Slipper, he has committed no crime anywhere no matter how much people whine about his languagte.

October 12, 2012 @ 4:48pm
by Rosalind

'Chairthing' is definitely misogynistic in my view, particularly when used for a year against successful woman opponent in uni politics. Moving on to current abuse, "make an honest woman of yourself" is just as so, particularly when referring to the PM of the day. Would the odious Abbott have said those words if was a single man in the Primeministerial Chair, I don't think so.

October 12, 2012 @ 5:01pm
by Sue H

Thanks Mike. It has perturbed me that not one journalist has queried Julie Bishop and Sophie Mirrabella on their understanding of the modern usage of 'misogyny'.

Many of us know men who pledge undying love, adoration and affection of their wives and families and yet to others they can be ruthless and misogynistic. I think women feel, instinctively, that he Tony Abbott fits this mould so no amount of protestation by Julie Bishop or any other Oppn pollie will change that feeling.

So nice to have you back.

October 12, 2012 @ 5:14pm
by Milorad Ivovic

Words mostly change their meaning on the basis of people using them improperly. If Misogyny is allowed to replace sexism as a reference to sexism against women, then the language has lost a valuable reference to those who truly express concerted hatred for the gender.

They exist. There should be a word strong enough to describe them, rather than coopting a very pejorative and powerful term, and applying it to events which may be bad, but do not equate to hatred of an entire gender.

The meaning may have changed, but it has done so as a self-serving inflammatory and emotionally-charged manipulation. Both misogyny and sexism are ugly, but applying the former loosely is at times extremely unfair.

I'm convinced that the term _does_ apply to many Australian (and US) politicians, but its popularity will eventually see the dictionary definition changed to "The act of disagreeing with a woman." unless we exercise due caution in choosing terms on the basis of accuracy, not emotional encumbrance.

I am someone who wholeheartedly supports women and abhors sexism in all its forms, but I think it's doing women a disservice to accept a term which is just _so incredibly_ horrible, being applied to people and situations which don't always deserve it. Equality doesn't mean revenge. That's a term which should be reserved for the worst offenders.

October 12, 2012 @ 6:49pm
by Monica

I will assume the assertion that Bishop has done a 'manful' job was intended to be ironic.

October 12, 2012 @ 6:56pm
by Howard,B.

Another erosion of the precision of language in the service of politics.

October 12, 2012 @ 7:57pm
by Fiona

An excellent article, Mr Seccombe. Thank you.

And a Gold Echidna Stamp to Mr Dunne for his comment.

October 12, 2012 @ 8:03pm
by Robert

“If it's true, Stavros, that men have more power, generally speaking, than women, is that a bad thing?”

Costa: “I want my daughter to have as much opportunity as my son.”

Abbott: “Yeah, I completely agree, but what if men are by physiology or temperament more adapted to exercise authority or to issue commands?”

Costa: “Well see, I don't believe that. What I do think is that we should never be in a situation where women have got to define their notions of success and self worth by negating a traditional role. But in terms of the
power structure I think it's very hard to deny that there is an under-representation of women.”

Abbott: “But now there's an assumption that that is a bad thing.”

Mike. It makes no difference to you that the one exchange you do condemn Abbott as a misogynist with came in the form of a series of questions? Could Abbott not argue in this instance that he was perhaps playing the Devil's advocate in asking something that he didn't necessarily himself believe in for the sake of a greater understanding of what Michael Costa's position was on the subject? Is it possible to explore ideas without actually being committed to them? In this instance I see no definitive statement from Abbott that proves that Abbott was prejudiced against women.

October 12, 2012 @ 8:30pm
by Roxee

It's so frustrating listening to all the discussion about the correct, or incorrect, use of a word by the PM in her speech. Are the pundits saying that if the PM used the word inncorrectly that it renders what she said in her speech invalid. Women endure sexism all the time. While we continue the fight for 50% of the population to acheive equality with the other 50%, inluding having our ideas and opinions considered as equally valid voices in the public conversation, our job is made more difficult by too many male elites continuing to use language and express ideas that pupetuate the idea we somehow don't deserve equality. These are the statement the opposition leader has made that disturb me the most. Not just because he thinks that way, but also because other men agree with him and his status as an elite validates for them that view.

