The casual misogyny of QandA

Did you see QandA last night? A bunch of supposedly intelligent people gossiping about the private lives and personal characters of women they don’t know. One woman was called a “tart” because of her job. Another was called a “floozy” because she was an ex-girlfriend. And in another charming moment, Barry Humphries referred to Gina Rinehart’s “neverending hole”. Which was applauded. Hoo hoo hee hee, how funny. This is how our “intelligentsia” discusses women and gee, doesn’t it make you proud?

You can see the episode on the ABC website. The transcript will apparently be up from 2pm today.

A lot of the blame for the stupid should be directed at Tony Jones and the QandA team. Firstly, for choosing questions like this:

Emelia Starbright asked via facebook: Why is Gina Rinehart so greedy?

Rinehart is a businesswoman. Her job is to make money. I don’t hear Andrew Forrest or Frank Lowy or Gerry Harvey or Harry Triguboff or James Packer or Ivan Glasenberg (the second richest in the country) being called greedy for doing their jobs. The lack of a culture of philanthropy in Australia is a serious issue, but that’s not what’s being discussed with this question about greed: Rinehart is rich, and she wants to make more money, how much does one woman need, she’s ambitious so clearly she is unhappy and maybe if she was a better mother then she wouldn’t need so much money.

And secondly, for encouraging the panel, one by one, to discuss Rinehart’s character. Like this, from David Marr:

Well, I think it’s a personal question, isn’t it, really? [And then goes on to be very personal] She’s the richest woman in the world and she’s humiliating herself and her family in the courts in order not to have to pay her children the money that is pouring into the estate so that she can control it and dole it out exactly as she wants. This is amazingly perverse behaviour. But as I understand it, behind it all lies this towering ambition to fund in her own right, to get up this immense iron ore mine, and for that she seems to be willing to appear as greedy as all get out, she’s willing to appear brutally cruel to her own family. And so she goes. There is a funny way in which huge amounts of money in some people don’t actually sate the appetite but make them crave more, it’s something about us human beings… There are ways of behaving when you are one of the richest people in the world, with a little more grace than she behaves, particularly vis a vis her own family, and she appears to display a quite remarkable wish to control every cent that goes through her hands.

I see David Marr is also lacking in grace.

Thing is, how the fuck would he – or any of us – know what goes on in the Rinehart family? There have been a few court stories published, but since it’s an ongoing case they don’t give the full picture. Perhaps Rinehart does want to be in charge of all the money? Perhaps the children are incompetent with money? Perhaps it’s just like any other family argument except that when you can afford lawyers, you say “fuck it, let’s get the lawyers”? The point is that we don’t know and it’s really none of our business what Rinehart does with her own money and this sort of character assassination of someone I’m pretty sure they have never met is pretty disgusting. Good on Jacki Weaver for saying, “I think we are getting a bit unkind about Mrs Rinehart” and trying to change the topic. But then Jones brings it back by asking Miriam Margolyes what she thinks of Rinehart, and she mentions Rinehart’s appearance and apparent lack of generosity. Obviously, being a big lefty, I do not support mining companies digging shit out of the ground without giving money back to the country. I do not support Rinehart trying to get out of paying for the pollution her business creates. And I certainly do not support the casual misogyny that’s encouraged on QandA every time they talk about women.

It’s funny* (*not funny), Marr was happy to say nasty things about Rinehart, but later comments that the “vicious” attacks on Cate Blanchett for “joining political debate” were “unfair”. The word you want here, David, is hypocrite.

And then we get into “no one’s sayin’ it but we’re all thinkin’ it: who’d believe a sex worker?” territory. From Marr: “I don’t really think we need the testimony of the tart”.

Then Humphries refers to Clive James’ ex as “some floozy”, and calls Craig Thomson a heap of names in order to get a cheap laugh. It’s all oh so funny.

And then a video question about how women have too much power and have emasculated men:

Newton Gatoff asked: G’day mate, in a country where women are the richest in business and most powerful in politics, has the Ozzie machismo lost its mojo on the international stage?

Directed at a man who dresses as a woman on the “world stage”. The question was rubbished by the panel, and quite rightly. So why waste our time with it, when I’m sure there were plenty of intelligent questions submitted for the show. I don’t know why I keep expecting QandA to be intelligent, because most of what I see certainly isn’t.

What should have been an interesting show because it wasn’t filled with politicians staying “on message” with their boring talking points (and I’m not the only person bored by that, since last night was the show’s biggest audience of the year), was dominated by misogynist drivel that was encouraged by the show’s host. The one politician on the show, John Hewson, just looked like he was politely tolerating idiots the whole time.

116 responses to “The casual misogyny of QandA

  1. I entirely agree. There is nothing out of the ordinary in Rinehart’s appearance and it is the cheapest shallowest way of criticising someone. By all means criticise her business actions or decisions, but grow the hell up and stop with the pathetically cheap jibes and unfounded assumptions about her family affairs.

