Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Privilege, politics, feminism, human rights

Julie Bishop, a high profile Australian politician, says women need to stop whining and get on with it.... she is talking about the gender inequality in society and the workplace. Her comments I believe were made in the context of a discussion around feminism.... which, as I understand it, is an issue of human rights. So, as someone who spends a good amount of time advocating for equal rights for all humans, I'd like to know which part of my life- which of my challenges- I need to apply her "stop whinging, get on with it and prove them all wrong," advice to. 

Maybe I could stop "whinging" about the fact that schools can't/won't make accommodations necessary for my kids to attend? 

Maybe I could stop "whinging" that the federal government, of which she is foreign affairs minister, is about to sign a trade deal with China that will likely mean my family can no longer afford the medications required to keep us all well unless either my husband works full time (which puts him under so much stress he can't manage without meds) or I find employment (which would mean the kids can no longer be home schooled so they'd have to go back into the aforementioned environment that won't accommodate their needs)? 

Maybe I could stop "whinging" about having a huge debt from my University studies that I'm unlikely to ever pay off because I am a women who chose to study 2 degrees in the hope it would make me more employable, but has less earning potential than a man because I am not a man, and also values my family life and the well-being of my kids so I haven't done much paid work in the last few years in order to pay said debt?

Maybe I could stop "whinging" about the fact that people will not stop looking at my family as burdensome and stereotyping us because some of us have disabilities?

This is a textbook case of a privilege at its ugly worst, with another well off white person totally missing the point about the very real challenges many of us face. It is not as simple as stopping whinging and proving "them" wrong. 

I... we... my family and I.... have been "proving them wrong", flying in the face of both statistics and stereotypes, for two decades now and I don't see any wealthy policy makers lining up to pat us on the back or help improve our financial situation. In fact, they are doing the opposite. 

Wake up and smell the dissent Julie. The rest of us don't have the privilege to be able to see this issue as simplistically as you do. We are speaking up about it, and your words in light of that are just plain insulting.