Category Archives: Sexism

What the fuck, Australia?

This post discusses domestic violence.

And contains swearing.

Lots of swearing.

In the last few months, the racism and sexism and misogyny and vileness in our society have all come to the surface like a nasty boil:

Australia, this is you right now. If you think this is gross, imagine all the images I looked at to find it. Image: Mental bleach

Australia, this is you right now. If this grosses you out, imagine what I saw while looking for it. Image: Mental bleach

First it was racism, with a 13-year-old girl calling AFL player Adam Goodes an ape, then Eddie McGuire’s King Kong comments. And all those videos of people being arseholes on public transport. And today, more racist dickheads at an NRL game.

Then there’s the menu at Mal Brough’s fundraiser, and Socceroos coach Holger Osieck saying women should shut up in public. His apology was just a clusterfuck of wrong. Someone should tell him, in small words so his little brain can understand, that telling your wife to shut up, and saying “I’m still pretty happy with my wife so everything is fine”, doesn’t actually indicate “a lot of respect for women”. Sort of the opposite, really.

And there’s the bunch of idiots in the armed forces calling themselves the “Jedi Council” (what, are they 13 years old?). And Howard Sattler’s disgraceful questioning of the Prime Minister, and Piers Akerman repeating it all on ABC tv.

And we have News Ltd reporting that a 15-year-old girl has attempted suicide and the geniuses there put the story in the GLOBAL GOSSIP section (I’m not linking to it). She’s a child, they shouldn’t be reporting it in the first place. For fuck’s sake, what the hell is wrong with people?

Then we have the decision by The Mirror to publish a fucking NINE image photo gallery of Charles Saatchi assaulting Nigella Lawson. In Australia, News Ltd and Fairfax both republished the images, thereby furthering her distress. Hopefully I’m not doing the same by writing about the appalling coverage. Dailytelegraph.com.au and News.com.au even went with a cutesy headline calling him “hubbie”. Didn’t ANYONE in those newsrooms say “hey, we’re just hurting her more if we publish the images”? Are their brains just painted onto the inside of their skulls?

This morning 3AW radio host Dee Dee Dunleavy called for a boycott of Nigella Lawson’s products unless she takes a stand against domestic violence. What. The. Actual. Fuck? By the afternoon she’d issued a clarification, saying she wasn’t calling for a boycott. But what else does “If you want us to buy your books and watch your shows on how to run our kitchens, then we need you to make a stand on domestic violence” mean, other than to say we’re not going to buy your stuff unless you do what we want, aka a boycott. And then issuing a clarification instead of an apology, which should have said “I didn’t realise that’s what I was saying but that’s what those words mean and I should never have put pressure on a domestic violence victim to be a public spokesperson and I am so very very sorry for what I said and I apologise to everyone”.

It never ceases to amaze me that people who use words for a living think so little about those words. Another example is the wording of the link to the images in Dunleavy’s post:

Distressing to some people, but not a thought has gone in to how distressing it is for Nigella Lawson.

Dunleavy’s warning misses the point.

Trigger warnings are good. Shame there was a complete lack of thought for how distressing it might be to have the photos republished around the world.

Just because she is famous, doesn’t mean she “owes” us to be a spokesperson. In fact, at the moment we owe her. We owe her because we gawked at the photos. We owe her because all of the reporting is about her and not about Saatchi, just like it always is when Australian journalists report violence against women. We owe her because we’re writing opinion pieces and blog posts about her private hurt – this one included, and I don’t know how can I point at the coverage and yell THIS IS SO FUCKING WRONG without being just as bad as everyone else.

So. What do we do now? I don’t have any solutions but I do have a lot of swearing.

On the positive side, it’s a massive YES THE FUCK WE DO to everyone who says “Australia doesn’t have a racism and sexism problem”. It’s kinda hard to pretend it doesn’t exist now.

But on the negative side, I AM SO ANGRY AND I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO.

Let’s destroy the joint

Alan Jones must have been worried that Grahame Morris was going to get the top Ernie Award this year, because why else would he say – in response to Julia Gillard announcing aid to the Pacific to raise the status of women to help end domestic violence – that women in politics are “DESTROYING THE JOINT”? It’s purely about missing out on the Gold Ernie, and nothing to do with the two-year tanty that he and Tony Abbott have been having because they didn’t win the election. How embarrassing for them.

