Mrs Abbott and her Sensitive Tony

I’m not one of the people calling for “Margie for PM”. In fact, I haven’t heard anyone say that except for Tony Abbott, and I’m fairly sure he’s not that sincere about that cause.

Margie Abbott spoke out against allegations that her husband doesn’t understand women, and doesn’t like dealing with powerful women. The couple appeared on breakfast TV on  Friday, with Margie claiming her husband is a “softie” who gets women.

It’s not a surprising tactic for the coalition to use the lady who knows the Opposition Leader best to try and quell these claims that Abbott doesn’t deal well with women. But having her sprout what a wonderful husband Tony is while he sits beside her barely able to contain his glee doesn’t sit well with me. For one, it didn’t feel natural. It comes across as completely orchestrated. I could almost see Tony coaching Margie while she brushes her teeth: “Remember to say that I love Downton Abbey!”

But it’s not really fair to say it was a ridiculous move. After all, many politicians’ “better halves” have spoken out publicly: Terese Rein and Tim Mathesion have both defended their spouses in recent times. And in the US, Michelle Obama addressed the the Democratic Convention just last month.

So to be fair, good on Margie for speaking her mind and defending her husband. But will it ensure the campaign depicting Abbott as a woman-hater ends?

According to Abbott if the campaign doesn’t end, then the Margie campaign will continue. He said, “Certainly if the Labor Party persist with this idea that there’s some sort of problem with women then Margie will be there correcting the record again.”

But, ultimately it’s probably his own comments that have got women worried.

Back in the days of John Howard as PM, and before gender played such a big part in Australian politics, Tony Abbott, as the Health Minister, made the following comments:

 “Why isn’t the fact that 100,000 women choose to end their pregnancies regarded as a national tragedy approaching the scale, say, of Aboriginal life expectancy being 20 years less than that of the general community?” (March 2004)

“We have a bizarre double standard, a bizarre double standard in this country where someone who kills a pregnant woman’s baby is guilty of murder but a woman who aborts an unborn baby is simply exercising choice.” (February 2006)

And it was in his own book, Battlelines, that Abbott proposed that consideration should be given to a return to an optional at-fault divorce agreement. Meaning, couples who opt for the agreement would need to prove offences like adultery, habitual drunkenness, cruelty, desertion, or a five-year separation before a divorce would be granted. According to Abbott, this would be a way of “providing additional recognition to what might be thought of as traditional marriage”.

You can correctly assume that Mr Abbott believes marriage is between a man and a woman.

But, it is these types of comments that have worried women. It’s raised concerns that Tony Abbott would prefer for women not to have some rights over her own body and the choices in her life. These comments don’t take into the consideration some women could be forced into these situations rather than opting in.

But it’s interesting that, for the majority, the media focuses so intensely on Abbott’s relationship with female voters, and largely leaves Gillard’s relationship with men alone. It seems that Abbott’s relationship with women is a better story than Gillard’s relationship with men. Perhaps it’s easier to paint Abbott as a sexist than to claim the first Australian PM doesn’t understand a large proportion of her electorate?

A recent Newspoll revealed the following:

  • 59 per cent of female voters are dissatisfied with Abbott’s performance
  • 57 per cent of male voters are dissatisfied with Abbott’s performance; and
  • 62 per cent of male voters are dissatisfied with Gillard’s performance
  • 55 per cent of female voters are dissatisfied with Gillard’s performance.

Yet, it’s Abbott that has the alleged problem with the opposite gender.

So while the public display of Abbott as the Champion for Women disgusts me, this whole gendered battle is bordering on the ridiculous. The more important story should be that the majority of voters (both female and male) are dissatisfied with both the performance of the Opposition Leader and the Prime Minister. Leadership coup anyone?

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10 Comments

Filed under Politics in a Pinch

10 responses to “Mrs Abbott and her Sensitive Tony

    • Miranda

      Hi Anna,
      Yep those quotes sure don’t make Tony Abbott sound like a supporter of women’s rights. He did say them quite a few years ago, so I guess there is the chance for him to have changed his perspective but unfortunately for politicians they’ll haunt you. They demonstrate that there was spark to the Abbott-hates-women claims the Labor Party are campaigning on. Thanks for reading and commenting, hope your enjoying all the posts. Let us know if there’s any topic you’d like to see us tackle 🙂

  1. Geoff

    Come on Miranda, honestly. I gather you concede, Margie and her daughters are women. So don’t you think they’d know Tony a bit better than you do?

    You are right of course there is a CAMPAIGN to label Tony Abbott as a woman-hater… in case anyone had missed it… Julia underlined/highlighted/blew-it-up-right-out-of-proportion with her misogynist speech. There has been from day one, personal attacks on Tony Abbott, blind Freddy couldn’t miss it. It has been ongoing and relentless. I note your opinion seems to have been effected by it.

    There are many Catholics in Australia that share Abbott’s thoughts on the subject… male and female and many Muslims too… Do you think they are all misogynists?

    Also if the agreement is OPTIONAL… then it isn’t being forced upon people. Honestly?

    Oh and YES, marriage is between a man and a woman. The equality argument is just the latest scam to try and get it across the line. I have many gay friends… none of them want to marry and having CHOSEN their lifestyle (yes they chose it) they recognised marriage wasn’t a part of it. BTW Julia doesn’t agree with it either and I gather she isn’t a practising Catholic.

    If Abbott becomes PM he will not be a dictator unless you consider all our PMs have been dictators. Our society will still be secular and more than one person will be making the decisions. He’ll probably even KEEP HIS WORD with the public re election promises unlike somebody else I could mention.

    Perhaps a more balanced, unbiased, article from you may help reset that scale of reporting. I found Gillard’s misogynist rant, beyond the pale and a tissue of lies, regarding Abbott, a fair minded person would recognise that as closer the truth.

    • Hi Geoff, I think you’ll find I made a point of saying in this article that while Abbott has a problem with women, Gillard has the same problem with men. While I did illustrate why some women are concerned with Tony Abbott as Prime Minister, I did concede that the story as Abbott as a woman-hater was ridiculous and the media should be looking at both leaders ability to engage with members of the opposite sex. Thanks for the comment, also you might want to check out my “Old Time Tony Abbott and the New Age” post, I feel you’ll enjoy it (most likely disagree though).

    • You’ll also find this post was published a few days before the misogyny speech. If you want to read my wrap of that day check out my article called Misogyny, shame and Mr Slipper.

  2. Geoff

    I’ll do that thanks Miranda.
    Still, your bias shines through. 🙂

  3. Geoff

    Done and dusted Miranda… I even commented… though you undoubtedly will disagree with me, I am hoping though you will see the light after a bit of contemplation on the facts.

  4. little lucy

    geez, geoff I must say you are a little annoying. I don’t mind someone stating their opinion but being rude and disrespectful of other people I really hate!

    I just found this blog and was reading some of the articles and notice a lot of your comments are so rude. These girls are doing a great job, and obviously doing something they enjoy, leave them alone!

    I wish this blog had a block button, I would definitely use it on you so I didn’t have to see your dribble anymore.

    And now I hate myself because I had to be rude to you…

  5. Pingback: Abbott’s front bench a “blue tie” affair | Cheaper Than Rubies

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