    • And for most of it to come from David Marr is just so disappointing.

      • His ‘tart’ comment made me wince.

        • I think they (principally Humphries and Marr) got carried away & forgot they were on TV. Jackie Weaver looked embarrassed. John Hewson was ignored, which again is Tony Jones’ call. I was very surprised that Jones slipped up like that, and it was painful the way he joked about Germaine commenting on Julia’s figure, “let’s not go there”. Julia looks to me to be about the size of an average Aussie woman and, frankly, her bum does not look that ginormous to me. (Sorry to perpetuate these purile comments about the PM’s figure, clothes, etc. Go Julia!)

          • Jones made a few bad calls. I don’t watch the show often enough to know if it’s a regular thing. But I saw the line-up last night and thought it would be a good, intelligent show. How wrong I was.

            Greta, welcome to the News with Nipples.

            I haven’t welcomed all the new commenters, so welcome to everyone else as well.

      • Azrael the Cat

        So sadly, I think there is an emerging pattern of comedians and progressive commentators getting a ‘free pass’ to be horrendously sexist, so long as a conservative woman is the target (and I consider myself a typical ivory-tower-leftie-acadmic – maybe more communitarian than classical Marxist, but enough that I’m criticising my own fellows here).

        Yes, it was in full force on Q and A, to the point where I have little to add, other than my amazement that such commentators don’t realise that when insulting Rineheart (or Thatcher, Palin, Vandstone, Bachman etc) in such terms, they are essentially normalising sexism aimed at all women, including Gillard and Sarah Hanson-Young.

        I’m worried I might get lambasted for this – feel free to mod me if this turns into an off-topic shitstorm – but frankly I think that the Assange case has involved an amazing array of ‘slutshaming’ and victim-blaming of the kind that the left would ordinarily condemn. I’m not saying that Assange is NOT the victim of attempts to extradite (though it is utter madness to suggest that it would be easier to extradite from Sweden than from UK, given that UK is US’s closest ally, and that the UK has extradition treaties enabling Assange to be sent the moment that the US requests him, whereas Sweden would be subject to European Courts, and at worst Assange would be ordered from Sweden back to the UK for the extradition order to be ultimately heard from that jurisdiction in any event.)

        Assange deserves the presumption of innocence, so I’m not saying this as any kind of insult to him – and, for the record, I really LIKE wikileaks. At the same time, the fact that a man does great things has never been good evidence that he hasn’t also been a rapist, and the main thing he is accused of (obtaining consent via deception, through lying about whether he was wearing a condom) would be considered rape in both Australia and England, both due to the consent being obtained throug deception, and because the sex started while the partner was asleep (yes, having sex with someone passed out counts as rape).

        In Australia and the UK, womens’ groups and lawyers have been crying out for decades for a system that does not routinely re-victimise rape survivors. Sweden is one country that has actually acted on the reforms and implemented such a system as the hard won fruits of feminism. We’ve set the case for law reform in Australia back 50 years.

        Since when did we suddenly decide that women lie about rape? The number of women who would ever make something like that up is so small as to be neglible – again, I’m not saying he shouldn’t be presumed innocent, but how anyone can ‘slutshame’ his accusers and pretend to support victims of sexual assault is beyond me. All this will do is (a) give the impression that womens’ rights are disposable tools in the pursuit of political ends, and (b) woe betide any women who has the misfortune of being assaulted by a public figure, especially a progressive hero.

        Again, I’m not saying Assange is guilty. But I am saying that there has been a disagraceful amount of victim-blaming going on, and that sometimes I feel like I’ve walked into the 1950s given the way that even so-called pro-woman progressives (fuck, even Naomi WOLF for fucks sake!) blame the complainant before a trial has even taken place.

        • I wholeheartedly agree with you about Assange.

        • Indeed! We should be extending definition of rape, not trying to limit the definition.

          • And before we do that we need to change this culture in which someone’s innocence or guilt is publicly declared by people who weren’t even there.

            • Azrael the Cat / Craig (I usually use pseodonyms online, but this forum is low on trolls, and the people whose opinions I care about are already familiar with the details I've posted previously - so I'll probably either drop the pseudonym or use it interm

              Agreed entirely. My apologies if I’ve missed a ‘like’ button, but yes, it’s amazing how people simply won’t accept an answer of ‘I wouldn’t have a clue – I only know what’s in the papers’ when asking about whether one thinks a person is innocent or guilty.

        • I also entirely agree with your points and have been pretty stunned about how disposable some people’s attitudes have been.

        • I totes agree on this. It doesn’t have to be either/or. It’s possible that Assange’s enemies ARE using this as a way to silence him AND that he actually did it.

  2. This post summarises how I felt watching Q&A last night. Well done for not letting them get away with thinking they were just being funny and clever.

