Patriarchal passions

This is written by Paul Norton of the LP collective.

Today (Thursday) ninemsn’s Passion Pulse poll is asking for responses to the following statement by Julia Gillard:

I think people want to see women stepping forward and taking a fair share of all the roles in politics.

As might be expected a large majority of respondents (6296 at the time of posting) have responded positively to this statement of mainstream equity feminism.

However, what is interesting is that amongst respondents who state a preference for John Howard as Prime Minister, 47 per cent either “Disagree” or “Strongly Disagree” with Gillard’s statement and a further 11 per cent are “Neutral”, leaving only 42 per cent who “Agree” or “Strongly Agree”.

There are two possible explanations for this result.

The obvious one is that a large proportion of the Coalition’s support base really are knucklescrapers on gender issues. This is entirely plausible when we consider some of the faces of anti-feminist social revanchism in the Coalition – Abbott, Abetz, Andrews, Heffernan, McGauran, Backyard Barnaby, Alex Hawke, to name a few. However, one imagines it’s not something the Liberal Party brainstrust would want to draw attention to 16 days out from polling day.This brings me to the second probable explanation. The people who respond to the polls tend to do so in a knee-jerk manner, whereby anything said by a figure on the opposing side must be opposed, and as far as possible the other side mustn’t be allowed to be seen to have a win. Thus at least some of those who “Disagree” or “Strongly Disagree” with Gillard’s unexceptionable statement are so concerned with Gillard and Labor not being seen to have a win that they are oblivious to what a bad look it is for a majority of Howard-huggers to be seen to be misogynists.

Perhaps Brian Loughnane will read this post and arrange for it to be stacked by Howard supporters who strongly agree with Gillard’s statement. For the record, though, at 4:03pm Australian Eastern Summer Time, 6436 people have voted, of whom 73 per cent (strongly) agree with Gillard’s statement whilst only 21 per cent (strongly) disagree. However, amongst Howard supporters 47 per cent (strongly) disagree whilst only 41 per cent (strongly) agree.

Posted in federal election '07, feminism, politics
4 comments on “Patriarchal passions
  1. hannah's dad says:

    [I have transferred this comment from a less appropriate place to here, hope that is OK.]

    “I think people want to see women stepping forward and taking a fair share of all the roles in politics.”

    I’ve been looking for a spot to comment on the post about passion pulse that asks people to [strongly]disagree or [strongly [agree] with the statement above made by Julia.
    This seems to be the most appropriate place.

    It’s interesting the different ways people can interpret things.
    I read the statement out to my wife and asked if she disagreed or agreed fully expecting her to agree strongly because I know she believes that women [such as Julia] should “step[ping] forward and taking a fair share of all the roles in politics.”
    But she didn’t agree at all.
    Because she focussed instead on the opening words of the statement “I think people want to see ….”
    And her assessment of the current state of Australian society, particularly the power cliques, is that most people are still afraid of women taking an active political role.
    Most don’t want to see women being politically active, instead opting for the “get back to the bedroom, kitchen and nursery” point of view.
    The treatment Julia having received from the media and misogynists such as Joe and Heff illustrating her point.
    We still have a very long way to go.

    Interesting point about ambiguity and interpretation is it not?

  2. Katz says:

    I agree with HD.

    “I think people want to see women stepping forward and taking a fair share of all the roles in politics.”

    Properly parsed, this statement hypothesises not about gender justice, but about the respondent’s opinion about the popularity of gender justice (however defined).

    By disagreeing with this statement you are saying that you think that your fellow citizens are a pack of sexists.

    By agreeing with this statement you may be saying that you are happy that your fellow citizens agree with your opinion that women are most fairly treated when they are swaddled in the domestic sphere.

    In short, it’s a question which is either very dumb or cleverly cynical.

  3. Helen says:

    This is the reason why I don’t like opinion polls – there’s too much scope for misinterpretation of one’s response, or questions so framed as to make a meaningful response impossible, like this one.

  4. melaleuca says:

    Agree with the above comments. On those occasions I’ve been surveyed I had trouble interpreting some of the questions. Norton has clearly failed to allow for all sensible interpretations and his post is thus off the mark.

Comments are closed.

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