So – like the Victorians before him – Clive Hamilton sees women’s role as moderating the worst excesses of men. What’s the point, he asks, of women stepping out of the kitchen if they can’t be all sweet and nice and fill our boardrooms and parliaments with rainbows, lollipops and purring kittens.
So the far-reaching social change envisaged by feminism in the ’60s and ’70s attains its pinnacle with targets to put more women into boardrooms and cabinets. But why bother putting women into boardrooms if the corporations they run continue to despoil the environment, evade their taxes and pay their chiefs obscene salaries?
What is the point of women in cabinet if, to get there, they must be fed into party machines, then extruded as those who can be trusted with levers of power, competent managers of a dysfunctional political system?
And rainbows, lollipops and kittens – not to mention women – have no place on the battlefield! He goes on:
One day, when we have been shaken from this collective reverie, we may find ourselves asking what it means when those who had once pacified the beast have gone off to join it.
Truly, it seems we haven’t gone far beyond the concept of the ‘Angel in the Kitchen’ if we are looking for women to be the ‘Angel in the Boardroom’ or “Angel on the Battlefield”.
Let’s drop the gender essentialism, shall we?