  3. ok i didn’t see QandA last night but i followed the twitfeed.

    if you don’t hear people calling Palmer, Packer or Forrest being called greedy, you aren’t listening.

    the rest seems fairly hopeless, Marr should know better but worth noting that Barry Humphries has made a career out of viciously satirising misogyny and PC restraint at the same time. just a thought…

    • I don’t hear them being called greedy with quite the same venom as is directed at Rinehart.

      Good point about Humphries, but I think it would be hard to argue that last night’s performance was satirising misogyny.

      Anvildrops, welcome to the News with Nipples.

      • I’m interested you didn’t mention Palmer in the relevant paragraph of the original piece: unlike the others, I think it’d be hard to deny he *does* get the same venomous abuse as Rinehart. Including on his personal appearance.

        Which is probably because – like Rinehart and unlike the others – rather than getting on with making money, he plays an active self-promoting role in trying to drag Australian politics to the far-right.

        (I’d suggest Glasenberg gets ignored, similarly, because he doesn’t operate companies in Australia, live in Australia, seek a public presence in Australia, or play any role in trying to shape Australian political debate).

        • Oh, I agree. Palmer does cop the comments about his appearance. As I commented to bluntshovels below, one of the men on the panel made a fat joke about Palmer, which I didn’t hear last night but on watching again this morning, I picked it up. But this post is about the casual misogyny that’s repeatedly on show on the show, which is why I’ve focussed on that.

          Johnband, welcome to the News with Nipples.

          • Thanks for the welcome; added to my RSS.

            And fair. I don’t generally watch Qanda cos it’s usually an unedifying bunfight; from the comments here and elsewhere on last night’s performance, that’s not changed and it’s a shame to see people I respect (Humphries, Marr & Margoyles) firmly on the bun-throwing side. The other attacks you’ve highlighted in the show – especially the trite dismissals of less powerful women who’ve embarrassed powerful men, both Thomson and James – are particularly vile.

            I’m just a bit sceptical of the claim that – in general – Rinehart gets a tough go primarily because of her gender, rather than because of her actions. If Glasenberg was simultaneously trying to build a personal political profile, buy Fairfax, spend millions lobbying against the ALP, and disinherit his kids, I don’t think the reaction would be much different.

            • Andrew Forrest also lobbies against the ALP but doesn’t attract the same level of vitriol. My point about last night’s attack on Rinehart is that she cops the extra level of nastiness because of her gender. There were comments about her hair, her vagina, having sex with her – sorry, waking up the next morning – the implication that she’s a bad mother… these are all gender. No one last night mentioned Fairfax or lobbying against the Government.

    • Sure, they’re called greedy, usually by Wayne Swan – but last night they discussed Rinehart’s HAIR CUT disparagingly and the size of her backside for heaven’s sake. I do not ever hear about Clive Palmer’s hair cut, nor his suit size. And this morning on Sunrise the “Angels” said we don’t need to talk about Rinehart’s hair because “she’s a miner” you know. Apparently not for any other reason, like, she’s not paid for her appearance. If she was a model, TV presenter or hairdresser/fitness instructor, sure, discuss her appearance.

      And Barry Humphries came from a completely uninformed position on the whole Rinehart, Palmer issue anyway. Didn’t even know that Palmer is a Qld mine owner (as opposed to a WA one). He came across as quite on the verge of losing his marbles, actually.

      • I thought he was drunk. But apparently he doesn’t drink these days.

        Lexi, welcome to the News with Nipples.

      • I agree Lexi. I actually commented that I think he has the beginnings of Dementia. He couldn’t answer anything on current politics, he spoke very slowly like he was trying to remember what he wanted to say. He forgot the point of the topic after he gave his blurb for cheap laughs and had to be reminded by Tony what he was answering. I think it was all beyond him really. I was offended by the mysogony of the whole show and poor Jackie Weaver was trying to stand up for the women.

  4. Thanks NWN, for reminding me so eloquently why most Tuesday mornings I end up feeling pleased that I’ve spent my time doing something else rather than watching Q&A and that particular *brand* of Aussie politics on a Monday night…

  5. I think it’s time they changed the name of the show to QandAandE.. for EGO.

  6. Is this the same David Marr that I used to have such a deep respect for?

    … 😦

    • I’m so gutted about David Marr’s comment. It’s like finding out that Santa Claus isn’t real.

      I also nearly choked on my food last night when the host of Media Watch added his two cents to the Craig Thomson saga by questioning the credibility of a prostitute. To be fair, he also pointed out how unlikely it is that someone would remember one client out of 100s of clients 7 years after the event (agree), but there was a definite air of “Why would anyone trust a hooker?” about it.

      Sad night for the ABC.

  7. Marr was in love with his own supposed wit, Weaver vacuous, Humphries wicked but humorous, Margolyes considered and Hewson ignored.

    • I agree with your point about Margolyes, overall. But that comment she made about Rinehart’s appearance just added to the nastiness.

