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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

The AFR's sexist ideology « Previous | |Next »
October 19, 2012

Well the debates around misogyny in Australian political life are sure bringing the nasties out from the dark spaces of their hole under the rocks. A recent example is the AFR's editorial reaction to Susan Sheridan's op-ed The ugliness of misogyny in the AFR.

Sheridan had said that Tony Abbott's (and we can add Alan Jones') misogyny can be explained by them inhabiting a culture with a long tradition of hatred and fear of women – and that Abbott reflects that culture. He mirrors it. She adds:

Misogyny is an extreme form of sexism. Misogyny is prejudice against women of such intensity that it is their very femaleness that comes under attack.... One of the prime functions of misogyny is to forge bonds among men, an invitation to snigger together about what they fear and distrust... Misogyny is not an individual pathology (although it may be that in some cases). It affects – it infects – the whole culture. We all, female as well as male, inhabit this misogynist and sexist culture.

She adds that the proposal by the compilers of the Macquarie Dictionary  to update their definition of misogyny, to add to “hatred of women” the idea of “entrenched prejudice against women” omits that visceral dimension. I suggest they consider adding “fear” and “resentment” to “hatred”. And that they find a way of describing misogyny as a cultural norm rather than an individual aberration.


The AFR's response---Misogyny debate ignores reality--- is that they find it troubling that our national dictionary should so readily follow the diktat to conflate the centuries-old idea of a pathological hatred of women with modern feminist notions of sexism. Diktat as opposed to popular usage? This is an indication that the AFR is going to go beyond its free market stance to defend social conservatism.

The editorial's defence of misogyny as a cultural prejudice states that:

Sheridan's op-ed is an absurd insult to the vast majority of Australian men and women and a sorry commentary on the indulgent nonsense that foments in our social “science” university departments...... is ridiculous to claim we are part of a culture “infected” by a hatred and fear of women. Sexuality and gender roles are far more complex and deeply embedded in the human condition than antagonistic “power” relations: you could say there are many shades of grey to it. In other words, there are many shades of gray to this issue.

The assertion in the form of fact that biology is more fundamental than power relations is not argued for, nor is any evidence provided. The editorial finishes thus:
Ms Gillard’s decision to accuse Mr Abbott of misogyny was based on political motives rather than any genuine grievance, and the debate has subsequently been hijacked by social media radicals and our politically correct chattering class. Rather than using outlandish claims and Orwellian word manipulation to exaggerate differences between people, politicians and thought leaders should encourage all Australians to make the most of the abundant opportunities this privileged society provides, whatever their gender, race or social background.

The argument is that Individual freedom pushes gender power relations into a background context, rather than act as a constraint that bounds individual freedom to cause inequality between men and women.

What we can infer is that the AFR is defending prejudice against social science.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 7:38 AM | | Comments (14)


Jeez, is that really the level of tedious nonsense the AFR churns out these days? Let's just concentrate on being good little entrepreneurs! Don't get distracted by all this rubbish about power imbalances and inequality in society!! Look to the market young man, and all will be well.

They even use the tired old pejorative term 'chattering class', much beloved by shock jocks. Maybe they commissioned Alan Jones to write the piece, now that he's down on his luck.

Gillard and Sheridan have hit a raw nerve. They are acting like they have been stung.

Ken_L says
"Jeez, is that really the level of tedious nonsense the AFR churns out these days? "

Pretty bad huh.

These people really have become clones of the US right, as evidenced by the sneering disdain for social science. Social science is rubbish, climate science is rubbish ... the only academic endeavours they respect are those that support the sanctity of the conventional nuclear family and the virtues of free markets. That's real science!

Slightly off-topic.... As a first-generation non-Anglo Australian in his fifth decade... I can easily imagine replacing the word "misogyny" with "racism". Despite the pronouncements of those unaffected by it... it IS a cultural norm.

I await an outspoken, passionate Wog politician to emulate Gillard's speech...

Perhaps the situation is to one degree or another driven by the fact that Abbott is a right-wing "catholic" and as such he has both direct and indirect links with the ultra-misogynist Opus Dei. As indeed do other right-wing MP's both labour and liberal, state and federal. As indeed do some key people in the IPA.

If I remember Abbott's principle female adviser is also a right-wing "catholic" true believer who is very committed to the various "catholic" culture wars agendas.

Most likely the situation is driven by the fact that Abbott is a right-wing opportunist and as such, he courts the angry, socially-conservative mortgage-belt vote.

Free market economics for the AFR is not a social science. There is no such thing as social science. Its nonsense--that old positivist swear word.

So where does that leave free market economics if that is not nonsense?

If the AFR is defending prejudice against social science, then they are anti-enlightenment.

for the AFR male domination of women is natural and virtuous and they think of the economy as apart from gender.

"So where does that leave free market economics if that is not nonsense?"

neoclassical economics is very heavy on formal modeling and econometrics and very light on active empirical inquiry and social engagement.

In its purest form, neoclassical economic theory in fact provides a theoretical justification for neoliberal policies of total privatization and deregulation. some economists argue that social problems are best solved by simply giv- ing markets and private self-interest free rein, and that the correctness of this position is “proved” by mathematical models and theorems.

By so emphasizing mathematical elegance and abstraction, contemporary economics tends to imply that no engagement with the gritty world or attention to human community life is necessary.

The underlying, unstated assumption behind this t mathematical modeling is that the world is such that it is amenable to such mathematical modeling: that it runs according to strict logic and laws describable by abstract functions. The inference is that economics can be modeled as mechanical and deterministic machines working according to given laws. It is a natural science that is concerned to uncover the “laws” of nature.

Feminism challenges the economy- as-machine idea.

For the AFR women are inferior to men, 'nature' is inferior to 'culture', and humans are understood as being separate from, and often superior to, the natural environment.

"Sheridan had said that Tony Abbott's (and we can add Alan Jones') misogyny can be explained by them inhabiting a culture with a long tradition of hatred and fear of women – and that Abbott reflects that culture."

Alan Jones' misogyny is an attempt to shame women out of participating in public life.

[b]Mr Abbott’s[/b] decision to accuse [b]Mr Slipper[/b] of misogyny was based on political motives rather than any genuine grievance...

I've fixed it for the AFR.