Today is International Women’s Day.
So, congratulations to all the international women. Well done on getting your own day with its own hashtag. Nothing is more definitive of modern progress than a bunch of anonymous Twitter accounts unified in a cacophony of #.
I must also acknowledge the non-traditional owners of the feminine and applaud those men who have tethered themselves to the front of the bandwagon, brandishing their own bejewelled knackers. No doubt, with their testosterone advantage, they will drive the advance of women’s liberation for all and ensure that men have equal opportunity to secure newly won female privileges for themselves as well.
Plus, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, I always say.
But on this very special day, I’d like to pay tribute to a very special woman who has done more than any other to ensure that fashion trumps talent: Julie Bishop.
For some time now, there has been a destructive and retrograde movement demanding that women be noticed for what they do and say, rather than what they wear.
For instance, cue any major sporting event and you’ll also cue a litany of outrage if anyone dares to ask a female athlete about her clothing or appearance.
Asking Serena Williams about Maria Sharapova’s good looks? Shameful.
Suggesting Eugenie Bouchard to ‘gives us a twirl on court’? Disgraceful.
Being distracted by Michelle Jenneke’s ‘jiggling’? Shocking.
The point the anti-feminists are trying to make seems valid: after all those honed female bodies on display for their physical perfection have nothing to do with the reason crowds cram into stadia the world over. Sport’s primary concern these days has nothing to do with physical ability and everything to do with solving political problems.
And it’s not like the human race’s very existence is dependent upon something so shallow as physical attraction.
Fortunately, Julie Bishop’s lasting contribution to public life is to have almost single-handedly put the anti-feminist zealots back in their place. True, she has had help from some high-profile allies and I’ll get to them shortly.
But while sport has increasingly tried to ensure that the focus is not on a dress and is instead on politics, Julie Bishop has ensured that politics is all about the dress.
Indeed, while Julie Bishop has been Australia’s foreign minister and the minister for education and science and the minister for women and the minister for ageing and a member of parliament since 1998 and even the federal Liberal Party’s deputy leader, her lasting contribution to politics and crowning glory is the fact that she wore a pair of red heels.
This is her defining moment.
Now, personally, I think it is rather more natural that female sporting stars get asked about their looks than a foreign minister, but what do I really know?
I also think that Julie Bishop’s lasting legacy really is the part she played in installing Australia’s biggest tantrum thrower, Malcolm Turnbull, into The Lodge. But, apparently, I am again wrong.
Or, perhaps, the high heels are simply a good distraction from the ignominy of this moment.
Regardless, given it is International Women’s Day, I’ll defer to the judgement of the media’s feminist collective.
The Guardian Australia’s Katherine Murphy epitomised this mob’s instinctive focus on Julie Bishop’s clothing when she covered her retirement announcement using these words:
Eyes tracked to the perfectly composed woman in white, in the corner, waiting for her moment. Photographers jostled for position. Eventually, Bishop rose.
And when it came to THOSE SHOES emotions and palpitating hearts could not be contained. At all.
The Sydney Morning Herald’s Stephanie Peatling ran to the keyboard and thrashed out this:
The shoes she was wearing – red satin with bejewelled heels – stood out in the sea of black and white…
In an exclusive interview given to Peatling by Ms Bishop she had these words of wisdom:
When in doubt wear red.
I was surprised that so many people read so much into it but I have been a big fan of the red shoe emoji in the past and so a number of people saw it as a statement of women’s empowerment which is what I believe the red shoe emoji is intended to be.
Red shoes and red shoe emojis. And Julie Bishop. It’s so deep I almost have no words.
But the Independent Australia’s Jennifer Wilson has got ‘em:
At first blush, it might seem eccentric to assert that a pair of red high heels stands as our current most potent symbol of the corruption of the ideals of both democracy and feminism.
Indeed. It is eccentric on any blush.
Perhaps that is why Helen Vnuk, at that heavyweight outlet of woke outrage, Mamamia, was more restrained and simply stated:
It was all about the shoes. The red satin block pumps, to be more specific.
I think poor Helen was so distracted by the shoes she forgot that Julie Bishop was even there, standing in them. But that’s ok because no one seems to know why she was there anyway.
I think it had something to do with Julie Bishop announcing that she was going to be starring in the next season of I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here, but who cares. At least we know from Helen’s intrepid reporting that Julie Bishop’s earrings and finger nails were at the press conference as well.
A little later (it was a full 175 days later), Paula Matthewson from the Guardian Australia proved that Julie Bishop’s red shoes were still the centre of attention for the female political commentariat, writing:
Other than the woman herself, no one knows for sure why Julie Bishop strode into that press conference wearing those striking red shoes…
Paula went on to wax lyrical about how images of these shoes shot around Twitter and how they were a political ‘pick-me-up’. Riveting stuff, I can assure you.
So thanks to Julie and all the female reporters who made a pair of red high heels the biggest political story since federation, we can all safely once again acknowledge that what women wear is more important than what they do or say, especially when it comes to politics.
And we know this because Julie Bishop’s footwear has been lovingly installed in the Museum of Australian Democracy, probably under the title: The greatest moment in female politics in Australia, as acknowledged by the infatuated reporting of female journalists.
Happy International Women’s Day!