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With piercing insight and sharp humour, she lays bare the dilemmas of being female today and asks how women can truly become free subjects. She is also a concert pianist, with several recordings to her name. Goldsworthy is a lovely writer: sly-witted, forensic and alive to the suppleness of language. This is an important exercise in joining the dots, showing how seemingly isolated incidents are shaped by the wider culture.

In an essay that is as timely as it is thoughtful, Anna Goldsworthy poses the question, what are our daughters learning from the way we treat our former Prime Minister? Surely they are learning that if a woman is in a position of power she will be attacked more personally and vigorously than if a man held the same position.

In this thorough and intelligent essay. Goldsworthy looks at cultural norms, pornography, body shaming and celebrity to find out why this is so. A must read for women, men and their sons and daughters. To me, Unfinished Business is a plea for more nuanced thinking, a plea for more civil and generous debates, and a plea for accommodating more shades of grey in a non-E.

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If you're an existing print subscriber, and you have never logged in, you may need to activate your Schwartz Media account. We're here to help. Gillard enjoyed a resurgence in the polls.

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  8. Australians had not been listening, and now we were. I have spent a bit of time thinking about that, because I was taken aback by the reaction, Gillard later told me.

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    On the surface, it looks like the best time ever to be a woman in this country. Girls perform more successfully at high school and dominate tertiary study. At the time of writing, we have a female prime minister, a female governor-general, a female deputy leader of the Opposition, a female Speaker in parliament. The richest person in Australia is a woman. And yet mothers still felt the need to share this speech with their daughters.

    I was offended when … Are these words their daughters will need? There is a charmed zone for a girl, shortly before she is ambushed by puberty. At eleven or twelve, she is usually taller than her male peers, more articulate and more confident than she will be for years.


    Somewhere in that conglomeration of words and images, a woman wags a finger at a man. I was offended when … The misogyny speech was, among other things, cultural critique, and it gave rise to further cultural critique. In consequence, it affirmed a great many things: the relevance of feminist debate; the importance of social media; but also — in this image-centric culture — the ongoing significance of words. And if a mother sits beside her daughter at that screen, trying to equip her with tools for life, a good place to begin might be with a lexicon.

    How frequently we used the word in the days following the speech, as if we had never heard it before. It is a sexier word, somehow, than sexism: it feels good in the mouth, a little squelchy in the middle; it confers a small distinction upon the speaker. Many of those reluctant to identify as feminist gladly denounced misogyny. It was the new sexism. Prompted by evolving usage, the editors of the Macquarie Dictionary expanded the definition of misogyny from hatred of women to incorporate entrenched prejudice against women.

    It sounds good on paper, like even more reason to get angry. The only problem is that it creates a vacuum in the language. If misogyny is simply dressed-up sexism, what word do we reach for when we encounter the genuine misogynist: the man or woman who loathes us for having a vagina? Let us be clear: sexism is the daily routine of belittling we have all endured — inequality around the boardroom table, the pat on the behind, the grope at the Christmas party, being talked over or through, that assumption you will make the tea.

    Misogyny is a deep fear and loathing, it is visceral and often expressed in gynaecological terms. The distinctions are important because otherwise an important debate is muddied. All are designed to silence her. The misogynist presents a remarkably consistent platform: Shut up you fat cunt. Frequently it is appended with or I will hurt you.

    After a News Limited journalist, Alison Stephenson, criticised his low-rating television show, he described her on air as a fat slag a reminder of the shame of her sex.

    And your blouse. Change your image, girl. How widespread is misogyny? In March , Angela Shanahan opined in the Australian that nobody in the real world thought misogyny was important. And no one thought it was real. Others consider it omnipresent.

    Unfinished business: Sex, freedom and misogyny

    Germaine Greer famously declared in The Female Eunuch that women have very little idea of how much men hate them. In The Whole Woman in , she expanded upon this: A few men hate all women all of the time, some men hate some women all of the time, and all men hate some women some of the time. This is a neat formulation, but when you turn it on its head it remains equally convincing: A few women hate …. But does the current of hate flow more strongly in one direction than the other? Writing for Fairfax in October , Gerard Henderson acknowledged that Gillard has experienced a degree of misogyny, but concluded that she has suffered no greater abuse than that experienced by such predecessors as Fraser, Keating and Howard.

    Clearly, it is as reductive to dismiss any criticism of Gillard as misogynist as it is to reject her ability to lead because she is a woman. Is it possible that she may indeed be a flawed leader, who has additionally had to contend with misogyny? An Essential Research study commissioned by Crikey found that 61 per cent of women perceived more criticism in the treatment of Julia Gillard than a male politician would receive, compared to 42 per cent of men.

    That 19 per cent represents the difference in frequencies — that Pythagorean comma — between male and female perception. Some might attribute that 19 per cent to delusion. Others might say it explains why these words are still required: I was offended when …. References to the housewives of Australia as they do the ironing sound quaintly archaic, as if he has been watching too much Mad Men. If they are coupled with his previous reservations about female leadership — What if men are by physiology or temperament more adapted to exercise authority or to issue command?

    But I am not sure even that has tipped over into misogyny. As Annabel Crabb has written, Mr Abbott has been guilty of sexism, and at times extreme dopiness, with respect to women. Has Abbott been aware of misogyny in the community, and the political capital thereof? It would be difficult to miss it, particularly when delivering a speech in front of signs describing the prime minister as a witch and a bitch. Has he sought to shut this conversation down, as when he famously took a stand against Pauline Hanson and her lunatic xenophobia?

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    Is turning a blind eye to misogyny the same as being misogynist? Neither side of politics has an impeccable record on this issue. Labor was still basking in the moral.