He’s got a point, though. These uppity women, you let them go to school and then they get involved in politics and then they don’t want to be hit and it’s POLITICAL CORRECTNESS GONE MAD and what’s a bloke to do? Sheesh.

Jones then repeated his suggestion that women in positions of power should be drowned: “There’s no chaff bag big enough for these people”. (By the way, he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia for his sports and charity work for children and young people. Does he know that Youth off the Streets and the Starlight Foundation help girl children as well as boy children? Has someone told him that girl children grow up to be These People?)

Thanks to Jane Caro, the hashtags #destroythejoint and #destroyingthejoint were all over twitter on the weekend. Instead of insulting the man who seems a little too comfortable with violence against women – in April he said that trying to stab your ex-girlfriend to death is just “Shakespearean“, plus, you know, saying that women should be drowned – everyone just took the piss out of his statement.

Check out these great posts:

Jill Tomlinson’s Destroy the Joint:

Some Tweeps expressed concern that the attention was feeding Alan Jones’ desire for publicity. I understand their concerns, but #destroythejoint was about laughing at Alan’s misogyny, showing solidarity through ridiculing the suggestion that women were out to #destroythejoint. It was an opportunity to respond for every woman who has received a put down comment that irrelevantly cites her gender.

Wendy Tuohy’s Witty Twitter women ‘destroy the joint’:

In the last 24 hours, women tweeters and their many male supporters have redeemed Twitter as a place where you can make a powerful political point without getting vicious or violently abusive.

It’s been such a deft but peaceful takedown, it’s enough to make you proud.

And Feminism and the power of social media at Crooked Fences:

Words that were meant to degrade and undermine women instead became a clarion call to action. The women of twitter became keyboard warriors of the best sort, using social media to mock (and dare I say it, destroy) one of the most arrogant and politically powerful voices of MSM.

If “destroying the joint” means laughing at one-trick-ponies like Alan Jones and ending the gender pay gap and ending gender discrimination in the workplace and in sport and ending violence against women, then I say FUCK YEAH GIVE ME LASERS!

lazer tits

An open letter to Mark Scott

Dear Mark Scott,
I’m sure you’re aware of what “Liberal strategist” Grahame Morris said to Linda Mottram on ABC702 this morning. But in case you missed it, here it is:

Linda Mottram: We saw Tony Abbott in this past week do that interview with Leigh Sales about the Roxby Downs mine issue and stumbled, and that was really quite poor. I was very struck, Grahame. Were you surprised that he didn’t handle that well?

Grahame Morris: Well, Leigh can be a real cow sometimes when she’s doing her interviews.

So, instead of answering the question about Abbott’s dud performance, Morris called a female journalist who was just doing her job, a cow.

He was back on the air shortly afterwards:

LM: Grahame, we’ve had a lot of sms’s and calls offended at your comments. Your response?

GM: [In a condescending tone] Poor little sensitive souls.

LM: You think that calling Leigh a cow is appropriate?

GM: No, no, I probably should have said ‘can be a tough interviewer when she wants to be’.

Wait. Probably?

LM: That’s what you would have said if it was a male interviewer, isn’t it?

GM: That’s silly. No, no, no, no, it’s a phrase that I have used a million times, you know, that somebody can be a real cow when they want to be.

Ah, I see. Because he’s called women cows “a million times” it means he’s not sexist. It’s good that someone who makes such an important contribution to public discussion is a regular guest on ABC radio and television.

GM: But [sighs] look, look, I apologise, it really should be something like, um, ‘having known most of the senior journalists, particularly the political journalists, over the last 30 years, there is a mixture there of people who can be tough, they can be straight up and down, they can be a mixture, they can be soft, and there’s no doubt Leigh at times can be tough’. That would have been a much better expression than being a cow at times.

I don’t know about you, Mark, but I’m not convinced that is an apology. (I’m also not convinced that Grahame Morris understands that radio isn’t print. When you tell a journalist to change your quote, everyone can hear it.)

I’m sure you remember that in April, Morris said people should be “kicking [Julia Gillard] to death”.

