Are you a Real Australian? Not if you’re a woman.

10 Nov

Current poster boy for Real Australians, Barnaby Joyce


As I read this piece by Sean Kelly at The Monthly yesterday, titled Real Australians: The way we talk about our country needs to change, I became aware of an overwhelming, visceral sadness, a feeling not usually aroused in me by meditations on national identity.

It took a few moments to analyse what this feeling was about. And then I got it. There is no place in the current concept of the “Real Australian” for women. There is no place for me. For my mother. My sisters. My granddaughter, my daughter-in-law, the women I work with, eat lunch with, dance with, exercise with, chat with on social media.

In other words, there is no place in my country’s definition of its identity for me, or for any human with female genitals. Real Australians are men. Real Australian men may squabble amongst themselves about which of them actually are Real Australians, however, they aren’t squabbling amongst themselves about including women in the national identity.

Kelly’s piece examines the racially abusive verbal attack on Senator Sam Dastyari in a pub a couple of evenings ago. Dastyari described his feelings about the attack thus:

“It makes me feel small, makes me feel horrible, it makes you feel kind of terrible and that’s what they are designed to do.”

Dastyari is right: this is exactly what racially abusive attacks are designed to do to the recipient. Without in any way wishing to diminish the abhorrence of Dastyari’s experience, I would like to borrow his words to describe how I feel about being excluded from my country’s national identity. It makes me feel small, makes me feel horrible, it makes me feel kind of terrible, and that’s what it’s designed to do.

I say “that’s what it’s designed to do” because it’s no accident that women are not included in the fantasy of the Real Australian. It cannot possibly have escaped the notice of intelligent, thinking men that the concept is entirely masculine, and yet I have never heard any man point out its exclusionary nature in public discussion. Why not?

Denying us a seat at the national identity table is not entirely unconnected with the apparently entrenched male habit of murdering one of us every week. A stretch! And an offensive one at that! you might protest. However, if you have even limited knowledge of the processes of dehumanisation, you will be aware that refusal to acknowledge other humans as being of equal consequence as yourself, is the first step on the morally abject journey that can end in you killing them.

Women are appallingly abused in Australia, and nobody much cares to discuss it, and it is not a stretch to suggest that the exclusion of women from national identity is a significant contributor to a national perception that our lives aren’t as important, therefore the murderous harms done to us, usually in our homes, are likewise, not that important.

As you might have noticed, my overwhelming visceral sadness has overnight morphed into fury. What are women to Australia, that in 2017 we continue to be excluded from conversations about national identity, and what are men in Australia, that you continue to conduct such conversations as if the Real Australian is unquestionably male, and that is a universal truth?

I’m not usually interested in concepts of national identity, being more inclined to cosmopolitanism. However, in this instance, it’s like excluding family members from membership in the family.

It starts at the top. The people you exclude from the definition of your country’s identity are the people you dehumanise, by the very fact of your exclusion. It’s easier to discount us, abuse us and murder us, if we aren’t Real Australians.

Oh, I’m sorry. That escaped your attention?

57 Responses to “Are you a Real Australian? Not if you’re a woman.”

  1. shadowedmuses November 10, 2017 at 9:34 am #

    Strange, I notice a lot of layers like this but I have never thought about my Australian identity in this context…..and now I am experiencing visceral sadness morphing into fury too!
    You’re dead on.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Moz of Yarramulla November 10, 2017 at 9:48 am #

      My “Australian Identity” is that of a temporary economic migrant, and never more so than at times like this.

      I have citizenship, but of course that can be revoked at any time if the powers that be decide I’ve annoyed them too much. Legal Australian-ness is even more limited and nuanced than the cultural context but is no more easily subject to popular analysis because much of the lore is inaccessible.

      Actually, that’s a nasty thought: one of the problems with having MPs who are eligible for foreign citizenship is that that is the test the immigration minister uses to determine whether it’s acceptable to strip Australian citizenship from someone. I hope like hell we’ll never see it come to that, but having a government strip citizenship and deport opposition MPs is actually completely lawful and possible. We should change that law as well as the constitution.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Jennifer Wilson November 10, 2017 at 5:00 pm #

        Suddenly, Moz, all those things we thought could never happen seem possible.


