Affirmative action on behalf of women is a form of misandry. I know this comment will provoke shrieks of outrage from the sisterhood, and I am not sure what the current definition of misandry is in the Macquarie Dictionary. However, although Wikipedia defines misandry as the hatred or dislike of men or boys, I am confident the Macquarie Dictionary can define it down as "indifference to the plight of men and boys", which is the sense in which I am using the word.
I am increasingly irritated by pompous statements from some of Australia's top chief executives as headlined in The Australian (Business 28/11/12) "Call for targets to get women to the top". These executives include Grant O'Brien from Woolworths, Qantas boss Alan Joyce, Telstra's David Thodey and ANZ's Mike Smith, who have all called for more companies to set targets for promoting women into leadership positions.
What immediately struck me about their statement is that not only does the setting of a target compromise or completely bypass the principle of employment and promotion on merit, but none of these CEO's has offered to give up his own job in favour of a woman. It is some other hapless bloke down the line who will miss out on a job or a promotion to make these CEOs feel good and imagine they are contributing to the enlightenment of the universe.
These CEOs are part of a Group of 22 who have called for more action to improve the current situation where female executives account for less than ten percent of ranks (whatever "ranks" means) in our top 200 companies. I speculate that maybe that is why these companies are the top 200.... . The CEOs include ASX boss Elmer Funke Kupper, Commonwealth Bank chief Ian Narev, Citi Australia's Stephen Roberts and Goldman Sachs boss Simon Rothery. The group was set up in 2010 by Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick.
I notice the same curious feature also about these executives - none have volunteered to jump down their personal fiscal cliff and give up their position in favour of some woman. Dear reader, it is your father, husband or brother who will be "affirmed" out of that job or promotion to enable the target (read quota) for female CEO's to be reached. None of the Group of 22 seem to realise that when they discriminate against a man for employment or promotion by "affirming" a woman just because she is a woman, they also discriminate against that man's wife and family. Men are still the majority of primary breadwinners for families.
Well since Broderick wants to eliminate sex discrimination, I would draw her attention to another headline in The Australian, 29/11/12: "Women outnumber men all over the public service". What is our Sex Discrimination Commissioner doing about this disparity, especially when the article highlights that these women are drawing higher salaries than in the community sector and also have job security?
And what is Broderick doing about the fact that Australian men, on average, have a life expectancy of five years less than women have? And while we are on the subject of health, is Broderick aware that prostate cancer research gets about one-tenth of the government funding that breast cancer research gets, even though more men in Australia are dying of prostate cancer than women are dying from breast cancer?
Does Broderick know that the ratio of boys to girls needing special education is about four to one? Or that boys have a substantially lower success rate in the VCE/matriculation exams? Or that females outnumber males in our universities? Does Broderick care that there are far more men in our prisons than women, or that far more men die in accidents? That more men are victims of alcoholism or drug addiction than women?
The apparent indifference of the Sex Discrimination Commissioner and her "Group of 22" to the disadvantaged status of men is pure misandry. Strewth,(The Australian 28/11/12) reported that the ABC 's Lateline Business presenter, Ticky Fullerton, moderated a panel on "Women in Leadership", during which not only quotas for women were recommended but also "30 percent of directors with Asian experience". It was bliss to hear that she asked if boards were to comply "would it leave any room for people who know what they are doing?" Strewth reports that in the seconds that followed "you could have heard a flea drop its toothpick".
Quite - and why stop at women and Asian directors? Why not quotas for Indigenous people, the disabled and homosexuals? This is not to insult any of these groups, the majority of whom would prefer to be considered on their merits without the special treatment of affirmative action, targets or quotas. A cynical US professor once commented that a lesbian in a wheelchair need not study too hard - she would automatically qualify for an A+ in the exams.
It should be kept in mind that the USA which pioneered the theory and practice of affirmative action based on race and gender, is over 16 trillion dollars in debt and facing a real "fiscal cliff" and that its economic crisis commenced when banks were encouraged to offer "affirmative action" mortgages to minorities who did not have the means to cover the payments.
The cult of victimology eventually makes victims of all of us.
Babette Francis is co-ordinator of the Melbourne-based Endeavour Forum and the Australian representative of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer - www.abortionbreastcancer.com. She lived in India during the Partition
of the sub-continent into India and Pakistan, a historical event that she believes
was caused by the unwillingness of the Muslim leaders of that era to live in a