In case you missed it, Grahame Morris said people should kill the Prime Minister. In a violent way. Yet he’s a regular guest on the ABC. Why is that? And, since I’ve got you here, why wasn’t it reported by your newsroom? Telling people they should attack and kill a Prime Minister seems pretty newsworthy to me.

Anyhoo, you’ll notice from this tweet from SkyNews journalist David Speers that it’s the second time Morris has used this “oh, I always say that, it’s fine” excuse:

@David_Speers Grahame says it’s a phrase he has used in the past on different issues, but shouldn’t have on this occasion

Oh, well, since he says that lots of people should be kicked to death, that’s ok then.

Morris has also called Gillard “bitchy“. It’s not an insult he would use against a man. Shouldn’t the national broadcaster be looking for guests who are able to talk about politics in an intelligent manner, without using childish insults?

Now Mark, I’m willing to overlook the fact that the vast majority of guests on QandA and The Drum are current and current-until-recently-politicians whose only contribution to public discussion is to push the party line that we’ve already heard over and over again in the news.

I’m also willing to overlook the misogynist and racist comments that are regularly published on The Drum website. (We can talk about those later.)

But what I am not willing to overlook is the national platform given to a man who thinks that calling for violence against women, and calling women names, is an acceptable part of public discussion. Because when you continue to get Grahame Morris on as a guest, what you are telling Australian women and men is that you have no problem with what he says.

Four days ago, Julia Gillard said there were “misogynists and nutjobs on the internet“. She’s right. There’s loads of ‘em on here. They’re also, very clearly, on the ABC.

I look forward to your public statement saying that because of his misogynist, sexist and violent attitudes and language, Grahame Morris is no longer welcome on the ABC.

Yours sincerely,
Kim Powell
ABC watcher.

Slutty McSlut Sluts won’t find themselves husbands and then what will they do?

A Current Affair had a moral panic last night. Young women! Dressing like sluts! They won’t get husbands! Oh noes!

The segment is called “Girls on show”:

Aussie girls in their teens and on display. Young women exposing skin to get access to clubs and the growing trend that will shock parents.

(Note: there is no mention in the story of young women getting into clubs. The whole thing is “look at these sluts, they won’t find husbands dressed like that, but here’s close-up after close-up of their body parts for your perving pleasure”. And the reporter, Alison Piotrowski, mentions the “campaign to cover up” twice, without giving any info whatsoever about an actual campaign.)

You can see it on the ACA website. Be warned: it’s difficult to watch. Not because it’s shocking, but because it is so completely and utterly stupid.

The most disappointing part of the segment is Ita Buttrose. Oh Ita, when did you become June Dally-Watkins?:

Piotrowski: Ita says if young women are dressing like this to find a husband, then it just won’t work.

Buttrose: They might flirt with the tart, they might try have sex with the tart, but it’s often not the tart that they take home to meet their mother.

The faces of the young women are blurred, and the intro suggests they’re getting into clubs by showing some skin, so they’re underaged. How many 15, 16 and 17 year-olds do you reckon are looking for husbands? And I hardly think young women wear hotpants to meet the parents. Sure, as we get older we mock young people for many things – like their hair – but I’m pretty sure they understand situation-appropriate clothing.

But my favourite part of the segment is Charlotte Dawson unwittingly providing an excellent example of hypocrisy:

I hate to say it, but the girls actually selling themselves on the street are much more tastefully dressed than some of these young ladies.

Firstly, Ms Dawson, sex workers are not “selling themselves”. They sell a service, in the same way an osteopath sells a service, and a physiotherapist sells a service. Sex work is just one of the many professions in which you use your body for work. Much like an athlete. Or modelling, which is what Dawson did before hosting reality tv shows. If you actually bought someone when you bought sex, you’d get to keep them.

And secondly, young ladies? Oh, that’s right, because in 2012 a young woman’s only purpose is to act like a lady in order to trick a man into marrying her. Presumably, that man will be one of the many young men from the 1950s wandering around out there.