  2. Moz of Yarramulla November 10, 2017 at 9:43 am #

    You and me both. As a lecturer in churnalism said on The Conversation the other day in a slightly different context “they end up excluding some of the voices in the country”. Yeah, the coloured people, the non-male ones, the non-rich ones, the non-straight ones, the disabled, the merely not-strong, the foreign-born, it goes on. Gee with a list of exclusions like that it’s amazing we have any actual Australians at all. But we forget, there are actual Australians… but they get excluded first, that’s why we call them the “first Australians”. {cries}.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. carolyncordon November 10, 2017 at 9:43 am #

    I am, you are, we are Australians, tit’s a great thing. Our country is made up of blokes & sheilas!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. misseagle November 10, 2017 at 11:29 am #

    I find it difficult when I see the carry on of Barnaby Joyce who seems to think that with a National Party membership card and a shady hat he is the very image of a real Australian. A lot of people are not going to identify with what I say next. That’s OK. I’ve lived in some cosmopolitan parts of Australia. But please bear with me as I explain my history – because I no longer recognise the country I live in. I am aged 70+ and I come from working to middle class stock. However, I am immersed in Australian history and literature and the stories (albeit whitefella stories) of the land. My family believes itself to be the only family in Australia descended from someone on The Endeavour. I am a descendant of John Gore, one of three Americans on The Endeavour with Cook. His son, also John Gore, came to Australia in the 1830s and settled near Braidwood in NSW. My great-grandmother who I knew as a child was born there. My grandparents and my great grandmother lived two houses apart and my great-grandmothers house was filled historic memorabilia now bequeathed to the National Museum of Australia. On the other side of the family tree, I was raised on the Australian poetry and literature in my grandparents home. Their bookshelves were a treasure chest for me. My grandmother loved Will Ogilvie. One of my aunts was a well-known Australian playwright of the 40s and 50s. This sort of background is not the background either of a Barnaby Joyce or a Sam Dastyari. I do enjoy the differences in our society – except for those like the Barnabys and the United Patriots. But, increasingly, I am a stranger in it.

    Liked by 6 people

    • Jennifer Wilson November 10, 2017 at 5:06 pm #

      miss eagle,though I’m not of your generation I think many of us have lived through comparatively easy times, between the end of WW2 and the present day.
      This apparently sudden turn towards fascism, led by a government I certainly haven’t seen the like of in my lifetime, has taken us all by unpleasant surprise.

      I don’t recognise this country anymore either, though whether that is because all this darkness has been repressed up till now, or because the darkness didn’t exist to this extent up till now, I can’t be sure.

      Liked by 3 people

    • carolyncordon November 12, 2017 at 11:44 am #

      We all have our own story, and it’s a shame that it’s seems to be only the blokey stories gain broad coverage … Women make up just over the population of Australia … You certainly have an interesting story indeed, thank you for telling us about it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Telene November 10, 2017 at 11:57 am #

    Oh this is so, so true Jennifer. All of the national identity in this country has been constructed around men.
    All of our cultural history has been been built around “blokes” and “mateship.”
    Try to track the family history of your female forebears and you’ll likely find only a name chiselled below her husband’s and marked “Wife of…” on a neglected old gravestone. On my family tree there is no mention of the women except by name… It’s as though they never existed and played no part in the history of this nation.
    I am bloody fed up with being a second-class citizen and being constantly silenced for even daring to raise the issue. Moz nails it in her comment about all of the voices that are constantly being shut down in this country.
    Personally, after final straws like the Marriage Equality hate-fest and the Manus situation I just feel shame associated with the notion of being “Australian.”
    We are being forced to identify with an out-dated, divisive stereotype that has no place in a modern society.
    Mad as hell and with you all the way!