October 12, 2012 @ 8:47pm
by Kiki Goodle Bear

I don't have a problem with the talk-show hosts helping to restore the definition of 'misogynist'. It's a better word than 'woman-hater' and we already have the word 'sexist'.

Anyway, the point of their questioning was "do you think that Tony Abbott hates women?" It's a fair question given a common -- and traditional -- interpretation of 'misogyny'. And if you believe the word has two definitions (or a spectrum from prejudice to hate), then surely it deserves clarification -- and substantiation, whichever way it was intended.

October 13, 2012 @ 1:08am
by Trevor

I don't understand how misogynist and sexist could be considered considered synonyms. Misogynist applies specifically to women, sexist applies to either gender, usually depending on the person being sexist.

October 13, 2012 @ 5:37am
by Sally Davies

Thanks for your thoughtful article, Mike – but I dispute the distinction between "sexism" as an act of individual critique and "misogyny" as the hatred of women. If someone denigrates a particular woman qua woman – for example, by using the laden term "slut" – then that suggests he takes a pretty dim view of women as a whole. I can't imagine anyone seeking to draw such a line between personalised "racism" and what might be called "miso-ethnos". The statement that abortion is the "easy way out" shows such a callous lack of empathy for what it's like to have a woman's body that its unconcern is indistinguishable from dislike. The difference between sexism and misogyny is one of degree rather than kind.

October 13, 2012 @ 8:28am
by Steve

Spot on MS.

Earlier in the week I emailed several Ministers in a similar vein, including the impressive ladies you referred to.

Anyway, despite the evolved meaning of "misogyny", any half decent dictionary lists synonyms for "hate" such as devalue, disrespect and deprecate, amongst many others.

On all evidence, words such as these certainly encompass the Abbottesque view of the world.

October 13, 2012 @ 8:34am
by Betty Birskys

Thank you, Mike. I am an old woman, of 87 years, a former English teacher. Yes, words change meaning, are adapted to the times, and for the current connotation of misogynist , we need look no further than the constant abuse by Abbott across the table on our Prime Minister, than his back constantly turned on her, and - for anyone still unconvinced - than the vicious attacks his methods have legitimised from members of the public.
For the full measure of this atmosphere of misogyny, I suggest everyone find Anne Summer's address on the web; it comes up easily: 'Anne Summers Julia Gillard'. Select the R rated version; I was appalled when I did. The attacks are vicious, vile, on the woman, on the position of Prime Minister, and indeed on our very democracy.
We must all say, as the Prime Minister says, 'It stops here.'

October 13, 2012 @ 9:11am
by june beilby

Thanks, Mike. Hope you can appear more regularly on Insiders and perha;s on Q & A? At least we are improving our vocabulary as we did with xenophobia! Hope you saw Glen Coulton's letter to Newcastle Herald on difference between "liar" (not allowed in Fed Parl) and "promise". Brilliant!

October 13, 2012 @ 10:09am
by Norman

Once again, I question the claim that the Global mail presents 'independent journalism'. Mike Seccombe is a raging polemicist who has never had a positive word to say about the conservative side of politics. To use her terminology, it's 'bloody unfortunate' that the Global Mail employs people like Seccombe and encourages him to produce his boringly one-sided rants. I am a retired journalist and I consider people like Seccombe to be a blight on the profession in which I spent more than four decades until my retirement five years ago. I scanned his latest article only to confirm that it was the same kind of drivel, although there was really no need to do so. He is so unerringly predictable. For this reason, I will won't bother to continue my readership of your site and, for me, that is bloody unfortunate. I was really hoping that it would be what is professed to be. Seccombe is the repeated evidence that it is not. The poor guy never lft his 1970s student activist days - and grew up. The Vietnam War is over, Mr Seccombe. And even Gough Whitlam has recovered from his dismissal. The year is 2012.

