"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO" - Grace Tame, 2021, on the question of whether she will enter politics.
This is where we are at now in society, asking an eloquent young rape survivor and victims' advocate to use her experience to change the nation's poor treatment of women.
NO is the very right answer. It isn't her job!
The reckoning we are all being forced to confront is persistent gender inequality, and the fallout from that goes beyond the easy argument of pay parity. Yep, pay is one thing - but I would place the safety of women and the fight for it ahead of an equal wage if we had to rank them, or in our case only had the energy to fight for our rights, one-at-a-goddamn-time.
Such has been our issue for time immemorial. The right to vote, to get elected, to contraception, to abortion - you name it, we've had to fight for it.
Tomorrow is International Women's Day, and I am tired. If someone hands me a shiny purple ribbon, a cupcake or invites me to another breakfast, I might scream somewhere else than into my Twitter feed. I am tired of having to stand up - like so many other women who have been at this grind too long - and ask for the basics.
We want to be safe.
So don't ask a rape survivor to run for Parliament, to fix it. As it turns out, Parliament is one of the most unsafe places for a woman to work. In 2019, two female parliamentarians took legal action after being slut-shamed when they went to work (of course it was women suing, because men are never called sluts).
We should have been safe at work. Early in that same year, a female staffer was allegedly raped.
Looking over the numbers, historically there were more women in elected positions holding office than ever before during that time. The Labor Party was sitting at just under equal 50 per cent representation.
It is impossible to hear the cries of "we need more women" at the table, knowing we're not being offered a genuine seat - nor one where the power is shared or the men are respectful of their female colleagues.
I accept that there are good men in parliaments - I worked with a few of them. However I can not accept their silence on this matter, nor the party lines they've been spoonfed to reheat and serve up. Being an ally, even when it is uncomfortable, goes a long way to addressing the structural flaws in a system designed to benefit men.
Simply calling for more women to enter the slaughter of politics might be easier to stomach for some than the truth: this is men's problem to fix. Stop asking women to do the heavy lifting.
When I entered politics, I was acutely aware that I wasn't from the machine. I was young, single and filled with enough energy to power a small community. I was passionate, values-led and principled. I still am. I had previously worked as the only female in a staff of 14 men, and knew too well of whisper campaigns and the undermining that our sexuality attracts.
I had a conversation with someone more experienced than I about "which men to avoid". He was a party official. He laughed at me for asking such a thing, and told me to "go have fun with it" - a premise I immediately rejected and reported. I was met with a "welcome to the club" from a female party official, who took no action.
When I entered Parliament in 2016, I avoided all the things I see young women and cadets are told in 2021 not to do: I didn't stay out late, I only drank at two social events during the year (the mid-winter ball and the Christmas party), and I avoided being in any room with a man I didn't trust or know well. I was always home before my male housemate, I dressed appropriately, and when I did go out it was with a group. Yet I was still sexually harassed and slut-shamed.
Stop telling us to change our behaviour, as though the issue exists because of what we do, and modifying our own activity will keep us safe. Telling us we need to go to Parliament to change the culture or to address our behaviour to avoid being sexually harassed isn't working.
The treatment I and my former colleague Sarah Hanson-Young were on the receiving end of should be example enough. Two women who legitimately earned our right through democratic elections to sit in our respective houses, both the subject of whisper campaigns. Ultimately, having your gender and sexuality used against you to undermine, deter and question your integrity is not something anyone should ask more women to sign up for.
It is time for men to do the heavy lifting. To march in the streets for change, and to recognise that their gender benefits them in ways women can only dream about. It's time to do a little more than wear a purple ribbon on International Women's Day, because we women are exhausted.
- Emma Husar was the federal member for Lindsay from 2016 to 2019.