One of the organisers of a Liberal National Party International Women’s Day lunch, to be held at a club that excludes female members, has drawn comparisons between the event and an icon of the US civil rights movement.
Details of the lunch, to be held at Brisbane’s Tattersall’s Club on Friday, emerged on Wednesday to howls or ridicule.
In defending the choice to use Tattersall’s, LNP Women vice-president Peta Simpson cited Rosa Parks, the African-American woman who famously refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger in Alabama and became a symbol of the American civil rights movement.
“If she’d never gone on a bus and refused to stand up, who knows how long it would have taken that movement to start,” she said.
“This is the thing, nothing ever changes from the outside.
“If we say it’s a men-only club and we’re not going to go there because they do things we maybe don’t like, then that’s kind of just continuing on with the tradition.”
Ms Simpson said she could “think of no better place” to have the International Women’s Day lunch, if for no other reason than the symbolism.
Quite frankly, as a privileged white woman myself (but not an LNP member), this is beyond embarrassing. These women are married or partnered or related to some of the most powerful men in the country. Having lunch at a club that will remain members only, and members with a male member at that, will not change anything significantly for even themselves much less less privileged women. I don’t think that LNP ladies will become symbols of change for having lunch at an establishment that already lets them dine there, albeit in the company of a man who is a member. Booking the venue for a women’s event doesn’t do anything to force the club to change its sexist membership policy.
Rosa Park’s actions, which went well beyond refusing to give up a seat on a bus and started well before that day, forced society to see black people as people deserving of a seat on the bus and as members of American society. Regardless of whether Tattersall’s finally do allow women to be members, it will still be a small number of elites who make the cut. Rosa Park’s was fighting for all black Americans, not a privileged few who enjoyed lifestyles and riches well beyond that of ordinary folk. To invoke her name for such a ridiculous reason, not to mention having no idea of either her history of that of the US civil rights movement*, diminishes her actions and the outcomes of her work.
*I don’t know much either, but I do know that Rosa Parks didn’t just get on a bus one day and decide to sit where she liked.