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Humpty Dumpty

Babette Francis

The word “misogyny” is derived from the Greek: ‘miso’ means hate and ‘gyny’ means women, i.e. “misogynist” is someone who hates women. That is how most English dictionaries defined misogyny. Prime Minister Julia Gillard made a dramatic speech in Parliament accusing Tony Abbott of misogyny - this at the same time that she was defending Speaker Peter Slipper who had texted the most appalling comments about women’s bodies - not to mention her pre- vious defences of Craig Thomson MHR, who allegedly used Health Services Union funds for “escort services”. Many, if not most of Health Services Union workers are women who earn low wages. It is concerning that funds that should have been used to lobby for improved wages for them were instead apparently used for “luxuries” by Thomson, the ALP member for Dobell. It seems to me this is the real sexism - the contempt for the workers whose interests you are sup- posed to represent.

When it became apparent that Julia Gillard’s accusation of “misogyny” against Tony Abbott could not be sustained (see “The real misogyny, p. 3), enter Sue Butler, editor of the Macquarie Dictionary, who announced that the Dictionary would now include an additional meaning for mi- sogyny, i.e. “dislike or prejudice against women”.

The Wikipedia entry for the Macquarie Dictionary has this comment: “The Editor of Macquarie dictionary, Ms Sue Butler stated on 17th October 2012 that it will now vary the meaning of the word misogyny to suit the use of the word by Prime Minister Julia Gillard in an October 2012 parliamentary speech, showing that Australia has become an authoritarian politically correct society and fulfilling Orwell’s prophecies made in 1984”.

Which reminds me of Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass”:

“When I use a word”, Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master — that’s all.”

Julia Gillard and her Emily’s List MPs clearly intend to be masters or mistresses - of this debate, but I recall that Humpty Dumpty did eventually have a great fall.

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