The latest in line of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s putting-his-foot-in-it moments comes with his renouncement of No Gender December, an awareness campaign bringing to the forefront the consequences of gender stereotypes in toys.
Launched by Greens senator Larissa Waters, the campaign seems like an excellent idea especially in the lead-up to Christmas, the busiest shopping time of the year when huge numbers of parents will be purchasing toys for their children.
Asked if her supported the campaign on the Nine Network on Tuesday, Abbott said: “I certainly don’t believe in that kind of political correctness. Let boys be boys, let girls be girls – that’s always been my philosophy. Above all else, let parents do what they think is in the best interests of their children.”
As reported in The Guardian, Abbott’s approval rating has dropped to a five-month low. And a Fairfax Ipsos poll from November showed that only 37% of women voters want him to be their leaders. Frankly, I think that number is still too high given his history of misogyny and general douchebaggery.
Waters told the press that although “starkly separate aisles of pink and blue” might seem harmless, setting such strong gender stereotypes at early ages can have long-term impacts, including [on] self-perception and career aspirations.”
As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, she went on to say that “outdated stereotypes” about girls and boys perpetuate gender inequality, “which feeds into very serious problems such as domestic violence and the gender pay gap.”
This did not sit well with one of Abbott’s boys, Liberal backbencher Cory Bernardi, who said the campaign recalls the gender wars of the 1970s. “Frankly, I think [Waters has] consumed too much Christmas eggnog to come up with an idea like this,” he said. “To say you’re giving a boy a truck or a hammer is somehow leading to domestic violence and gender pay gaps is simply bizarre. I hope that Santa brings Senator Waters some common sense for Christmas,” Bernardi continued. How awful.
I cannot believe these comments are coming from political leaders in the 21st century. “Let boys be boys and girls be girls”…how sexist, how inappropriate, and how out-of-touch (not to mention exclusive of those who sit somewhere in between or do not want to be defined by gender). And Bernandi’s comments are so patronizing: he basically calls Waters a drunk and a crazy person. And I find his opinion that “giving a boy a truck or a hammer is somehow leading to domestic violence and gender pay gaps is simply bizarre” unfounded. It is precisely these stereotypes in society that lead to gender pay gaps. And by perpetuating that boys will be boys and should play with trucks and hammers and guns and be ‘macho’ is precisely the type of behavior that leads to domestic violence. Stop talking gibberish and enter the year 2014, Abbott and Bernandi.
Title image source: blogher.com