The Left’s War On Women: It’s Not Ok

by on 20 May, 2014

1532132_10152012329686853_2699105403218164199_aViolence against women is never acceptable, writes Anneliese Franklin in condemning the attacks on Julie Bishop and Sophie Mirabella:

Campus violence is, and has always been, unacceptable.  With the flourishing of campaigns such as the White Ribbon Pledge, opposition to violence against women, domestic violence and sexual violence is at a crescendo in our public arena. As a society we understand that to attack anyone is utterly repugnant behavior, and to attack women is an unacceptable perpetuation of hundreds of years of exploitation and harassment.  There is no excuse.  None.  This should cross all political allegiances and boundaries.

It was against this background that the “tolerant” Political Left, in this case the Socialist Alliance, the Education Action Group and Greens members, revealed their true hypocritical nature on Friday. Angered by the recent budget, they greeted Foreign Minister Julie Bishop with mobbing, violent shoves, and a heavy physical blockade at Sydney University.

Not satisfied with one ferocious assault, student socialists set their sights on Public Policy Fellow and former Liberal Party MP Sophie Mirabella on Monday, interrupting her lecture at Melbourne University with megaphones, shrieks and physical intimidation.  Staff were forced to suspend the seminar while police fought to safely escort Ms Mirabella out of the crush.

The Political Left spares no opportunity to advertise that it is the standard bearer for tolerance of different views, gender equality and female empowerment.  These are indeed admirable principles, and ones I wholeheartedly support.  However what have the violent Sydney and Melbourne University protests revealed about the true nature of the Political Left?  It is not tolerance and compassion, but deep hypocrisy.

The tone of Australian political discourse has plummeted over the past seven years, starting with Kevin Rudd’s “Kevin07” campaign and his endless stream of shaving-cut selfies.  However the recent protests signify a new low in Australian politics.  Little of the Left’s famed “tolerance” was on display when histrionic protesters were filmed rushing Julie Bishop and Sophie Mirabella screaming slogans such as “No Cuts! No Fees! No Corporate Universities!” while waving placards of incoherent text.  Those present did not submit their concerns to the women in the spirit of rational debate between equals, as their elite university education has equipped them to do.  Rather tolerance, and coherent discussion in general, went entirely out the window in favour of fervent shrieking as the mob attempted to block their way and jostle them in a physically intimidating manner.  Whatever argument they were trying to make, it was largely lost in the juvenile displays.

The recent shocking protests have demonstrated something very dangerous to Australia.  For these privileged left-wing students, the principles of non-violence, respect for female leaders and opposition to violence against women only applies to those who happen to hold views they agree with.  If you are a woman who promotes conservative ideas then not only are you a legitimate target for violence, but your attackers will be praised and not punished.   In fact, protesters interviewed on the ABC went so far as to say that Ms Bishop “got what she deserved”; a defence that is in stark contrast to the left’s usual shrill opposition to “victim-blaming”.  How did Ms Mirabella, who as a private citizen was merely attempting to deliver a lecture, deserve that kind of horrific treatment?   Who knew that harassment was perfectly acceptable as long as the victim had it coming?

Compounding the concern is the mainstream media’s response to it.  Where is the condemnation?  Major news outlets have brushed off the incident as mere “heckling” and praised the resolve of the students involved. Considerable airtime has been given to the ringleaders, where they have repeatedly defended their violent actions and argued that Ms Bishop and Ms Mirabella were fair game. It is beyond belief that, in the eyes of much of our mainstream press, pushing, shoving and screaming into a woman’s face is an acceptable form of political argument.  If national debate was cheap before this incident, now it has surely hit rock bottom.

Ironically, these are the same commentators who rushed to label Tony Abbott a misogynist for looking at his watch during Julia Gillard’s speech in Question Time and gave credence to her rehearsed monologue in which she asked to be taken seriously and respected as a woman.  I ask you this: where were the media demands for respect for Julie Bishop and Sophie Mirabella after Friday’s protest?  Why don’t these commentators also promote the right of conservative female politicians to go about their business without being physically intimidated and harassed? It is not just women on the left, such as Julia Gillard, who are worthy of respect and defence.

Unfortunately as a result of the appalling treatment of Julie Bishop and Sophie Mirabella, the message being sent to politically active conservative women is clear: a future of intimidation and violent reprisal is a reasonable and now societally accepted possibility.  We won’t be challenged with debate and discourse, but harassment and intimidation.  Our right to engage in politics while maintaining level of personal space, dignity and inviolability is dependent on holding the ‘correct’ political views and unfortunately Conservatism just doesn’t make the cut.  Perhaps the commentators on the left who frequently ponder in formerly broadsheet newspapers about why there is gender disparity in our national Parliament should have a good hard look at how they themselves treat our successful female leaders.

Brushing Bishop and Mirabella’s attack aside as a minor incident sets a very dangerous precedent, and Australia should look back on the recent protests and reassess how we address violence and intimidation towards our female politicians. Thanks to student socialists, we may now be slowly but steadily moving to a point where conservative women fear vicious reprisals if they voice their political views in tutorials or lectures.  We live in a proudly democratic society where every Australian has a constitutional right to free political communication, and conservatives have just as much right to their views as the Socialist Alliance, the SRC and the Greens.   Universities should be safe for all, and we must defend our right to be safe, proudly conservative women on campus.

#It’sNotOK

Anneliese is a law student at the University of New South Wales where she actively involved in student politics. She is one of the leaders of the “Violence Against Women: Uni Students Say No” Facebook campaign.

You can join the campaign to make those accountable here.

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