October 13, 2012 @ 10:25am
by Elizabeth

"Words mostly change their meaning on the basis of people using them improperly. If Misogyny is allowed to replace sexism as a reference to sexism against women, then the language has lost a valuable reference to those who truly express concerted hatred for the gender."

May I please offer a replacement word for the older meaning of Misogynist..... WOMEN-HATER.

There are many people with whom I deal on a daily basis. Some are males, and the rest are females. The tone of voice, the choice of phrases, the gestures, and their inability to make eye contact with me can cause me to think that one or two of the males can be a tad misogynistic in their workplace behaviour towards all us females in our workplace. We deal with their behaviours in a simple way. If they 'forget themselves' and manage to get too 'over the top' then their precious coffee musg misses out on its turn in the dishwasher, sometimes it even manages to get itself into the freezer, or on one occasion it found itself in one of the "HIS" file 13. His cup reads "Women who strive to be equal only belittle themselves" .... errrr .... actually there's often some bandaids that magically attach themselves to the "WO" letters ! One day they may learn to stop POINTING to any of us females, and err to stop referring to us as "SHE" or 'THEY/M" On the other hand, we females silently ponder "Who was the Mum who raised their son to be such a mean spirited, hyper-critical, bigoted WOMEN-HATER"

October 13, 2012 @ 10:31am
by Norm

Corrections to literals in earlier response. Thanks.
Once again, I question the claim that the Global Mail presents ‘independent journalism’. Mike Seccombe is a raging polemicist who has never had a positive word to say about the conservative side of politics. To use his terminology, it's ‘bloody unfortunate’ that the Global Mail employs people like Seccombe and encourages him to produce his boringly one-sided rants. I am a retired journalist and I consider people like Seccombe to be a blight on the profession in which I spent more than four decades until my retirement five years ago. I scanned his latest article only to confirm that it was the same kind of drivel, although there was really no need to do so. He is so unerringly predictable. For this reason, I won't bother to continue my readership of your site and, for me, that is bloody unfortunate. I was really hoping that it would be what is professed to be. Seccombe is the repeated evidence that it is not. The poor guy never left his 1970s student activist days – and grew up. The Vietnam War is over, Mr Seccombe. And even Gough Whitlam has recovered from his dismissal. The year is 2012.

The Global Mail Team

October 13, 2012 @ 12:43pm
by truth

So Slipper’s clearly misogynist and revolting remarks showing a visceral loathing for women is just ‘salty ribald badinage and not sexism’---- and Gillard’s lying to the Australian people about introducing a carbon tax, and about the ‘strength’ of the CAGW bogus ‘consensus’---supposedly the most momentous issue of our time----- is something we must just accept without a murmur while we wait for the next lie-----

------but a truthful statement by Tony Abbott that indicates that women might at some stage find themselves doing a spot of ironing while thinking about more weighty matters---is misogyny???

Insanity on steroids!

October 13, 2012 @ 12:45pm
by Robg

Milorad, is it that words change meaning due to improper usage or because they are no longer usefully retained in their original strict meaning? A coach has still got four wheels (at least) but its more common everyday meaning now refers to a machine that would be unrecognisable to someone living 150 years ago.

Both meanings are current and happily coexist. Someone reading the account of a royal wedding is unlikely to imagine the happy couple driving down The Mall in an air-conditioned tourist bus.

When the phenomenon of Misogyny was first described society likely had pressing need of a term for men who literally hated women. There have been some very strange and dark attitudes towards women around for millennia, no doubt arising from desperate ancient contests around reproduction and access to resources.

These fears and insecurities were later picked up and codified by religions in concepts such as original sin, the "uncleanliness" of women, their tendency towards witchcraft, men's leadership role and women's subservience, rules of inheritance and a myriad of other discriminatory rules and attitudes persisting to the present day.

Such attitudes and practices have recently been challenged and have lost some stridency, but dying echoes are very much to be found in the quaint views of people like Tony Abbott and Peter Jensen.

I don't believe either of these gentlemen qualify as literal haters of women and, indeed, if there are any such disturbed people left in our part of the world there is probably a better label from the fields of psychiatry or criminology that should be applied to them.

