JOANNE McCARTHY: It’s a woman’s world


Summary

THIS is what it feels like…
Nanjing Night Net

The new Prime Minister faced the media, her Cabinet members smiling in rows behind her. Their smart business suits presented a reassuring backdrop. The pearls, the polished heels, the glint of diamonds on earlobes sent a message – we’re women and we’re born to rule.

The PM beamed. After three years of turmoil under a, frankly, disastrous experiment with the country’s first male PM, things were back on track – a woman at the helm, flanked by women.

The PM addressed the media like a headmistress calling her charges into line. Journalists tried to ruffle the calm.

‘‘Prime Minister, how can you say your government speaks for all Australians and you’ve overcome your ‘man problem’, when 18 of your 19 ministers are women?’’ asked a TV journalist whose question was met with a ripple of laughter from the ministers’ ranks.

‘‘Now, now, Jason,’’ said the PM.

‘‘You know I love men. My father is a man. My husband is a man. My sons are stunning examples of manhood, or they will be when they find the right girls, get married, leave home and procreate. So really, Jason, aren’t you being a bit of a hairy-armpitted men’s libber about this?

‘‘It’s not the quantity of men in my Cabinet that matters, but the quality, which is why Cecil Priestley is Minister for Home Affairs. He’s perfectly capable of giving us a man’s point of view, if we ask for it. Plus you’re forgetting that I, personally, am going to be spokeswoman for men.’’

‘‘But you’re a woman,’’ said Jason.

‘‘All the more reason why I should be men’s spokeswoman,’’ said the PM. ‘‘I can be objective about it whereas a spokesman for men would get all emotional.’’

The PM caught a female journalist’s eye, but Jason had another question.

‘‘How did you select your Cabinet?’’

The Cabinet members giggled.

‘‘Nothing like a cranky men’s libber to put some pep in your day,’’ whispered the Attorney-General to the Minister for Ports, Roads and Odds and Sods.

‘‘Well, Jason, if you’re suggesting sex has anything to do with it, you’re wrong. Ministers are selected on merit, so it’s of course a disappointment that the boys just don’t stack up, but they’re close.

‘‘Heavens, a couple of them serve us afternoon tea, so they’re in the Cabinet room, at least until they clear the cups away. And we all say the newly-elected Member for Bulldust, Bob Farmer, will graduate from scones to a junior ministry some day. It’s just that there’s a few gals ahead of him with more experience.’’

The PM turned to the female journalist again, but Jason wasn’t finished.

‘‘I thought you said it was on merit?’’ he yelled.

‘‘Well, yes, merit, but you can’t just walk in as a new member of parliament and take a seat in Cabinet,’’ the PM said.

‘‘What about Beryl Smith-Brown, straight into Finance? Hasn’t she done that?’’ yelled Jason.

The PM’s eyebrows knitted ever so slightly.

‘‘Now, Jason, you seem to have a personal agenda here. Like I said the other day to our candidate in Woop Woop, ‘You’re going places little fella, because you’ve got sex appeal’. He won’t ever make it into Cabinet, of course, but a little eye candy in parliament can’t be all bad.

‘‘So, um, men are wonderful and I’m sure some day they’ll have what it takes to lead, but who wants to get caught up in that hairy old chestnut when it’s such a lovely day?’’

A week later the PM hosted the Australian Religious Leaders Conference. Up for discussion: the thorny issue of allowing men into the priesthood.

At a media briefing, religious leaders explained why, after prayer meetings and brainstorming sessions, theatre sports and earnest debate, the conference concluded that the status quo would remain – only women should head churches.

‘‘Why?’’ asked Brandon the journalist, and a silence fell.

‘‘It says so in the Good Book,’’ said Bishop Janet Straightback.

‘‘The Good Book also says we should stone fortune tellers to death, keep slaves and slaughter sons for their fathers’ guilt,’’ said Brandon.

The church leaders rose and shuffled off the stage, their high heels clacking on the timber floor.

A week later the PM’s six brothers were interviewed at the Australian Business Leaders annual conference, where organisers dealt with the shortage of male business leaders by dispersing them evenly across the room – one male for every nine females at each table.

The PM’s brothers were asked about their childhood and their famous sister.

‘‘She was a great sister, a wonderful role model,’’ said the PM’s brother Frank.

‘‘Mum and Dad always said she was destined to become Pope or Prime Minister. It used to bother me when we were young, why they never said that kind of thing to us boys, only to the girl of the family, but they were right, of course. She was born to lead.’’


