INTELLIGENCE 2 . The Australian Forum for Live Debate is a project of the St. James Ethics Centre, Sydney and The Wheeler Centre, Melbourne.
“Feminism has failed” was the topic of the debate at Melbourne Town Hall on Wednesday evening, 22nd September, 2010.
Speakers for the Affirmative:
Virginia Hausagger, award winning journalist; Gay Alcorn, formerly Age Washington correspondent, now Sunday Age Editor; Stephen Mayne founder of ww.crikey.com, who now pursues shareholder activism promoting more women on Boards.
Speakers for the Negative:
Jennifer Byrne, TV personality; Monica Dux, writer for the Age and co-author of The Great Feminist Denial; Wendy McCarthy, founding co-convenor of WEL, corporate advisory practice, mentoring for Government and large corporations on diversity and women’s leadership.
Rules of the debate.
Each spoke for exactly 9 minutes, in turn ‘for’ and ‘against’. At the end, the audience was invited to put questions or comments from the floor for exactly 1 minute each for and against in turn. After 15-20 minutes, the principal speakers were again invited to give us their 2 minute closing remarks.
The audience was individually asked to vote ‘for’ or ‘against’ the proposition at the beginning, but also given coloured voting papers to put into ballot boxes collected after the debate. The CEO of the St. James Ethics Centre was the MC, who then announced the results of the voting.
Both before and after the debate, the results were similar: more than half voted for the negative, a quarter were undecided and the rest for the affirmative.
THE SPEAKERS’ COMMENTS.
V.H. drew attention to the miserable plight of women in those countries where they practice ‘honour killings’, ‘stonings’, child marriages, trafficking of women and children and general subjugation, without the feminist movement making any impact on them.
1st. Against. J.B. focused on her own situation, i.e. women closer to home. We have choices which our mothers never had. Education and opportunities for women which came about because of the feminist revolution.
S.M. pointed out the dismal failure of having women in leadership positions on any major corporations,- with one or 2 exceptions; the small percentage of women lawyers who have senior partnerships in major law firms; the fewer women MPs; the lack of support by women to help them get onto the large Corporate Boards. David Jones has not lost sales in spite of the sexual harassment case against them. AFL has only one woman on any Club Board and if there is one she is usually given the Human Resources portfolio! No major newspaper editor is female; the “faceless men” in politics,- where are the women?
M.D. Feminism is not unsuccessful in delivering on its promises, because it is still a ”work in progress”. Gender inequality is complex. It took 8 Centuries for the male conjugal rights over women to be revoked by legislation! Feminism is diverse, complex and often divisive. There were never demands with deadlines, but a continuous battle; there are new words which we now take for granted like sexism, sexual harassment, ‘glass ceiling’, etc. Feminism has not failed: it has only just begun! “Half the sky movement” was mentioned.
G.A. At daily newspaper conferences re where stories are placed in the papers, items are usually divided up as “feminine” and others! She has ambition for wider general and stronger feminism, rather than the personal satisfaction for a few. There is little difference to the male power structure in our community. Has the real culture changed at all? Hardly, because sexism is so embedded that we hardly notice it,- but if we do, nothing is done about it. Feminism has little impact on e.g. body image. Young men brought up with pornography instead of female sexuality issues. Power distribution has not changed because of feminism in Australia,- most bosses are males, most stressed at work are females. Media covers only 9% of women’s sport; JK Rawlins is actually Joanne, but publishers too nervous to show she is a female author for parents of boys to buy her books about boys! The real world in which we live, feminism has hardly made a dent in it.
W. McC. As a still working grandmother, she has seen great strides made in her lifetime. But one had to and still have to work at it, not wait like little princesses for equality to happen by itself! The greatest success has been the universal education of women. In the ‘60s, married women couldn’t stay in the education department or in the Public Service! There was no access to contraception,- later the Pill had a luxury tax put on it, but it was the feminist movement that fought to have it removed. There was no access to abortion, even Equal Pay did not have support from the Union Movement,- only the feminists fought for it.
