A few thoughts about Australian Politics
For those of you who live outside of Australia (and for those here who don’t pay attention to the news) we have a new Federal opposition leader of parliament, Tony Abbott.
From my less than comprehensive or incisive understanding of the political geography of Australia Tony Abbott is a contentious choice, and his elevation was far from unified. He’s known for his conservatism, his aggressive public image, strong catholic ties and dogmatic pro-life stance. (his nickname in the media is the “Mad Monk”)
Much has been made in the media of images of the in shape politician doing various physical things in very small items of lycra clothing (which would you believe, i can’t find any good pics online – always the way, when you don’t want to see it, it’s in your face, when you’re looking – nowhere to be found). These images are reminiscent of Images of Putin in various states of undress, or hunting something.
Tony Abbott is being represented as an aggressively masculine politician, and it has been broadly acknowledged that women are a demographic group he has problems appealing to (anti-abortion policies can have that effect I hear)
For those who missed this piece (and this glowing endorsement) by Miranda Devine that appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age it’s a pretty right wing piece defending Our new Federal Liberal leaders relationship with women. If you read it, be warned; it’s very frustrating.
The masculinity of politicians is always interesting, and I think that representation of masculinity in contemporary Australian federal politics will be very interesting, with the well spoken PM Kevin Rudd (often represented as schoolboy-ish) and the defiantly inflexible and unappealing Tony Abbott. I think this contrast can make for some interesting dynamics around masculine expression and identity, I just hope that the backlash appeal of a traditional and patriarchal idea of masculinity isn’t to appealing for to the people of Australia.