Actually, that doesn’t quite do justice to what has been going on in a series of incidents over the last little while.
Gabrielle Jackson did a piece for The Guardian Enough platitudes and excuses: here is the truth about this week of sexism. Amazingly, on the weekend before she wrote the article she herself was groped by a complete stranger sitting at the next table in a Sydney restaurant.
Jackson summarises the events:
- First a federal government minister resigned over inappropriate behaviour towards a female public servant while out drinking in Hong Kong.
Then that same minister, Jamie Briggs, sent out photos of the woman in question to his mates.
Then those mates leaked the photo to the media.
Then another federal minister, Peter Dutton, called a respected political journalist a “mad fucking witch” for having the temerity to publish an opinion on the matter.
Then cricket star Chris Gayle told a female journalist she had beautiful eyes, asked her out and told her not to blush, baby. The men in the commentary box snickered, calling the cricketer “amorous” and describing the journalist as scurrying off “with bright red cheeks”.
Excuses included that they didn’t mean to offend, no harm was intended, or in Gayle’s case that he was just having a bit of fun. More on him later. Jackson goes into detail as to why each act was sexist.
Jamie Briggs has been removed from the ministry (he resigned, but was obviously pushed) and there is now a question about his preselection for the next election. The seat seems vulnerable to the Nick Xenephon Team party who are running the former Briggs staffer Rebekha Sharkie, who resigned in 2010 over his sexist comments.
Peter Dutton’s problem was not his pressing the wrong button but what he said in calling reporter Samantha Maiden a “mad fucking witch”. “Fucking” is probably just an intensifier, but the “mad witch” part taps into a long “history of labelling women who pose any perceived threat to men’s power as unhinged or evil” as Michelle Smith explains at The Conversation.
I’m no doubt biassed, but the man’s an idiot anyway and it would have been a good opportunity to shed him. However, it would have been seen as an over-reaction by many on the right, who Turnbull would not want to offend.
Maiden is probably right, though. For example, why did her paper, The Australian, carry a photo of the public servant on the front page with the face pixelated but with other identifying detail in the story? Labor has written to the Public Service Commissioner demanding to know what steps have been taken to address the breach of the woman’s privacy. They are also threatening to refer the matter to the police, believing a crime may have been committed under the Sex Discrimination Act.
As to Chris Gayle, his action has been defended as a bit of harmless flirtation. But he’s got form and as Neroli Meadows said, he does it to humiliate. Clearly he had no intention of seriously asking Mel McLaughlin to go out for a drink. It’s not just him, unacceptable stuff like that happens all the time to women working in sport, something confirmed by Russell Jackson.
- On Monday night you could see that look of discomfort on Mel McLaughlin’s face as she was crudely propositioned on live international television by cricket’s leery creep-in-residence, Chris Gayle. I’ll tell you what you also saw there; the face of all of the female sports reporters to whom this sort of stuff has happened far too often and which, for reasons that entirely escape me, still happens to them in 2016.
2016. Not 1974. Not as the sneakily-damning feminism-in-media subplot of Anchorman. 2016. Almost everything about sport has improved in the past few decades, yet still women are unable to simply turn up to work and do their job properly without being slobbered over by lecherous simpletons like Gayle.
Tracey Holmes says that McLaughlin’s cheeks her red because she was angry, not because she was blushing.
- Clearly some men just don’t see women as equals. (I can hear the clicking keyboards of outrage from offended readers now. “I’m not a sexist but …”)
Whether they be politicians or athletes or many professions in between, some men still believe women have a place. That place is not as an equal, or a professional, but as some kind of boxed-in subordinate to satisfy what they want, when they want it. Step outside that box and wait for the reaction.
Holmes wonders whether anything has changed in the last 100 years.
Well, yes no doubt it has, and Chris Gayle may find he is too much trouble for any of the Big Bash franchises. And he may be in deeper trouble if the story about him exposing himself to a woman working around the West Indies team in Sydney last year turns out to have substance.
There is worse happening elsewhere in the world, but as Lauren Rosewarne says in What it feels like for a girl: Dutton and Briggs remind us of politics’ endemic sexism:
- If harassing colleagues in bars and calling women witches is not worth discussing, then we’re considering it OK. Then we’re viewing it as part of the landscape of Australian life. Then we’re consenting that this is what it feels like for a girl.
I’m not willing to put up with that.
Elsewhere, Van Badham comments before all this happened in Twelve months of sexist jerkery – and those who stood up to it.
Also see Hoyden about town.
Sorry, this is going to have to be a moderated thread.