Oh, and thirdly, how are the outfits worn by the women in ACA’s moral panic any different to this dress you wore to the Logies last year, where – wardrobe malfunction my arse – you held your dress open to show your legs, while bending over to show your cleavage:

Charlotte Dawson at the 2011 Logies

Charlotte Dawson at the 2011 Logies. (Image: Getty Images, via Triple M)

Or this boobs-out promo photo? Or this promo photo in pants so tight you can’t sit down? Or when you went on national tv wearing only body paint and some feathers? People in glass houses shouldn’t get undressed with the lights on. Please note, I am not criticising Dawson for what’s she’s wearing. The photos are clearly a bit of fun, and I love a boobs-out photo as much as the next person. What I am criticising is the hypocrisy of her putting young women down for wearing the same clothes she wears.

Now, what other people do with their bodies is their business, and you know I don’t usually comment on this. But when you lecture young women about how the desire for fame makes them do silly things, and the only movement your face can do is blink, your message loses credibility. Do as I say, not as I do, right? [Update: I got into an argument on twitter with Dawson yesterday. Although ‘argument’ is the wrong word – she just repeatedly plugged her book and refused to address any of the criticism. But she did say that my comment about her face was easy and bitchy. And she’s right. It is those things. Her face is none of my business. But I think my point is still valid: if you’re going to lecture people about not doing silly things for fame, it’s more credible if you’re not doing silly things for fame.]

The thing is, their only “evidence” of Slutty McSlut Sluts is just a few groups of women, on what doesn’t even look like a cold night. The reporter, Alison Piotrowski – who, by the way, wears just a bowtie in a photo that makes her look topless for her work twitter account, so there’s some hypocrisy going on there, too – is in a light jacket. The other people on the street in the background are in light jackets. A lot of the “slutty” young women are in long sleeves or tights. It doesn’t look like a particularly cold night. And for all we know, the two girls in hotpants may have been on their way to a Lady Gaga-themed night. Hell, I went out the other night dressed as a vanity unit, and even if I wanted one, I certainly wouldn’t find a husband dressed like that.

Dawson then goes into “mothering, nurturing” mode, which the rest of us know as slut-shaming and victim-blaming mode:

You’d hope that the parents educate their daughters as to what the consequences of dressing up like this could be… Girls, have a great time, you know, dress how you want. Just be really really careful and know the risks you may take.

Is she talking about sexual assault? Because we’ve had that discussion many times: outfits don’t cause rape, rapists cause rape. Or is it still about husbands? Because, young women, you must remember that every single moment you are in public, every single outfit you wear, must be geared towards getting a husband. Even if you’re underaged.

The princess problem

It’s not often I pay attention to the NRL. I can count the number of times I’ve been on an NRL team website on one finger. Team sports, televised sports – hell, sports – just aren’t my thing.

But sometimes something NRL-related pops up on my ‘we need to talk about this’ radar. (I’d call it Kevin, but that now means ‘knowing you don’t have the numbers for a leadership challenge but doing it anyway to fuck over your colleagues’.)

So, we need to talk about the Northern Pride rugby league club. They’re based in Cairns and, according to their website, they’re a “feeder club” for the North Queensland Cowboys.

Specifically, we need to talk about the Northern Pride’s role in limiting the options available to girls in their local community.

Most teams in the NRL offer junior memberships for children – not girls, not boys, but children. But not the Northern Pride. There, children can be either a Pride Cub, or a Pride Princess.

But it gets worse. This is what boys get as part of their membership:
Pride Cubs Membership – $60
- Opportunity to run the team out to one (1) home game
- Opportunity to become a ball boy for the Northern Pride on home game days
- A Pride Cubs T-shirt, hat and boot bag
- A football, drink bottle, team poster, wristband, tattoos, stickers, draw magnet & balloons
- Member’s card with exclusive offers & benefits
- A personalized Pride Birthday Card signed by your favourite player
- Subscription to the Northern Pride’s “Pride Pulse” members e-newsletter
- Exclusive Members only team alert emailed every Tuesday
- Voting rights for the 2012 Members Player of the Year award

This is what girls get as part of their membership:
Pride Princess Membership – $60
- One (1) Cheerleading lesson & performance conducted by Awesome Cheerleaders
- Possibility for you to become part of the Northern Pride mini cheersquad “The Pride Princesses” and perform at Pride home games in 2012 **Conditions and additional costs apply
- Two (2) Pom Poms
- A Pride Princess T-shirt and cap
- A Pride drink bottle, team poster, wristband, tattoos, stickers, draw magnet & balloons
- Member’s card with exclusive offers & benefits
- A personalized Pride Birthday Card from signed by your favourite player
- Subscription to the Northern Pride’s “Pride Pulse” members e-newsletter
- Exclusive Members only team alert emailed every Tuesday
- Voting rights for the 2012 Members Player of the Year award

That’s right. Boys get to run the team out on to the field and to be a ball boy at home games; girls get pom poms and a cheerleading lesson.

