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The Left is not immune to the patriarchy

  • 23 November 2018


The Victorian state election is on this Saturday and if I’m being honest, I don’t think I could be less inspired about it if I tried. I want readers to understand just how much of a statement this is coming from me. I loathe our political system and most of our politicians but being an Aboriginal woman who works in the union movement and writes opinion, I am deeply invested in it all.

I have been known, for example, to sit at home on election night with a six pack of beer next to me yelling at the screen like I’m watching the AFL Grand Final. This election though, I don’t think I will be doing that. It doesn’t warrant that kind of enthusiasm from me.

The deal was sealed for me when I worked out that women were pretty much expendable in the race to the seats. I’m in a unique circumstance — I live in one of the safest Labor electorates in the state, but it borders two marginal seats where the battle is between the ALP and the Greens. These electorates cover areas that I travel and socialise in on a daily basis, so not getting swept up in these Lefty battles is near on impossible. And that’s saying nothing about my personal involvement in the Left already.

The other day, I noticed a poster (right) authorised by the Labor Party quoting the #MeToo movement and criticising the Greens about existing allegations of bullying, harassment and sexual assault within their ranks. The inference appeared to be that Labor is a safe haven for women, unlike the Greens.

It was an easy kick for the ALP. Jenny Leong had just used parliamentary privilege in NSW to call on her Greens colleague Jeremy Buckingham to stand down due to allegations made against him, and her call was backed at a national level by Senator Mehreen Faruqi. It also followed a series of muckraking news articles — first highlighting some three-year-old social media comments made in jest about shoplifting and drugs by former Greens upper house candidate Joanna Nilson and secondly, a video also from a few years ago featuring Greens candidate for Footscray Angus McAlpine rapping some misogynistic lyrics. Two days after I saw the poster, a staffer for sitting Greens MP Lidia Thorpe resigned after tweets he had made resurfaced featuring sexist and racist content.

The problem for me is that I’m yet to