Feminism is the sum total of many parts to effect change for the better. Change doesn’t just happen, you have to make it happen by working at it. Feminism has also created better space for men to ‘grow’ in their relationships at home with their families. The business and public sector is just a bit slower to change. Leadership by women comes in a little later, but a look at the obituaries of important persons in the newspapers, shows that more women are being listed there!
That’s already a good sign!
Q. FROM THE FLOOR.
(Yvonne Allen who runs a relationship business for single people) stated that feminism has failed the successful business and professional women who too often have achieved success at the expense of missing out on successful relationships.
W. McC. Said it is not about the destination, but about the journey. (Gertrude Stein: where is ‘there’? Somewhere!)
Criticism of newspapers focusing on the women at the Brownlow medal night, instead of on the elite athletes that the guys are. As though we are going backwards in feminist ideals!
Topic itself was criticized as being a bit insulting and probably masculine-suggested.
Young women very involved right across the board in various fields.Very encouraging.
Worried about the argument,- must stop congratulating ourselves and patting ourselves on the back as though we have achieved everything.
Most countries will be reporting that they will not be meeting the Millennium Goals for Status of Women by 2015, currently at the UN in NY for UNMDG meeting.
We live in a difficult age and must give men more room, but as women we must not give up our goals.
CONCLUDING REMARKS BY MAIN SPEAKERS.
Most on the affirmative side said that while agreeing that much has been achieved, much more needs to be done.
Those on the negative side, said that it is a ‘work in progress’ and we must not deny the achievements, while striving to keep going ahead.
I could not decide which side had won, so I tore my voting slip in half to indicate that.
Of course feminism has achieved a lot for the Western woman, but not much for those in the developing world or in the Theocracies of the Islamic nations. Women in all the religious institutions have not yet managed to gain equal status across the board.
But the evening was very enjoyable due to the excellent presentations by the speakers. The fact that it attracted an audience of probably close to 2000, women of all ages plus a sprinkling of men, was incredible. But on the way out, I overheard 2 young women talking: “I like Julia’s white jacket,- it is very well made.”
I would hope that they are students of fashion, or feminism just went out over their heads!
Polling Feminist scholars, finding women's studies bias: The Trouble With Israel
> THE TROUBLE WITH ISRAEL
> September 20, 2010 Posted by Scott at 7:00 AM
> Barbara Hollingsworth reports on an illuminating experiment conducted by University of Illinois Professor Fred Gottheil:
> Prof. Fred Gottheil told Frontpagemag.com that he compiled a list of 675 email addresses from 900 signatures on a 2009 petition authored by Dr. David Lloyd, professor of English at the University of Southern California, urging the U.S. to abandon its ally, Israel. Prof. Gottheil discovered that six of the signers, who hailed from more than 150 college campuses, were members of his own faculty.
> "Would these same 900 sign onto a statement expressing concern about human rights violations in the Muslim Middle East, such as honor killing, wife beating, female genital mutilation, and violence against gays and lesbians?" he wondered. "I felt it was worth a try."
> The results? "Almost non existent," he told Frontpage editor Jamie Glazov. Only 27 of the 675 "self-described social-justice seeking academics" agreed to sign Gottheil's Statement of Concern - less than 5 percent of the total who had publicly called for the censure of Israel for human rights violations.
> Like all good experiments, Professor Gottheil's leads to a conclusion:
> The refusal of women's studies professors to publicly condemn honor killings, or academic advocates of gay rights to speak out against the treatment of homosexuals in Muslim countries, is just about as hypocritical as it gets. Their loathing (dare we call it hate?) of the UN-created Jewish state is so deep that it "trump[s] their professional interests," leading them into a "ideologically discriminatory trap of their own making," Prof. Gottheil added.
> Or stated otherwise: "The academic Left may be just a little more sophisticated [than the non-academic Left] in their loathing of Israel, but scratch the surface and it's all the same...It turns out that with all their professing of principle, they are sanctimonious bigots at heart."