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In Order to Eradicate the Toxic Boys Club in Parliament, We Must Push for More Female Leadership


The perpetual grip that men have held on institutionalised power is finally starting to waver with the arrival of trail blazers like Julia Gillard, Jacinda Ardern, Hillary Clinton, Lidia Thorpe and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (to name but a few) who stand for the betterment of women’s standing in society.

These women have contributed to the elimination of the notion of ambition being a dirty word.

We are on the precipice of an age where it is no longer accepted that men are better suited to positions of power.

We have acknowledged the fallacies we have been fed about ambitious women being a threat to the status quo.

Perhaps we are recognising that a threat to the status quo is exactly what is needed.

The image that speaks a thousand words - men in parliament ignoring a woman speaking. Source: Instagram / alexellinghausen

As the old adage goes – nothing changes if nothing changes.

The most powerful man in the country has publicly acknowledged that he has no insight into the lives of the one in five women who have experienced sexual assault, unless it is framed as how it affects him directly.

We have been shown in the past weeks, that even when these women are bold enough to speak their truth, against the most powerful people in the country, in the most intimidating of situations, there is little to no consequence.

Authoritative figures ambiguously shield themselves behind terms like “the rule of law” to justify their Teflon exterior when it comes to serious allegations.

If the leader of our country cannot acknowledge the very real pressure experienced by ambitious women to silence their mistreatment in order to protect prominent men - surely the time has come for us to reckon with the fact that women ascending to positions of power, does threaten the status quo.

Is that such a bad thing?

The status quo currently ignores the importance and bravery of speaking truth to power.

The status quo serves to maintain the stronghold of men in power and discount the legitimacy of women with the same goals.

It is only by disrupting the status quo that we can hope to break the circuit of protection surrounding such men which enables their repulsive behaviour to continue, unchecked.

Now is the time for women to be stepping to the forefront.

We have been shown in no uncertain terms, that the men in charge of decision making for women have a disconnect with their role in the challenges we face.

More women in power means more empathy for women everywhere.

That is not to say that we all need to agree, we are all complex and public policy is very nuanced depending on individual lived experience.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Source: ABC

We often hear people praise international counterparts, like Jacinda Ardern, and joke that “We need her to come and run our country.”

In truth, we don’t.

Australia is full to the brim of strong, driven, intelligent, capable women who would absolutely reflect all that we love about the iconic Ardern.

We need to find them, support them, enable them and vote them in.

We need to stop accepting mediocrity from people in power and shift our focus to promoting grass roots excellence.

The people, particularly women, in our communities getting their hands dirty and bettering the lives of those around them.

We don’t have to look far.

The feminist movement is constantly subjected to the rhetoric of - ‘Your message is important, but your delivery needs to be less aggressive if you want to get more men on board.’

If some men are threatened by the zealous action of people working to spread a message of equality, are these really the men we want running the country?

If men need constant assurance that the advancement of women is in fact, advancement of society as a whole – is that really where we want to be spending our time and energy?

What is the worst that could happen if we disregarded the fragility of these men?

If we instead, spent that mental and emotional labour emboldening the women around us to speak louder, demand to be heard, and advocate for issues that are important to them.

Bolstering women who dare to step forward can only serve to make it easier and more importantly, safer, for the women who will follow their lead.

Striving for a system where the prominence of the gender equality movement – all genders – is so brazen that it is no longer politically viable to turn a blind eye.

Surely then, the chorus would be so deafening that it can no longer be ignored.

We need to let go of the notion of being palatable in order to progress.

Maybe rather than having the courage to speak truth to power, we need to be inciting the audacity to scream it.

Feature Image: Wix

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