Columnist: Erin Delahunty
The normalisation of sexism
GUFFAWS about mining magnate Gina Rinehart’s “big hole” on national television. Continual disrespect for our Prime Minister. And Lingerie Football League games in Australia.
Did I miss a memo? Has war been declared on women?
Despite our fine nation having a female Prime Minister, a female Deputy Opposition Leader, a female Governor-General and a female deputy Speaker currently in charge of a fractious parliament, it seems the misogynist rot has set in.
It’s hip to be sexist. And savage at that.
For me, it all started with a recent pollie-free episode of ABC TV cult favourite Q&A, where satirist Barry Humphries and Harry Potter actor Miriam Margolyes took turns at delivering barbs to Rinehart, one of the most successful – and richest – women in the world, for everything from her looks to her apparent greed.
Rinehart was lambasted for her haircut and called “fat and ugly”, followed by a mirthful round of speculation about her big “hole”.
Humphries mused about how he’d feel if he woke up in a motel with Rinehart “on the next pillow” and she was derided as plain ‘ole greedy. And it went on and on, unchecked by host Tony Jones.
By any subjective measure, it was horrendously sexist stuff – and that’s without mentioning the joke about our Prime Minister, referred to by her first name, naturally, riding a bike. Oh ha-ha. Hilarious.
When did this naked misogyny become OK? Since when are women, any women, solely judged on the way they look, the way they dress, the size of their bum?
When did intelligence, accomplishments and deeds cease to matter? What year is it again? What was that silly little thing called the feminist movement all about?
Let me put it this way; when was the last time anyone in the mainstream media called James Packer greedy? He and Rinehart have something in common – they’re business people.
They’re out to make money. But yet it’s Rinehart who cops the “greedy bitch” innuendo. And how many column inches are dedicated to Tony Abbott’s hairstyle or tie selection? Very few.
The double standards continually applied to successful women in this country normalise sexism aimed at all women.
Next up, objectification of women and their bodies on a scale we’ve probably never seen in this country.
I am of course referring to the two “exhibition” (pun intended, no doubt) games of the US-based Lingerie Football League ahead of the launch of an Australian league next year.
Lingerie football is exactly that; women in push-up bras, garter belts and little else playing American football. It’s so close to porn, it’s hard to know if maybe it is.
The league – run by a man (big shock there) – insists it doesn’t exploit its players and that it’s a serious sport. Yeah right.
According to one report, the players have to pay for their own health cover and are fined if they wear anything under their lingerie; as they must accept “accidental nudity” as an occupational hazard.
Doesn’t sound exploitative at all. And yes, it’s coming to Australia. I despair, I truly do.
What message does this send to our daughters? That how you look is the single most important thing. That’s what. And that any ability – sporting or otherwise – will always be second to how much you can sexually titillate a man. It’s plain wrong, outdated and offensive.
Minister for Sport, Kate Lundy, rightly described it as a cheap, degrading perv. “I can’t abide a spectacle that degrades women and threatens to undermine the progress of women in sport in Australia.”
Nor can I, Ms Lundy, nor can I. But somehow I feel the tide has already turned.
Erin Delahunty is married with two young boys. She is on a maternity break, but when that's over it's back to work for SSW ... we hope.
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