Why Are Our Leaders So Afraid Of The 'F' Word?

And leaving Turnbull in the lurch.

07/06/2016 9:14 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:53 PM AEST
On Monday Turnbull announced he is a feminist, but his female MPs step away from the word.

He raised the number of women in cabinet from a dismal one to six, so was it surprising when Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull labelled himself a feminist on Monday? Not really.

But was it a bold move? Yes.

You might be wondering why, but when half of the six women he brought onto the frontbench don't identify with the 'F' word, therein lies your answer.

Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop launched a 'Women in Media' event in 2014 by announcing she was not a feminist, deeming it "not a term that I find particularly useful these days".

"It's not because I have some sort of pathological dislike of the term. I just don't use it... It's not part of my lexicon," Bishop told the room at the National Press Club in Canberra, preferring to just get on with the job.

Fairfax: Andrew Meares
Julie Bishop and Kelly O'Dwyer have an moment with O'Dwyer's daughter, Olivia, as Turnbull's cabinet is sworn in.
Earlier this year, Michaelia Cash -- who Turnbull appointed Minister for Women -- would not label herself a feminist on Q&A despite being "fundamentally committed to gender equality".

"Do I think that I can be the Minister for Women, be passionate about my commitment to gender equality, put in place policies that will ensure that as Australians we move towards gender equality and yet not be a feminist or label myself a feminist? Yes I do," Cash said on the program.

To be sure, Cash has done a lot for women during her short tenure holding the Minister for Women portfolio.

Since her appointment in September, Cash has increased the targets for women on government boards from 40 percent to 50 percent and -- with Malcolm Turnbull -- announced $100 million in additional funding to address the scourge of domestic violence sweeping the nation.

Defence Minister Marise Payne -- who is the first woman ever appointed to the position -- does identify with the term while Assistant Treasurer Kelly O'Dwyer and Health Minister Sussan Ley have not distanced themselves from the 'F' word. But Minister for Rural Health Fiona Nash won't call herself a feminist.

So when radio shockjock Alan Jones can label himself one, which he did following Cash's comments on Q&A, and their political leader can, why aren't women who occupy powerful political positions?

It is defined as "advocating social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men," which is exactly what they are working to do.

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