Alison in Wonderland, Observant, Maastricht
Australia and dictionaries: two things that don’t often make world headlines. But the prime minister, Julia Gillard, launched herself into the limelight recently with an impassioned tirade against the opposition leader, Tony Abbott: “I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man”, she raged in parliament. Abbott is on record with such quotes as “If it’s true that men have more power generally speaking than women, is that a bad thing?” and “What if men are by physiology or temperament, more adapted to exercise authority or to issue command?” While the video of Gillard’s speech went viral internationally, at home the commentary focused on her supposed misuse of the word misogyny, which in its literal sense means pathological hatred of women. Being sexist is not the same as actually hating women, her critics claimed. In response, Australia’s main dictionary, Macquarie, is updating its definition, saying that in recent decades the word has taken on the wider meaning of entrenched prejudice against women. Perhaps they should add a photo of Abbot, too – just to be on the safe side.