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Tuesday, 13 October 2020

The sexist double standard applied to female politicians

It's been a few years since Australia had its first Female PM, Julia Gillard. While I generally prefer have a Liberal government to a Labor government (for policy reasons), there was nothing particularly bad about Julia Gillard as a PM. But it was amazing the amount of criticism that was simply rampant sexism (eg. rather than "Dump Gillard" we had protestors waving "Ditch the Witch" placards).

The latest example of the double standard often applied to female politicians is the criticism of the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian (who is female and single) for having a 'close personal relationship' with a former NSW politician who was found to be abusing his position for (attempted) financial gain, and was dumped and left politics in 2018 after a previous ICAC investigation. There is no evidence (yet) that the NSW PM acted improperly on a professional level, just that she had a relationship with someone known to be 'shady'.

Yes, in an ideal world politicians would only have relationships with persons of impeccable character, and would immediately dump anyone that they found had the slightest character flaw. But is this really expected of male politicians? No. So why expect female politicians to apply higher standards to what are, after all, private considerations regarding who they have a relationship with.

It may yet turn out that the NSW Premier acted improperly (eg. gave Darryl Maguire information or support in his dodgy business dealings) and has to exit politics, but so far it appears that she has done nothing wrong herself. The days of the worth of a female professional being at all affected by who their partner is should be long gone. Gladys is doing a great job as NSW Premier during the Covid-19 pandemic, and who she is (or isn't) dating should be irrelevant.

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