Tag Archives: Feminism

Women of Merit

Last week, Australian media was saturated with discussion of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s new cabinet.

Statistical comparisons with cabinets from New Zealand to Africa to Afghanistan were a plenty.

Discussions centring around how poorly Australia sits from a representation of women in politics, point of view.

While the Iraqi and Afghani comparison’s were a stretch at best.

In Australia, post Federal Election, it was as though the Australian media commentators had only just realised there was a dirth of qualified women in senior positions within the Liberal and National Parties.

Which is strange, because even casual observers wouldn’t have expected anything less, whether it be observing men:women ratios within Government, Automotive, Finance, Education and Sport or any other industry.

Is this appalling? Not in the face of the amount of time dedicated to evolving an informed change about it.

Why? Ours is a patriarchal society. And numerically, men lead.

The business environment sees men progressing to positions of power. Which is possibly more a reflection (outside of social influences) there are more of them to choose from.

And quite frankly, if the best person for the job is a man, then I’m fine with that.

But as Sue Boyce, Liberal Senator for Queensland pointed out on morning television last week, where in the
discourse of representation within cabinet do you hear discussion of ‘Men of Merit’?

What is disappointing is the fact we (Gen Next) make no effort to raise and engage in a sustained and new discussion about a number of things:
– failure of the Major Party Leadership to nurture promising young female party members (aka 1990s)
– how to raise and engage the interest of boys and girls in pursuing studies across the traditionally ‘male’ dominated professions of public service, finance, commerce and engineering.

Women are not escalated to senior positions in the interests of equity, but appointed on occasion.

So how are we intending on evolving it?

Or couldn’t we be bothered…

Man Whores & Emotional Trojans

Man whores follow their urges.

They let whoever is tied financially to them, determine their calendar of events.

And if an EA’s handy – rest assured there is a ready justification for compartmentalising competing priorities by playing the ‘work card’ in keeping all vested and related interests civil.

A friend rang me last night and over a glass of wine (okay, maybe a couple) we unpicked the debacle that can become you when dating a divorced, middle-aged, father.

Keeping in mind, we have known each other for nearly 30 years and having grown up together have very few secrets, she still managed to stun me into silence as she defended her ‘boyfriend’s’ decision to celebrate his upcoming birthday – a party at his place – without her.

As she explained, his former sister-in-law was going to be in attendance and despite the fact his kids had met her, he didn’t want to ‘go there’.

As a mother herself, she totally understood it, although was hurt by the reality of it. As a single woman, I was horrified.

Perhaps, I was too quick to judge, but the idea of being ‘scheduled out’ of official festivities like a dirty little secret, left me nothing short of staggered, if I was to be entirely honest…

Needless to say, my girlfriend and I giggled like we always do at life and then promptly skulled. Repeatedly. All the while wondering out loud, how the hec we ever got to having this conversation!

As someone who had the privilege of growing up as a card carrying member of middle class Australia, since the bubble of ‘marriage is forever, 2.5 kids, a house, dog and two car garage’ was shattered by independent-mindedness, I’m convinced, successful men of a certain stage in life, feel wrapped in the warm embrace of being in relationship with multiple women.

Be it their ex-wives, casual flings, mothers, daughters or work colleagues, when, as and how they determine.

They might play the ‘I’m just a human ATM’ card, but these men are Emotional Trojans.

But first the terminology:

Formerly married men now dating are not ‘boyfriends’.

They are: friends or friends with benefits.

The whole ‘Partner’ thing is an anomaly.

Think about it. They’re bitter and broken (no matter how long it has been since the disintegration) by public failure, unless they are machines.

The harsher the cut, the more mending they’ve got ahead of them. And the last thing they want right now is a life partner!

And if they’ve got daughters… every word you say, well, ‘it’s all so tiring!’… Unless of course you can provide valuable actionable insights that make a difference.

Emotional Trojans go out of their way to make sure you’re feeling special in carefully constructed ‘havens’ of ‘alone time’, free of outside interruptions (ie: texts from ex wives, brothers or children).

They don’t do it to be mean. They do it to feel something.

Their sole purpose stems from their intrinsic search for ‘happy’, a place they remember romantically.

A utopia they’ll never reach until they start with the man in the mirror.

ETs will wine and dine you, introducing other extra curricular activities, if mutually agreeable. But a dedicated space in their world – Forget it!

It’s already an overcrowded space and until they feel truly lonely again, they’re going to stick with what they know – even if it’s not entirely what makes them happy, but provides the prod to reassure them, they’re still alive and kicking.

ETs want to phone home, but they can’t.

They don’t know where that is now and starting a fresh is daunting.

It is also at this time when they are at their most vulnerable… and you can’t protect them.

Look closely and you’ll see their past resurfaces, offering all kinds of promises that even sound palatable, even tempting due to the promised ‘ease’ of it.

If they’re intent on pursuing that path, the fall of the Emotional Trojan to the street smart liaisons past – proponents of the ‘I’ll trick him into what I want’ (what the ET fears most will happen) is ON THE CARDS…

Fast forward. Repeat Cycle.

