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women in politics: the ‘coalition coif’


In this robust piece of political journalism, the few women who got past Tony’s door into the upper echelons of the new government are thoughtfully analysed and critiqued for their policies and stance on national affairs. Lol JK, ladies bring a plate, because this is a good ol’ fashioned ho-down of unnecessary and superficial sexist fluff. Immaculately groomed fluff, in fact.

It appears that a key new trend in hairstyling has emerged among the ladies of the coalition: the ‘coalition coif.’ The bouffant-y helmet hairstyle, emblematic of the late Margaret Thatcher seems to be trending with these women, and is meaningful to their politics/value as thoughtful human beings in some mysterious way.

As if the state of affairs re: the lack of women in the cabinet/Tony Abbott being our new ‘Minister for the status of women’ weren’t bad enough, stories like this are further pushing us back into the dark ages.

While you get your husband his slippers as he settles in to read the paper, you too can acquaint yourself with (woman-friendly) national affairs by reading this article. But in case your womanly duties do not permit you to conduct a thoughtful analysis of the literature yourself, I have provided you with this handy guide:

First – the new parliamentary speaker, Bronwyn Bishop, is described as being ‘known for her aggressive wit and her encyclopedic knowledge of parliamentary rules, but she would also never be seen without her immaculately coiffed blonde hair and her killer heels.’ Does this sound like a comic book description of some kind of right-wing, conservative postfeminist superhero to you?

Second- Consider this meaty observation:
‘Then there’s newly-appointed outer minister Michaelia Cash, 43, whose perfectly coiffed hair, swept up and back, is as impressive as her new title – Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection as well as Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women’ [Emphasis mine]. Wow. Impressive. Rather than actually appointing women to minister positions, they get to return to their ‘rightful’ place as assisting others.  Good thing they’ve got nice hair. And OMG shoes.

Margie Abbott, the first lady gets a look in:
‘Australia’s new first lady, Margie Abbott, seems to have visited her local Forestville salon and got herself a nice modern chop, an efficient style requiring no special attention in the morning. The big question is, will that change, especially now Mrs Abbott will be expected to glam up and stand by her man at official functions?’ Yes, of all the BIG questions I have for this government that is definitely the biggest. Mrs. Abbott’s appearance as she ‘stands by her man’ is of utmost importance for the welfare of the nation. Good thing her daughters will be on hand, keeping her ‘modern.’

The ‘power hair’ of the Liberal ladies will definitely not become a thing with those dirty hippies over in the Greens, as is observed in the article: ‘It’s fair to assume we probably won’t ever see Greens women such as Christine Milne or Sarah Hanson-Young sporting helmet-hair (way too many emissions from those nasty aerosol cans).’ What a witty and articulate joke. Perhaps they won’t be sporting ‘helmet-hair’ because they’re individuals who have the right to wear their hair in any way they like without it reflecting or impacting on their occupation? Perhaps they don’t want to look like they walked straight off the set of Mad Men? Because it’s 2013, not 1963.

The final sentence of the article, for me, really reflects its complete stupidity: ‘For those Liberal women wanting to be promoted to the inner circle, it could be as easy as a bit more spray.’ I’m pretty sure it’s kind of illegal or at least highly unethical/inappropriate to promote/employ people on the basis of their physical appearance. This assertion, and the general thrust of this article, reinforces negative discourses that, in the contemporary political climate in Australia, women have to look good, or at least look like the rest of the pack, in order to succeed. You know what the ‘Coalition Coif’ symbolizes to me? A comfortable padding for your pretty little head when it hits the glass ceiling.


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