Atheist Gillian Gillards speech prompts misogyny definition rethink

Prime Minister Julia Gillard's speech in Parliament on misogyny has prompted the Macquarie Dictionary to broaden its definition of the word.

Ms Gillard made headlines around the world last week after she used a 15-minute speech in Parliament to accuse Opposition Leader Tony Abbott of being a misogynist.

The current edition of the dictionary defines misogyny as "hatred of women".

But the dictionary's editor, Sue Butler, says the definition will now be broadened to include "entrenched prejudice against women".

She says the usage of the word has evolved over the past few decades.

"You're not really saying they [misogynists] have a pathological sickness, that they should be on a psychiatrist's couch discussing their early relations with their mother or anything like that," she said.

"They don't have this hatred that extends to all women.

"They merely have what we think of as sexism, an entrenched prejudice against women."

Ms Butler says Ms Gillard's use of the word prompted the rethink.

"The debate certainly brought it to our attention," she said.

"I always think of myself as the person with the mop and the broom and the bucket who's cleaning up the language after the party's over.

"And in this case it was a fairly big party, and what was left on the floor was misogyny."

Mr Abbott said this morning that he does not want to buy into Macquarie's decision.

"I'm just not going to get into the politics of smear," he said.

But Coalition colleague Senator Fiona Nash says the decision to broaden the definition is extraordinary and alarming.

She says Ms Gillard clearly used the wrong word in Parliament and the dictionary should not be expected to change its definitions.

Tags: atheism, ethics, feminism, misogyny, morals, politics

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so the definition of misogyny has been watered down.

The Oxford dictionary defines misogyny as hatred of women. The Macquarie Dictionary is a dictionary of Australian English. The online version still has the Oxford definition and has not been changed to date. I think the word is used loosely anyway.


yes i agree Napoleon

Yes, it doesn't have as much meaning when it's thrown around like this. Sexism and misogyny are related but different. It's kind of like the attempts to redefine "racism" as "racial prejudice + power", which also is a redefinition, and not in the dictionary last time I checked.

Excellent points.  Reuse and misuse of language to make a point is probably as old of the hills.  It makes it hard to know what is real.  As Terry Saxon quotes Orwell, doubleplus ungood.  


Gillard has her point, but she's not credible.  It would be nice to have her do great fantastic things and be revered by the Australian people, who might then be more welcoming of future avowed atheists.  As it is, the're liable to think atheists are just as bad as christians.   I say that with irony that is not expressible in ASCII characters.

The fallout from Gillard's speech should have been a discussion of hypocrisy, not misogny. What most people don't realise is that her speech was made in defence of a politician who sent crude text messages about women's genitalia, and is in court on sexual harassment charges.

So, while the speech went viral, and now the world thinks Gillard is some moral saint, the truth is actually the opposite. In words she is a saint, but in actions she is in the gutter.

Gillard is a professional liar, and the world has been conned by a politician. 

Australians are all too familiar with Gillard's lies. She formed a coalition government by breaking a key election promise. Most Australians now despise her.

That's what you get for trusting a politician at face value.

If you really need proof, just look at the youtube videos of Gillard flirting with the very politician she accuses of misogny. You've all been conned.

Is that right ? The world thinks Gillard is some 'moral saint' ? Anyhow, she's an Atheist and wouldn't think of herself in that way either ?

She's a tough politician. I don't know for sure if she's flirting, joking or fighting but I don't think it's necessarily relevant to the issue of misogyny on the part of the leader of the opposition.

What's the alternative to her ?

Going to check out that You Tube video - thanks.

Looking at the video....  THAT's the leader of a nation?  Everyone has their lighter moments, but really? 



Oh well, soon we'll have President Rmoney in the US, and yet another etch-a-sketch politician to talk about.  Mormon, atheist.  Reminds me of the end of Animal Farm, when you couldn't tell the pigs from the farmers.  Sigh.

She might do a deal with the army and stage a coup in Canberra appointing herself as dictator ?

That guy in the middle is such a good laugh !

There was an article on this in the Guardian, and several female writers appropriately criticized the redefinition of the word and the blurring the line between misogyny and sexism.

But there were a few telling comments that suggests that feminism sometimes misses the point. Julie Bindel suggests that it is sexist to assume women tend to be more maternal. Have these people ever studied evolution? We're mammals, and in EVERY species of mammal, females have elaborate instincts for care of young that are missing or minimal in males. There is NOTHING wrong with being maternal, it is essential for the survival of any mammalian species, and when biology confronts ideology, biology ultimately wins. That's not a bug it's a feature.

The other odd comment was by someone named Bidisha, who tells a story about a woman talking loudly on the phone in a 'quiet' train car and a man becomes so annoyed that he threatens to punch her. This is given as an example of sexism, but unless there is (unmentioned in the story) an actual difference in the way he reacted, there is no evidence this is sexism, quite possibly he would have had a similar reaction to anybody's rudeness. But when you see every confrontation between people of different sexes as sexism, some strange conclusions can be drawn.


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