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All women are equal but some are more equal than others

By Russell Grenning - posted Friday, 6 October 2017


I bet you didn't know that there are WOMEN and then there are women.

I have this on the highest possible authority – Emily's List, no less – which proclaims in the preamble on its website, "A woman candidate, to be satisfactory, must be a 'feminist' in the best sense of the word…she should believe absolutely in the equality of status, liberty and opportunity between a man and a woman. A woman candidate that is shaky on this matter, or not sufficiently imbued with its importance to be able to speak convincingly on the matter, will do the movement towards establishing women in Parliament far more harm than good."

If you have guessed that Labor Senator Helen Polley is not a member then you would be spot-on. Senator Polley has terribly upset the leadership and, no doubt, the Emily's List ladies by saying publicly that she has been pressured to pretend to be in favour of the YES case in the same sex marriage postal survey when she most decidedly is not. Leader Bill Shorten has thoughtfully spoken to her and, no doubt, he has told her she has his full support for her stand on conscience. Well, he would, wouldn't he since current official Labor policy on the matter is for a conscience vote? Then again, perhaps not.

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Emily's List is the ALP affirmative action crowd, the official sisterhood, comprising Labor women who obviously pass the "satisfactory"test. Emily is, their website informs me, an acronym for "Early Money Is Like Yeast" which, sadly, is far too obtuse for me, a mere male. It seems that even quite a lot of female Labor Party members, both elected to office or rank-and-file don't pass the "satisfactory"test and either don't qualify for membership or just don't want to be members.

There are 42 female Federal Labor MPs and Senators and 10 of those are not Emily's List members. Very possibly, they are not "satisfactory"like Senator Polley.

Naturally, and understandably, no women who have been elected to parliaments from non-Labor parties are "satisfactory". Probably, they are most unsatisfactory being gender traitors like Margaret Thatcher. According to their 2015/2016 Annual Report there are only 1,021 members which suggests that it is not all that wildly popular even among women could could be generally regarded as "satisfactory".No Greens women are members despite the fact that an objective observer might consider them "satisfactory" and, indeed, very very "satisfactory"– in fact, even rather too "satisfactory" for Emily's List.

For an allegedly activist organisation Emily's List is practically moribund.

The 2016/17 Annual Report is yet to see the light of day more than three months after the end of the last financial year. This year they have issued only one media statement paying tribute to former Victorian Minister Fiona Richardson who died of cancer on 23 August. Again, according to their own website, they have not appeared in mainstream media so far this year and didn't appear at all in 2016.

Their announcement that "Emily's List has an annual calendar of events in each stateand territory" seems somewhat overblown given that only two events are listed for this year – in Victoria there is a fundraiser for the "Joan Kirner Gender Gap ResearchFund"but, curiously, when you follow the link to book a place you come up against a notice stating, "This event has no dates available for booking. Please contact the event organiser".

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Heralding this event, we learn, "In these troubling times, many of us miss the late Joan Kirner for her wise counsel as well as the jolt into action her advice or speeches would inspire. In her absence, the inaugural 'What would JK Do?' will allow the audience to hear from a panel of progressive women about what they think, as well as what Joan would expect us to do, about current challenges to the feminist and progressive movement. Come and join us for good company, good insights and good food over afternoon tea."

Now, wouldn't you expect that this event would be a runaway success requiring the booking, not of some modest suburban pub function room but the MCG? It seems not.

In New South Wales, the annual "Polka Dot Ball"scheduled for November 18 can happily be booked. Labor MP Anne Aly is the guest speaker and all satisfactory women are urged to buy tickets. They are warned, "We know this will book out so book early to avoid disappointment."

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About the Author

Russell Grenning is a retired political adviser and journalist who began his career at the ABC in 1968 and subsequently worked for the then Brisbane afternoon daily, The Telegraph and later as a columnist for The Courier Mail and The Australian.

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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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