Look, Anne, genuine sexism

summers stampTony Abbott looked at his watch, which set Julia Gillard to ranting about the then-Opposition leader — “this man” — and his irredeemable sexism. Her speech, it is often forgotten, was an attempt to get Peter Slipper’s random thoughts about bivalves and female private parts off the front pages and, in this regard, the harangue succeeded mightily. On cue, the likes of Anne Summers were hailing that address as a high-water moment in the emancipation of women. It was one of Ms Gillard’s finest moments in that, for once, it actually achieved what she set out to do. Ms Summers’ ardent advocacy of her heroine’s spittle was also something of a plus for garden-variety readers, as her noted feminist admirer had found a topic sufficiently engrossing to see her set aside the production of further essays on her favourite abortion.

Abbott is gone, perhaps for good, and Ms Summers has been getting by on the thinner gruel of far less serious offences than the wearing of blue ties. Indeed, so hard up has she been for the material of grievance that she has turned to Australian of the Year David Morrison. Taking this desk warrior seriously, surely she cannot get any more desperate than that!

Clearly, fresh grist for the Summers mill is needed, and here MEMRI might provide some inspiration. While Summers has been relentless in exposing sexist neckwear on Western males, a quick scan of her eponymous website turns up scant reference to Islam and its oppression of women. Mind you, when it’s a choice between making a target of Islam or Abbott, no contest. Commenting on an Abbott speech in which he highlighted the rise of Islamic mischief, Summers wrote:

…insulting and denigrating members of an entire religion is not a smart way to get communities onside to help identify potential or actual jihadists. (Or dissuade young people from being recruited in the first place).

“Islam” turns up just five references on her blog since 2005. “Muslim” draws nine incidental references. There is nothing about hijabs to be found, less about about burqas, and not a peep about female genital mutilation. Why, one could almost think Ms Summers avoids these topics on principle — the principle being that the left has made an alliance with a creed that doesn’t take feminism too seriously, therefore best not to go anywhere near the topic. In any case, Muslim phallocrats seldom wear blue ties, so they could not pose the threat to womanhood she so often ascribed to Abbott.

If Ms Summers is keen to expand the portfolio of her grievance, that MEMRI piece would be a good start. It is an article by Lebanese journalist Hazem Saghiya, who begins thus:

An observer might get the impression that, in addition to the many civil wars raging in the Arab countries, these countries are also engaged in a perpetual war against women. Very many men in our midst – [whether] at the top echelons of leadership or in the lowest strata of society – feel helpless, unsure what to do with these creatures [i.e., women] whose numbers seem excessive.

A Lebanese MP called Elie Marouni, who generally failed to notice that women had any role [in society] at all, understood one day that they do have a role, and he should be thanked for that. But the role he ascribed to them was [embodied by his statement] that ‘some women give a rapist a reason to rape them.’

Egyptian MP Ilhami Agina, possessing an imagination and [capacity] for fantasy absent in his Lebanese colleague, opposed a bill criminalizing female genital mutilation. [According to him], the rise in impotence among men obligates us to suppress sexual desire in women! Agina kindly provided us with an opportunity to examine the unusual and amazing statistic, that between 70 and 90 percent of Egyptian women have undergone FGM.

Ms Summers could follow the link below and read up on threats to women other than those posed by Tony Abbott. Yes, she could do that, but most likely she won’t.

— roger franklin

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