Blame The Woman

In the early days of the "Iguanagate scandal", I remember hearing from a Labor party insider that "John Della Bosca is actually a lovely man. It's her [Belinda Neal] who's the bully; she's the awful one".

It may be true. Watching Australian Story last night really didn't make up my mind one way or the other. Or it may just be the latest example of Adam and Eve syndrome - that there's a bad woman behind the downfall of every good man.

There's a certain type of man who is threatened by the powerful woman. Woman was responsible for orignial sin, and therefore, for all the corruption in the Universe. Throughout history, we have couples where the female partner is blamed for the downfall of the man - Samson and Delilah, Caesar and Cleopatra, Nicholas and Alexandra, Hillary and Bill. (Who can forget those hilarious 90s bumper stickers "IMPEACH THE PRESIDENT - AND HER HUSBAND TOO!").

Now there's John and Belinda. Does anyone really believe that the media would have made so much fuss over Ms Neal's behaviour if she'd been a male politician doing the same thing? Mark Latham was after all able to become Federal Opposition leader after breaking a taxi driver's arm. But the tough woman is threatening. Women are still expected to be demure, caring, "feminine" (Tim Ferguson was heard to opine that if Neal was sacked, "it would increase the proportion of women in Federal parliament".

For now the men have, apparently, won the day. Della Bosca remains in the NSW cabinet; Neal is unlikely to retain preselection for her seat. But after thousands of years, we really haven't come as far as we would have liked to have thought.


  1. I'll start by saying i consider myself a post-feminist (ie one who believes everyone should be treated equally - not better or worse than anyone - be they male or female.

    I do believe neal needs to go, because i do believe she was out of line, and that she abused her position. I don't think latham's activities years prior made him a better or worse candidate for PM, because as far as i know he didn't abuse his position when he had one. she did, and as such needs to leave now.

    we all make mistakes, and we all pay for them eventually. latham did, and neal will. it's only fair.

  2. Yes. Whilst what Neal did was out of order (and frankly, how out of order should it be? I'd say "Do you know who I am?" if I was anyone), I do feel there was an unfair element to her treatment on account of gender.

    Watching Australian Story last night, I don't really doubt she did was she was claimed to have done. She admits she's not a girly girl, and as well as behaving unacceptably for a parliamentarian, she also challenges society's expectations of how a woman should behave.

    (It's something I'm planning to come back to in posts later. The man living alone who likes a drink is a swinging bachelor, a woman in the same position - i.e. me - is tragic. There are still so many expectations out there. Women have somehow come to see sexual liberation as posing for Playboy, rather than being able to have a drink in a pub. It makes me cross).


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