    • Weaver is a highly intelligent woman, and the opposite of vacuous, which she most certainly was not last night. She tried more than once to steer the conversation onto less icky ground, and she tried gently to intervene at least twice when the misgoyny was at its worst, and was ignored by Tony Jones and the rest of the panel. Are you absolutely sure you don’t see ‘small smiling blonde’ and immediately think “vacuous”, independently of anything she might actually say or do? Because I can’t think of any other explanation for this comment. Humphries, on the other hand, was desperately bad-mannered and mostly unfunny. In fact, I can’t help wondering if we actually saw the same show.

  8. Perhaps I was part of a particular #qanda stream, but there was generalised horror at what was being said. It just makes me so damn angry that so-called progressive, mostly sensible people can have that level of misogyny in their ordinary language.
    And don’t get me started on the constant ‘fat jokes’ about Gina Rhienhart. Because a woman’s appearence is always up for public comment. Blech. Back to the self-imposed #qanda ban.

    • And that only one person on the panel – Weaver – picked up on it and tried to change the subject.

      I watched the episode again this morning to blog accurately about it (pity me for that) and a microphone picked up one of the men on the panel making a fat joke about Clive Palmer. I don’t know who it was.

  9. Very well said. Last night’s QandA was one of the worst I’ve seen in terms of personal attacks.

    And good on you for calling Marr out on his hypocrisy – as someone who’s been a great fan of Marr for his investigative journalism, it was shocking and deeply disappointing to see him calling for ‘one law for us and one for them’.

    Hewson was entirely underused – he’s one of those politicians who’s become a real statesman since leaving politics, and his contributions are always worthwhile. Instead, he sat there at the end of the desk and watched what looked like nothing more than a lot of self-congratulatory mud-slinging. Ugh.

    • Agree entirely about Marr. And Hewson. Every time he speaks he reminds me of how far to the Right politics has gone.

    • Hewson is also often worth listening to, if nothing else but as a reminder of how much the Liberal party has changed. The sad thing is, at that time (when Hewson led the Liberals, followed by Downer, with Kennett in Victoria), people were saying that the tory faction was dead and buried – Howard was yesterday’s man, Fraser was the ‘old great’ that young libs looked up to, and it was supposed to be deregulation/privatisation with social liberalism from thereon out. Fast-forward 20 years, and the liberal faction has dropped out of politics altogether (went to the Democrats, then out when the Dems imploded), the Liberal party traded small government for middle-class welfare, and their winning electoral policy is basically one of waiving red flags at rednecks.

      I didn’t like the market liberals much either, but in a parliamentary system, a lot of long-term gain comes when the OTHER side becomes more moderate (and whilst they were never moderate economically, the Hewson, Fraser, Kennett trio were moderate socially) – ironically, if Hewson had won against Keating, we’d probably have a more left-leaning nation right now.

  10. Can somebody explain to me why Barry Humphries keeps appearing in the Australian media?

  11. I don’t see anything flawed with your summary of the show accept that I did find much of it very funny! Humphries was not there to offer anything sensible so I took it for what it was and went in without any expectation! In public debate, episodes like last nights say something. It adds insights that still say so much about ourselves; good and bad! In getting the balance right, (and I do agree at times the balance was dreadful last night) lets not lose the ability to laugh at ourselves.

    • JoJo, in general I agree with your point that we shouldn’t lose the ability to laugh at ourselves. But last night’s show wasn’t laughing at ourselves. It was laughing at someone else. And that’s not cool.

      Welcome to the News with Nipples.

  12. Great blog! I came here via MTR sharing this post on Fb, and having looked around, I love your work. Thanks!

  13. One order of Viagara with a side of Humour… come on guys, Humphries was titled as “Satirist”, and there is a lot of truth in humour – Gina is not exactly forthcoming as a philanthropist and the politicians are definitely losing the populace as they file up their own fundamentals. Debate is good, but laughter is better!

    • Yes, debate is good. It’s very good and we don’t have enough of it. But there was no debate last night. A panel of people lining up to say nasty things about someone else’s character is not debate.

  14. Heartily agree! Happy to have found this site via Melinda Tankard-Reist’s link to you today 🙂

  15. princess nowhere

    I hate the idea that there’s any such thing as “casual” misogyny or “casual” racism. The way they are expressed is casual, but I’d prefer to call it recklessly glib.

    I switched off from the whole Thomson story because I grew hoarse shouting “SEX WORKER. IT’S AN OCCUPATION PLEASE CALL IT WHAT IT IS” at various forms of media.

    As for judging how Gina plays out her financial matters, I call PAH, very loudly. I happen to be working in family law at this very minute (and have worked in wills and probate, commercial litigation, etc). Anyone who thinks there is such a thing as appropriate or gender-specific-appropriate behaviour when dealing with the merging and division of assets is welcome to come sit in this chair for ten minutes to have their face rubbed in how wrong they are.

    It’s the tired old “a mother wouldn’t…” outrage. What utter tosh. All these people deserve is laughter and contempt.

    • It’s a really good point. I use “casual” to differentiate it from, say, MRA-style misogyny, and also to describe how it’s delivered.

