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It's raining men: Julie Bishop in the power zone

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The mainstream media have disgorged a series of Julie Bishop puff pieces in recent weeks.

As Tony Abbott sinks further into the mire of his own unpopularity, some desperate rightwingers are keen to promote the Government's only female minister, Julie Bishop, to take over. Lyn Bender questions her credentials.

AS TONY ABBOTT SINKS into the mire, some desperate conservatives are seeking an palatable substitute. In a flurry of spun publicity, they are refurbishing the image of Julie Bishop — the Armani favouring, scarlet taloned, suited lady warrior, who can make a decision to change her hairstyle in just three seconds! She is as good as any man, but tells lies with a velvet touch.

When Australia’s solitary female minister Julie Bishop, was made Harper’s Bazaar Australian Woman of the Year, she remarked that she had not found feminism to be a term that she would use to "self describe" — implying feminism was so passé.

However, as we can see from the G20 photo line up, it's raining men all over the centres of power. Comprised of mostly older, whitish males, the world's leadership looks distinctly gender lopsided.

We should pay attention to psychoanalyst Carl Jung concerning the value of both the male and the female in all our psyches. In solving the big world problems, can we afford to ignore half of the world’s input and ways of thinking and experiencing?

The truth is, the advanced world continues to devalue women and “feminine” qualities, in favour of narrow “masculine” based paradigms.

Julie Bishop has advised women to just do what she does:

‘Stop whinging, get on with it and prove them all wrong.’

Simple!

Uneasy sits the crown on Abbott’s head. This dog whistle to “woman shy” voters endorses Bishop’s candidature for the role of prime minister.

Bishop’s message is: 

I am Julie, not Julia. The former Labor prime minister was judged down over her competence, not through any misogyny. She turned herself into a victim.

Julie hasn’t noticed the "glass ceiling" while gazing at her own reflection. Her leadership rival, Treasurer Joe Hockey, however, has apparently heard there is a gender gap in his department.

Nor has the self absorbed Bishop heard of the unconscious gender bias that keeps the glass ceiling unbroken.

And Julie can tell the Abbott lies with poise. Now claiming to be former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s “bestie”, she has expunged her scathing description of him as "the Incredible Hulk". 

Her sudden love of Kevin was merely a device with which to denounce her ALP counterpart, Tanya Plibersek.

Bishop has maintained the denial of climate change, ignoring all expert reports and declaring that it is not a threat to the barrier reef. Like Abbott she is setting Obama “straight” on climate change. As well as hypocritically calling on other nations to do more for Ebola ravaged Africans, while the Abbott Government barely lifts a finger.

Abbott was "disappointed" only one woman was appointed to cabinet (by him), Bishop echoes this sentiment: if you are a woman feeling shut out — get over it!

Julie Bishop reiterated that feminism was not part of her "lexicon".

It is undeniable that Bishop has clawed her way up the Liberal ladder of success. So why should she care? ‘I am woman, hear me roar’, is clearly not the foreign minister’s song.

Bishop’s credo apes Margaret Thatcher’s tough woman stance:

"The lady is not for turning."

She is tough, she is intractable, she is decisive.

But this is not new.

16th century Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth called on spirits to ‘unsex’ her for the deed of murder.

Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe topful
Of direst cruelty… come to my woman’s breasts and take my milk for gall

Thus extract female “weakness” and bestow masculine, ruthless “strength”

To echo Minister for Finance Matthias Cormann’s Schwarzenegger quote: Make me manly, not a girlie man.

Paula Mathewson makes the point that Bishop’s stance is not leftist feminism; but neo-liberal individualism. Julie Bishop is declaring that she is not one of Joe Hockey’s despised leaners. Her comments reflect the Liberal Party enunciated ideology behind the budget choices. It punishes people for their economic misfortune and elevates the “deserving” rich.

Bishop is a wily political animal, whose message is:

I could be the leader. I am as strong as any man and unencumbered by female hang-ups.  

But control of world finances and strutting the corridors of power are still masculine domains.

Carl Jung’s theory is complex; but here is a simple view of a part of his works.

We all have female and male aspects in our psyche — or Yin and Yang. Unless we acknowledge and integrate the male and the female we become unbalanced — or in Jung’s terms, neurotic.

The suppression of women throughout the world is an enactment of the denouncing of the female nurturer in men — it’s hard economics trumping the care of planet earth; It’s tough rules punishing the vulnerable.

In the west, the suppression of women is sugar coated.

After all, we have Chancellor of Germany, 'MuttiMerkel, IMF Chief Christine Lagarde, UN Climate Negotiator Christiana Figueres — and Julie Bishop.

Meanwhile:

  • In Kenya, women have been stripped and humiliated, by groups of men for wearing indecently tempting and revealing clothing.
  • In Australia, there has been an outcry against the burqa as being too “concealing”.
  • There is an increasing parliamentary presence of women in Afghanistan — but if they are outspoken they risk assassination.
  • In India, on average 92 women are raped every day.
  • An Oxfam G20 paper cites a huge gender inequality in pay, employment and economic opportunities for women worldwide.
  • A UK report says three times as many women as men are long term unemployed.
  • The Guardian reports that, while women’s participation in the work force has increased globally, the majority of people in the top jobs in government and industry are men.
  • Feminism in Australia has far to go, when Australia’s first female prime minister is called a man’s bitch, as the male contender for her job stands in front of this sign, as well as the future female Speaker.
  • Australia’s minister for women is a man – as well as the prime minister dubbedsexiste et beauf’ worldwide.
  • Australia has ranked 51st out of 142 in global female work participation.
  • Climate change denial is the ‘rape’ of ‘the mother of us all’ — mother earth.

Anne Summers has identified small gender contributions made by Bishop. These shine as tiny tokens in an ocean of limitation.  

The “f” word may or many not have outgrown its usefulness — but gender equality still needs massive attention. The global voices of women’s experience are essential to the survival of the planet. 

In disowning concern for other women’s disadvantage, Julie Bishop is promoting herself as a tokenistic tough woman. If Julie Bishop achieves her thinly disguised ambition of leadership, let’s hope she can make big changes in her rigid, narcissistic, self referenced, worldview.

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