JUST when you thought politics in Australia couldn’t get any more dysfunctional, along came last week’s Senate motion that “It is OK to be white.”
Yes, a group of allegedly fully grown-up men and women – whom you and I pay handsomely for the privilege of representing us in parliament – saw fit to agree with One Nation leader Pauline Hanson that a dangerous wave of anti-white racism is on the ascent.
I can only hope that, as a white woman, I am allowed to finish this column before I am promptly silenced and denied a voice in the mainstream media based on my pale skin.
To only add to the farce, the Coalition stood by the motion for about as long as an average Australian federal government stands by its Prime Minister – which, as we all know, is a period of time generally more accurately measured in hours than years.
Seems it was all to blame on an “administrative error” (parliament’s answer to the “sorry but your urgent email went to my spam folder” excuse).
Now, should anyone in this imperfect but well-intentioned country of ours genuinely be in need of reassurance that it’s OK to be white, let me be the one to promise you that it is indeed OK. Indeed, a quick glance through history would suggest it always has – and continues to be – more than OK.
Of course there are times when the caucasians among us might find ourselves feeling judged or evaluated on the basis of our skin colour.
Statistically, it’s probably only fair to note that in Australia this skin-deep type of character assessment still tends to favour white people, but that’s not to say reverse racism never happens. It can, and it is never OK. It’s just that it doesn’t happen in nearly the same volume, or in the same deeply entrenched and life-impacting manner, as racism against non-caucasians.
But in the event our elected parliamentarians wish to spend more of our taxpayer money passing legislation that is just as redundant as “It Is OK To Be White”, here is a list of equally unnecessary motions for them to mull over.
Asking A Woman On A Date Isn’t Sexual Harassment
It’s been a year since the spectacular downfall of Harvey Weinstein (followed soon after by the likes of Matt Lauer and Don Burke) first saw the rise of the #MeToo movement. Seemingly fearful that the time-honoured act of asking ask a woman out for dinner or showing even a passing interest towards a colleague of the opposite sex might lead to sexual harassment or assault charges, decent men the world over have reportedly been panicking that flirting is now against the law.
Just as it’s OK to be white, it’s OK to make romantic overtures towards a consenting fellow adult. #MeToo is about holding predators to account and calling out acts of abuse and harassment. Even when an invitation on a date is rebuffed, rest assured that every sensible woman knows the difference between the criminal and the clumsy.
Not Every Faux Pas Requires A Hashtag
We are living in an era of unprecedented outrage. Never before have so many people been so quick to anger on the most flimsy of grounds. Fuelled by the shrill-voiced intolerance of social media, where the nuance-free confines of 140 characters proves the perfect meeting place for those with too much time on their hands, every misstep is leapt upon with a gleeful vengeance once seen only from the jeering audience on the The Jerry Springer Show.
So let Hansard show that not every faux pas requires a hashtag. And as for those inane petitions ‚Ä¶
Job Hires Are Still Based On Merit (as much as they ever were, anyway)
In the wake of the recent debate over the need for the Liberal Party to implement gender quotas to boost its parliamentary ranks, there has been widespread hysteria that any attempt to recruit as many women as men into certain professions would be to detriment of meritorious candidates. It’s the same hackneyed logic that is trotted out when it comes to improving the gender balance on company boards. As it currently stands, the ratio of women on ASX 200 boards is 28.5 per cent – so unless anyone truly believes that men are 71.5 per cent more meritorious than women, there’s no reason to believe that a more equitable participation from women would somehow lead to a reduction in a board’s performance and collective IQ.
You Can Be A Feminist And Still Like Men
Does this really still need to be spelt out in 2018? Apparently, yes, so here goes: being a feminist means you believe men and women should be treated equally, shoulder the same responsibilities and be entitled to the same rights and opportunities. No more and no less. Anyone who thinks otherwise has been spending too much time on Clementine Ford’s Twitter feed.
It’s OK To Speak Civilly to Those With Different Political Views
These are not just partisan times – they are hyper-partisan. Both progressives and conservatives routinely trade in simplistic characterisations and hostile dismissals of those who hold differing political allegiances to their own. Playing the policy has been abandoned in favour of playing the man/woman. Debate is constructive. Diversity of opinion is essential. But nastiness is just nastiness.
Sarrah Le Marquand is the editor-in-chief of Stellar magazine and the founding editor of RendezView.