If it’s your desire to ‘snag’ an eligible ET and the lifestyle he’ll afford you, then at some stage you might consider the only ones you’re really punishing are the next generation.

He deserves whatever he signs up for, but his kids don’t deserve the dramas.

If you’re smart, that’s your cue. You’ll exit gracefully and concentrate on ensuring you’re in peace and standing strong.

Emotional Trojans are no dummies. They’ll engage in the conversations and say all the right things, but they don’t let you too close.

They’ll talk to you about their situation, if you’re really interested in listening. They’ll adopt your advice even somewhat guiltily, but they won’t have a clue what’s happening in your world, beyond the snippets you may divulge in the two standard questions they ask you (about work and your day) whenever you’re together.

The challenge is not to get drawn in by it. By that I mean, don’t cast yourself at the centre of his dilemmas.

If he’d prefer to stay up watching football until the wee hours of the morning, it’s probably a clearer indication of his mental ability and time management capability.

Or if he texts you to say he’s heading out to the country for the night after a lunch with colleagues, it’s probably fair to say, he’s just not interested:

Move on, unless you’re comfortable being a slab of meat served at his dining pleasure.

Middle-aged Man Whores are not interested in progressing forward. Why would they?

They’d have to take some responsibility for their past behaviour and if you’re a woman who has managed to reach your late 30s/ early 40s without being hurled down an aisle, it’s a given you’re not stupid.

Let’s face it, even the butt-ugly dole-bludgers have no problem finding a fella.

And when you find yourself being told you’re imagining things… follow your gut, not his deception. While it may have been a winner for him with the ex, he’s obviously forgotten it had an expiration.

Find joy in YOURSELF and YOUR reality: you’re not fiscally tied to him.

You don’t rely on him for anything and you don’t need to bide your time because of little people.

When all is said and done, Man Whores and Emotional Trojans, despite their flaws, are fabulous people… just as long as you’re not dating them! 😀

A lot of the men I know, fit securely (or in part) into this category, but this is the joy of western democracy and the power of free thinking.

It’s up to women to decide for themselves whether they’re happy to settle for the inherent sacrifices required of being ‘friends with benefits’ to Man Whores and ETs, or whether they have the confidence to acknowledge they deserve a little less drama and something intrinsically rewarding.

A decision reached over time and life experience.

Wasn’t it Einstein that claimed time was just an illusion and that whatever you want in the future already exists…

Motivation enough I’d say, for always using the present tense when speaking of your desires around friendships.

Gender, Sexuality and Security

A friend recently commented how nervous he became, anytime ‘The Feminists’ got started in a class discussion.

Having had the recent privilege of sitting in a three hour seminar about Gender, Sexuality and Security, led by Dr Adam Kamradt-Scott and featuring guest lecturer Dr Megan MacKenzie, of the Government and International Relations Department at the University of Sydney, I was intrigued.

Preempting his response, I still asked the obvious, ‘Why’?

Put simply: He didn’t know what he could or more importantly, couldn’t say.

He didn’t know the correct terminology (ie: what language to use) nor appropriate themes on which to engage i.e.: he didn’t know how to avoid offence.

Unfortunately for him, he hadn’t been in the New Security Challenges seminar the day before, where our discussions centred on the gendered nation-state, despite the fact gender has been historically ignored within International Relations (IR).

What was so refreshing about this seminar was the fact that we were ALL uncomfortable (read ignorant) from the outset.

What was so enlightening was the simplicity of Dr MacKenzie’s approach. Just like a great paper, we started with key definitions and defined our binaries: What is Feminism? How is it different to Gender studies?

By doing so, we were able to apply state-centric and human security lenses for the purposes of critically understanding another approach to IR, without getting lost in what we couldn’t do.

When Feminism and Gender enter a conversation, our logic seems to catapult itself into the stratosphere, never to be retrieved again. That was until Dr MacKenzie lead a straight- talking, logical articulation of our inherent prejudices within the discourse.

So what is Feminism?

My understanding of Feminism (and I suspect this will continue to evolve) in the international security context, is it’s an approach with a political agenda, that recognises things are ‘not ideal’ and  looks at what and how to promote change.

Whereas, Gender Studies, refers to a body of work, sans political agenda, concerned with the social aspects and norms or binaries (masculinity Vs femininity) of a society.

While our discussions focused on war, more specifically the Queen Boat Case in Egypt, and the desecuritization and reconstruction of women (read: female soldiers) in post-conflict Sierra Leone, the key learnings and insights were applicable in both a war and peace context.

Just like business, sport and government, in our privileged, democratically developed world, the nation state remains inherently patriarchal: ‘a man’s world’ (Sjoberg 2009:184). Therefore, so too does the dominant IR discourse.

Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily, it’s simply the way things are, or how you look at things.

One thing I have learnt, is that what’s important in any form of discourse (formal or informal) is in understanding what you’re looking at, and how you’re looking at it. And most importantly, in the incidence of debate, what others, whose opinions differ from yours are looking at and how.

It’s usually our ability as leaders (thought, imagined or otherwise) to identify the epistemological differences with a debate that enable productive outcomes.