      Princess nowhere, welcome to the News with Nipples.

  16. Nice piece, news with nipples.

  17. While I respect your views I must disagree. I though it was the best Q&A of the year. It was fun, loose and not bogged down with the politics of politics. And Gina has behaved poorly.

    • So, if someone runs an ad campaign against having to pay for the pollution their company creates, it’s ok to use a national tv show to make nasty comments about their hair, vagina, and private life? Like I said in the post, I disagree with Rinehart on her politics, but I’ll criticise that with relevant arguments, I won’t use personal attacks.

      • To add to what NwN has said Andrew, how do you think a conservative, or (more relevantly) an undecided viewer would have interpreted last night’s show? It’s all very well for progressives to laugh with other progressives about all the ‘hilarious’ jokes they’ve come up with about the conservative/business-type they love to hate, but that’s the same trait that causes a lot of other people to view progressives as arrogant elitists.

        It’s one thing how Bolt etc constantly use the term ‘elite’ as an insult, but ask yourself why it has so much credence among the general public. It’s because we ACT like elites too often. Not in terms of showing our knowledge – but in terms of (a) mocking those who disagree with us (usually in a way that excludes them from the debate – sexism being one such way), and (b) implying that we are the only ones qualified to talk, but without actually demonstrating our ‘superiority’ via accessible argument. I won’t name names, but there’s a particular ABC ‘comic’ who used to make a career out of pulling that act for a Fairfax column,(with a remarkably consistent habit of targetting other women) and you couldn’t design a more effective advert for conservatives if you hired Coca-cola’s advertising agency.

  18. Michael Boswell

    I agree. I thought I was listening to three drunken louts (David Marr, Barry Humphreys and Tony Jones) complaining about the ‘fat chick’ who just refused there sexual advances. I think the others on the panel where embrassed to be there. The others where hoping the three louts would be done for underage drinking! (My sincere apologies to underage teenage boys in a pub on false ID).

    The only one to benefit is surely Craig Thompson. Any lawyer would play this Q and A on a motion for the charges to be dismissed on the ground Thompson could not get a fair trial.

    The looser, besides common decency, must be Barry Humphreys. Who would pay to here that crap on stage? I surely am not going too, especially since I live in Perth!

  19. Pingback: Tarts, floozies and endless holes | Shouting at the Void

  20. I couldn’t agree more. I gave up watching after the panel got stuck into Gina Rinehart a women none of them had met but on whom they all had an opinion. John Hewson must have thought he’s stumbled into a parallel universe of the eternally stupid.

  21. We can’t take ad hominem swipes at Ms Rinehart to be mysogenistic, because she doesn’t stand for all women. She is one very unique person, and the insults are not sexism. Quite a lot of information has been released by Gina Rinehart’s family, and it does appear that she does treat them relatively badly. But then, the family dynamics, and our judgements of them, are so distorted by the fact that Ms Rinehart is the richest woman in the world, essentially by virtue of having chosen to be born the offspring of Lang Handcock, and having come into her fortune just as the mining boom went crazy. In addition, there is plenty of evidence that she’s trying to set up a media empire a la Fox in order to promulgate a right wing and anti-Climate change agenda, which would benefit her personally. It’s hard to know what underlies that strategy. Greed? Who knows – or possibly a mindset bourne of the cognitive dissonance that arises when you are born with massive, unearned wealth? I can’t justify the ‘greed’ assumption, but do agree with David Marr’s assessment.

    In terms of a male equivalent, we need only look to Clive Palmer, or Rupert Murdoch, both of whom cop the same sort of flack. Rightly so, I believe.

    As for disparaging a woman prostitute – I think Jacqui Weaver came closest to standing up for her. The comment though I think wasn’t so much mysogenist but anti-sex worker – which isn’t good in itself. The guilty parties though in all of these cases should have been Networks 9 & 10 in the firing line. The women were caught in the crossfire.

    • I disagree. There’s very little information about the Rinehart family, and what we do know we know from news reporting of an ongoing court case that involves mud-slinging on both sides for financial gain. None of the criticism directed at Rinehart last night was about the points you raise. It was all personal.

      Did you see Media Watch? Holmes and the clips from the other channels all came very close to saying, “who’d believe a sex worker?”.

      • I think that is a very unfair characterisation of what Holmes said. Transcript follows:

        “But whatever weight that may have with viewers, the knowledge that the woman will get more for one interview than most people take home for a year’s work will surely weigh heavier. Especially if her identity is concealed.

        In the end, despite the payments they received, I said I thought the actors who accused Robert Hughes were credible, and ACA’s airing of their allegations was justified in the public interest.

        Whether I – or you – will think the same about a former escort, who’s been promised $60,000 for claiming to remember one client among potentially hundreds from seven years ago, is a very different question.”

        He said her credibility was damaged by two issues. First, that she had been paid. Second, that she was professing to remember one client from among hundreds from nearly a decade ago. The fact that she was a prostitute doesn’t factor into what he said at all.

