I completely understand why women related to Tony Abbott are defending him from accusations that he has a problem with women. I have no doubt that he is a supportive and caring parent, husband, brother and son. (And, of course, they’re not just calling media conferences and speaking to the Daily Telegraph‘s Gemma Jones because they want the public to know the Real Tony. It is politics after all.)
This from Margie Abbott:
“I say to the people who claim that Tony Abbott doesn’t ‘get’ women: You get this. Tony Abbott is surrounded by strong women. In fact, not only strong but capable women.
“He grew up in a household with three sisters. He has encouraged me and supported me in whatever I have chosen to do.”
Just because you’re “surrounded” by women in your family, doesn’t mean you “get” women. It just means you care about your family. It certainly doesn’t make you a feminist. It’s how Tony Abbott acts towards women he’s not related to that reveals that he does indeed have a problem with women. After all, Todd Akin has a wife and I’m sure he respects and trusts her. But in his breath-takingly ignorant and offensive comment that women can’t get pregnant from “legitimate rape“, it shows that he thinks that other women – millions of American women – are probably liars and can’t be trusted to make decisions about their own bodies.
Tony Abbott also believes women can’t be trusted to make their own decisions about their bodies and their reproductive health. What is it with conservative men and women’s vaginas? In his own words, he shames women who terminate a pregnancy:
The problem with the Australian practice of abortion is that an objectively grave matter has been reduced to a question of the mother’s convenience…. Even those who think that abortion is a woman’s right should be troubled by the fact that 100,000 Australian women choose to destroy their unborn babies every year.
He’s right, though – I am troubled by that statistic. Because it’s a lie. He’s wrong by about 20,000. And since he was Health Minister when he wrote it, he’d know it was a lie. He’d also know that most terminations are the result of contraception failure.
But check out the language he uses: 100,000 Australian women choose to destroy their unborn babies every year. That’s a fuckload of shaming right there. If Abbott really wanted to reduce the number of abortions, he’d be pushing for better contraception, rather than shaming women with words like “destroy”. (Check out Leslie Cannold’s great talk on shaming: I had an abortion… or maybe I didn’t.)
Tony Abbott even believes 14-year-old girls should be made to have babies, to punish them for having sex (no mention of the boys they had sex with, though. Funny that):
To a pregnant 14-year-old struggling to grasp what’s happening, for example, a senior student with a whole life mapped out or a mother already failing to cope under difficult circumstances, abortion is the easy way out… Our society has rightly terrified primary school children about the horrors of smoking, but seems to take it for granted that adolescents will have sex despite the grim social consequences of teenage single parenthood.
That’s right, if you’re a mother who is “failing to cope under difficult circumstances” – like an abusive partner, or illness, or that there just isn’t enough money – you should be forced to have another baby.
Those quotes are from a speech he made in 2004. In 2006, members of Parliament stripped Tony Abbott of the power to make decisions about women’s reproductive health. He had demonstrated that his personal beliefs were more important than the rights of Australian women. That Abbott believes that women terminate pregnancies “almost [as] a badge of liberation from old oppressions” demonstrates how little he understands, well, pretty much everything to do with women. Most of his own side voted against him.
He told women that the carbon tax would make ironing more expensive – then dismissed women who got annoyed by his comment as “hypersensitive”.
Then he made a rape joke.
The quotes from this video date from 1979 to 2010 (and yes, we were talking about this a few weeks ago, but that post was about the bigger picture rather than Abbott in particular, because it’s evidence that his ideas haven’t really changed):
Tony Abbott’s biggest problem with women is that we refuse to put up with his shit.