Girls in Cairns who follow league learn that boys get to be on the field, girls get to be next to the field in pretty outfits; boys get to be the stars, girls get to cheer for them. (And pay extra for the privilege.)

Reducing their role in sport to adornment is like telling elite athletes that they have to wear skirts at the Olympics. Oh. Wait.

I don’t think it’s outrageous to say we should be teaching all kids that they can be stars. I’m not talking about Australia’s Got Singing Dancing Children, but the idea that dreams – and achievement – aren’t limited to what genitals you happened to be born with. Because hell, females spend their whole lives being told that looking pretty, looking sexy but not slutty, is the most important thing they can do. So Northern Pride, how comfortable are you with being part of the problem? When a girl supports your team, instead of telling her that all she has to offer is being a bauble on the sidelines, why not tell her that her support is just as good as her brother’s support?

Hey journos, stop defining women by what their uterus has done

When a woman gets a newsworthy job or promotion, if she has children – and even though it’s completely unrelated to the newsworthy thing – you can bet a million bucks that a journo will refer to it at the beginning of the article. She’ll be described as “mother of two” before we even learn her name or what her qualifications are for the role. They never do this when writing about men. When’s the last time you read “Father of seven John Singleton”, or “Gerry Harvey, who has four children from two marriages, has retreated from his attack on online shoppers” in a news story?

Which beings us to this story in the Herald Sun: Peta Searle lands assistant coaching job at Port Melbourne. Her name is mentioned in the extended headline for SEO purposes, but here’s how it’s presented on the homepage:

Herald Sun defines professional women by what they do in their private lives

Herald Sun defines professional women by what they do in their private lives

When you list her role as a mother ahead of her professional qualifications that got her the job, it makes it look like she won the role in a competition.

A MELBOURNE mum has made history by becoming the first female coach in the VFL.

Mother of two Peta Searle landed the assistant coaching job at VFL premier Port Melbourne yesterday, ahead of two male applicants, after coaching in the Victorian Women’s Football League.

So what if there were “two male applicants”? Would the journalist, Angus Thompson, have mentioned that if the job went to a man? No, of course not. I can’t decide whether that bit was included to say “wow, she must be good if she beat two men”, or to dogwhistle “this is political correctness gone mad because she was clearly picked because she’s a woman”.

It’s not until you get to the 11th paragraph – in a 14 par story, so it’s the fourth last sentence – that Thompson bothers to report her qualifications:

A school teacher, Searle has played women’s football for more than 15 years and coached Darebin Falcons to five successive premierships in the VWFL.

(I love that they’re called the Falcons! That’s our gang term for vaginas and strong women. You have a falcon, but not all women are falcons.)

There are no comments published on the story yet, but if yesterday’s perthnow story is anything to go by, we can expect some complete idiot to hit the publish button on things like this:

No Way Posted at 7:46 AM November 29, 2011
Surely not….hate to sound sexist but back in the kitchen where you belong and leave the Footy to the fella’s. and…oi…bringmeabeerwillya

King Warrick Posted at 7:53 AM November 29, 2011
No Thank You, studies have shown that women haven’t got the mental strength to be able to make tough decisons, maybe we could send her to a rival team and let them manage them as some kind of sabotage

hodgo of perth Posted at 7:55 AM November 29, 2011
Stick to Netball and Rounders

jay Posted at 8:00 AM November 29, 2011
Here we go…..more women’s lib BS!!

munted of cooby Posted at 9:21 AM November 29, 2011
This is the end of football as we know it.Stick to cutting up the oranges sweetie.