    Liked by 5 people

    • Jennifer Wilson November 10, 2017 at 5:07 pm #

      Your last sentence encapsulates our problems, Telene.
      We’re engaged in a serious battle. We’ll win, but I don’t know at what cost.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. stefrozitis November 10, 2017 at 11:58 am #

    Yeah you are right. I was going to make a sarcastic comment but it’s too depressing to go there. Have to just agree with you 😦

    Liked by 2 people

  7. nadrojjjjj November 10, 2017 at 4:41 pm #

    Reblogged this on Women Peace-makers and commented:
    Yes, are women ANZACs?

    Liked by 2 people

  8. paul walter November 10, 2017 at 4:44 pm #

    Difficult to comment, but the tone has me sympathetic. I can readily identify with a sense of disempowerment and alienation as a bloke and am both relieved and sad that women feel it also.

    I tend to see these things through Marxist eyes, eg that the system alienates angers and divides its subjects. This appears to include women.

    The Culture Wars are about this exclusion.

    Conservatives, with their “pioneer” white armband history, tend to attempt to discredit race and ethnic, blue collar and women’s histories, all of which draw attention to factors ignored earlier, as invalid, that make things seem less “heroic” than Conservatives would think is necessary for patriotism.

    Nothing they love more than wedge, but truth must out, whether it be concerning aboriginal massacres, the hard time given migrants, a long history of violence against blue collar workers or some thing like this:

    Always remember this from uni, such a powerful poem.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jennifer Wilson November 10, 2017 at 5:10 pm #

      Yes, the system alienates and divides its subjects, no argument there PW.
      But I have yet to be convinced that Marxism actually gives a shit about equality for women.


      • paul walter November 10, 2017 at 10:48 pm #

        Marxism does give a shit, because Marx, Engels and others DID give a shit. They looked around their shitty world, did some very heavy duty thinking about WHY the world was the way it was and published the results.

        Tell me though, why do you think Marxism should only work for white empowered middle class women?

        I.m really enjoying the article you wrote about ten million women in the Yemen starving to DEATH (and roughly as many non (eg, male) people, rather than the more divisive and narcissistic stuff here.

        Liked by 1 person

      • doug quixote November 10, 2017 at 11:46 pm #

        What is certain is that no major religion gives a shit about equality for women. Islam is the worst case, where the only legitimate purpose women have is to birth sons.

        The RCs aren’t much better; all Mother Teresa wanted to do was harvest souls, as did Francis Xavier and thousands of lesser proselytsers.

        Liked by 1 person

        • paul walter November 11, 2017 at 1:12 am #

          Marx and co tried for something grounded in a conjectured materialist and monist reality.

          Religion was a diversion based on untested cliches, which is not say we can be sure of Marxist Epicurean metaphysics either, but they are more likely accurate than the superstitions, essentialisms and demonic or sanctified representations that condemn an entity as inherently good or evil devoid of rational justification..Black cats, negros, why, even men!

          Liked by 1 person

      • amd November 12, 2017 at 12:02 pm #

        You’re right. Any system designed by men does not give a shit for women. That is historically and unequivocally and undeniably true. We must re-write all of it and start again.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Don Macrae November 10, 2017 at 6:24 pm #

    The Australian character seems to me quite an amorphous thing. It’s often said that we’re larrikins – but it appeared that Paul Keating was a bit too larrikin for us. Patting the Queen on the bum seems to be a no no. In business we’re a nation of branch offices. We couldn’t even charge the multi-national resource companies for the loot the dug up because they spent a few million of our dollars telling us they had to have it for nothing. In National Security we are so anxious we are ‘joined at the hip’ to our barking mad great and powerful friend. I read once that the beetroot was popular because it represented the two things that Australian men liked doing to their women. That joke is from a slightly earlier time, but it probably still says something. I’m Australian, and I’m certain that the High Court would so hold, but I’m not aware of any path that would lead to me being a real Australian. Is it a chimera, as in ‘A thing which is hoped for but is illusory or impossible to achieve’? I’m sure it’s not Barnaby Joyce: what are we, a cartoon? And I certainly hope it’s not the dickheads who abused Sam Dastyari. Just the same, I liked this article. If we’re going to have a conversation about something silly let’s have it gender-balanced.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. doug quixote November 10, 2017 at 6:51 pm #

    I think you are being a little hypersensitive, Guinevere.