  22. I wonder if sometimes outrage at perceived sexism distracts from the actual topic being discussed.

    Noun 1. tart – a woman who engages in sexual intercourse for money

    As for the ‘hole’ comment,, comedy sometimes skirts along a line some feel uncomfortable with, a line which is unique to two individuals. The individual telling the joke and the person hearing it. We all have different lines, but it sounds as though your line for sexual-based jokes is very short.

    The reaction was both laughter and shock, so your presentation of the response is incomplete and skewed towards your own personal bias.

    I guess my point is, let’s not resort to outrage for outrage sake. Your blog is clearly directed towards bringing sexism to task and that’s a worthwhile exercise, but I think this QandA example is an ill-directed target.


    PS: Hey, I’ll start reading your blog now though 🙂

    • Ah, but that’s not how the word “tart” is used, is it? It’s used as an insult.

      My “line for sexual based jokes” is not very short. It’s a pretty long line. However, my line for jokes at someone else’s expense is VERY short. That’s what this post is about.

      • Well, tart is certainly not complimentary, but it all depends on the delivery, but yes, point taken.

        I hope the short line isn’t just sexism-based as there is an awful lot of comedy directed at people that is completely unrelated to sex. It sounds as if it may be respect based, in which case I am concerned that nobody would ever be fair game for ridicule…ever. Even those we shouldn’t necessarily respect.

  23. berniekroczek

    I thought it may only be me who had those views of last nights Q&A. In fact I’d had enough by around ten past ten, I switched it off.
    Good article.

  24. I heard ‘tart’ as almost affectionate. Maybe it’s a generational thing.

    This QandA, thank goodness, was not about incisive political commentary. It gave a stage to entertainers to comment on the news of the day. Clearly, they offended (or bored) some people, but in the broader scheme of things ‘tart’ and ‘floozy’ are as offensive as being hit in the face with a wet lettuce (to plagiarise freely).

    Clearly, I don’t mind jokes made at the expense of the rich and powerful. The poor and dispossessed are another matter.

    • This post isn’t just about those two words. It’s about the whole discussion about Rinehart.

      • I’m happy to take issue with those two words. They both imply sexual looseness, that sexual looseness is bad, and that it diminishes a woman’s worth. And they are words a man never has to contend with, no matter what he does. Are we really not even past the point yet where we no longer need to make the case (again) that using sexist language is sexist?

        • I agree that the use of “tart” in this context is a sexist putdown, just as you say. The degree of its offensiveness as language does seem to vary with generations; but I tend to think that’s because many Boomers have so much trouble noticing when they’re being sexist.

          I would dispute that men are never insulted for sexual looseness. Perhaps if they’re particularly young and beautiful and sexually active they might be called a “stud”, whereas a young beautiful sexually active woman might be denigrated as a “slut” or “tart”. A clear sexist double standard, of course. But a sexually active woman a decade older will be called a “fox”, while her male counterpart is a “sleaze”, a “lecher”, a “creep”. Especially if he’s unattractive. Give it another decade and he’s a “dirty old man”.

          I’m not trying to draw a direct equivalence; the consequences of this kind of slur for women can be far more dire. I’m just pointing out that, contrary to reeived wisdom, negative characterisation for sexual activity can be directed at men, as well.

          • It’s a good point. But I wonder if there’s some power attached to the word ‘sleaze’?

            • Sleaze? Only the power to make people avoid you.

              Sexual name-calling is a tricky topic because societies are not uniform. In some demographics, women can proudly boast about their sexual conquests while men are expected to stay silent. In other (usually much broader) categories, men may be lauded for being highly sexually active, while women will be insulted. One should never extrapolate from one’s personal environment to society in general.

              As a uni student it was socially acceptable for me to talk about sexual encounters with other guys (but not hetero relations), and my female friends would outright boast about their sexual conquests, but there was a very strictly enforced code of ‘don’t kiss and tell’ when it came to men talking about sexual activity with women. Some people come out of a demographic like that, and take it as evidence that ‘the roles have changed’, or that slutshaming has ended. It hasn’t – it’s just that society is not uniform, and there is no ‘average demographic’, just a mixture of demographics with different attitudes, most of which favour men.

  25. I find your use of poor language in this blog to be extremely distasteful and puts you in a category with those you like to call ‘idiots’. If you want to make comment on social and political matters, avoid vulgar language and then I may consider your argument in the future.

  26. It is quite possible to be amusing without descending to personal attacks and vulgarity, but clearly that is challenging for many people in this world, so we can hardly expect better from a panel of our contemparies in most respects. What we can expect is better control from the host in terms of directing that behaviour and preventing people from indulging it when it clearly adds no value.

    The video questions are getting worse and some flexibility in their use or feeling disobligated to use this format anymore at all might assist the quality of our viewing.