However, I also agree with Mike that "sexism" is not adequate to describe an ideologically or ethically based practice of gender discrimination, particularly in those cases where it is accompanied by specific displays of anger, vilification and disrespect.

I am also confident that most people are sufficiently attuned to the cultural nuances implicit in language to understand that the Prime Minister accusing Tony Abbott of misogyny on the floor of the Australian Parliament is not semantically equivalent to an anthropologist using the term to describe members of the Taliban in Pakistan.

The reason why the conservatives are scandalised by the use of such a term is not because they think it will taken literally from its Greek roots. It is because it invites the electorate to canvas the range of meanings, as we are doing now, and judge just where the conservatives do actually sit on that continuum.

October 13, 2012 @ 12:45pm
by Renato Bright

Re: Norman's comments
Instead of attacking the 'person' how about you state your disagreement with the subject matter of the article (use/misuse of the word misogynist).

Unfounded comments lacking empirical evidence to support them have no place on the Global Mail - they are more appropriate for the Bolt Blog or maybe Alan Jones' radio program.

Your personal hatred is your problem - not an issue for readers of the Global Mail.

October 13, 2012 @ 1:55pm
by dedalus

Absolutely correct Mike. Words change their meaning over time through usage. Basic stuff.

Many men get divorced. Some of them due to relationship problems based on deep-seated unhealthy attitudes towards women.

Now here's a connection between "misogyny" and "liar". When they took their marriage vows, they vowed to love and to cherish etc until death do they part etc.

So in retrospect, did they "lie".

Of course not, anymore than our Prime Minister "lied" when she promised (much less empahtically than "vowed") to not impose a carbon tax.

So there is your classic example of people misconstruing intention based on a false usage of a word.

October 13, 2012 @ 2:18pm
by Georgina

Poor old Norman...It seems to me that he's the one stuck in the sixties.... What sort of journalist was he anyway? Sports? Business? I agree with Mike that some of the most impressive performers in the current federal parliarment are the five women he mentioned...At least Labour managed to come up with one of them as leader...and resoundingly reindorse her when the need arose....It's extremely unlikely that Julie Bishop...another childless single woman.... shock! horror..... would ever get a go at the leadership of her side of politics...Would Norman approve of her?...Seems pretty unlikely! By the way, I'm a grandmother, married for 48 years, who couldn't be more delighted with the wonderful, thoughtful journalism to be found on this site.

October 13, 2012 @ 2:53pm
by truth

Not at all, Dedalus.

Julia Gillard said she would not introduce a carbon tax, and within a very short time did just that .

Her excuse that circumstances had changed when she found herself without the numbers and dependent [ for forming a government ], on the support of the Greens who demanded a carbon tax----- is totally illegitimate.

She knew---we knew---everyone knew that the Greens would never support Tony Abbott and the Coalition.

So JG was lying yet again when she said she had to do it.

So she didn’t have to introduce the carbon tax, but she went ahead and did it, thumbing her nose at the Australian people, whom she had assured on more than one occasion, that she would not do it. It’s not open to her to just change her mind within a very short time just on a whim---especially on something that changes our economy fundamentally.

That makes her election statement a lie told in order to deceive the electorate in order to garner votes---and it means that any promise or announced policy at the next election can be seen as a potential lie , and should therefore be discounted.

October 13, 2012 @ 4:42pm
by Hugh

@truth - maybe instead of thinking of them as “potential lies” we could think of them as “non-core promises” instead?

October 13, 2012 @ 5:35pm
by Hat Trick

truth - in an interview in The Australian before the 2010 election the Prime Minister said she would work to introduce a price on carbon (which she has) and would not introduce a carbon tax (which she hasn't).

Here's the article:

October 13, 2012 @ 6:50pm
by Steve

@ by truth (4.42pm)

You apparently do not understand what a tax is. I suggest you read the Air Caledonie HC case.

A "tax", as defined by the HC is compulsory and allows no option as to whether or not it is paid. The carbon price paid by big emitters is totally optional. They can reduce or eliminate it by installing better equipment, if they wish, and ceasing carbon emitting.

And this is the very point. Wise companies are already opting to reduce the impost by greening up their technology. Some have been doing so for years.