    Barnaby Joyce is not my idea of an Australian, archetype or not. He is a fool, with but slender knowledge of himself – much less anything else. He may be affecting ockerism for his own political purposes; if so he is more clever than I give him credit for.

    Women, believe it or not, are Australians. In fact, over 50% of Australians.

    And Jenny Talia is a friend of mine. Leave her alone 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dejan November 10, 2017 at 8:22 pm #

      Hm, this wasn’t about Australians, but REAL Australians…

      Liked by 1 person

      • doug quixote November 10, 2017 at 9:45 pm #

        What is your point?


        • Dejan November 11, 2017 at 11:20 am #

          The distinction is only the essence of Jennifer’s thesis. Of course that every Australian citizen is Australian. But not every one is *quintessentially* Australian or “Real Australian”. Not if you’re a woman (or if your name happens to be like mine or Dastyari’s. Not even if you’re Aboriginal, which would be funny if it weren’t).

          Liked by 1 person

          • doug quixote November 12, 2017 at 2:17 pm #

            I don’t think it is at all useful to beat yourself up over not conforming to a stereotype or a norm.

            What one is cannot be changed; but how you regard yourself can be.


            • paul walter November 12, 2017 at 10:41 pm #

              Good try, dq,

              The illogic and mulishness is only exceeded by the malice.

              Welcome to Psychosis Central.

              The paranoia is suffocating..must leave.


    • amd November 12, 2017 at 12:06 pm #

      Please try not to be such a hysterical snowflake, it just doesn’t help when men act so touchy and sensitive and over emotional over facts.

      So, as the author pointed out women are deliberately excluded from being described as real Australians, you are aware of that as is everybody else, and we will now set about fixing that gross inequality.

      No need to reply, you have nothing to add and I don’t need to say anything else Goodbye.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Jennifer Meyer-Smith November 10, 2017 at 7:00 pm #

    Including women in the national image, starts with the language we use.

    Non-gender inclusive language, even in the most innocent circumstances, should never be tolerated and should be called out.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. doug quixote November 12, 2017 at 2:20 pm #

    Let’s put it this way: do you want to be Barnaby Joyce??

    (Hint: probably not)


    Liked by 1 person

  13. paul walter November 12, 2017 at 10:53 pm #

    Things is, this stuff proliferating is actually the result of genuine frauds like George Brandis dumbing down msm to the extent that all msm has left to fixate upon is sex.

    People have forgotten about twenty million GENUINELY suffering people in the world’s biggest famine, in Yemen and twenty million more round the Horn (whoops) of Africa as real world stories as news is replaced by Hollywood soap generating anxieties that further reinforce the grip the Elite has on the minds of anxious people and politics.

    There IS a problem re culture and women? Probably. But is it deserving of so much MORE attention than the suffering slow deaths of the starving millions?

    Why is sex now the issues rather than Third World suffering?

    Because it is DIVISIVE.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. paul walter November 13, 2017 at 4:45 am #

    Here is a good example of real stuff that goes begging. The country is becoming so illiterate that few would understand it even if they read it.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Moz of Yarramulla November 13, 2017 at 1:54 pm #

    Good points made about Australia, but that “think refugees, don’t buy Australian” campaign is tricky but could be interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • paul walter November 13, 2017 at 3:48 pm #

      They seem to have a tin-ear knack of making themselves and their causes difficult for the hoi-poloi. .

      Its a bit like the Greens trying to force Labor on the dual citizenship thing when we need RID of the LNP government and an election as soon as possible.

      Liked by 1 person

      • paul walter November 13, 2017 at 3:57 pm #

        Except for one thing. I see Antony Loewenstein is calling for it and I respect his judgement..the name Dutton comes to mind.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Moz of Yarramulla November 13, 2017 at 5:48 pm #

        You mean The Greens asking that the ALP also obey the rules they’re so keen for everyone else to obey? I’m not sure I see how that hurts anyone except the most blind ALP supporters. Doing it now greatly reduces the chances that after an ALP win we’d have to do it all again after the attention you fear was focused on the new ALP government by the new opposition. This is a very short version of “long term thinking” paul.

