A week in which sexism was showcased to be alive and well in Australia there was a shining light on the hill.
The week that was will go down as YET ANOTHER shocker in revealing just how far we have to go to eradicate deeply entrenched unacceptable levels of sexism in this country. A few weeks back it was racism’s turn. Quite frankly I’m getting tired of it and it’s getting as boring as it is demoralising. Can everyone just grow up?
It started earlier in the week when a grossly sexist, offensive menu from a Liberal party fundraiser surfaced which had a dish titled “Julia Gillard Kentucky roasted quail” with “small breasts, huge thighs and a big red box”. Later in the week she endured a radio interview in which she was asked if her husband was gay because he was a hairdresser.
Are we done yet? Now? NOW?
It does not matter what your political persuasion. This is the Prime Minister of our country. Pull your head in and put your manners back on.
Just for a moment imagine such a thing happening to a male Prime Minister or even a male politician? Tony Abbott gets about in his red budgie smugglers enough for many a shot across the bow but one has never, that I can find, been fired about the size of his penis or the colour of his pubic hair.
A friend posted a comment on Facebook about it all that had a ‘get over it’ feel about it and I stopped. And said ‘no’. Too often we excuse away sexist comments or actions with a slight of hand, or “it was a joke”. But you know what happens when you do that? You end up with someone thinking it’s OK to put on a party fundraiser menu references not only to the Prime Minister’s body and genitalia but their size and colour.
You end up with a radio presenter thinking it is OK to ask the Prime Minister if her husband is gay.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is a big fat lie .
Felix asked me about it and asked how someone would think either example up there was OK. We had a long chat about how things that are demeaning, sexist (or racist) and offensive are often excused away as a joke.
I explained to him that people in positions of power and authority are held to a higher standard because they set the benchmark for what is OK and what is unacceptable. If a politician does something morally repugnant – like hold a dinner in which a dish refers to the PM’s genitalia or asks the PM about the sexual orientation of her husband – there are huge repercussions not only because they should know better, but because it gives a tacit approval to others in the community that to think like that is OK. “It was just a joke” is not an acceptable excuse anymore.
That could not have been better proven by the revelation on Thursday that ANOTHER scandal about systemic sexism in our armed forces was revealed.
But a week peppered with such a remarkable number of brain-snapping incidents of sexism was kicked to the curb when this came along. It was as if the week was a slow crescendo to it. Incident upon incident building upon each other until it all came crashing down in a voice saying ‘not on my watch’.
From 1:13 is particularly good. As is from around 1:40. Hell, the whole thing is awesome. What else is awesome is that it is coming from a man, and indeed a man in power who clearly has integrity. It feels like there are so few of them around. Oh yes, women can quite easily stand up and defend themselves, say enough is enough. But that stance can, by those who most need to hear it, be denounced as shrill and uptight. “Chill out lady”, “it was just a joke”, “calm down”. So yes, men need to stand up, they too need to say enough is enough. Chief of Army Lieutenant General David Morrison says it for all of us.
My intense dislike for People Skills (aka Tony Abbott) grows daily. It’s in the Code Red zone of Completely Irrational.
In fact, my whole feeling about this lead up to the election is making my neck itch. I’m kind of cranky and frustrated and yelling at the television and radio way too often to be healthy.
I’m certain this is why I have a rampant case of acne that rivals that of my years in puberty purgatory. I kid you not. They’re not even the pustular ones you can pick at, they’re the dirty big blind cyst like ones.
I know, I’m so purrrrty.
The only good thing about the election is discovering new blogs and Twitterers and that Annabel Crabb has come back from maternity leave and is on fire. My girl crush on Annabel is longstanding and unwavering and completely inappropriate.
I know, purty and subtle.
My frustration is this: the focus on the politics rather than the policies is absolute. And it feels like a sprint. There’s no long term view, no vision. G’ah. ***** Further to the learning to ride a bike Oscar decided today would be a good day to start doing freestyle again in his hydrotherapy session. Such progress.