Ms Gillard and Labor were always going to price carbon, and we all knew it. The "lie" myth is a fiction perpetuated by those who didn't want a Labor government, carbon "tax" or not.

October 13, 2012 @ 8:48pm
by Andrew Pitt

Has anyone noticed how the "opinion" pieces on smh/theage have stopped allowing comments, but there is now a piece which is exactly the opposite of this one? Posted October 14.

"The Oxford definition of the word is ''hatred of women''." - Read more:

Sorry, but pretty sure that the Oxford ... what... "The Oxford" is that the OED Annabel Crabb? ... would have more than three words to define "misogyny".

Thank goodness for The Global Mail.

October 14, 2012 @ 1:48am
by Deb Campbell

Well done this is a calm and sensible analysis of Mr Abbott's position on this issue - the only other one I have found was Clarke and Dawe!

Can the media now please ask Mr Abbott how he will fund his 'policie's, given they would appear to cost about $70 billion? It is time to stop treating him as an Opposition Leader with a serious agenda. it is time to reveal him as a man with a goal - to make the government fall. That is all - no programme for the future, no coherent strategy for government. He is a vicious nay-sayer -nothing more.

October 14, 2012 @ 7:28am
by Anne Maye

Do I see some of the media playing with words to create hysteria and diversion instead of addressing issues and the global 'me me me' syndrome which has wreaked havoc across the world when we could be taking a view that looks at 'us us us'.

October 14, 2012 @ 10:04am
by Dave Richards

Come on Mike. Semantics aside, I thought this site was about journalism for independent minds. Do you want to be just another thought policeman? Why shouldn't Abbot be able to speculate on the role of biology in determining our behaviour without being called a mysogynist, a sexist or indeed anything at all? Do you really believe that the human race's tens of thousands of years without safe and effective birth control might not have had some wee influence on traditional gender roles? Wouldn’t it be ‘specist’ to suggest that we alone of all gendered creatures don’t have a proclivity to certain gender role divisions? And why it is mysognist and not “old-fashioned” or even open-minded to suggest that? Can’t women cope with the expression of such a terrible idea? We are yet to reach the rhetorical ideal in which men can by and large do as good job of nurturing children as women can do, and meanwhile we underrate the profound skill and wisdom it requires, and turn a blind eye to the second-rate, cut-price care we dole out to our needy children while we fumble with confusion between equality and sameness.

October 14, 2012 @ 12:40pm
by Abbie

Barry Cassidy did the same thing to Combet today on "Insiders". He asked several times did Greg think Abbott a 'misogynist'. I thought; What has that got to do with his port folio? Now having read Mike's piece I get it.
I also note that English is an evolving language; eg how people use 'fulsome' incorrectly but it is now becoming the intention of meaning not smelly, but 'more full'.

October 14, 2012 @ 1:08pm
by Rigmor Helene Berg

Thanks. It's nice to see some men understand that complaints about misogyny/sexism do not amount to misandry. There was a serious issue to explore, but Tony Jones, Emma Alberici and Leigh Sales behaved like a pack of spokesmodels.

October 14, 2012 @ 2:17pm
by Brian

Thank you. What a disappointment this Press Gallery has been. They didn't tell us about what was going on under Rudd - despite knowing all about it - and they breathlessly report every smidgen of anonymous criticism against Gillard without ever making an effort to make the plotters' identity (ies) public. A hapless of bunch of triers whose egos get in the way of them doing their jobs.

October 14, 2012 @ 3:04pm
by Penny

While I agree with the analysis, a small correction is in order: Penny Wong is only seen in the House of Reps during joint sittings. She is in the other place.

October 14, 2012 @ 4:36pm
by eva cox

There is a difference between those who think the category of women is so different to men that they can be stereotyped and often allocated less 'important'roles, and those whose antipathy to women makes them judge the category as evil/bad. If we conflate the two we lose our capacity to distinguish between those that can be reasoned with and maybe corrected and those who just despise us.

'women haters' is not nearly as elegant or expressive of the deep seated category

October 14, 2012 @ 6:18pm
by Angela Duggan

well written! I totally agree with you Mike.

