The Dawn Chorus

Fresh Australian Feminism

What the housewives of Australia need to understand…

Posted by caitlinate on February 8, 2010

What the housewives of Australia need to understand as they do the ironing is that if they get it done commercially it’s going to go up in price and their own power bills when they switch the iron on are going to go up, every year….

Or so said Tony Abbott today.

Because the only people that do ironing are housewives. In case you aren’t down with the lingo: woman housewife to Tony Abbott means someone who should be patronised and deeply condescended to. Apparently, women housewives are the disinterested and dim members of our wider society, best appealed to using only small words and simple examples they can personally relate to. Women Housewives don’t know or care about anything to do with climate change. All they care about is the tiny realm of household tasks they exist within (because you can be sure he thinks it’s a tiny realm). Lucky that the Mad Monk is here to inform women housewives about the really key and pressing issues of the day! Cos, you know, women housewives don’t need or want to understand anything about polar ice caps melting, rising sea levels, the increased risk of drought, fire and floods posed by global warming, the way changing ecosystems threaten the survival of wildlife, or the effects of this on the (indigenous) people living in the pacific region. Shit, all that information might explode the tiny, tiny brains of women housewives.

Nor does Tony Abbott believe that housewives would be interested in questioning the validity of the Rudd government’s ETS scheme because it does little to secure investment in alternative or renewable energies (and thus, our futures) or because it clings deludedly to the idea of ‘clean coal’. Nope, they only care about their fucking ironing.


20 Responses to “What the housewives of Australia need to understand…”

  1. Xana said

    Hilarious and informative article Caitlin. 🙂 I always enjoy your posts.

  2. Erin said

    Just when you think Tony Abbott couldn’t possibly be more misogynistic and patronising to women he comes out with that. I am really aghast that this man is being taken seriously and being approved of. Aghast and terrified.

    Hilarious yes, but his voice in the media is a huge leap backward for the position of women. What’s worse is some people seem to agree or at least not find him offensive enough to not potentially vote for Libs with him as leader.

    Surely he must be doing it on purpose? He’s well aware of his “problem with women” and he doesn’t seem to be doing anything to allay that perception.

    • Xana said

      Just clarifying, by “Hilarious” I was referring to the dry, ironic flavour of Caitlins writing. I was not suggesting that the impact of Abbots voice in the media should be taken lightly. I agree that that he may be very damaging to the plight of minorities.

  3. Fatadelic said

    Erin, he has to be appealing to a particular demographic – it makes no sense otherwise. All I a can say, is AAAAARRRRGGGG!

  4. The Armitage said

    “Hmmmm I wonder how large the carbon footprint of mens Van Huesen non iron shirt is? I must look into this as my husband appriciates a thrifty approach to the household budget almost as much as he likes to self starch his collar with extramatial lipstick”

    Perhaps we should just corden off the Manly penninsula and give him is own little autonomous quasi state.

    My 77yr old grandmother never even ironed my grandfathers shirts. I hope Barnaby Joyce takes him down from the inside, that guy is about as embarrassing as a Bogan Burlosconi.

  5. Wow. He really does write his own satire, doesn’t he?

  6. Annarose said

    “Perhaps we should just corden off the Manly penninsula and give him is own little autonomous quasi state.”



    -Annarose, Manly

  7. kirsty said

    From the Sydney Morning Herald:

    “Mr Abbott later changed his tune, referring to housewives and househusbands doing the ironing.

    He said people were being “hypersensitive”, before acknowledging ironing was not just a woman’s domain.

    “But I think in many households it is still much more common to see the woman of the house with an iron in her hand,” he told Macquarie Radio Network.

    Mr Abbott said that was the way it worked in his house, as his wife Margie wanted him to look neat and he probably would not do it otherwise.

    But that was beside the point.

    “The big issue here ….. etc”

    Um – ‘my wife does my ironing, because it’s the kind of thing that wives about, while I would just get on with life…’
    You’re a politician who wouldn’t bother to iron your clothes?
    Yes, that’s a convinving explanation.

    However Abbott’s own family and relationship work is his own business. But if you’re the leader of the opposition and it hasn’t occurred to you that many people have very different kinds of families and relationships – and that even within families of a mum, a dad and kids, many people don’t – and don’t want to – follow traditional gender roles….

    This kind of thinking really does influence policy, and that really is a problem.

    • caitlinate said

      I think you’re just being hypersensitive. But then, we women are prone to that.

      It never ceases to amaze me how infrequently politicians are able to think outside the box of what they know and have experienced.

      • kirsty said

        But it’s that hypersensitivity – fussy, feminine attention to detail – that makes me care about ironing – more than any fellow I’ve ever dated.

  8. The Armitage said


    Its ok you can just hop on a leaky sydney ferry I am sure Krudd would set up a really nice detention centre on Goat Island for the women of the pennisula.

  9. rayedish said

    Nice smackdown, Caitinate. But I’m glad Tony Abbott is being so honest, every week he gives us a new reason not to vote for his party.

  10. Nic Heath said

    Surely comments like that are contrived?! I can’t believe that in these days, when politicians are micro-media managed, the Leader of the Opposition can be so clumsy and frame arguments in such outdated terms. Not that ‘working families’ is particularly innovative, but housewives? Doing the ironing?

  11. MarianK said

    The other issue here, apart from the obvious sexism, is that Abbott is inadvertently acknowledging the huge opportunity cost of homemaker labour.

    As the homemaker is performing services for others for free, that have a much higher price if done commercially, then s/he is contributing to the economy. We’ve been completely conditioned as a society to believe that homemaker labour is of no national economic benefit. Yet it’s estimated that unpaid labour (homemaker and volunteer) equals roughly 60% of the Gross Domestic Product.

    The homemaker is never factored into any economic growth indicators. In this sense, homemakers actually perform a huge unpaid economic function that in every other context would be classed as slave labour.

  12. Catherine said

    tony abbott is the devil.

    the toxic waste that comes out of his mouth should be just as offensive to men as it is to women. I can’t believe anyone would consider voting for him.

    good article, and great comments too.

  13. shirl said

    I sort of think Abbott’s a blessing on account of he’s too fuck-stickedly conservative for even a lot of regular liberal voters to vote for.

  14. Linda Radfem said

    Good call, MarianK!

  15. Apart from how offensive he is – um, what he said is – it doesn’t even make sense. “What the housewives of Australia need to understand as they do the ironing is that if they get it done commercially…” – how are the housewives doing the ironing AND getting it done commercially?

  16. […] still do racist/ableist/sexist […]

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