    A few weeks ago, the ex-CIA guy was on. Following a graphic description from him of torture, including details such as being kept awake for days and forced to listen to continuously blaring recordings of babies crying, murders occuring, mothers wailing, before being given the sanctuary of sleep for only five minutes and told it was ten hours.

    Somehow after hearing this, it was still appropriate to introduce a video question to the ex-CIA guy: “How long would it take you to make Craig Thomson talk?” Ha. Ha. That is so funny. Let us all make light of torture. Jones had already switched to saying enhanced interrogation techniques at this guest’s prompting.

    • Yes! To all of this!

      There’s no reason why the show can’t be about intelligent conversation. In fact, that’s what I thought it was supposed to be about. Giving the audience a chance to ask questions of public figures to extend the public conversation.

  27. It was the done and dusted attitude of Jones, Humphries and Marr on Craig Thomson that made me angry. To be judge and jury, to speak so disparagingly about someone so castigated already in the media and to consider and call him an outright “Liar” as Humphries did is dispicable. I have been a fan of Barry’s for many years, but he lost me last night. I have also admired Marr and he disappointed. Miriam is always good value. Jackie held a certain poise with dignity and Hewson was left out. I do not watch Q and A any more. It upsets me too much. But I wanted to watch last night as I thought it might be more interesting, satirical ( god how we need a Colbert report in Australia!), and entertaining. Alas.
    Thanks for your blog…directed by Lloyd Blakeley to it.

    • sarahlchambers

      Have you checked out Shaun Micallif’s new show on ABC on Friday nights called ‘Mad as Hell’… it has a similar format to the Jon Stewart show….judge for yourself. Cheers

      • I haven’t seen it yet, but am looking forward to it. Your thoughts on it so far?

        • I watched “Mad as Hell” last Friday.

          It’s early days, obvs, but it’s looking very, very promising.

        • I watched it, and I thought it was pretty good for a first episode (which are usually a bit shaky. The only exception to this rule I can think of is the first episode of Black Books, which was awesome). Micallef is one of the very few comedians who are rarely seduced by the easy laugh to be got from sexist humour. Stephen Colbert is another.
          Mind you, I have a very soft, somewhat moist spot for Shaun Micallef so I was watching with a lot of good will.

        • sarahlchambers

          The idea is really spot on, well it’s pinched from a very successful example. It was a bit limp in its delivery but it was just the first night (last week) so hoping it will warm up.

  28. To add yet another thing, I hate that Rinehart’s bevahiour is being called brutally cruel. It is not brutally cruel to withhold money from an adult family member who is not currently a dependent or non-estranged partner. Stingy, or tight-arsed, perhaps, and definitely not very nice. But hardly brutally cruel.

    Rineharts children will be just fine without the money – they’ll get jobs like everyone else, if they aren’t already independently wealthy.

    It’s an overstatement that makes her out to be worse than she is (probably because if mothers aren’t ever-loving, sacrificing, angles, we all know they’re totally crap, awful succubi), and it demeans the experience of people whose parents were truly cruel. Beating children is cruel, withholding food or shelter is cruel, taunting children for things they cant help is cruel. Keeping your cash to yourself instead of handing to you your adult children is not cruel.

  29. Great post, I was very shocked by Marr’s ‘tart; comment, especially since I had admired and respected him up to this point. The media generally have been making some very crass remarks about the sex worker in the Thomson affair and this seems to be the pinnacle of how to abuse a woman. To paraphrase their sentiment ‘ she’s a whore who deserves no respect as a human being’.
    I was quite dazed and confused by the whole show last night. QandA has lost out to SBS’ Insight in terms of good current affairs discussion. Tony Jones has form for being a misogynist. It comes through in his interviews with women on Lateline. Chris Ulhmann’s recent interview with Julia Gillard was also very disrepectful. Is there an overall trend emerging at the ABC?

  30. How about the Jewish lesbian, as she described herself, bluntly pointing out to an audience member that he was black when it had little relevancy. That felt very awkward even though she was trying to make some kind of caustic point. I don’t care what you do for a living the same standards apply to you as the rest of us.

    • Actually it was relevant and she made a point about how he, as a black person, was an Australian citizen, and she, a white woman who wanted to be an Australian citizen, was not (yet) – as a good thing about how Australia has progressed passed the white Australia policy.

      At first I cringed, but then I questioned myself why I cringed and found no real reason to.