In 2012, the word Misogyny has now evolved to include the following:

* Hatred or Dislike of Women
* Sexual Discrimination
* Denigration of Women
* Violence Against Women
* Sexual Objectification of Women
* Prejudice Against Women

We are sick of hearing the media (like sheep) all run with the same meaning of misogyny as only 'hatred of women' and base their entire story & interview on that one meaning, where this is not the only meaning perceived by most women these days!

So, when someone points the finger at a man calling him a Misogynist - we refer to any one of the above meanings!
I don't mean we all should use this word loosely as an excuse for a one off comment made, but more so for the severe cases of repeat offenders!

We can all handle jokes and sexist comments from time to time but a line should be drawn at the level of what is acceptable and what is not.

We can all handle jokes & sexist comments from time to time but a line should be drawn at the level of what is acceptable and what is not and the history of the person making the insults at women. Tony Abbott, unfortunately, is a repeat offender and is on record as fitting into the Misogynistic category....

Please pass this around because minds meed to be broadened in the 21st Century!!!!

Please pass this around because minds meed to be broadened in the 21st Century!!!!

Angie xox

October 15, 2012 @ 11:07am
by Marie Ryan

Love the bit about the ABC all singing from the same song sheet as the right wing lacquers, why give them more oxygen? One only needs to listen to Dr.Kate Burridge to realise that the English language is forever evolving with definitions broadening. I thought the word was perfect in the circumstance.

October 15, 2012 @ 3:56pm
by Shane Marsh

Perhaps just change "HoR" to "parliament"; that would do.

October 15, 2012 @ 3:57pm
by maveleanor

Of course language evolves.....otherwise it dies (like Etruscan or latin.) If you need proof just think of Shakespeare.....his plays were the entertainment/soapies of their day.......the language everyday and understood by all. It's a very different story to-day..........most people struggle to understand the language !! Julia Gillard was right . Her speech was clearly constructed, masterfully supported by relevant quotes/examples and powerfully delivered. I am totally unsurprized by the positive response it received globally. Thank-you for your terrific article.

October 15, 2012 @ 4:22pm
by M Cawthorne

I struggle to understand the flurry of articles (notably by male journos) that attempt to water down the strength, timeliness and veracity of Ms Gillards statements regarding Tony's double standards and personal attacks. Any intelligent person would start to question the imbalanced reportage of anything whatsoever Ms Gillard does. I dont know her from a bar of Rexona, but what has she done to be attacked in this way? Lead the country? Be a woman trying to lead the country? Hmmmm
ps I heard John interviewed by a male journo the other day. Oh john who? Mr Howard to you.

October 15, 2012 @ 8:03pm
by Joe Magill

Tony Jones was still hard at it on Q&A tonight, defending his dictionary definition of misogyny. Obviously he doesn't read TGM.

October 15, 2012 @ 11:36pm
by Drewe Bantick

Interestingly the Oxford dictionary online differs with this 'change in definition' you cite.

October 16, 2012 @ 9:52am
by Babs

For goodness sake have we nothing better to do than to keep going back over this incident? It's positively tiresome. Thoreau said "don't look back unless you are going that way." When the media gets fixated on something they hang on to it like a dog with a bone. Surely there are more pressing concerns facing this country.

October 16, 2012 @ 10:48pm
Show previous 60 comments
by Andrew

You need to see the full oxford online edition available by subscription. If you become a member of a state library or the National Library (no cost) you can access it or if you are a uni student uni libraries usually have access.

October 17, 2012 @ 9:36am
by Rita

@ Babs totally agree with you,so sick of all of this ,it is about too that all politicians debate respectfully after all they are supposed to be educated.

October 23, 2012 @ 12:04pm
by Liz

How handy to be able to hang on to a vaguely understood word instead of facing the issue, which is SO damn clear that it's only amazing she hasn't talked about it earlier. Watching the commentators, those who HAVE spoken out about it first were mainly MEN, even pollies.
Why are women apparently unable to grasp what's going on?

November 2, 2012 @ 12:05pm
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