        Personally I would no more vote ALP than ALP… the “L”‘s for Liberal and Labour in whatever order you prefer. They’re both deep brown, hard right parties who implement policies that are merely misguided as well as some actively evil ones. But all in the name of immediate party advantage, to the enthusiastic support of big chunks of Australia.

        Liked by 1 person

        • paul walter November 13, 2017 at 10:47 pm #

          First things first.

          If the Greens stuff up the opportunity to be rid of the Tory government,my vote switches to the ALP immediately, venal and werby though the ALP palpably be.

          The Tories have been beyond disruptive, special problems require special solutions.


          • Jennifer Meyer-Smith November 14, 2017 at 8:35 am #

            Bottom line, I agree with you, paul walter.

            Most important imperative is to get rid of this hateful, destructive LNP regime.

            But we must vote with caution against blindly thinking Labor will be the white knights we would want them to be.

            They must be forced to face their wrongs and weaknesses which aren’t hard to find in the policy platforms and lack of advocacy for impoverished Aussie Newstart recipients, other struggling welfare recipients, asylum seekers, detainees in those shameful gulags, lack of prompt action against Adani, slow action against filthy coal mining full stop, MMT economic knowledge of economy, etc, etc, etc.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Jennifer Meyer-Smith November 14, 2017 at 8:37 am #

              … slow action to incorporate MMT economic wisdom in all their economic calculations for all their policies (hence harsh approach to Newstart for example).


          • Moz of Yarramulla November 14, 2017 at 11:24 am #

            I think the more people say “ALP, right or wrong” the less likely we are to end up with a useful ALP government. We have to hold the buggers to account or they’ll just keep building uranium mines in world heritage areas, building concentration camps and compromising with the Liberals rather than building coalitions with decent people.

            We saw that with Kevin’s “BAU, now with more subsidies” greenhouse gas scam. With the side benefit of destroying the environmental value of the small-scale renewable market (RECS).

            Yes, they need the votes of the mass of middle Australia, the “what have future generations ever done for me” Aussie arseholes. But they have a choice – build coalitions with the green and left parts of Australia, or burn those groups off and move further right and brown in the hope of picking up enough chequebook votes to make up for it.

            Asking the green vote to choose Labour in that situation is unreasonable. Labour did that in NZ for a decade and spent their time in opposition. That changed recently and the difference to policy is dramatic… and welcome to most kiwis. Would you rather have that here, or more of the “slightly less death and abuse than the Liberals” stuff?

            Liked by 2 people

            • doug quixote November 15, 2017 at 9:07 am #

              There is only one chance for medium term changes to all your favourite hobby horses. Get rid of this Looters & Nutters Party government.

              Labor isn’t perfect or even close to it, but they are better than the LNP simply because they have the better world view at their core.

              Liked by 1 person

              • Moz of Yarramulla November 15, 2017 at 11:09 am #

                Simply saying you disagree isn’t enough. *why* do you think electing the current bunch of right wing browns in the ALP will help? What makes you think they will change after they’re elected if they won’t change before?

                Liked by 1 person

                • doug quixote November 15, 2017 at 2:18 pm #

                  There are two parties of government. The one with their trotters in the trough now, and another that would like to do so.

                  No answer to “why” that anyone could proffer would persuade you. But the simple answer is that what you want is not happening now and the incumbents won’t change one iota.

                  A change of government may change things for the better.

                  Liked by 1 person

  16. paul walter November 15, 2017 at 12:04 am #

    I agree with both of you. I have no stomach for the ALP and that demonstrates how intense the turn off as to the LNP is.

    Sad watching Lambie go. She did a terrible thing as to Yassmin Abdel Magied, who ended up leaving our country- karma for Jacquie?- but at least she spoke from the guts and quite often rightly on many issues, to the core. Whatever else could be said of her you couldn’t fault that simple and home-spun patriotism.


    • paul walter November 15, 2017 at 4:20 am #

      The real shame Abdel Magied showed was just how brainwashed so many aussies are.

