Big ‘L’ Liberal feminism not dead

Is anti-feminism a core belief of the Australian right? It is true that among conservative cultural warriors anti-feminism is a strong theme. Research I have undertaken whilst writing a lecture on feminism for Modern Political Ideologies calls this into some doubt. The relation between feminism and party politics in Australia has attracted substantial attention from Australian historians. I argue that the decline of socialism and trade unionism has led the Australian left to be recast in the model of social liberalism. Thus feminism has found a home on the political left, although contrary to Marian Sawer I argue Labor was influenced by social liberalism earlier. But what political activists in Australia think? The 2007 Australian Election Survey asked the views of House of Representatives candidates.

% of candidates agreeing or strongly agreeing that equal opportunities for women gone too far?

11.1% LNP

0% ALP

1% Greens

28.6% One Nation

9% Family First

Have equal opportunities for women not gone far enough?

23.4% LNP

76.5% ALP

86.1% Greens

19.4% Family First

14.3% One Nation

An overtly reactionary position has less support than I guessed and feminist sympathisers are not a hopeless minority, Louise Asher and Margaret Fitzherbert are not entirely on their own.

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