“Words without action are the assassins of idealism.” So remarked the 31st president of the United States (1929-33), Herbert Hoover, and it is apposite that all politicians not only appreciate this dictum, but understand its intent. Words can be powerful oratory weapons pushing boundaries beyond acceptable social norms, challenging us to reflect and ponder about a myriad of issues outside our comfort zone. In a positive perspective, feminism is one such word, but is Malcolm Turnbull, who recently described himself as a ‘feminist’, just being politic to attract the female vote with no real action plan to implement his supposed feminist agenda? Indeed, does his party adhere to one at all?
The complex confusion the word seemingly engenders in a realistic context for those such as his deputy leader, Julie Bishop, and his former government’s Minister for Women, Michaelia Cash, suggests that the word itself demands profound analysis to clarify a genuine commitment to policy reform. Lip service to ideology may loll both genders into a false sense of security; a clever charade that confounds the central significance of action.
Strong support for equal rights and opportunities should not depend on a mere word whatever its implicit assumptions or interpretation. The biblical message in 1 John 3: 17-18 “…let us not love with word…but in deed and truth” demands respect and recognition on the political stage.
To create significant social change, Turnbull does not need any appellation to implement equity in our lives and trust in our leaders requires more than eloquent elocution for a media massage. Turnbull’s faith in feminism might be expedient as some have suggested, but it is pertinent to reflect on the inspiring implications of the word and what can be achieved by fulfilling its important tenets. If it wasn’t for many thousands of women campaigning for the right to vote as a human reality not grandiose fantasy over a hundred years ago, albeit suffering indignities and disdain for the cause, Turnbull probably wouldn’t even know the word and his female cohorts in cabinet would be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, slaving over a hot stove while their male ‘husbands’ would be casting their vote at the ballot box. It is glib to dismiss the word as limiting and invalid, important to acknowledge on polling day that the votes of men and women are of equal worth; gender irrelevant. And it is compulsory. This political mandate is intrinsic to our democracy and an accolade to our history and must not be forgotten on July 2 when we need to appreciate “actions speak louder than words.”