Nationals MPs have mocked a dictionary’s decision to change the definition of ‘‘misogyny’’ in the wake of Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s fiery speech against Tony Abbott last week.
Queensland Senator Barnaby Joyce called the change ‘‘wonderfully convenient,’’ while NSW Senator Fiona Nash has predicted that other political terms will also soon be redefined as a result.
Today, the Macquarie Dictionary announced it is broadening the definition of the word "misogyny".
As it stands, the dictionary, which is regarded as the ‘‘standard reference on Australian English’’, says misogyny is a pathological hatred of women.
But editor Sue Butler said it’s time that changed to reflect what Ms Gillard really meant last week when she accused the Opposition Leader of sexism and misogyny in Parliament.
According to the new definition - which will appear in the next updated edition of the dictionary - misogyny can also refer to an ‘‘entrenched prejudice against women’’.
But Senator Joyce was unimpressed by the news, suggesting Ms Gillard still got it wrong last week.
‘‘How wonderfully convenient, Macquarie Dictionary changes definition ‘‘misogyny’’ to suit PM Gillard’s misuse of term,’’ he posted on Twitter.
Senator Nash said she was alarmed that parliamentary debates had inspired the change.
“Ms Gillard called Mr Abbott a misogynist. Mr Abbott clearly does not hate women," Senator Nash said today.
“It would seem more logical for the Prime Minister to refine her vocabulary than for the Macquarie Dictionary to keep changing its definitions every time a politician mangles the English language.”
The NSW Senator suggested that after the ‘‘precedent’’ set by the misogyny example, further definition changes could be expected.
These included sexism: ‘‘any criticism of the Prime Minister’’ and budget surplus: ‘‘mythical accounting trick popular with voters’’.
When asked about the definition change, Mr Abbott told reporters in Sydney that he would
‘‘leave the cheap personal politics to the Labor Party.’’
The Prime Minister’s Office had no comment.
Ms Butler told ABC Radio today that the definition of misogyny had changed in recent decades. ‘‘We decided that we had the basic definition, hatred of women, but that’s not how misogyny has been used for about the last 20, 30 years, particularly in feminist language,’’ she said.
‘‘‘Sexist’ does seem to be moving towards this description of surface features and ‘misogynist’ applies to the underlying attitude.’’
Misogyny was like sexism, with a ‘‘stronger edge to it’’, Ms Butler said.