      I still think that she has time on her side compared to a dinosaur like Hanson. Half the reason she was fingered was because she was calling out Turnbull too often..she was learning.


  17. doug quixote November 15, 2017 at 9:32 am #

    Speaking of women and stereotypes, one woman I admire is now seeking her way into Federal politics.

    Kristina Keneally is following a grand plan, as I see it. Back in 2011 State Labor in NSW would have lost even if a Justin Trudeau clone had been recently made Premier. Their number was up and should have been up 4 years before if the State Libs weren’t so incompetent.

    But your humble narrator mapped out a career path for Keneally in about 2011: a Federal seat by 2019, a senior ministry by 2021 and PM by 2025, I think it went.

    She may not win Bennelong but it will be a good trial run for a preselection into a safe seat in 2018/19, at the least.

    Go girl.


    • paul walter November 15, 2017 at 2:45 pm #

      Yes. You have to feel buoyed by the announcement. “Its Time” factor kicks in.

      Timing is excellent.


  18. drsusancalvin November 15, 2017 at 3:26 pm #

    We had the best of it. Waiting to die.


    • paul walter November 15, 2017 at 6:52 pm #

      Yes, drsusan. There is a knack to that. In my case,”will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64″, has a literal meaning and whoodda thunk it would all shift by so quickly.

      So, it is a retreat from Moscow. Is it done in a well ordered manner or does Lethe overtake and a person falls into the non world of the uncaring unconscious?

      “(inner) Space; the last Frontier” Kirk might say…


      • doug quixote November 15, 2017 at 10:59 pm #

        A good wine reaches its peak at some particular time; but it takes a much longer time to turn into vinegar.

        To change the metaphor, gather ye rosebuds while ye may.

        Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
        Old Time is still a-flying;
        And this same flower that smiles today
        To-morrow will be dying.

        The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
        The higher he’s a-getting,
        The sooner will his race be run,
        And nearer he’s to setting.

        That age is best which is the first,
        When youth and blood are warmer;
        But being spent, the worse, and worst
        Times still succeed the former.

        Then be not coy, but use your time,
        And, while ye may, go marry:
        For having lost but once your prime,
        You may forever tarry.



        • paul walter November 16, 2017 at 12:25 am #


          Liked by 1 person

          • doug quixote November 17, 2017 at 10:02 pm #

            Philistine 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

            • paul walter November 18, 2017 at 12:53 am #

              Look, its not that. I’m just puzzled as to its relevance in the twenty first century in Australia of all places.

              Liked by 1 person

              • doug quixote November 18, 2017 at 6:23 am #

                Art for art’s sake, Paul.

                But it seemed apposite to your reply to Dr Susan. I hope her mood has improved,

                Liked by 1 person

                • paul walter November 18, 2017 at 10:55 pm #

                  God, they are ALL after me.

                  I am curmudgeonly; I will at the least seek my consolation, in this desolate place.

                  On a different subject, have you observed the paucity of reportage on the upcoming Qld elections…no polls, no real analysis.

                  Why IS this so?

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • doug quixote November 19, 2017 at 9:21 am #

                    Peculiar enough. Galaxy and Newspoll show Labor is likely to increase its majority; Reachtel continues to underestimate Labor’s vote as it has for years. Palaszczuk (aren’t you glad its not a spelling contest) seems to have been a steady and sensible premier.

                    Don’t fret the result. 🙂


                    • paul walter November 20, 2017 at 6:52 am #

                      Yes, has been deliberately murky for reasons I can only speculate upon. The press are avoiding it like the plague, a sure sign something is up.

                      I agree Palaszczuk has been less draconian than Cando and Nicholls is shuddersome, but gee, there is the gaping hole to do with Adani, unless it shows how debilitated state governments are when it comes to dealing with Canberra and with huge offshore interests.

                      By the way, belated return to the original groundings of the thread, via this:




  1. Are you a Real Australian? Not if you’re a woman. — No Place For Sheep – Smriti Freelancer - November 28, 2017

    […] via Are you a Real Australian? Not if you’re a woman. — No Place For Sheep […]

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