It was perfect because then his normal swim group arrived and he stayed in the water and did a bit of normal swimming stuff with them, allowing me to catch up with some of the mums, one of which is as excited as I am as her daughter got into St Eddies as well! We’re so hoping Oscar and Zoe will get to travel together. ***** Jasper is producing astounding artworks at pre-school. And I mean, really astounding not just ‘my child is so talented’ astounding. ***** Grover is an absolute comedian. Complete and total. From the faces to the impersonations. He’s three and a total crack-up. Either that or a pure delinquent in the making. ***** Did I tell you I made strawberry and rhubarb jam and it was spectacular? SPECTACULAR. Joke told me to make vats of it and sell it and for the first time I am almost compelled to do so. ***** We haven’t seen Inception. I had planned a sneaky solo trip to the movies today on my childfree day (inlaws had Groves) but no no no – it’s Education Week and today was Open Day at the bigger boys’ school. Oh the irony.
So we have a ‘new’ Prime Minister in Australia, Julia Gillard. ‘New’ in that she’s acted in the role plenty of times over the last two and a half years but now is front and centre full time.
Her top items to deal with were the super profits mining tax, refugees and climate change.
I have significant doubts these are the three top issues closest to her heart but more a reflection on what was hurting the Government in various opinion polls. Dealing with these issues is far less about solutions and far more about taking the heat out of them in the media and thereby dropping them off the agenda for the people.
I wonder what are Julia Gillard’s Top 3, even Top 5 concerns or passion points that she wants to engineer real change for.
Mine? 1. Rectifying the hopeless state of our mental health services 2. Rectifying the hopelessly outdated systems and structures in educating students with disabilities. (Not to mention the whole desperate situation of our disability services.) 3. Actually doing something about key environmental issues – primarily the Murray River.
What are yours? It doesn’t matter where you live or what country you live it, I’m really curious about what are the hot buttons irrespective of geography.
We interrupt the programming plan of updating you on Oscar learning to walk again due to an article of astounding small-minded, cheap-shot, playing-dirty, shoddy journalism. I’m stealing Mrs Woog’s regular Friday column on tools of the week for this early entry.
Take a moment to go and read the article by Bettina Arndt in today’s Sydney Morning Herald. Go on. Click here. Go and read.
Then get really angry. Maybe rest your head in your hands at the incredulity such a piece was viewed as having any merit whatsoever.
Here are some tasty morsels from it:
Cohabitation produces two groups of losers among women and children. Most women want to have children – Gillard is an exception – and some miss out after wasting their primary reproductive years in a succession of live-in relationships which look hopeful but go nowhere, leaving them childless and partnerless as they hit 40.
You know, if a male leader or politician chose not to have children I hazard a guess it would barely raise an eyebrow. I’ve heard Julia talk about her choice – as if it is anyone’s business – and she pointed out that she is an incredibly focused, single-minded person and that if she had had children she would have only wanted to focus on being a mother and not the other things in her life she was passionate about.
So she made a choice to focus on the other things she felt passionately about.
And according to Bettina, cohabitation produces two groups of losers. No winners. Apparently.
How about this:
It is often assumed these children will provide the glue to keep de facto relationships together, but sadly this is not so.
Yeah, because that never happens with married couples.
People often drift into living together – someone’s lease runs out or they get sick of running home for fresh shirts and underwear. They slide rather than decide, and frequently fail to discuss their mutual expectations for the relationship.
It’s the women who end up stranded when they spend years in a succession of de facto relationships waiting for Mr Not Ready or Mr Maybe to make up his mind.
Women’s tiny reproductive window means they pay a high price for wasting precious breeding time in such uncertain relationships.
Or this (my bolding):
If Gillard chooses to play house with Tim Mathieson in the Lodge, this choice sends a strong message to the huge numbers of women who rightly admire her and seek to follow her example. A lifestyle suited to her particular needs may be riskier for many women and their children.
‘Chooses to play house’? I’m sure if Bettina had tried a little harder she could have been more patronising.
How about this:
At the heart of this conversation was role models. People in the public eye, our influential leaders, need to think through whether others who don’t share their circumstances will follow their example and get into trouble.
Really Bettina? That’s what is at the heart of this conversation? Really? I think what’s at the heart of your grubby little piece of highly selective if not poorly researched writing is that having Julia Gillard as our Prime Minister – barren and living in sin – is not to your liking.
Somehow it would have been so much palatable if you had not tried to truss up your sow’s ear of an article into a silk purse of journalism on social trends. Apparently your new book What Men Want is out this August. Oh GOODY. I can hardly wait to repeatedly walk past it in bookshops.