Mick Posted at 9:51 AM November 29, 2011
Stay home with your kids , leave the football to the blokes

Anchor Posted at 10:25 AM November 29, 2011
Don’t think so love. As if males in the high level VFL are going to listen to a women giving them advice on AFL. Not way not in my lifetime would i take a females opinion on AFL

gus Posted at 10:36 AM November 29, 2011
Could you imagine the shame and humiliation of having your team coached by a girl? The endless sledging from other supporters. Look girls it is time to respect the boundaries. You dont see men encroaching on your laundry day or mothers club or house-cleaning…stay out of our area.

Angelo of WA Posted at 11:48 AM November 29, 2011
GO AWAY! It is a man’s game. It is enough that we have adopted namby pamby girl rules…it used to a great action game to watch – a bit of biffo and a few punches…it was exciting. Now it may as well be netball and they can start handing out skirts to the players… They are killing Australian Rules Football.

alive and kicking of the lucky country Posted at 4:28 PM November 29, 2011
doesnt she have dishes to do

And those are the ones that the moderator thought it was ok to publish.

Four powerful women is like Ladies’ Day at the races

You had to know I’d be blogging about this nonsense from Tony Wright today: Ladies in waiting for Queen’s visit.

He’s talking about the Prime Minister, the Governor-General and the Chief Minister of the ACT. And yes, I know he didn’t write the headline, but a lady in waiting is an Elizabethan era PA to the Queen or Princess. Hardly the role played by these three women.

AS ROYAL visits go, it was ladies’ day: the Queen, the Governor-General, the Prime Minister, the Chief Minister of the ACT.

Yes, the PM, the GG and the ACT’s highest-ranked politician greeting the Queen is just like a racing club having free entry for women on one day so they can enter a fashion competition because women are only interested in clothes, and because if lots of women are there, then men who don’t normally go are more likely to turn up and spend their money on overpriced booze and horses they know nothing about, and so Fairfax and News Ltd can run condescending photo galleries the next day of drunk women so all their readers can talk about what slappers they are while peering for flashes of undies. He’s right, you know. It’s exactly like that.

The powerful women gathered on the tarmac at Canberra’s Fairbairn RAAF base, their husbands and partner relegated to bit players.

Oh noes! Men are just “bit players” because their ladies took the important jobs from them. Quick, someone get a glib comment Tony Abbott about what women need to understand as they do the housework.

The Governor-General, Quentin Bryce – a symphony in pink to the Queen’s quieter aqua – offered a curtsey. The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, in sensible navy two-piece suit, bent her head a bit in what might have been construed as a bow.

As @popebrentus pointed out on twitter, no one has to curtsy for the Queen. But, predictably, we’ll now have curtsygate. This will be The Most Important Thing that journalists talk about today. Oh look, News.com.au is already on the case:

News.com.au curtsygate

OMG, Gillard did nothing wrong, that's the WORST THING EVER! It's time to call an election.

Wouldn’t it be nice if journalists actually checked the facts before ducking from those falling bits of sky?

(Update 11.20am: Since we’re talking about News.com.au, they’ve “moved the story on” to “Gillard defends” – which apparently took the news ed, a journo and a wire service to write, yet we all know the un-bylined AAP writer did the heavy lifting – but yet still no one bothered to check what the protocol actually is.

Update 3pm: The Age has also moved the story on:

Still no one at The Age has checked the facts

Still no one at The Age has checked the facts

But they’re presenting it as “Gillard claims” she did not break protocol. This is despite many people tweeting the link to the Royal homepage dealing with protocol, which very clearly states that a handshake is fine. When your whole story hangs off whether or not someone has to curtsy, you’d think the very first thing you’d do was check if it was true. If it’s too late and you’ve already published, then you make the story quietly disappear from your homepage and hope Media Watch and The Hamster Wheel don’t mock you too hard. *mumble mumble, fuckin’ amateurs in newsrooms*)

Also, I look forward to Tony Wright mentioning all those grey, navy and charcoal suits that men in positions of power wear when they meet.

Ms Bryce’s husband, Michael, and Ms Gillard’s partner, Tim Mathieson, stood by, while Prince Philip trailed his wife by a step or two. Yes. Ladies’ day.

Yes. Complete sexist nonsense from the national affairs editor of The Age that was front page news in two states.