The world has reached peak old white man. Ever since someone decided God was a really old white dude sitting on a cloud we have given these ageing patriarchs more status than they deserve. They have held supreme power. They have been captains of industry. They have initiated wars. They have controlled the financial sector. They have chosen what is news and history. They have orchestrated coups. Collusion. Collateral damage.
Rupert Murdoch is probably one of the most powerful men in the world, and guess what? Old white man. All this access to power and he’s probably making decisions while sleep deprived from being up half the night with a dodgy prostate. History is the story of the world under siege by the sociopathy of saggy eyed septuagenarians.
Why do we afford old white men so much power?
While most of us are shuffling our ageing parents off to a nursing home, how do some old men slip through the net and enter politics? We all congratulated potato farmer Cliff Young for unexpectedly winning an ultra marathon at 61 – because we all know most old dudes just wouldn’t have the stamina. He was exceptionalised as a bit of a maverick. 61 seemed ancient to do something that required the strength of someone young. But it was just a race, and he was at least a decade younger than a lot of the old white men who hold the reins of power. We don’t exceptionalise them, because old white men in power are never the exception.
In America where the retirement age is 66, we’ve watched the competition for the top job play out between a 74-year-old white man and a 77-year-old white man. It’s not called ‘The White House’ by accident. It should be renamed The Old White Man House. I just think, if you’re going to be president, you should at least be under retirement age. And maybe not white. And maybe not a man. And maybe not old. Kamala Harris, Biden’s running mate was probably the most perfect candidate. A politician and attorney, 56, and a woman of colour. Someone still at the peak of her career. Someone different.
Australia’s no different. We love voting for old white men. Or white men who look a lot older than they are. Boring white men will do when old white men aren’t available. Oh yes, we did have a female prime minister, but they got rid of her pretty quickly when they realised she didn’t roll like an old white man: Carbon tax? Gonski? Bring back coal! Bring back the old! Bring back old white men.
Why do we trust old white men to make the decisions? White men are dangerous. (Except for David Attenborough. He’s amazing. Why are men like that never interested in power?) There’s some things you should know about white men; like, that they are twice as likely as non white men and white women to own guns. Conservative white men are at the forefront of climate denialism. In America, white men don’t make up the majority of the population, yet they continue to be the primary decision makers. Rich old white men still hold most of the sway in politics around the world. Old white men wrote the Australian constitution. Old white men started all the wars. Old white men created climate change. Old white men control the news. Old white men need go sit on the recliner and give someone else a turn up front.
I tried to imagine a parliament I could respect; a parliament with compassion and vision, but also able to be tough; able to make hard decisions for the long term, rather than profiteering in the short. In my perfect setting there are no white men. In fact there are no men at all, young or old. Just black women of all ages. Powerful women with a lot to say, and all the time in the world to say it. All Aunties. Let’s give Australia to the Aunties. Auntiestralia!
Now that’s something I would vote for. I just have to wait for old white men to give me permission.