  31. I watched the first few seconds of qanda, until Bazza’s initial incoherent response. I turned the TV off and thought it better to read a book. So I can not comment, except to agree that there is a large element of casual (or as princess nowhere pointed out recklessly glib) sexism and racism as well as anti-working class feeling in general in the mainstream of Australian culture. Seems I was right to curl up with my Golden Treasury of Greek Prose rather than suffer qanda.
    I do not think it particularly worth while to explain the behaviour of capitalists like Gina Rinehart as greedy. While I would not argue that capitalism is a moral system, within the structures of the economy the rich are only acting as one would expect, from their point of view they are acting rationally. Many people seem to want to set up a moral hierarchy where some capitalists are good, maybe Steve Jobs as an example, and some are bad, Palmer et al. It is not a case of making them more moral, it is a case of overthrowing the current mode of production. People act (and this is not strictly true) according to the material conditions of their daily life. A poor person with too many mouths to feed, and not enough money coming in, will be tempted to steal bread to silence the crying children. A rich capitalist will always seek to extend their wealth. Greedy or not has nothing to do with it. After all, what is the point of competition if no one wins?
    I would be much happier to criticise Gina Rinehart for environmental crimes, for her union busting tactics, for her blatant attempt to become a media mogul, for her attempt to import cheap labour, as well as the reactionary Faux News, into Australia.
    PS – heard you on Radio National a few weeks ago, talking about the Laura BIngle let’s take pictures with a telephoto lens of a celeb inside her apartment, and then call her a slut media debacle.
    Keep up the good work!

    • Thanks. You summed up the Bingle story perfectly. (I’ll be on RN again on Sunday, on Common Knowledge.)

      You are spot on with your points about Rinehart. I’ll criticise her for her politics, but her personal life is none of my business.

  32. I was very disappointed with Q&A on Monday. They had much better questions to ask than those. The conversation would not be acceptable in my ethics class in primary school, and my 12 year olds would have more considered answers than those on Q&A. TJ lost control.
    Credit where it is due, Jane Caro did tweet calling them on their sexism.
    Keep up the good work NWN.

  33. sarahlchambers

    You’re so right Catherine, they should have had some quite pointed questions to ask Hewson on his thoughts on where Abbot is taking their party. eg Does he agree with the negative, talk the country down approach? Now that would have been interesting.

  34. Small minds discuss people. Enough said.

  35. When everyone on the show is trying to be funny and witty it is in danger of being boring and off. It sure was. Jackie Weaver came across as a real human being,against the flow. Good on ya Jackie. No pretensions but very intelligent and heaps of common sense.Brave woman.The ABC does not need to go trashy as it does not need sponsors and therefore to seek the lowest common denominator. If THEY don’t appeal to the intelligent side of our society, who will ?

  36. As much as I personally, and probably most people reading this site, would get more out of intelligent questions and answers than stupid ones like the “Aussie machismo” one, I think there are ultimately really good outcomes that come from having dumb (sexist, racist, just plain wrong) ideas smacked down in a public forum. Maybe Newton Gatoff has now reflected and seen the error of his ways, or at least put some more thought into it; maybe the same goes for other people who happened to be watching. That’s arguably more beneficial broadly speaking than having intelligent discussion which assumes a lot of things – about what women’s status is in society now and what it should be – that most, or at least a lot of, people don’t actually think.

    And I’m not sure about a lot of your misogyny analysis either. Obviously the attacking the sex worker and ‘floozy’ are atrocious, but I don’t think much of what was said about Rinehart – at least what you’ve quoted here – is really misogynist. David Marr’s comments are indeed graceless, but I don’t think they’re misogynist.

    More from me:

  37. rachelcunneen

    I’m here because I finally watched last Monday’s QandA expecting to have a giggle at the end of a long Sunday and instead I’m still feeling so disturbed and unsettled that I’m sitting here trawling for others that might have felt similarly. I had that awful feeling – when it seemed like everybody on the Twitter stream and in the audience seemed to be finding it so frigging hilarious – that I’d got stuck back in the early days of Howard/Hanson where if you objected to somebody saying something vicious and hate-filled you’d be accused of being censorious, “politically correct” (how I hate that term) or “lacking a sense of humour.” Moreover, it seemed that papers like The Australian and journalists like Andrew Bolt were the only ones complaining to start with because they wanted to support Rinehart’s politics or because they wanted to rubbish QandA.
    Those who have serious, respectful left-wing concerns about Australian identity or mining taxes or the environment or the general state of real politik are let down by the crap and bile spewed by Humphries, Marr and Margoyles. We all get let down because we forget what we really need to be thinking and arguing about. There’s something very chilling going on when the hatred for the misuse and stockpiling of public resources (Rinehart, Thomson and, yes, Gillard) is deflected into a rant about womens’ appearance and sexuality.
    As for the Australian/Indian who was also made the butt of this ribaldry: I think that perhaps Margoyles had a legitimate point there somewhere (if “letting in” one dark-skinned person and keeping out one light-skinned person really illustrates much about immigration policy at all). But the “badly lit” comment was awful and I felt badly for the guy who had no choice but to laugh and go along with it.
    Overall, it was an ugly episode that left me feeling confused and sad. It helps to know that other people also thought it was unfunny and unacceptable.

  38. Pingback: Gina Rinehart and how self-styled “progressives” are keeping the boardroom male « Major Karnage

  39. Pingback: Maturity, revisited | Game On

  40. Pingback: 50th Edition of the Down Under Feminists’ Carnival « A life unexamined

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