THIS is what it feels like…
Nanjing Night Net

The new Prime Minister faced the media, her Cabinet members smiling in rows behind her. Their smart business suits presented a reassuring backdrop. The pearls, the polished heels, the glint of diamonds on earlobes sent a message – we’re women and we’re born to rule.

The PM beamed. After three years of turmoil under a, frankly, disastrous experiment with the country’s first male PM, things were back on track – a woman at the helm, flanked by women.

The PM addressed the media like a headmistress calling her charges into line. Journalists tried to ruffle the calm.

‘‘Prime Minister, how can you say your government speaks for all Australians and you’ve overcome your ‘man problem’, when 18 of your 19 ministers are women?’’ asked a TV journalist whose question was met with a ripple of laughter from the ministers’ ranks.

‘‘Now, now, Jason,’’ said the PM.

‘‘You know I love men. My father is a man. My husband is a man. My sons are stunning examples of manhood, or they will be when they find the right girls, get married, leave home and procreate. So really, Jason, aren’t you being a bit of a hairy-armpitted men’s libber about this?

‘‘It’s not the quantity of men in my Cabinet that matters, but the quality, which is why Cecil Priestley is Minister for Home Affairs. He’s perfectly capable of giving us a man’s point of view, if we ask for it. Plus you’re forgetting that I, personally, am going to be spokeswoman for men.’’

‘‘But you’re a woman,’’ said Jason.

‘‘All the more reason why I should be men’s spokeswoman,’’ said the PM. ‘‘I can be objective about it whereas a spokesman for men would get all emotional.’’

The PM caught a female journalist’s eye, but Jason had another question.

‘‘How did you select your Cabinet?’’

The Cabinet members giggled.

‘‘Nothing like a cranky men’s libber to put some pep in your day,’’ whispered the Attorney-General to the Minister for Ports, Roads and Odds and Sods.

‘‘Well, Jason, if you’re suggesting sex has anything to do with it, you’re wrong. Ministers are selected on merit, so it’s of course a disappointment that the boys just don’t stack up, but they’re close.

‘‘Heavens, a couple of them serve us afternoon tea, so they’re in the Cabinet room, at least until they clear the cups away. And we all say the newly-elected Member for Bulldust, Bob Farmer, will graduate from scones to a junior ministry some day. It’s just that there’s a few gals ahead of him with more experience.’’

The PM turned to the female journalist again, but Jason wasn’t finished.

‘‘I thought you said it was on merit?’’ he yelled.

‘‘Well, yes, merit, but you can’t just walk in as a new member of parliament and take a seat in Cabinet,’’ the PM said.

‘‘What about Beryl Smith-Brown, straight into Finance? Hasn’t she done that?’’ yelled Jason.

The PM’s eyebrows knitted ever so slightly.

‘‘Now, Jason, you seem to have a personal agenda here. Like I said the other day to our candidate in Woop Woop, ‘You’re going places little fella, because you’ve got sex appeal’. He won’t ever make it into Cabinet, of course, but a little eye candy in parliament can’t be all bad.

‘‘So, um, men are wonderful and I’m sure some day they’ll have what it takes to lead, but who wants to get caught up in that hairy old chestnut when it’s such a lovely day?’’

A week later the PM hosted the Australian Religious Leaders Conference. Up for discussion: the thorny issue of allowing men into the priesthood.

At a media briefing, religious leaders explained why, after prayer meetings and brainstorming sessions, theatre sports and earnest debate, the conference concluded that the status quo would remain – only women should head churches.

‘‘Why?’’ asked Brandon the journalist, and a silence fell.

‘‘It says so in the Good Book,’’ said Bishop Janet Straightback.

‘‘The Good Book also says we should stone fortune tellers to death, keep slaves and slaughter sons for their fathers’ guilt,’’ said Brandon.

The church leaders rose and shuffled off the stage, their high heels clacking on the timber floor.

A week later the PM’s six brothers were interviewed at the Australian Business Leaders annual conference, where organisers dealt with the shortage of male business leaders by dispersing them evenly across the room – one male for every nine females at each table.

The PM’s brothers were asked about their childhood and their famous sister.

‘‘She was a great sister, a wonderful role model,’’ said the PM’s brother Frank.

‘‘Mum and Dad always said she was destined to become Pope or Prime Minister. It used to bother me when we were young, why they never said that kind of thing to us boys, only to the girl of the family, but they were right, of course. She was born to lead.’’