Clementine Ford: A Balls And All Assessment Of Bettina Arndt's Bizarre Swipe At The Sisterhood

Less than 24 hours after May 18’s unexpected electoral result, Bettina Arndt took to Twitter to take a bizarre and frankly illogical swipe at feminism and its role in Labor’s defeat.

“Lisa Wilkinson claims we are all feeling a little broken right now,” she wrote, retweeting an open letter to the Prime Minister that Wilkinson had written for 10 Daily. “No, Lisa,” she continued. “Most of us are deliriously happy because the sisterhood lost the election. Australian men should be feeling very lucky today -- they have dodged a bullet.”

Phew! Those lucky Australian men! They can rest easy now knowing that they aren’t going to be forced to surrender their balls to Tanya Plibersek and Penny Wong. 

Australian men have dodged a bullet.

Oh but wait -- these would be the same Australian men who are responsible for murdering one woman a week in this country. The same Australian men who are responsible for the sexual assault of one in five women. The same Australian men who can look to what is supposed to be a representative democracy and see other men who look like them packed to the rafters within it.

They're the same Australian men who talk on television and radio about drowning women or dumping them out to sea in a chaff bag. Thank goodness they've dodged the giant, hairy, comfortably shod, Sisterhood-shaped bullet that threatened to destroy the blokish larrikinism they hold dear!

(Image: Getty)

But it’s not just stately older men who’ve pulled off a Bradbury here. As we know from this week’s release of the National Community Attitudes Towards Violence Against Women Survey (NCAS), this massive bullet-dodge was also achieved by lucky Australian men aged between 16 and 24 who think “women prefer a man to be in charge of a relationship” (32 percent), and that there’s “no harm in men making sexist jokes about women when they are among their male friends” (30 percent), and who also believe “women exaggerate gender inequality in Australia” (45 percent).

How lucky these young men are to have narrowly avoided the castration wrought by The Sisterhood! These men who believe “it is common for sexual assault accusations to be used as a way of getting back at men” (45 percent) and who are more likely to hold “problematic attitudes to violence against women and gender equality” if they’re mostly friends with other blokes!

Imagine the terror that would have been unleashed upon them if The Sisterhood had snatched an unfair victory and delivered unto the country an altogether different kind of mandate, one that still involves barbecuing but where oppressed men are the ones being cooked! #grillallmen

And what would become of the women who speak of The Sisterhood in such scathing tones, ignoring all the freedom they enjoy because of the work done by feminists before them? The women who no longer have to tolerate being legally raped by their husbands, even though, according to the NCAS, a proportion of Australian men still believe that husbands are entitled to “[have] sex with her anyway” if she changes her mind after initiating sexual contact?

Real talk, people. It's easy to mock old-fashioned beliefs about feminism conspiring to destroy men's lives, but it's harder to stomach when data is produced that shows just how far we still have to go in changing men's attitudes about women in this country. The NCAS survey did, thankfully, reveal that attitudes towards gender equality are slowly improving, but this is because of the advocacy done by 'The Sisterhood', often in the face of vile abuse and targeted attacks. Some women prefer to beg at the foot of the men's table in order to get a few of the leftover crumbs, but those of us with even a scrap of self respect would rather make our own meals. 

(Image: Getty)

According to Destroy The Joint's Counting Dead Women project, 19 women have been killed in Australia in 2019 alone. One of those women, Gihan Kerollos, was allegedly murdered on the night of the election, the night upon which men supposedly "dodged a bullet". Her husband has been charged with her murder.

The Coalition has committed to putting a measly annual $110 million towards addressing men’s violence against women -- less than the money they were willing to spend on conducting a postal survey that only served to confirm what numerous polls had already indicated.

We aren’t even halfway through the year. We know that more women will be killed. We know that outside of these homicides, other women will continue to be beaten, raped and stalked by Australian men. We know that our attempts to talk about these issues will be dismissed as ‘misandrist ranting’, even as we’re told we need a ‘good dick’ up us to cure us of the feminism that’s made us so repulsive.

But sure! Aussie blokes really dodged that bullet!