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The term ‘misogynist’ conjures the likes of Tony Abbott, Peter Slipper and a smorgasbord of political commentators. Yet, is the prevalence of this sexist slur evidence of a misunderstanding among feminist theorists and contemporary society? If there’s one thing we can be sure of, it’s that our ability to spell the word is in an inverse proportion to our willingness to use it in the public domain.  Misogyny or the dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women has been used as political ammunition many a time in the past year.

This was evident during the lynch mob reaction to Alan Jones’ statement that Julia Gillard’s father had “died of shame.” His ‘chauvinism’ prompted a boycott by organisations such as who amassed a petition with 103, 000 supporters. Sponsors including Harvey Norman were pressured into pulling advertising from Jones’ radio station. Unsurprisingly, the organiser was revealed to be a Green’s supporter, exposing feminist rhetoric as having a deeper political agenda.  

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Curiously, the term ‘racist’ is considered defamatory, whilst misogynist is not. Regardless, Tony Abbott was branded a sexist, homophobe, racist and liar by social media well and truly before he was sworn into office.  Social media hubs provide the architecture for such fundamentalism, thanks to the communications revolution.  This prefabricated contempt reveals an ignorance of the democratic process, as reflected in the Australian media.

Though admittedly, the extent of sexism regarding the size of Gillard’s bottom and her wardrobe choices was highly visceral and more often than not, obscene. Furthermore, Abbott did himself no favours through his retrograde attitude towards abortion as “the easy way out”.  Yet Abbott’s chronic foot-inmouth syndrome hardly warrants his label as a misogynist.

The Macquarie Dictionary’s decision to broaden the definition of misogyny gives leeway to this type of labeling. Furthermore, by meddling with semantics, feminists are armed with the capacity to build on the misconception that

Scope Magazine Issue 9  
Scope Magazine Issue 9  

Semester 141 - Week 2