Turnbull the feminist and when politicians struggle with the F word | Women's Agenda

Turnbull the feminist and when politicians struggle with the F word

There’s a strange thing that happens when men — particularly men in positions of power — have daughters. 

They want the absolute best for women. They want their daughters to grow up in a world that gives them the same opportunities as men. 

This was the logic behind WGEA’s 2014 ‘Daughter Water’ campaign. Give senior executive men a bottle of mythical ‘daughter water’ and let them go forth and procreate female offspring. 

But there’s another thing that happens when men have daughters, something Finance Minister Mathias Cormann proved on ABC’s 7:30 last night.

That is that they can declare that they believe in equal opportunities for men and women without ever uttering the F word. Said daughters can quickly become the diversion point to avoid answering the ‘are you a feminist’ question, as 7:30 host Leigh Sales asked Cormann last night. 

Cormann’s admission — that he has daughters — came after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull declared, twice on Monday, that he is a feminist. Even if his big comment that women are “taking the world by storm!” did sound a little over done in front of a Melbourne event celebrating women in STEM.

Full credit to the PM for mentioning the F word: Two of his most senior women in his party, Senator Michaelia Cash and Julie Bishop refuse to call themselves feminists. Cash, our Minister for Women, once said she doesn’t associate with ‘that movement.’ A “movement that was a set of ideologies from many, many decades ago.” Meanwhile Bishop later said she didn’t find the feminist term “particularly useful these days”. 

A prime minister who is also a feminist is nothing new. In 2014, Tony Abbott also embraced the F word. Not bad for a guy who had just appointed himself Minister for Women, and could find only one woman to serve on his first frontbencher. 

Yesterday, Turnbull also noted the work of Robogals, a not-for-profit established by Marita Cheng, aiming to increase the participation of women engineering. “You’re chasing the world one girl at a time. Think about it,” he said. He’d spent his morning telling a morning tea celebrating women in sport that “girls can do anything”. 

“You can play for Australia. You can be a cabinet minister,” he said, with Small Business Minister Kelly O’Dwyer by his side.  

But can you be a feminist cabinet minister? Well let’s hope so. 

Stay Smart! Get Savvy!

Get Women's Agenda in your inbox